Can Hamilton keep fending off Ferrari – and Rosberg?

2015 Spanish Grand Prix Grand Prix preview

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The Circuit de Catalunya hosts the Spanish Grand Prix for the 25th time this year, and will welcome a grid with three home drivers.

And while it’s unlikely Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz Jnr or Roberto Merhi will be standing on the podium when 66 laps of the circuit have been completed on Sunday afternoon, the home driver contingent is at least considerably stronger than it was when F1 first visited the track in 1991.

Lewis Hamilton may have three wins from the first four races under his belt but the opposition aren’t far behind. And the threat doesn’t just come from Ferrari, who have already pinched one win from Mercedes this year and were bearing down on them hard in Bahrain.

Nico Rosberg is yet to beat Hamilton in a race this year but he has the power to do so if he can recapture the excellent qualifying form he enjoyed last season. Mercedes have locked out the front row of the grid at this track for the last two years running – if Rosberg can repeat his 2013 pole position and break Hamilton’s 2015 monopoly on the top spot he’ll be well-placed to to take the win he needs to start reining his team mate in.

Coming three weeks after the last round, the first race of the ‘European season’ is traditionally the venue were teams bring their first major update of the season, so expect to see some changes in the competitive order we’ve grown used to from the first races. Inevitably much attention will surround the progress being made by McLaren and local favourite Alonso.

Spanish Grand Prix Grand Prix team-by-team preview


Last year the Circuit de Catalunya was one of the strongest venues for Mercedes – a full second clear of the rest in qualifying and almost 50 seconds ahead when the chequered flag came down. Although they were vulnerable to Ferrari on the medium/hard tyre mix in Malaysia the cooler temperatures in Spain should make that less of a problem. Reliability remains the key question after their braking trouble in the latter stages of the last race.

Red Bull

Engine change penalties in the near future are now all-but certain for Red Bull, as Daniel Ricciardo is already on his fourth power unit. Even if a rules change permitting a fifth is ratified it will be too little, too late to help him. But the medium-to-high speed corners should suit them well, and potentially bring the likes of Williams within range.


Valtteri Bottas was back to his best in Bahrain but Felipe Massa’s technical trouble limited the team’s points-scoring potential. This could be their first ‘full strength’ weekend of the year, but even so it seems doubtful they’ll offer much resistance to Ferrari unless their promised upgrade package brings a serious leap forward for the FW37.


While Ferrari are doing the best job of taking the fight to Mercedes, the manner in which they are doing it raises interesting questions about the choice of strategies given to their two drivers. In recent races Sebastian Vettel has played the hare in the opening stints, pushing Mercedes hard with early pit stops to jump ahead using the ‘undercut’, while Raikkonen has been the tortoise in the early phase of the race, managing his pace and tyres before unleashing his potential in the final stint. That paid off handsomely for Raikkonen in Bahrain – will we see more of the same this weekend?


Fernando Alonso can expect to face more questions over his now-infamous pre-season testing crash as he returns to the scene of the accident for the first time. His account of the incident and McLaren’s differed in several ways, not least whether a technical problem might have contributed to him going off in turn three. Of greater concern to the team will be whether they can go one better than the 11th Alonso managed last time out, and get their first points on the board.

Force India

“Fourth place in the championship is just 12 points ahead of us,” notes an optimistic Vijay Mallya, “so we need to keep fighting hard and picking up points when we can”. Force India plainly don’t have the car to contest for that kind of place on merit at the moment, but they hope the B-version of their VJM08 which is in the pipeline will allow them to. Until then it’s going to be a case of salvaging what they can. Merely reaching Q2 could be a challenge here.

Toro Rosso

Contrary to what some might have expected, Toro Rosso’s pursuit of fifth place in the championship is being compromised not by their youthful driver line-up but by the poor reliability of their car, and in particular its Renault engine. Remarkably, Max Verstappen is yet to race at the Circuit de Catalunya, so that should stand his team mate in good stead for his first home race.


Romain Grosjean produced a stand-out performance of last season to drag the E22 to eighth place in this race last year having qualified a remarkable fifth. At minimum, continuing his streak of reaching Q3 at every race will be the first objective, and after that comes the increasingly absorbing question of how Lotus’s pace compared to that of Williams.


Raffaele Marciello will be back in action for the team in the first practice session for this race and on the second day of the post-race test.


Roberto Merhi is expected to remain with the team for a fifth race but whether he will continue beyond that remains to be seen. He has a clashing commitment at the Monaco Grand Prix round to race in Formula Renault 3.5.

2015 driver form

DriverG avgR avgR bestR worstClassifiedForm guide
Lewis Hamilton1.001.25124/4Form guide
Nico Rosberg2.502.50234/4Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo6.007.756104/4Form guide
Daniil Kvyat11.509.00992/3Form guide
Felipe Massa5.006.254104/4Form guide
Valtteri Bottas6.005.00463/4Form guide
Sebastian Vettel2.753.00154/4Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen6.503.33243/4Form guide
Fernando Alonso16.6711.5011122/3Form guide
Jenson Button17.5012.5011142/3Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg12.5011.337143/4Form guide
Sergio Perez13.5010.508134/4Form guide
Max Verstappen11.2512.007172/4Form guide
Carlos Sainz Jnr11.2510.008133/4Form guide
Romain Grosjean9.008.337113/4Form guide
Pastor Maldonado12.0015.0015151/4Form guide
Marcus Ericsson11.7510.678143/4Form guide
Felipe Nasr11.759.255124/4Form guide
Will Stevens19.0015.5015162/2Form guide
Roberto Merhi19.3316.0015173/3Form guide
Kevin Magnussen17.000/0Form guide

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    64 comments on “Can Hamilton keep fending off Ferrari – and Rosberg?”

    1. It will be interesting to see if Ferrari can get even closer to Merc’s outright one lap pace. Equally as interesting is to see if Merc can respond to Ferrari’s new found race pace.

    2. Twelve months ago – largely on the basis of a millimetrically perfect 2013 pole lap – I backed Rosberg to beat Hamilton at a Spanish track where he has never truly excelled, and whilst it was close, this proved to be the wrong tip.

      In 2015, stubbornly, my bet once again goes to Nico. This is largely because Rosberg has the track data from a test where he was faster than Lewis in both high and low fuel runs, and – whilst the car and track conditions are vastly different – this data is invaluable to teams since the Friday sessions will be largely focused on testing upgrades. That said, at a track he qualified pole on in 2014, Rosberg didn’t even manage the front row in Bahrain, so I guess backing Rosberg is to hope for something of a renaissance in his form.

      1. @countrygent – I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for Monaco to perhaps see Nico beat Hamilton for the first time this season.

        1. I dont think Lewis will let Rosberg get away with playing that game again.

          1. no probably not but rosberg has always been extremely quick at monaco anyway regardless of shenanigans so i think his point stands

            1. Hamilton is very quick there too. He was actually faster last year, but Rosberg’s trick did the job.

      2. @countrygent
        I think Nico’s pole run last year was down totally to him going for qualifying setup vs race setup. He seemed to feel that if he could get out front then he had a better chance to keep Lewis behind. Didn’t always work, but it gave him a few wins.
        Fast forward to 2015. Nico didn’t win the WDC and is trying a different tactic: setup for race. And it’s backfiring on him. He’s frankly not the driver that Lewis is and so now he’s lost the only advantage he had…starting on pole.

        I think what we’re seeing now is Nico and Lewis in relatively similar setups and Lewis is totally dominating him. We’ll see if Monaco can turn things around for Nico as he clearly feels better there than Lewis. But I don’t hold out much hope of Nico being a real challenge at this point.

        1. pxcmerc (@)
          6th May 2015, 16:45

          You will find out that Nico can beat Lewis just as easily if he starts the race in the lead, it’s the nature of the tires right now, qualifying is a lot more important this year, you can be more than half a second slower and still keep people behind you this year, you just need to go fast for long enough for the guy’s tires behind you to fall off after a couple laps, thats the game for this year.

          It’s ironic, Pirelli have made tires that don’t last worth anything, and now that is going to make the racing this year hideously predictable, and with very little overtaking towards the front. I guess it could always rain.

          1. @pcxmerc
            You think the tires are worse this year than last year? Or do you just mean that’s how bad the tires are in general so it would be the same for Nico to win races if he was on pole like last year?

            1. pxcmerc (@)
              6th May 2015, 17:25

              i think it’s a combination of the cars being quicker and Pirelli just not being able/not wanting to deliver tires that perform. I believe that Pirelli’s offerings are suffering probably harder under cornering loads than braking and acceleration based on how Merc have been harder hit than Ferrari, which leads me to believe Pirelli might have thought about revisiting 2013, but with out tires that like to explode.

            2. @pcxmerc I don’t think the medium and hard compounds have changed since last year, maybe soft too. Supersofts are new if I recall.

          2. One other thought: If you’re right and Nico and Lewis get into an “arms race” for pole and both go too far towards a qualy setup…they could truly leave themselves vulnerable to Ferrari in the race! It’s that close on race pace now and that could cost them.

            1. @pcxmerc I tend to agree. I don’t recall from last year drivers like NR and SV at exactly the same time complaining that getting within 2 seconds of LH and NR respectively, destroyed their tires. Something must have changed more than we know either in terms of the tires, or in terms if slightly faster cars being harder on the same tires.

              I don’t think it is Pirelli not being able nor wanting to build better tires, though. Of course Pirelli and other makers can build better tires. And I don’t think Pirelli would get away with simply not wanting to build better tires, like it is solely their decision. If the tires have been changed, or haven’t been changed enough to handle this year’s cars, that is what has been mandated by the FIA/F1.

              But I think you sum it up well that it seems all you need do is lead long enough until those behind you have destroyed their tires, and Bob’s your uncle. At least at some tracks anyway.

    3. I hope we get something along the lines of Ferrari doing three option stints and a prime one where as Mercedes have to do one option stint and two prime stints.

      1. On the contrary, ferraris best chance has to be to make the mediums last long enough to make it in two stops (med-med-hard for Seb (the hare), med-hard-med for Kimi (tortoise)). The performance gap between medium and hards could prove vital , anything in the region of 1-1.2 s could make the mercs think , especially if they cant make the mediums last for 18-20 laps.

        1. That’s what I mean – Ferrari could do three very fast 18-20 lap stints on the option and finish it of with a 6-9 lap stint on the prime. Whereas Mercedes were to use this strategy they could only make the options last a good 14-15 laps. If the gap between the two tyres is 1-1.2s that could prove their best chance to emulate Alonso in 2013.

        2. The Ferrari edge, to the extent they have one, is due partly to being a bit easier on the tyres and partly to their adapting a split strategy for their drivers while knowing that Mercedes will NOT counter this be following suit with their own drivers. These things together give them an opening to exploit. It’s a small one as the Merc is still a superior car.

    4. HI James…. Is the data gathered from testing going to be relevant in this case ? what was the longest stint during the final test ? i seem to remember rosberg going very fast on the mediums but did the mercs manage enough mileage?

      1. *Mileage on a single tyre

      2. James?? I think you got the site confused :) this is not JAonF1.

        1. Ooops… sorry Keith…apologies

          1. I was very confused for a moment there!

            And no, I don’t think the long-run testing data will be relevant because the conditions were a lot cooler than they’ll be this weekend.

            1. Thanks, Ted.

            2. Thanks. lets hope that Lewis has a challenger this time round.

      3. I see some of the James Allen on F1 sycophants are in the building ;)

    5. I find it hard to believe that anyone accepts that rosberg is a better qualifier than hamilton based on last year
      in 2014 hamilton was desperate for his second WDC having been robbed so often , and he knew that front row was good enough to beat rosberg [ except at monaco of course ! ] so took the edge off his qually laps
      this year is different , he can go for it and although rosberg is close , he has the edge , it’s not that rosberg has dropped back keith !

      1. I think it’s more of a case of Hamilton having had issues with the brakes 2013 and 2014, after joining Mercedes from McLaren. Brakes, brakes, brakes were all we heard from Hamilton at the beginning of 2013 – saying that he was much more comfortable with the brakes at McLaren – and even by Brazil he said he wasn’t comfortable in the car. In 2014, though Hamilton was very happy with the weight distribution and handling of the perfectly balanced W05, he still seemed to have issues with the brakes – throughout the year braking seemed to blight Hamilton in qualifying. Excluding Q3, and simply just looking at FP1 through to Q2, Hamilton topped 47 sessions to Rosberg’s 33, suggesting he still possessed some inherent pace advantage. However, come Q3, when pushing the absolute limit of the car and his braking points, he was out-qualified 10-7 (Germany and Hungary excluded due to Q1 car failures). I noticed that the great majority of the times Hamilton was out-qualified, he either suffered some issue involving the brakes or locked-up his brakes on his fastest laps.

        Bahrain: Hamilton tops all three practice sessions, but locks his brakes heavily on his final Q3 lap, flat-spotting his tyres and having to abort the lap.
        Canada: Hamilton, having topped every session from FP1 to Q2, has critical lock-ups on both Q3 laps and ends up 0.079s behind Rosberg. Very costly, as running in the hot air behind Rosberg arguably contributed to his retirement from the race (rather thematically, it was brake failure that caused the retirement).
        Austria: Having been up by around 0.4s on the pole time by the end of sector 2, Hamilton goes wide at the end of the lap, getting his lap time deleted for exceeding track limits. The following lap he locks up his rear brakes while braking very late for turn 2, spinning out and ending Q3 with no time set.
        Spa: Hamilton suffers from glazed brakes during qualifying.
        USA: Hamilton tops all the practice sessions, but greatly struggles with brake temperatures in qualifying. Apparently, his left-front brake was consistently 100 degrees below his right-front brake throughout qualifying, resulting in him locking the left-front in virtually every braking zone.
        Brazil: Rosberg looks to have a clear advantage throughout practice, topping all practice sessions for the first time in 2014, but Hamilton gets up to speed by qualifying. However, a lock-up in the middle sector results in him losing out to Rosberg by just 0.033s.
        Abu Dhabi: the Mercedes drivers look relatively well-matched throughout practice and early qualifying, with Hamilton having a slight edge, going fastest in FP1, FP2, Q1 and Q2, while Rosberg has the edge in FP3 and ultimately Q3. While Hamilton beats Rosberg by over half a second in Q2 due to Rosberg having scruffy laps, the opposite is true in Q3 as Hamilton loses out by around 4 tenths after scruffy laps, including heavy lock-ups on both Q3 laps.

        As you can see, Hamilton suffered from a huge amount of brake-related issues or mistakes in qualifying in 2014. There were other problems in Q3 as well, including the brake failure in Q1 at Germany, his car setting on fire in Q1 at Hungary (after topping all practice sessions) and the yellow flags at Monaco (having been only 0.059s behind Rosberg on the initial Q3s due to a sub-optimal first corner, Hamilton makes up all of that deficit in the first corner on the following lap and is 0.2s up Rosberg’s pole time before he reaches the yellow flags and has to abort the lap). But generally the issues were with the brakes.

        It seems to me like Mercedes have finally got the brakes to Hamilton’s liking this season – I have rarely seen him locking-up at all this season – and with it he has regained one of his main advantages. Braking was the area he really troubled Alonso with in 2007, and it also suggests why Canada (the circuit with the heaviest braking demands on the calendar) has historically been such a strong track for him in the past. Though still very fast there the past two years, he hasn’t really seemed all that special at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve since joining Mercedes, which I have suspected is because of his braking issues at Mercedes which deprives him of his main advantage at the circuit. With Canada coming up soon on the calendar, it will be interesting to see if he can go back to shining there again this year – maybe that will give us a true indicator as to whether or not braking issues have been factoring into his performance at Mercedes.

        1. So what you’re saying in all of that is that Hamilton is not an adaptable driver, that he needs to the car to be set up just right for his tastes in order to look dominant in it, that he could not adapt to the “old” brakes” even with two seasons experience of them?

          1. Well… that non adaptable driver won the title with those brakes. :)

            I think what is being said is that with the car exactly to his liking he may win more dominantly, as opposed to merely winning.

          2. I’m not saying that Hamilton isn’t an adaptable driver, he has been very adaptable in almost every other aspect. In fact, I’d rate him as being the second most adaptable driver after Alonso. This was reflected in qualifying for Australia, Malaysia and China. Australia was a very tricky quali session, with falling track temperatures and strong winds. Vettel, Raikkonen, Rosberg and Bottas all eithermade mistakes or had scruffy laps in the tough conditions, while Hamilton adapted to the tricky conditions and managed 2 laps good enough for pole, 0.6s clear of Rosberg (and also making Mercedes’ advantage over Ferrari look bigger than it really was). In Malaysia and China, Hamilton’s pole laps were the first wet lap he did all weekend, adapting very quickly to the conditions and relying only on feel and natural judgement – in Malaysia, Hamilton was over half a second clear of anyone else when he set the time, and in China he was 1.2s clear of anyone else before others improved in better track conditions. Also, According to Mark Hughes, Hamilton is typically more at ease with a sliding rear end than almost any other driver. Here’s a quote from Paddy Lowe:

            “When we first ran Lewis in an F1 car at McLaren in a test, we could see from the traces there was a lot of instability in the car in the braking and corner entry phases – and I mean a lot,” says Lowe. “Enough that our then current race drivers [Raikkonen and Montoya] would have been bitching about it when they came in. But Lewis didn’t mention it. So we pushed him about it, asked him what the car was like on braking and corner entry and he just said, ’fine’.”

            Contrary to popular belief, Alonso isn’t infallible when it comes to adapting – in 2007, for the early part of the season Alonso had problems adapting from the brakes and tyres (Michelins) he used at Renault to the rounder-profile Bridgestones and the McLaren brakes. This played its part it Hamilton being able to match and often out-perform Alonso while he was still finding his way as a rookie early season, despite often never having driven several of the tracks he was racing on before. By the time Alonso had fully adapted, Hamilton had fully found his way as well, and so Alonso couldn’t take full advantage of the first few races where Hamilton was learning his trade, because he hadn’t been able to adapt instantly. This isn’t an insult to Alonso, but rather a demonstration that even the most adaptable driver can run into problems when car characteristics conflict with the driving style they have honed.

            When Hamilton arrived at Mercedes, the braking system was shaped around Michael Schumacher’s style and was thus quite unconventional, it didn’t really give Hamilton much “feel” at all. While some drivers will simply memorise or estimate braking points and brake pressure requirements per corner (Rosberg for one), Hamilton is a driver who does most of his braking by “feel” and naturally judging how much brake pressure the tyres can handle before a lock-up. The Mercedes brakes gave very little feel, so there really wasn’t anything for Hamilton to adapt to – it was more of a case of the pedal giving him very little feedback, meaning that he lost some of his ability to judge the maximum braking force required without locking-up. Thus explaining his frequent lock-ups, as the pedal wouldn’t give him the information required for him to judge the brake pressure required.

            1. Another example of Hamilton’s adaptability comes from his 2012 season. It isn’t reflected in the final points score due to the appalling amount of bad luck he suffered in 2012 but Hamilton hugely outperformed Button in 2012, including out-qualifying him 17-3, generally to the tune of 0.4 – 0.6s each race. Button struggled to get the right set-up in the difficult-to-handle but very fast MP4-27 ending the year with an average qualifying position of 6.45, the 5th highest average position. Meanwhile, Hamilton showed what the car was capable of in qualifying, having the best average qualifying position of all drivers with 4.3 (when accounting for his 5-place gearbox penalty in China and the fact that he was DQ’d from a dominant pole to start 24th in Spain due to McLaren’s fuelling error, his average qualifying position is miles ahead of everyone else at 2.9).

              Correcting for bad luck (although eliminating all bad luck is unrealistic as all drivers suffer bad luck in a season, it helps to work out points lost to luck and therefore luck disparities between drivers), I worked out that Hamilton would have outscored Button by a range of 333-355 pts to Button’s 226-230 pts, had both suffered no bad luck. This would have also tipped the wins from 4-3 to Hamilton in 2012, to 8-2 (Hamilton also wins Spain, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Brazil [therefore Button doesn’t inherit the win from Hamilton/Hulkenberg in Brazil and would have likely finished 3rd]) leaving Button’s two wins as Australia and Spa (where he used a different rear wing to Hamilton, prompting the infamous “twittergate” scandal).

            2. This “adaptable” stuff is nonsense. The top drivers are all extremely close to one another in ability. The differences between them in races often come down to tenths of a second – literally, blinks of an eye – over the course of a lap. It’s true that all drivers have their own ideal car setup which suits them best, and that when they don’t have that setup they cannot perform at their very best. This is just as true of Hamilton (as you are basically admitting) as it is of anyone else. In this sense no driver is really “adaptable”.

              I have no idea how 2012 is supposed to show LH’s adaptability. Are you claiming the McLaren that year was set up in some way not suitable for his driving style? Your discussion of his “bad luck” in 2012 has nothing to do with being adaptable.

            3. My point was that, while Button greatly struggled with setup and handling in 2012, Hamilton was able to adapt his driving around any setup issues and overall had a large edge over Button, like Ricciardo vs. 2014-spec Vettel or Alonso vs. Raikkonen. While Button was usually able to be right up there with Hamilton in the races when at top form (if not ahead when Hamilton was having collisions 24/7 in 2011), the case of 2012 shows how the performance of two drivers can be greatly affected by their ability to drive around problems – in 2012 Jenson’s driving greatly suffered due to the McLaren’s tendency to understeer unless a perfect setup was found. Even though Hamilton prefers a car with a slight oversteer balance, he was still able to get the maximum performance out of the car by driving around the problem. The bad luck comments were just pointing out that Hamilton significantly outperformed Button in 2012, but you cannot really tell from the scoreboard since Hamilton’s bad luck disguised his advantage.

              And yes, it is true that the top drivers are all extremely close to each other when on top form. But this is precisely why when one has a large advantage over the other (best example Alonso vs. Raikkonen) it is usually because one driver is struggling with car characteristics while the other can adapt his driving style to eke all the lap time out of a car.

            4. Polo, why do you assume that in Alonso vs. Raikkonen, the former was masterfully adapting to the car while the latter was struggling to adapt? Alonso had been the No 1 driver at Ferrari for several seasons prior to 2014. Whatever the shortcomings of the power plant, the cars handling was surely set up around Alonso’s preferences, certainly much more so than Kimi’s.

              like Ricciardo vs. 2014-spec Vettel

              That’s a terrible example – Vettel had a Hamilton-in-2012 season in 2014, one marked by a ridiculous amount of car failures all season long.

            5. In 2014, they had a completely new car that behaved in a very different way than the previous ones. I don’t think RBR car was tailored for Vettel like people claim. In Alonso case, it maybe a bit different seeing how Ferrari is obsessed with their leading driver compared to other poor guy in second car. Or they all might have let the cards fall where they may in terms of suitability for drivers, and it happened to be suiting Alonso&Ricciardo more than Raikkonen&Vettel.

          3. The evidence implies that he is adaptable… other drivers like Vettel and Raikkonen would have finished half a second down on their teammates.

            1. The evidence implies that he is adaptable… other drivers like

              Vettel and Raikkonen would have finished half a second down on their teammates.

              Which “evidence” exists to support such a conclusion? What evidence is there to suggest that if you give Vettel or Raikkonen the most dominant car ever to compete in F1, they will fail to win the title in it?

        2. Great insight @polo! I have to admit that I was baffled as to why Ham was 90+ points behind Vet despite winning 1 less race than him in 2012.

        3. I should clarify that the whole Hamilton brakes thing is just a theory as to why Hamilton qualifying form relative to Rosberg has greatly improved this year. I haven’t actually heard Hamilton actively complaining about the brakes since early 2013 iirc, so I could be completely wrong about that. Other factors to consider are:
          >Hamilton’s newfound confidence after winning his second title which seems to have greatly reduced the amount of errors he is making in Q3 this year
          >The possibility of Hamilton’s 2014 just being an “off” year in terms of his qualifying performances
          >I recall Hamilton saying in one of the Bahrain press conferences that he feels he can “attack” in the corners more with this year’s car (he could simply just be suggesting that this car has more downforce/mechanical grip than last year’s due to chassis and tyre improvements though – which Rosberg would benefit from as well – so not sure what to make of this comment)
          >Perhaps this is simply nothing more than a performance slump by Rosberg – we heard throughout testing and in Melbourne that the W06 is a difficult car to set up. Mark Hughes reports that Rosberg likes to perfectly hone the setup over the course of practice so that he arrives with the perfect setup for qualifying (whereas Hamilton just finds a rough setup he can work with and adapts his driving around it), so perhaps Rosberg has had set-up issues so far.
          Or it could all just be a psychological thing due to Hamilton winning the title last year.

          This turned into a bigger argument than I thought it would! But of course these are just my opinions and I always appreciate criticism of my comments – as long as it’s constructive!

          1. I think I was wrong about the whole “braking” thing, or at the very least it’s not as simple as that – looking at the sector times, it isn’t like it’s the heavy braking sectors are where he’s pulling out the most time, he just tends to be stronger throughout the lap. I think he’s just stepped up his game all-round this year. If anything, it’s the acrobatic and/or twisty sections of track are where Hamilton seems to have his biggest advantages – but that has always been one of Hamilton’s strong suits anyway (China sector 2, Abu Dhabi sector 3, and just Hungary in general are some examples of twisty or “acrobatic” bits of track where Hamilton has always been strong – this has been reflected in his results, with 4 wins in China, 4 wins in Hungary, and 2 wins in Abu Dhabi plus 2 mechanical failures while leading there in 2009 and 2012).

            For whatever reason, Hamilton just seems to have gone into another gear this year – not only does he seem faster relative to Rosberg in qualifying, but he is also making barely any mistakes at all. It’s probably pointless of me to try and speculate why, because there are so many possible reasons. Plus, Rosberg isn’t beaten yet, he could very well step his game up as the season goes on.

    6. Not a fan of Hamilton by any means, but I guess the title is more of a rhetorical question. Any other outcome than a Hamilton win would astonish me.

      1. How can you be a fan of F1 and not be a fan of Hamilton?

        1. Because I like other drivers better and I don’t like his personality. I must admit I like his aggressive driving, just not when he is in the front :)
          Many people irrationally hate one or other driver, so not being a fan is not a big deal ;-)

          1. Fair enough iFelix, none of us want to see a procession least of all Lewis!

        2. OmarR-Pepper - Vettel 40 victories!!! (@)
          6th May 2015, 18:39

          because there are other drivers you can support.

        3. I’ve been a fan of F1 for years and I don’t like Hammy, like Felix I don’t like his personality. He’s a good driver in the best car I would have liked to see how good he in say a Marussia, after all Vettel won in a Torro Rosso.

          1. yes Sonia,I’m sure some people can’t get on with his personality be it jealousy or otherwise. My point is that if you are a fan of the sport and the art of racing you must enjoy one of the greatest exponents of it

          2. @sonia54

            Hi did indeed, but let’s remember the TR was a very good Newey car. Lewis showed what he can do in 2009 in a second-rate car. Anyone who doubts his ability, seriously, perhaps does not understand the sport.

            1. That’s simply bizarre. The 2008 TR gets depicted as a “very good car”, while the 2009 McLaren gets called “second rate”.

              The ability of F1 fans to claim that “When a driver I like does well its due to his skill but when a driver I don’t like does well its due to his amazing car’ is simply staggering. It’s one of the more obnoxious aspect of F1, a good deal worse than even DRS or designed-to-degrade tyres.

            2. @paulguitar the 2009 McLaren might have started as a slow coach but post July it was mighty fast thanks to the new front wing introduced by them. Hamilton got 4 wins and could have won in UAE as well if not for the brake failure.

              But then in 2009 the FIA brought in a radical change of aerodynamic rules, one of which was to make the front wing wider. Now, with the tips of the front wing sitting directly ahead of the front wheels, it was a completely different ball game.
              The more experienced engineers in the pit lane, who had been around before 1997, or who had worked on IndyCars or Le Mans cars, knew that it would be desirable to produce an outwash effect from the front wing endplate, which would generate a low pressure area on the outside of the front wheel. It would also avoid the front flap being blocked by having a wheel right behind it. Toyota were one of the first to try it, thanks to the intervention of veteran aerodynamicist Frank Dernie, and it was one of the signature items on the Brawn car. Engineers say that the outwash front wing was the single biggest step from 2008 to 2009, far more than the double diffuser.
              The huge step in performance McLaren made last July was largely down to introducing an outwash front wing for the first time.

            3. Read as 4 poles and 2 wins.

            4. @evered7

              Indeed, I was at the Nurburgring that year and suddenly the McLaren was really fast again, but Lewis had a collision if I remember at the first corner, which was race over effectively.

            5. @rm Completely agreed. Ridiculous really. If you told those people that in 7 years of time they were gonna say it was a “very good car” they wouldn’t have believed it themselves.
              Yeah it was faster than Ferrari, McLaren and all. Went on to win a wet race with his superior car. He should ve just won the championship that year. The fact that he didn’t but Hamilton had nearly won in 2007 showed what a poor driver Sebastian Vettel has always been.

    7. Why is there constant references being made about Nico’s qualifying last year when he only won 3 races from those pole positions? He didn’t get either pole or the win there last season.

      The brake issues that happened Lewis most of last season seems to be a none issue now and him saying he feels far more comfortable in this years car compared to last year, should scare Nico immensely.

    8. I’m bored with the ‘can Nico challenge Lewis?’ question. Yes he can, about three times a year when his setup and weekend goes smoothly and Lewis’ doesn’t. It was the same with JB. But as with JB+FA Lewis was head-hunted because Brawn knew Rosberg isn’t quite top tier.

      I’m more interested in Jenson vs Fernando, Valtteri vs Felipe, and Kimi vs Seb. Lotus. I think Renault will be better here too.

    9. As I’ve pointed out before, Mercedes look rather more dominant at this stage of 2015 than Red Bull looked at the same stage in any of their title winning seasons. Even 2011, which was the strongest start to a season by RB in the 2010-13 time frame. So it’s strange to see the way this year is being depicted as highly competitive. There is the possibility it may become competitive but it is certainly not that so far.

      After four GP’s in 2011 Vettel had four poles, three wins and a second place finish, exactly what Hamilton has so far. Lest somebody reply that “you can’t say the W06 is dominant on the basis of four races”, I give you this, where people had no problem at all saying the RB7 was dominant on similar evidence.

      1. There is some really funny stuff there. I picked 2 general things mentioned in comments:
        1. He wins all his races from pole.
        2. He cannot overtake.

    10. Hopefully Rosberg learned something from Bahrain and will no longer be sheepish when taking the fight to Hamilton. Other than that lets also hope the likes of Williams and Redbull have brought upgrades that can challenge the guys infront.

      1. He overtook two slower Ferraris with DRS assistance on a very long straight. Final stint and Hamilton drove away from him after coming out of the pits right on front of him. Can’t really see how Rosberg could have learned anything to help him this weekend. other than “this time I’m going to keep the ferrari behind me!”

        1. Yes, he did overtake two slower Ferraris
          with DRS assistance on a very
          long straight, but those were some forceful overtakes from Nico, quite uncharacteristic from the Nico who gets shoved around every which way by Lewis.
          Lewis is on top form now, but all am trying to say is that if Nico finds himself in a race with Lewis on track he should be as equally forceful as Lewis.

          1. Yeah they are not exactly graceful with their overtakes, the pair of them. It could get bloody.
            Rosberg was very lucky that Ferrari drivers got out of his way because he was a bit too much aggressive. Especially on Kimi.

            1. Those overtakes were clumsy and cumbersome.
              Basically parking on the racing line, so the other either just stops or collides with him.

      2. I think Lewis looks way too comfortable for Nico to actually put pressure on Lewis in the first place. But in saying that, if Nico gets everything right and the car is on song for him and Lewis is a bit off, then i would say Nico has got nothing to loose

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