Nico Rosberg reckons Hamilton will be listening to Tupac, and both men will be trying to be fully present in the moment. And thinking about it, the ability to do that is an underrated aspect of elite-level sport: how do you clear your mind of everything but the task at hand, to perform to your maximum?
On that point, Verstappen’s confrontational style of racing has forced Hamilton to adapt his own. It’s not enough to be fastest now – and worth noting that yesterday, Verstappen said if he had the Mercedes car he’d be champions already – you also have to be *bravest/most reckless/most desperate/most enterprising.
*delete according to bent.
Sky show us VT of our protagonists giving interviews, the difference between them Verstappen’s naked aggression. He tells the people of the Netherlands to get the telly on because he’s going to win, while Hamilton cedes that the two aren’t mates but surmises that his rival “seems like a nice chap”. I wonder if he rehearsed that.
The state of play
In such circumstance, it feels almost trite to tell you where we’re at but let’s do it: Max Verstappen, bidding to become the Netherlands’ first champion, leads the driver standings because he’s won more races than Lewis Hamilton, bidding to go in front opf Michael Schumacher as the, er, most-winningest champion of all-time. Which is to say both have 369.5 points but Verstappen has nine victories to Hamilton’s eight, meaning if neither finish, Verstappen takes the title. Otherwise, it’s a straight race between the two, and whoever wins wins.
OH MY DAYS! AAARGGHGHLNKLLKNOINOINS! I know it’s my job to come up with something better than that so I’m going to try in a sec, but really, we watch sport party for those moments that defeat language; that defeat not only language, but the involuntary outbursts of indecipherable shock and glee that make sport sport.
Except those involuntary outbursts seem to have lasted nine months, throughout what is probably the most thrilling, compelling F1 season of all-time. Charles Dickens filed his novels on a weekly basis for publishing in a literary magazine, somehow managing to sustain action, intrigue, drama and suspense for the duration; I say somehow, because that he pulled it off is astonishing, not because we don’t know what made it work: a cast of uniquely fascinating yet believable characters, whose chemistry defies science – and art – and of whom we still cannot get enough.
Decades from now, we’ll still be marvelling at the brio of Max Verstappen, the aggression of Christian Horner, the poise of Toto Wolff and the everything of Lewis Hamilton. Without them, and without the precise and specific way in which they agitate one another, it’s just a race. With them, it’s something a whole lot more, and however this shakes out, just like David Copperfield, Bill Sykes, Esther Summerson and Philip Pirrip, the four of them are enshrined in the annals of humanity for the rest of time.