Lewis Hamilton has won three consecutive races with Mercedes this season, which is delighting supporters of every team other than Red Bull among the members of Formula 1 Fans of the Cayman Islands.
They meet at PD’s in Galleria Plaza on West Bay Road every Sunday morning a grand prix is on to watch on TV screens. Hamilton’s superlative form is refreshing for fans tired of seeing triple world champ Sebastian Vettel dominate every race. The Brit coasted to victory in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, finishing ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
Mercedes is doing exceptionally well; Rosberg won the season’s opener and has been second behind Hamilton in all three victories, which is why the German tops the drivers’ table with 79 points, four ahead of his team-mate. Alonso is third with 41 points.
Danny Roach is the organizer of the F1 club. He said that the Chinese race was much anticipated after the extremely wet qualifying sessions on Saturday, which saw many surprises including Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen not making into the top 10 for the start.
China was also marked by the introduction of Marco Mattiacci as the new race team leader for Ferrari, Roach’s team.
“There was major contact between Alonso and his former teammate Felipe Massa who is now driving for the Williams team,” Roach said. “Some thought the contact may have been deliberate but no investigation was made and Alonso got his first podium finish of the season.”
Roach added, “Even with the race being held over the Easter weekend when many of the F1 fans are camping, vacationing off island or involved in many other activities, we still had over 40 fans turn out and we raised $165 for The Pines Retirement Home. Door prizes were given out from PowerFlower, Plant Nursery, Automotive Art and Rubis for fuel.”
The next grand prix is in Barcelona on May 11, which traditionally marks the teams introducing upgrades to the cars’ aerodynamic and mechanical packages for the first European race. The teams get three weeks to move all their gear from China to Spain and install the new parts.
Helen Chawe regularly attends the F1 Fans gatherings at PD’s and she is backing Mercedes this season. “I’m so happy,” she said. “Hamilton might be back on his game again now with a better car and engine and he is working well in the trials to be able to start in pole position.
“We know from the past that if his car is not working as well as it should, then he can be out as quickly as a snap of the fingers.”
Chawe added that F1 racing is just as much a team sport as an individual one because the people behind the scenes need to get the car exactly right.
“I’m hoping that he can bring home the title again but it is still too early in the season to tell,” she said. “There are so many changes this season, the cars and their engines for one, plus new locations and tracks. I think, at this point, it’s anyone’s game.”
For many, getting up for a 9 a.m. screening on Sundays is too much of a chore, but Chawe soaks up the club’s atmosphere.
“I love it. We all get together and have a great morning. It’s also a great excuse too for me not to cook breakfast. We can buy it instead.
“Also, we have so many different sponsors now that we can win great prizes and at the same time raise money for some deserving charities here on island, so everyone wins.”
Chawe got into F1 growing up in England but was not an avid watcher until her sister had friends who worked for McLaren. “Then I became more of a fan as she used to go to some of the races – never took me though. Now I watch it more than she does!”
Chawe feels it is nice to have someone else up front as Vettel constantly winning had become tedious. “Let’s hope this year I can say the same about Hamilton.”
She added a big thanks to Roach for setting up the club in the first place, PD’s for hosting the races, and the many generous sponsors for the prizes.