The pre-Christmas pressure on Bottas and Vettel
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The pre-Christmas pressure on Bottas and Vettel

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With Formula 1 firmly in its off-season, the drivers will have turned their attention to the new year and a new campaign. In his final Fifth Column, Nigel Roebuck explains why two racers in particular may be unnerved by the end of the season just gone

"What," said Martin Brundle, "are the two most evocative Mercedes-engined cars on the grid?"

A trick question, I supposed, and I was right.

"I'll tell you - the safety car and the medical car! If EV and EQ and all that are so important in hybrids, why do we have a double-supercharged V8 at the front and back of the grid? On Ferrari's website the cars are categorised not by spyder, coupe or whatever, but by V12 and V8. Which company in Formula 1 sells a 1.6-litre engine? I suppose, to be fair, Renault probably do, and maybe Honda - but all Mercedes' new engines are straight-sixes! My point is, in Formula 1 what are we selling - and to whom? If it fails down the road, the beginning of the failure was these bloody hybrid engines..."

For years Brundle and I have met for lunch in December to talk through the season past and the one to come. The politics we got on to later, by which time a quantity of Amarone had gone down; as usual, the first topic was drivers and teams, and inevitably we started with Hamilton and Vettel. This season was indisputably the best of Lewis's career to date.

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