Having dominated the opening four rounds of the Formula One season, Nico Rosberg faces a make-or-break nine-race shootout in the battle to finally defeat Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
The German driver stormed to victory in the first quartet of events, growing a 39-point gap to Hamilton, and for a time, even the bookies reckoned this would be Rosberg’s year, making the ex-Williams man the odds-on title favourite.
But a true champion shows his class when the chips are down, and following their infamous first-lap collision at round five in Spain, the season has become a one-man show – Hamilton’s one-man show.
The three-time champion has won six of the last seven races, with Rosberg only claiming victory in Azerbaijan – after Hamilton made an error in qualifying – and a 39-point deficit for Hamilton is now a 19-point lead.
Hamilton’s sheer dominance in those seven rounds is reflected in the odds, with the Stevenage native now heavy favourite for this year’s crown at 1/5.
Over the past two and a half seasons, Mercedes have dominated the sport, and in the intra-team fight, Hamilton has unquestionably proven to be the faster driver.
Rosberg has failed to consistently get the better of his illustrious team-mate, and again this year he’s shown little to suggest he can muster a challenge in the final rounds.
His four victories at the start of the year owed much to problems with Hamilton, but it is mechanical fortune again which may just favour the German in the weeks to come.
Such were Hamilton’s problems earlier this year, that at least one grid penalty is almost guaranteed to hit the Brit at one of the next three races.
That would effectively hand Rosberg a free win and at least a seven-point cut into Hamilton’s lead, and help keep his title hopes alive.
But when all things are equal and everything functions correctly on their Mercedes W07 Hybrids, this title fight is already over.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.