Lewis Hamilton couldn’t have envisaged the defence of his F1 title starting much worse this season, but there’s still every chance the Mercedes man can overhaul team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton is yet to get through a race weekend unscathed, beginning with a bad start in Australia which led to him being ousted at turn one by his German rival.
That was followed by a shunt with Valtteri Bottas in Bahrain, before technical issues saw him start last China, where the 31-year-old was then caught up in another first lap clash.
Last weekend’s race in Russia was therefore supposed to be the start of Hamilton’s championship, but a freak reoccurrence of the MGU-H problem in qualifying saw the Brit start 10th.
A fight through the field to second was all Hamilton could achieve, and while he’s been dealing with issue after issue, Rosberg has serenely sailed to four straight wins.
The German leads his English foe by 43 points – the best part of two race wins – and is now 8/11 favourite to win this season’s driver’s championship.
Hamilton is 6/4 for a fourth world crown, and with 17 of this year’s 21 races still to go, there’s every chance Lewis can achieve just that.
He only needs to outscore Rosberg by fewer than three points per race, and for all his 2016 problems, none of them have been to do with his speed and skill.
Lewis has taken pole position in the two qualifying sessions this season where his car hasn’t failed him, but there are a few things looming which may cause further strife.
The most severe is the likelihood of Hamilton incurring an engine penalty at some point this year, with the Brit already on the third of his six allocated turbocharger and MGU-H units.
Once he uses a seventh component, grid penalties will apply, and Hamilton may also receive a starting place penalty should he receive another reprimand from the stewards.
The Stevenage-born ace was handed his first of the year for reversing in the pit-lane (albeit by about one foot) in Bahrain, and he was slapped with a second for not going around a designated bollard in Russia.
Hamilton has called the warnings ‘ridiculous’ but rules are rules and another would see him enduring a 10-place grid drop.
With Rosberg already handed a 43-point head start, Hamilton can’t afford anymore setbacks.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.