Nothing ever stays the same in F1 for long, and that feels appropriate. And this characteristic can affect itself to the point that it’s easy to forget even things that were fairly recent. So it is indeed if we compare the championship points tables of now, four flyaway races in, with after the same four flyaways (in a slightly different order) of 2014.
Twelve months on some things seem very familiar. Lewis Hamilton then as now had won three rounds of the four and many observers reckoned he looked hard to stop. And Mercedes of course leads the way, with an almost identical points total indeed – 159 points now compared with 154 then.
Ferrari Flies Forward
But as you’ll know there is rather a large difference on last year. Ferrari is the high climber and it shows with it having more than double the points of a year back – 107 versus 52 this time last campaign. This ensures too that while Mercedes has a similar points total its lead over the next lot has been slashed from 97 to 52.
Somehow though then-Scuderia pilot Fernando Alonso a year ago sat in third in the drivers’ table just as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel does now, and his 41 points accrued feel absurdly close to Vettel’s current 65. For Kimi Raikkonen, as we might have guessed, there’s a much bigger shift however, even with his fair share of frustration this season he has close to four times the points – 42 versus 11.
Underlining again how swiftly matters move on in F1, and how easy it is to forget the detail, 12 months ago there was an interloper in fourth place in the standings that now reads as astonishing – Nico Hulkenberg. Then Force India consciously aimed for early points in a new formula with a reliable and rather conservative machine. How very different to now, when by contrast it’s taken short term pain in return it hopes for longer term gain via the use of a new wind tunnel, a decision which set its 2015 programme back. A year ago the Hulk had a higher score than both Red Bull pilots, even though the Milton Keynes team now has less than half the points of then and Daniil Kvyat actually has the same points total now as he did after four Toro Rosso races. Hulk also was ahead of both from Williams.
Hope for Williams and for Rosberg
Which brings us neatly onto the Grove squad. It has been commonly said this campaign that Williams has slid since 2014, but really it depends what you’re comparing it to. And indeed in this frame of reference Williams, this time, has almost double the points – 61 compared with 36 then when it languished somewhat in sixth place in the constructors’ table out of seven teams that had scored. Its season didn’t hit its launching pad until Canada.
While Nico Rosberg’s apparent struggle has devoured much of the discourse in 2015 but again it’s a matter of perspective. Just like now he then was on the receiving end of a series of defeats by his team mate; though one year ago Nico in fact topped the table. Loosely the only difference indeed between this season so far and the same point last campaign is that in round one Hamilton experienced a technical retirement; come four rounds in Nico was still living off that gain. And while it’s a crude measure Nico has finished closer behind Lewis this season than was the case at this point 12 months ago – the average gap now 2.962 seconds compared with 12.153 then. Yet last year he took the title to the wire and for much of the year was thought to be in fine form. Now he’s thought to be in crisis…
In more ways than one it’s a lesson that seasons are long and that things can rapidly look very different. For Nico and Williams – and everyone else – things can still change.