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Mercedes

It's said that it's impossible to overtake at the Suzuka race circuit but it's not true. There have been winners from way, way down the field. One of the last old-fashioned racing circuits where Formula One still races, this weekend has shown something fascinating: no matter what technical rules are imposed, no matter what generation of drivers is involved - it's tracks like the Honda's Twin Ring Motagi circuits that actually deliver great racing.

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Lewis Hamilton made perhaps the most prescient statement of recent times in Formula One. He said that Ferrari have a faster car than Mercedes. But Mercedes, he said, have the better team, saying that the systems, the strength in depth in all departments, the stability are what give him and team-mate Valtteri Bottas the machinery that allows them to do the job. And with four one-two finishes in the first four races, in each case at least in part due to Ferrari fluffing something, even in the dense air of below sea level Baku which should have increased the red cars' performance advantage, it's increasingly looking as if he's right. But the apparent Sunday afternoon jog for the two Mercedes drivers around the streets of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, is as much to do with the failures of others as the strength of Mercedes. Ferrari are not the only ones struggling to get it together.
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The last of the Formula One team backed by entrepreneurs with connections to airlines has announced that it has entered administration. Virgin sold out, Team Lotus/Caterham (backed by AirAsia's Tony Fernandez) went into liquidation and now Force India, backed by Vijay Mallya has had the late Friday knock on the doors after creditors appointed administrators. The only surprise is that it's taken so long.

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Some months ago, we produced a series of our views of some of the ways that Formula One could be improved to avoid it becoming a high-speed procession around circuits that are, often, not very interesting from a spectators' point of view. One of those was a system where the fastest drivers were rewarded for being fastest but started at the back. In the past few races, without the incentives, that's what we've seen and yesterday's German Grand Prix demonstrated why it's such an excellent concept, even when the stewards act to spoil it.

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It is, perhaps, ironic that one of Ferrari's most ardent supporters, Bernie Ecclestone, isn't the boss of F1 any longer as the Prancing Horse danced its way into the first victory of the 2017 F1 Grand Prix season in Melbourne, Australia.

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A municipal manager, Sindile Tantsi, has been suspended while South Africa's National Prosecutiing Authority investigate allegations of corruption. Meanwhile, his car, a Mercedes Benz has been seized - along with its car-port.

Nico Rosberg is this year's Formula One World Champion, and he picked up his trophy, then told the audience at the FIA dinner that he was retiring.

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What is going on at Mercedes? At the Spanish Grand Prix, both of their cars went out after Rosberg's car had an incorrect engine setting. In the European Grand Prix in Baku, Hamilton struggled for most of the race with an incorrect engine setting. Everyone agrees that the cars have become too technical for the drivers to drive without outside assistance. Surely that is against one of the sport's most basic principles?

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Niki Lauda shoots from the lip and is consistently quick to blame Hamilton for any incident involving the two Mercedes drivers. Toto Wolff is far more measured. Within minutes of Mercedes' premature end of the Spanish Grand Prix, both had delivered their verdict. Lauda was, as usual, critical of Hamilton. Wolff gave a technical answer that hardly anyone understood but it did not say Hamilton was to blame. And it was right that it did not because while we mortals do not have access to Rosberg's data, we do have access to Hamilton's in-car footage and while we cannot say Rosberg was at fault, we can say, with certainty, that Hamilton was not.

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