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GP Week : Issue 202
19 GPWEEK.com // 19 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: The tension went up with a bang at the weekend in Monaco, didn't it. It is clear enough that the 2014 World Drivers Championship Psychological War is now on, with Lewis playing the 'poor kid from nowhere' card to explain his motivation and desire to win (compared to Nico's comfortable Monaco up-bringing), and Nico responding in his own way via the German media. All fairly ho-hum stuff. But it all went up a huge notch on Saturday afternoon when Silver Arrow number six disappeared down the escape road at Mirabeau. Was it deliberate? Was Lewis on his way to a better lap, and pole? Opinion seems to be divided, although given the in-car and extrernal footage available, I'm with the Stewards. Rosberg was going for it, overdid it, locked up, tried to scrub off late speed, but then had to make the split second call – wall or escape road. He chose wisely. While he is 'one of them' Germans, I just don't think he is of quite the same hard-core do-whatever-it- takes mentality that defined Michael Schumacher. In the end, that might be what costs him the title, because of the two of them, I reckon Lewis is the closest to that take-no-prisoners mentality. Regardless, having gone into the weekend swinging psychological right hooks all over the place, it kinda backfired on Lewis. In the end, he appeared to be starting to believe that the whole Mercedes team was against him. He wasn't surprised, he said across the airwaves, that the team wouldn't take the gamble and pit him as soon as the Safety Car-inducing Sutil crash happened. Really? Post-race he was super-grumpy. No handshake that could be seen; single- line press conference answers. And he couldn't help a subtle but caustic reference to Nico's pole-winning error the day before. Answering Benedict Cumberbatch's 'Dorothy-Dixer' on world-wide TV: "It's incredibly thrilling to watch, you were all incredible out there, the closeness of the cars ..." "Thank you," said Lewis. "Fortunately we didn’t make any mistakes, so.... " he said, leaving it hanging out there. Touche. Phew – there's one deeply pissed off dude. Now I don't know Lewis Hamilton, but I always thought he was at his best when relaxed and smiley; positive, confident. Either way, this weekend was a big win for Nico Rosberg, more than just the 25 points and a renewed championhip lead. There's still a long way to go and, to be honest, I'd still back Lewis to be the one to pass the other from behind when it gets heavy, but this weekend revealed a possible weakness. I think Lewis believes he can domnate Nico mentally, but it was his German mate who looked the most balanced on the Riviera this week. Thank goodness. While MotoGP has become a one-pony, one-man show thanks to the brilliance of Marc Marquez, at least this head-to- head should continue to liven up a World Championship F1 contest that is all over as far as anyone else is concerned. The 2014 World Champion will either be Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg; that's a given. And, as long as Toto and Niki allow them to fight it out, (ultimately, it's going to cost some carbon-fibre), it'll be worth watching. ABOVe: Lewis ... no 'mistakes' .... PSYCHOLOGY III PART 6 OPINION OPINION CHRIS LAMBDEN