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FIA's radio silence perfect backdrop to Mercedes duel

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Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates on the podium after winning the Italian F1 Grand Prix in Monza September 7, 2014: "Thankfully Hamilton and Alonso, artisans as they are at their craft, give us more than enough reasons to follow F1" writes David Kennedy (REUTERS/Max Rossi)

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates on the podium after winning the Italian F1 Grand Prix in Monza September 7, 2014: "Thankfully Hamilton and Alonso, artisans as they are at their craft, give us more than enough reasons to follow F1" writes David Kennedy (REUTERS/Max Rossi)

REUTERS

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton (top) of Britain passes his teammate driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the Italian F1 Grand Prix in Monza September 7, 2014. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton (top) of Britain passes his teammate driver Nico Rosberg of Germany during the Italian F1 Grand Prix in Monza September 7, 2014. REUTERS/Max Rossi

REUTERS

The news that the FIA has banned with immediate effect any form of pit-to-driver radio communication that could enhance the performance of either car or driver is another step in the forward in returning autonomy to the driver (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

The news that the FIA has banned with immediate effect any form of pit-to-driver radio communication that could enhance the performance of either car or driver is another step in the forward in returning autonomy to the driver (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

AP

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Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates on the podium after winning the Italian F1 Grand Prix in Monza September 7, 2014: "Thankfully Hamilton and Alonso, artisans as they are at their craft, give us more than enough reasons to follow F1" writes David Kennedy (REUTERS/Max Rossi)

The news that the FIA has banned with immediate effect any form of pit-to-driver radio communication that could enhance the performance of either car or driver is another step forward in returning autonomy to the driver.

After all, that's what they're paid to do, they should be able to race without diktats blaring into their earpieces. This isn't kindergarten, it's the pinnacle of motorsport, let them get on with it. They'll still be informed about pitstop strategies or relevant race information, but being told how to drive or who to let past? Well hopefully that is now consigned to the past. Added to that, in recent races the FIA has slackened the reins as far as the punishment of drivers who dare to over-duel. There is a real awakening of the realisation that fans just won't tolerate racing-by-numbers any more.

The essence of Formula One is danger. But somewhere along the road officialdom intervened with giant balls of cotton wool and wrapped it around every possible eventuality, with the result that, unless you gave two fingers to the establishment as Lewis Hamilton is wont to do, you end up with a sanitised version of 'Come Dancing'.

Thankfully Hamilton and Alonso, artisans as they are at their craft, give us more than enough reasons to follow F1 because they embody the very definition of what a racer is about. The current Hamilton-Rosberg fight is enough to satiate the dullest of taste buds for the sport. It is reminiscent of the Prost-Senna days when the McLaren team-mates won all bar one race in 1988. That year the best 11 races counted, so although Prost scored more points, Senna won the title in the final reckoning. Prost was triumphant the following year and Senna the next two.

Nico Rosberg is doing a superlative job holding his team-mate and former karting competitor from gnawing into his lead, which now stands at 22 points. The show is building to a dramatic crescendo.

Thirty-two years ago Nico's father Keke became world champion despite having just a single win that season; 1982 was a year of carnage and tragedy and in many way a watershed in terms of safety; the FIA has made racing much safer for his son's era. Interestingly, Keke was driving for Williams and the team would go on to win another five driver's titles up to 1997.

Alonso has a new boss at Ferrari, Sergio Marchionne, who swaps roles as chief executive of the parent company Fiat. He replaces Luca di Montezemolo a man synonymous with Ferrari, having been at the helm for 23 years during which they notched up a staggering 18 world titles. He leaves his position as chairman of Ferrari with a legacy of record car sales and huge cash reserves. But F1 is central to the brand and it's been six years since the team won a championship with Kimi Raikkonen. Bringing the Finn back was not the smartest of moves.

They have to go back to the drawing board as far as the engine goes but has Alonso lost patience with their promises? He may feel the time is right to defect to another top team. McLaren claim they are re-signing their current drivers. That leaves Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel is being overshadowed by Daniel Ricciardo so is it time to prove his worth at Ferrari? The two drivers could swap teams on a quid pro quo basis.

In the 13 races this season Mercedes has won 10: four to Rosberg and six to Hamilton. Ricciardo won the other three. Hamilton, whenever he finished a race, has never been off the podium. Rosberg has retired just once to Hamilton's three. Rosberg has had more pole positions, seven to Hamilton's five. Felipe Massa has been the only other driver to get pole.

The number crunchers will be doing the math. The remaining races are Singapore, Japan, Russia, USA, Brazil and the finale in Abu Dhabi with double points to play for. It's riveting stuff. Points are awarded from first to 10th in the following order: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1.

It is a test of nerves for Rosberg. Hamilton has outpaced him on several occasions. The German will want to play it safe and hope that his team-mate's fighting spirit gets the better of him. The likelihood is that both drivers could go to Abu Dhabi capable of winning the title. That is one race they cannot afford to crash or retire in.

Hamilton takes more chances and it will prove the making or the destruction of his hopes for a second title. Rosberg has yet to savour the accolade of world champion. Will he crack or will he crack it?

Singapore is next weekend. The Marina Bay circuit is a fabulous venue, and being a night race it boasts an amplified atmosphere. Hamilton won the race in 2009. Rosberg's best was second place in 2008. Although Rosberg has finished every race there, Hamilton has had better results.

Vettel won the last three races there. He has a new chassis coming - is this what he's been waiting for to deliver his first win of the season? Ricciardo sandwiched the summer break with two fine wins. Williams will be ready to pounce with their fine duo of Massa and Valtteri Bottas should the Mercedes silver arrows have fletching problems.

It's getting tough at the top and it will be a testament to whichever Mercedes driver keeps a cool head. In the last five years every driver on pole has won the race, bar Hamilton in 2012, when he retired while leading due to gearbox failure. In 2008 Alonso won from 15th on the grid, helped in no small part by his team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr crashing his car deliberately.

I don't think there's much chance of the Mercedes team-mates resorting to those shenanigans to help each other out.

Sunday Indo Sport