Roger Diez: Will Formula 1 champion jump ship?

Lewis Hamilton ended the season in a fitting manner for his sixth championship season, taking the pole and winning the season finale in Abu Dhabi in convincing fashion.

Hamilton’s Mercedes had no serious competition after he got the jump on Red Bull driver Max Verstappen at the start. Hamilton’s margin of victory over Verstappen was 16.772 seconds, a remarkably large gap. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at 43.435 seconds back in third.

Surprisingly, Mercedes has not yet renewed Hamilton’s contract, although they are in negotiations. This has led to speculation about Hamilton switching teams to a resurgent Ferrari for 2020. The problem with that is that Sebastian Vettel has another year to go on his Ferrari contract, and Leclerc is signed to a long-term deal with the team. Perhaps Lewis will negotiate for a one-year Mercedes deal.

The 2020 season will run with a very similar rules package to 2019, but new regulations for 2021 could very well be the catalyst that sees Mercedes overtaken by other teams. If Hamilton does leave, who will replace him? Verstappen? Daniel Ricciardo? Will Hamilton and Vettel swap seats? Online polling has Hamilton staying with Mercedes 61%. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.


The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup awards banquet in Nashville took place Thursday, with all the glitter and glitz of most award shows. Congratulations to Kyle Busch on his second Cup title. His acceptance speech showed that he has matured from the former “wild child” of NASCAR with his words to his wife Samantha.

He said, “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of the world, but those who fight and win battles that others don’t know anything about,” referring to her unsuccessful attempts at in vitro fertilization.

There was also humor, as Denny Hamlin pulled out a piece of tape like the one that possibly cost him his first championship and put it over his mouth. Congrats also go to Chase Elliott, Most Popular Driver for the second year in a row. He has a way to go before catching dad Bill, who won the award 16 times, or Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had 15 wins. Other notable awards were the Bill France award for Joe Gibbs, Darrell Waltrip’s Myers Brothers award, and the Betty Jane France Humanitarian award, which went to Joe Vaughn of the Project Hope Foundation.


Switching gears from racing topics, it’s time for my yearly reminders about driving in inclement weather. Having done both, I can verify that driving on snow and ice is similar to driving a race car, only at much lower speeds.

In both endeavors, one approaches the limits of adhesion, and sometimes exceeds those limits. In a recent conversation with Court Cardinal, Casino Fandango general manager and racer, the topic of situational awareness came up. It’s a good thing to have when driving at any time, but even more importantly when visibility and road conditions are worsened by weather.

Be aware of the space around you, other drivers, pedestrians, and road conditions at all times. We had our first snow last week, and it may well be snowing again as you read this. So, here are a few tips to help you avoid becoming one of those accident statistics.

First, be aware of your surroundings and concentrate on your driving. Second, leave a little extra space between you and the car in front. Braking distances increase with reduced adhesion due to snow, ice, and slush. Third, avoid any sudden or severe control inputs. Go easy on the accelerator, brakes, and steering. A sudden jab or the accelerator or twist on the wheel can easily send you careening into a spin or a ditch. And be safe out there!


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