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Australian Grand Prix Preview: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg eye F1 records
Lewis Hamilton
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  16 Mar 2016   |  5:41 pm GMT  |  79 comments

With the 2016 Formula 1 season just a few days away, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both enter the first Grand Prix of the year on the verge of equalling long-standing records in the sport.

Rosberg, who won the final three races of 2015, is aiming to join Hamilton, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to take seven consecutive pole positions.

The German’s current qualifying streak stretches back to the Japanese Grand Prix in October last year.

Nico Rosberg

Speaking ahead of the race in Melbourne, Rosberg explained that he was raring to get racing again and hopes to extend his victory streak into 2016

He said: “I’ve had a great winter and done a few things differently for this year. I’ve never felt more ready to go. It’s going to be a great battle.

“I’m really hoping to bring back a couple of wins from the first flyaways to reward everyone at the factories for their hard work. Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton won the Australian event in 2015 and if he leads the Grand Prix for one lap this year the Briton will equal Senna’s tally of 86 races led, which is second only to Schumacher’s 142.

The world champion is also still one pole position short of becoming the third driver to reach 50 pole positions after Senna and Schumacher, a mark he has been stuck on ever since last year’s Italian Grand Prix due to Sebastian Vettel’s pole in Singapore and Rosberg’s subsequent domination in the final six qualifying sessions of 2015.

But Hamilton believes he still has more to give in Formula 1 as he seeks a third successive world title and the 31-year-old explained that he would need to make another step up to overcome Rosberg’s positive end to last season and the potential threat from Ferrari in 2016. Lewis Hamilton

He said: “I know there’s still more to come from me – I think I’ve shown that in the past two years. There certainly needs to be some extra in my tank, as the competition will be stronger than ever this year.”

Mercedes impressive mileage in testing – 3743 miles in total – stood out above the rest of the grid, and the team’s executive director (technical), Paddy Lowe, described how the W07 had completed more pre-season laps than its predecessor despite the lower number of test days in 2016.

He said: “We saw an unprecedented level of reliability during pre-season testing, almost the same mileage in eight days as we achieved across twelve days last year, demonstrating clear progress in our ability to prepare for a new season. Nico Rosberg

“However, it’s still early days, and there are no Championship points for testing.”

If Rosberg and Hamilton qualify first and second again, it will be the first time in F1 history that the front row has been exactly the same for seven races in succession.

McLaren brings updates to Melbourne – but is still playing catch up

At the other end of the grid, McLaren, which finished ninth in the constructors’ championship last year to record its worst finish since 1980, enters 2016 seeking to make progress with its engine supplier Honda.

Eric Boullier

The squad’s racing director, Eric Boullier, believes that McLaren arrives in Melbourne better prepared than in 2015, but he explained that it did not manage to complete its full programme of pre-season testing.

He said: “We are certainly a step ahead of where we were this time last year in terms of preparation – we have much more mileage under our belts and we’ve performed most of the necessary system checks that we were still working on during race weekends in 2015.

“That said, we didn’t manage to complete our final configuration and set-up work for the first race, so we go to Melbourne with a number of unknowns.

“It won’t be an easy start to the weekend in that sense, since we’ll need to concentrate on setting the car up for each session and readying the final specification of our package as soon as we get to Albert Park. Jenson Button

“Since the final pre-season test, there’s been a huge effort back in Woking to bring new parts to Australia and it’ll be good to finally get to the track on Friday and see how we fare.

“Our priority is to focus on extracting the most out of our own performance, while still maintaining reliability.”

Fernando Alonso returns to the Australian Grand Prix for the first time since 2014 – where he finished fourth – as the Spaniard missed the 2015 event as a result of concussion sustained in pre-season testing. Kevin Magnussen, who replaced him, did not take the start after his car broke down before the race began.

Fernando Alonso

But Alonso does have an impressive history at Albert Park. As well as his win in 2006, the 34-year-old has never retired in his 13 starts in Australia and has not finished lower than fifth since 2003.

Alonso explained that while McLaren is still not hitting its desired performance levels, podium finishes are a realistic target for the British team in 2016 and he still believes the McLaren-Honda partnership can win the world championship together.

He said: “I think at the beginning of the year it will be difficult [because] after winter testing, we still miss a little bit of performance. But the championship is very long – 21 races [in] 10 months.

Fernando Alonso

“I am sure our developing will be quite high and I think a podium possibility will be possible, but we want more than that.

“We go step by step but to be world champion is the final target with the team and myself. This year it seems that that will be extremely difficult but, next year or whenever it comes, we need to work with that target in mind.”

What do you think the Mercedes drivers will achieve in Australia? And what do you make of McLaren’s start to 2016? Do you expect the British team to improve this season? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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[Mod] Rosberg is incapable of saying sorry. It’s 100% his fault in Austria, and before that then before that OHHH and the time before that and even in the Monaco qualifying the other year. There is a pattern here. Rosberg needs to man up and take control of his desperate driving. After all, the only reason he in with a chance is he in that car.


I have always red and find the articles here informative and good but I can’t help but notice the bias against Hamilton, which is borne out recently when Mr Allen tipped Rosberg to be on pole for the Australian GP.
How could it be possible that Hamilton is always being compared to Nico despite Nico not having a single F1 title to his name, and was beaten 3 consecutive seasons he has paired with Hamilton? As a Hamilton fan it pains me to have to endure the constant lack of respect and support he gets from his fellow British compatriots in the F1 media.

Alex Kalinauckas

Can you elaborate on where you have found any bias in this article?


i have a feeling this wont be hamiltons best season overall..he will be distracted by wins from previous seasons..


There is one record we are likely to see this year.

Rosberg is pretty close to the record of the most GP wins for a driver that never wins the championship.

He will, inevitably, win a few races this year.

He won’t win the championship.


I honestly don’t know what to make of Rosberg. I often feel he is in F1 for the glamour and the money. I’ve seen very little actual racing from Rosberg that made me think “this guy is the real deal”

Fast without a doubt, but lacking that killer/overtaking instinct that Hamilton has.


Just testing my new email James.


What people people have to realize is that, Most often than not, when Lewis leads Ros, he does so, comfortably, and I extremely rare to see Ros leading Hamilton comfortable. Ros usually spend time defending with the help of tight circuits. I’m excluding the times when one of the drivers is experiencing complications of course.


Got my Mercedes team kit ready (thanks Stu!) and ready to see those records fall this weekend!

Will Rosberg bring more of a fight to Ham this year? Looks more likely somehow. I’ve not seen a driver take his foot off the pedal after winning the title as much as Hamilton did last year, it’ll be interesting to see which of the two looks more up for it.

As for McLaren… Eh. No-one likes to see it, but podiums are never going to be a realistic prospect this year outside of a freak result. A wet Monaco is their best bet!


He took his foot off alright.

And came in second in every race after with nary a single error? Unlike others.

What a statement to make – that championship was dead regardless of the hat histrionics of NR.

LH could have come in second for the last six races without a difference frankly.


Truth is we don’t know what to expect until Q3 on Saturday. I still think Merc have a qualifying advantage, so i guess it will be a Merc 1/2 on the grid, but if Ferrari have made progress with race pace it could be an exciting race!!! A bit of rain could spice things up too and keep us guessing on the true pecking order a little bit longer… All the negative comments from the usual suspects won’t take this race away from me. I will wake up early and watch all the sessions and thoroughly enjoy it. Australia, come at me!!!


Alonso: “This year it seems that that will be extremely difficult but, next year or whenever it comes … “

Whenever means he has mentally closed the chapter McLaren-Honda and is thinking about alternatives, cannot blame him at this point. He still might hang around due to lack of a better alternative.

Hopefully Ferrari can challenge for wins from the start otherwise i see F1 losing more fans as the Hamilton-Rosberg mini feud will have run its course by the end of this year.


May be I’m wrong, but I think Mercedes may give this year’s championship to Rosberg.


No way ! Toto said it’s even Stevens. Plus it’s Rosberg last season with the team.


They’re giving the championship to Will Stevens? There’s a twist 🙂


Hmm, I can’t help but feel that Lewis won’t quite be on it this year, and that Nico will be more determined than ever. Having said that, if Lewis shows Nico the way this weekend, that could well be a blow to Nico’s psyche. We know he hates finishing second to Lewis!

On a sidenote, as is a semi-regular occurence at this time of year in these parts, Lewis got himself in trouble in NZ the other day by posting videos of himself riding a motorbike (joining a busy motorway!), filmed on his phone. After an initial investigation, the police decided to take no further action. Once again not setting a good example there, Lewis.


Setting a good example. Yep keep enforcing the negatives.
Re: Lewis at start of last year. The usual guff was spouted out. Lewis just went on to dominate. I have no doubt it will be a Lewis & Vettel year with Rosberg picking up a race or two. One thing that Rosberg needs is Radio Love from his race engineer, with even less access this year he’ll be in the wilderness.


@ gaz boy….one man? what about rosberg’s three wins on the trot in 2015? oh, they don’t count i suppose? without the superb machine that he has he would not be in such an exalted position. the fact is that ATM there is very little evidence that the mercedes has any superior competition. that may change of course but we will have to wait and see. your last sentence confirms what i have said. if merc delivers – LH delivers.


Kenneth, I don’t think they count if you look at the season as a whole. Nico may have won the last three races, but no getting away from the fact that Lewis won the last three seasons!


It’s tense…..

Watched a rerun of the 2010 opener which Button won – Hamilton chasing is so much better than Hamilton leading.

But Rosberg is pretty desperate and may well push beyond himself which is interesting – he’ll be much improved this season me thinks. He had to be.
If Vettel plays the ‘Hamilton in a McLaren role’ things could get juicey. But Rosberg also has to be overcome.

Kimi’s role could be fascinating too.

Curious to see how Kyvat fairs against Ricciardio too. And the Perez/Hulkenburg saga is also important one of them will get the call from the emerging Renault works team I’m sure.

I have a good feeling about this season.


@ thompson…the entire red bull stable will be interesting to watch. ricci,sainz, vers and kvyat will all be pushing the limits and anything could happen. they are all excellent drivers and they need to be on top of their game to stay within the camp. fascinating.


LH for the win, SV second and NR third. Hamilton does look distracted to me to be honest. Just until yesterday, he was in New Zealand on holiday “in a private capacity” riding a motorbike on a motorway (and taking a selfie at the same time – but managed to get away without a police investigation), hitting the casino, etc. It may be how he relaxes before getting into serious business but I’d have thought that wasn’t the best start to the week leading up to a full season ahead.
I’m surprised Merc didn’t mind him riding a bike (and worse, while taking a selfie) just a few days before the season begins…


Lewis has been doing all that and winning championships for two years now so I don’t think it’s going to be an issue at all for him


One thing is certain, I’m going to be super sensitive to funny business by Mercedes like stacking pitstops or sudden performance issues that result in them not winning or other creativity that’s suspect and looks like surrender. At this point I’d honestly rather see a sweep of the season than have some fake loses by Mercedes that stink, like the 3 did last year.


I’m sure if they don’t win you will invent some theory why it wasn’t genuine, you have always managed it before.


Seriously dude, how dense are you? I asked you for 2 months not to reply to me, you can’t control yourself?


My original reply didn’t appear, surely not modded out?! It’s like this Sebee, this is an F1 fan site, you don’t like the cars, the engines, the rules, most of the drivers or basically anything about the sport. You are of course allowed to come on here every day and express these views, but don’t be surprised if people who do like the sport argue with you about it. You don’t like me replyong to your comments? Well I’m sorry but I am allowed to do that, we don’t get to pick and choose who may or may not reply to our comments, that’s just not how it works. Another thing we are not allowed to do is insult each other, over the past few weeks I have been called “uneducated” a “sheeple” and now “dense” by you. I don’t think this is acceptable, and hardly strengthens your view point.
Ultimately Sebee your posts are relentlessly negative about everything to do with F1, a lot of the facts and figures you quote in defence of your arguments are incorrect, I reserve the right to point this out and will continue to do so.


This is developing into the Ham Vs Rosberg battle of JAonF1


If you brush off any failure to win by Mercedes as them being “fake” losses them you are doomed from the start to be frustrated irrespective of what actually happens this season.


Maybe you should take a peek at the 3 loses in 2015, their context and timing again. Watch it again as a primer to 2016, see how you feel about it today.


Sebee did all your moaning reduce your star rating?


Maybe. Or it could be an ESP reflection of my excitement for 2016.


This championship will certainly feel very long for you, Fernando.


Nico’s possible record is all the motivation Lewis needs, I bet he would love nothing more than breaking that streak…


Things sound ominous for McLaren, almost like “wait until next year.” I know they have a reputation for development, but they may get into such a deep early hole that they’ll have work to stay ahead of Manor again. Bottom four awaits unless Honda’s made a major breakthrough.


“We are certainly a step ahead of where we were this time last year in terms of preparation”
With statements like this, you heart really sinks. Reading between the lines it means:

“We know we are going to end up ninth again unless we are lucky and Honda does not keep breaking down, leaving along to get a podium”


50 poles for Senna? Don’t think so…keep going.

I hope Ricciardo wins this weekend…imagine how big that smile would be!


Just wondering regarding the new radio restrictions. Does this mean that a driver can’t be told to push the few laps before pitting? For example, in Lewis’ case, “Hammer time”. Is there a requirement or rule that says the team can let the driver know X laps (2 or 3 or whatever) before pitting to pit?


11. “Push hard”, “push now”, “you will be racing xx” or similar.
24. When to enter the pits.


I see the Kiwi police???? are already trying to ruffle Lewis up for riding his motorbike. Next it will be the Aussie Police????…again. Antipodean Shenanigans ????. Hamilton for Pole.


Lewis got off extremely lightly in Aus when he was caught doing burnouts on the street. The following year we introduced the death penalty for burnouts.


The fact that Rosberg could get 7 consecutive pole positions is testament to how mediocre Hamilton is. Could you imagine what Button could do in that car??! Button would make Hamilton look very silly. It’s a shame he has had such bad cars in his career.

Button has embarrassed both Alonso and Hamilton as teammates. I am convinced he would do the same or even worse to Vettel. After all, Vettel got smashed by Riccardio, a non-champion newbie in the Red Bull.

Button has NEVER been outpointed by his teammate (beat Hamilton over 3 years) whilst the ‘big boys’ Ham, Vet, Alo have all been outpointed by 1 teammate over the years.

Just goes to show who REALLY is the best driver 😀


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!! that was funny… I’m on the floor here!


Lewis beat Jensen in 2010 and 2012.


Gotta be Kimi


Ok, I’ll bite, in there 3 seasons together, most wins, most poles(actually destroyed in qually) most podiums etc, in 2011 which was by far his most inconsistent season, again destroyed in qually, matched his teamate with 3 wins, as for 2012, even the most one eyed button fan, would recognise, the points difference in no way a true reflection of there season, button is a mighty fine driver, but beat ham, if they were in the merc together, first he’d have to out qualify lewis and put it on pole, which lets be honest, would be a very rare event


Button stated that Lewis is super fast & that if Lewis is on his best mind set he is unstoppable. Button only won a world championship in 2009 when Ferrari & Mclaren took their eye of the ball as they were concentrating on 2008 championship. Button is not in the league of Vettel or Hamilton or Alonso. Rose tinted glasses always promotes rose tinted conclusions.
The holy trinity of Alonso Hamilton & Vettel are in a league of their own.
Button is no where near those chaps.


Anticipation is tanking upwards to the start of the season ????


My anticipation almost spiked right through the top of my head when I checked the TV guide and saw a two day, wall to wall F1 free-to-air TV broadcast schedule!!! WOOT 🙂
You’re not getting my moolah Rupert!


It’s going to be an unusual Free Practice 1.2.3.
Don’t think you’ll get any qualifying lap times on the Softer tyres until Free Practice 3 from Mercedes. So we will see how far ahead the Mercedes Boys are in comparison to the rest.
It’s not a super speed track so Ferrari might be close as will Williams & RBR. Hoping Mclaren are up there too.


Well Lewis will be gunning for pole.
New Season so he should be back on the Hammer. Hopefully he’ll be up on pole.
But it’s going to be a lottery in Q3 Q2 depending on how many times there’s a safety car deployed. Crazy times with the new Qualifying format.


FIA should take some action against Lewis as he filmed himself on his mobile while driving a motorbike in New Zealand.


Looks like Eric has got one of those contraptions on his back – you know, they use them in testing to measure the airflow. I suppose Ron needs to make sure he gets about the factory quickly enough. That’s Ron for you, leaves nothing to chance does he?


Yep, but wait until they put the aero-paint on him 😉


If Rosberg and Hamilton qualify first and second again, it will be the first time in F1 history

It seems the new qualifying format will do it’s magic thus giving us a mixed grid.

As @KRB noted in the past, Mercedes haven’t been lucky in setting new records as the team failed in 2015 to set a record 10 consecutive 1-2 finishes

Likely the team failed to equal Williams 24 consecutive poles also, Lewis failed to equal Schumi’s 19 consecutive podiums at Hungary 2015.

As for Rosberg, it’s unlikely he will join Prost, Schumi, Senna and Lewis in equaling 7 consecutive poles as Rosberg is the odd man out in this group.

Regards Lewis, his father said he can only get stronger so we wait and see what rabbits he can pull out of the bag.

Talking about Mercedes reliability, it was mentioned by the experts that it was an ominous sign when Lowe said the team didn’t even remove the engine cover on their filming day run at Silverstone.

On the topic of Mclaren, hopefully their new parts can push the team up the grid as the midfield is always a precarious place to be surrounded by trigger happy young guns

Also the drivers need the team to be on good form during qualifying as Mclaren tends to get their calculations on the pitwall wrong.


Another boring year then…


Firstly James, I believe Senna’s pole position total was 65, not 50 as stated, second only to Michael Schumacher.
About the Mercedes boys, I feel Lewis had a clear advantage, under previous circumstances. I’m of the opinion that possibly the radio ban may affect Lewis more. Rosberg seems to be able to pace himself better, knows when to push and all. I’m worried Lewis will destroy his tires and get it wrong. But that said, I expect if that happens, maybe in the early races and further down the line he’ll adapt.
If I were a betting man, I’d still put money on Lewis, but I’d wager less. Rosberg is out of contract, at the end of the season. Who knows what Mercedes will decide to do. This may be his best shot and that could make him that little bit hungrier than Lewis.
With regards to McLaren, I’ve never seen a team so guarded before the start of a season. They have strenuously refused to make any assumptions or predictions as to where they expect to be this season. Obviously, a team like McLaren only want to win, fighting for championships and race wins is their goal. So much so that they will not be happy even if they are fighting Williams or Red Bull. They want to be in the company of Mercedes and Ferrari. But the reality is that they are not, and the have to get past the other teams first.
I think they’ll be at least ahead of Manor, Haas, Sauber and possibly Renault. By years end, I hope they can deliver and be mixing with Williams, Red Bull and Force India. It would be a shame if they are unable to catch Toro Rosso with a frozen engine.
I doubt they will win in 2016, but I expect them to put in a performance that will point to a strong possibility of wins in 2017.


Only 1 man can beat Lewis Hamilton……………and that’s himself. Gary Anderson has said the same. If he loses his motivation or gets distracted, like he did last year in Hungary, then he does tend to go wayward, as that race showed. If he retains his focus however – then he, as he did last year, make the grand prix circus his own personal fiefdom.

Seeing him being interviewed recently – his slightly demotivated and lack of focus at the back end of last year is a faded memory. He looks more than ready for the fight – bad news for his competitors. If the Merc delivers – LH delivers.


@ gaz boy…your last sentence says it all. the only way hamilton will win is if he has the car. given that is the case then so could many others given the same car.


rosberg also has the car.
no one is capable of beating hamilton if they replaced rosberg.


Yeah, I mean, the only driver this century to win a driver’s championship without having the winning constructor’s car was…. Oh. Right. Hamilton, in 2008.


so basically you’re saying Rosberg only will win because hamilton’s lack of interest in f1 I think you take other professional F1 drivers as a joke…
truth be told the margins between who is fast or not is razor thin in F1…Hamilton won last season fair and square but it doesn’t mean Rosberg cant beat him…I think he’s more than capable of becoming world champion himself!


No, he has a point


His PR nightmare from NZ might be too much of a distraction for him this weekend. I want him to get back to winning ways but I don’t see it happening with the junk going on in his life these last few weeks.


He does seem to have a problem with being refused entry at venues due to his choice of headgear.


Come on, He’s not that fragile. My guess is, he’s used to manage drama. he does not live his life in a conservative and monotonous way like the most drivers.


I think you’re right…he’s starting to remind me of a couple of a couple of young aussie tennis players….or are they reminding me of him?


Kyrgios has probably the worst attitude of any sportsman in the world.

If you’re going to be that much of a [Mod] you have to be very very good, which he currently isn’t.


But, he has a contract till end of 2018. Unless Merc fires 3 time World Champion, his de-motivation could be an asset for Ferrari. Btw, I couldnt buy into the fact that, only persn who can beat Lewis is Lewis, its more suitable for a Movie dialogue.


I’m not so sure about that. Rosberg is only a small step behind, if he can find another gear, I think he can beat Lewis here and set up his season for a solid tilt at the title. If Ferrari are close enough Seb can also spring an upset.
And don’t forget this is Melbourne, if the weather plays up, it could be anyone’s race.

Here’s hoping anyway.


‘If the Merc delivers -‘ nightmare scenario again.

… man I can’t wait for the day that the Merc drivers have to race hard against other teams for races and titles instead of waltzing and sandbagging their way over the line because their accellerator pedal works better and deploys (ugg) better than everyone else.

Dropping two poles in 38 races to Seb in 2015 and Massa in 2014, dropping 6 races out of 38 often to mistakes is not racing, it’s devaluing F1, so lets see a ray of light this year, please!


Come on, its a new season, let’s start off with something that is a bit less hyperbolic even for the most ardent of HAM fans. Do you truly believe that no one on the grid is capable of beating him over the course of a season? Or that no other driver could win on merit, because the only way that someone other than HAM wins is if HAM gifts them the win by being distracted? If you don’t think HAM was trying at the end of last season to beat ROS you must have been watching different races than I was.

Here’s to hoping that everyone at the front of the grid is as focused you think HAM is – ROS, VET, RAI, RIC. I want them all to take it to him. Hopefully you are right about putting distractions behind him. Sadly the pass week have been full of event suggesting he is not focused (investigations of sefies taken on Motorbikes in New Zealand, odd rants about his experience at a casino, racial comments about Chinese passengers on a flight and dust ups with the media at Merc press conferences…

The star was also reportedly terse with journalists at a press conference last week and continued that contretemps with more recent statements.


Gaz Boy, Even as his number one fan, aren’t you a little bit concerned by all these Oscar Ceremonies and Fashion shows etc that he loves to do? As his number 2 fan I have to say I am. He is of course the fastest most tenacious driver around but we all remember the last time he had other things on his mind and Jenson beat him fair and square. Accepted that Jenson is much better than most people think, our Lewis should not be beaten by any team mate and he won’t be by his current one if he I is in the right frame of mind.


@ Gaz Boy

Ironically, of the years Lewis has been successful at Hungary, are the years he hasn’t won the title i.e. 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013


I love the way everyone else’s responses to Gaz Boy were about what they felt of Lewis as best driver and whether he was distracted or not going into this season but you just point out some statistics about how Lewis has run at Hungary 😀

James talks about Lewis going for his 50th Pole but Vettel is only 4 away from that record as well. If Rosberg is able to maintain his momentum from last year and Ferrari have managed to crack the quali mode on their PU it is possible that Vettel could get there first. I doubt it as I imagine Ham will come flying out of the blocks at the start of this season!


@ Ben

Hahaha, this is what they call passionate debate.

Speaking of Senna, as was pointed out by the fans, his tally is in fact 65 poles and what is more impressive is he made this record in fewer races than Schumi

So yes Lewis and Vettel have a long way to go and it remains to be seen if they will achieve this milestone


I wonder what these “done a few things differently for this year” means for Rosberg. Is it a carryover of last years pole streaks or a new mind approach? For his title chances, it is essential that he starts the year with a win on merit and a bit of confidence in his pocket. As for McLaren, I hope Button can take a point or two, he is usually one of the strongest on Albert Park circuit.

Tornillo Amarillo

ROSBERG won last year when HAMILTON’s bid was already inevitable for the Championship…

Now that we have a fresh start in Melbourne, HAMILTON will win because he has an extra push when it counts.


He’s probably found a new list of excuses to use when he sits in a press conference after another second place.

“The difference isn’t big, honest!”

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