Rosberg romps to fourth pole position in a row

2015 Mexican Grand Prix qualifying

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Before the Mexican Grand Prix weekend began, Mercedes predicted the best lap time would be around 1’19.500.

Nico Rosberg proved the team are as hot on their simulations as they are on the track by setting pole position for the race with a best time just two hundredths of a second quicker than the team had predicted.

Rosberg’s fourth pole position in a row relegated team mate Lewis Hamilton to second place once again. Sebastian Vettel was left to fly the flag for Ferrari on his own after a technical problem sidelined Kimi Raikkonen in Q2.

Q1

With Jenson Button failing to get out of his garage after a string of power unit problems in practice, only four further drivers would be eliminated during Q1. One of those might have been Kimi Raikkonen had it not been for rapid repair work by his mechanics after his final practice breakdown – he thanked his crew as he headed out during the first stage of qualifying.

Raikkonen duly secured his progression as did Sebastian Vettel, who set the second-fastest time behind Rosberg. However while they used soft tyres to set their best times, Hamilton saved a set of the harder rubber, though he was keen to go out on the soft tyres.

Felipe Nasr failed to make the cut after a scruffy lap in his Sauber – team mate Marcus Ericsson was over half a second faster. Completing McLaren’s misery, Alonso also failed to progress into Q2, his engineer saying the track conditions had “moved towards” their rivals.

The Manor pair went no further as usual, Alexander Rossi’s engineer congratulating him as he beat his team mate by a quarter of a second. Will Stevens had to pit with a problem at the beginning of the session but made it out in time for a final run.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’21.779
17Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’21.788
18Alexander RossiManor-Ferrari1’24.136
19Will StevensManor-Ferrari1’24.386
20Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda

Q2

When Hamilton did put a set of soft tyres on, he immediately went fastest, topping the second part of qualifying by two-tenths of a second and becoming the first man of the weekend to lap the circuit in under 80 seconds. Vettel edged Rosberg for second place by a few hundredths of a second.

However Raikkonen’s participation in qualifying came to an end shortly after he spun at the first corner. He reported a problem with his brakes and returned to the pits.

Romain Grosjean lost his hold on a place in the top ten in the final moments of qualifying as Verstappen, fishtailing with oversteer at the final corner, edged him out. The unhappy Lotus driver had lost time in the final sector after posting competitive first and second sector times.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Renault1’20.942
12Romain GrosjeanLotus-Mercedes1’21.038
13Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Mercedes1’21.261
14Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’21.544
15Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’22.494

Q3

The Mercedes drivers led the field out as Q3 began. The low-grip track meant two laps were necessary to get the best time out of the tyres, and on the first run Rosberg nailed it twice, ending up 0.188s ahead of Hamilton.

Vettel hung back from the initial run, not wanting to be snookered into backing off in the final sector, ruining his tyre preparation. The tactics paid off: he got within two-tenths of a second of Hamilton on his run.

These initial times proved decisive as the remaining drivers struggled to improve on their final runs. Hamilton set a personal best time in the middle sector but skidded off at turn 12 and aborted his last run. Vettel also admitted to over-driving his car on his final effort.

The Red Bull drivers completed the top five, Daniil Kvyat a mere thousandth of a second ahead of Daniel Ricciardo having lost several tenths of a second in the final sector.

Behind the Williams pair came Max Verstappen followed by the two Force India drivers, led by crowd favourite Sergio Perez. Nico Hulkenberg propped up the Q3 timed after mistakenly believing he needed to let Valtteri Bottas past.

“No, you’re pushing, do not do that,” his engineer Brad Joyce replied. “We’re on a timed lap now, Nico.” Hulkenberg disputed that answer, replying “we’re on a warm-up lap?” before being bluntly cut off: “Shut up, we’re on a warm-up lap, we’re on a timed lap as well,” said Joyce. “Bottas is on a warm-up lap behind you. I’ll tell you where the traffic is, you just concentrate on the driving…”

Top ten in Q3

1Nico RosbergMercedes1’19.480
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’19.668
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’19.850
4Daniil KvyatRed Bull-Renault1’20.398
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’20.399
6Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’20.448
7Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’20.567
8Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Renault1’20.710
9Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’20.716
10Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’20.788

2015 Mexican Grand Prix

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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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76 comments on “Rosberg romps to fourth pole position in a row”

  1. I hope I read this tomorrow, “Rosberg finally converts his fourth pole in a row into victory”.

    1. If he doesn’t convert it, he will have converted 6 wins out of 20 pole positions.

      I cannot recall any other driver in recent history with a record as bad as that.

    2. I hope so too. Don’t get the whole “He lost the title months ago”: He lost it (deservedly) in the last 30 days in my view, He didn’t convert 3 wins that were way more than possible pace-wise. It could have been a 20 points deficit for tomorrow to cut even more.

      1. @stefanauss he lost the title months ago, precisely at Hungary, when fighting for position with the much quicker Ricciardo meant he had to pit with a puncture and ended up behind Hamilton, instead of on the podium AND with the championship lead.

        His first half of the year was reasonable, but the second half was just rubbish. He was never a match for Hamilton, at all, during the year except at Spain and Austria.

        1. You are mentioning a 13 points swing happening 3 months ago against a 42 (3 wins from pole) or more precisely 60 (no retirement in Russia) points swing in just 4 weeks.

          And just for the sake of doing the math right, Rosberg won’t have left Hungary with the championship lead even in the “let’s not be racing driver and fight Ricciardo” scenario you envisioned.

          It’s simple: for all the rubbish he has been for most of the year, the championship would be exactly in the same place as last year at the same stage (17 vs 20 with 3 to go) if he had delivered in just 3 races he was indeed a match (the last 3). So that’s where he lost it in my view.

      2. How could’ve he converted his Sochi Pole to Win?
        He retired with a mechanical failure, something out of his control..

      3. YEah, well I think we can hardly hold Sochi against Rosberg though @stefanauss

    3. your avatar suggests you often go for the wrong guy anyway ;)

  2. Hulkenberg’s engineer not being very polite there.

    1. Hulkenberg is usually not very polite either. He always sounds so frustrated – I’m not surprised Brad has now got enough.

    2. What did he say? I missed it.

      1. Never mind, read it in the article.

    3. Unless if you’re Wehrlein..(DTM Nurburgring, anyone)

    4. I took it as “shut UP we do NOT want to be telling Charlie we’re on a warm-up lap so we could be accused of impeding“. Hence the urgency and emphasis on ‘a timed lap’.

      I have no idea if Hulk would have minded though. There are all kinds of relationships and we know so little about this one.

      1. Absolutely spot-on imo.

      2. @lockup

        Agreed.

        Pretty much the same as singing ‘la la la la la’ to drown out somebody who’s about to spoil the plot…

  3. What a disrespectful comment from Hulkenberg’s engineer. I see an apology coming. I think hulkenberg should get rid of that engineer pronto.

    1. I think racing drivers have thicker skins than that.

      1. That is true, however not smart by the engineer to air it publicly.

        1. Vishy, when you compare it to some of the messages we hear over the radio, I would say that this was a pretty mild exchange that really does not warrant harsh action by either side (and Hulkenberg himself has been ruder to his engineers at times). Functionally it is not that different from Kimi’s famous “Leave me alone” message, although people chose to praise Kimi rather than calling him rude in that situation.

    2. Makes more sense to me that the engineer said ‘shut up’ to someone around him at the pits and started talking to Nico right away.

      1. I heard sonething very different via the sky feed…. It was shown live (as live as the f1 feeds allow) and it said “shhh we ARE on a timed lap. I will tell you when when we are not on a timed lap” the shut up was certainly not broadcast.

  4. Fair play to Rosberg. I still can’t help but think Lewis is too strong for him. Either way, Nico starts in the right place.

    If Nico wants to win on the morrow, I think he needs to drop his obsession with Hamilton at the start. He only seems to worry about what Lewis is doing at the starts and no one else.

    Lewis should be ‘just another competitor’, because winning a race means beating everyone, not just Lewis.

    1. With such a long run down to turn one, I’m thinking P2 might be the best place to be.

      1. Actually, i think that the best place to be in is the one which is in the racing line.

        Is pole position on the left side of the track (racing line), or on the right side (dirty line) ?

        1. Pole is on the racing line, left, so Nico needs to just turn in on the racing line, without regard to Hamilton

      2. Exactly! There’s more corners in a GP than the first one.

    2. @andybantam: Since Nico is driving a Mercedes, he has – in most cases – only to worry about Lewis, as beating him means “beating everyone”.

      1. @andybantam
        Thats strange since hes not second in the championship. The car is good enough for a 1-2 WDC but the driver isnt.

        1. @rethla

          Ok, not sure what your point is, but fair enough.

          I’m not going to try and change people’s opinions, I’m just airing my own.

          1. @andybantam

            My point is that even though hes in a Mercedes Vettel is the one to beat for him not Hamilton. You can aim high and you should if you drive in F1 but in his persuit to beat Hamilton hes on his way to loose to Vettel aswell. If Ferrari continues to improve next year its starting to look really bad for Rosberg.

            Theres a difference between forcing opinions on people and explaining the reasoning behind your own opinion and let others decide.

          2. @rethla

            Similar to my point, then.

            There’s more to this than just beating Hamilton.

  5. @xenomorph91

    If only it was that simple, eh?

    It’s exactly this approach that’s not been working the best for him.

    He’s been driving for Mercedes since day one. He saw off Schumacher on his return. He’s put the hard work in. He’s in no doubt partly responsible for the improvements Mercedes have made since 2010, but I really think that Lewis getting Merc’s first win back int’ day has effected him. Ever since then, he seems too focused on beating his team mate. It’s true that you need to beat your team mate to win, but his approach makes me think he fears Lewis. He has too much respect for him.

    If he was thinking properly last week, he wouldn’t have tried to pass Lewis (or any other car for that matter) around the ourside of first turn after Lewis drew alongside because conceding that corner to Lewis would have meant that he would have arrived in to turn 2 with more momentum, meaning he could have a crack later in the lap. Instead, he wouldn’t let up, so he dropped to 4th or 5th.

    To you, being in the Mercedes means that he only needs to beat Lewis, but there are other cars to pass and passing other cars is not a given. Even if the other cars are slower, you still need to race them.

    1. I have no idea why this isn’t in the thread. Sorry guys, my bad.

    2. @andybantam: Actually I wish he was more focused on Hamilton, as that would mean he has always the championship in the back of his mind and being ahead of him at the end of the race is all that matters, as it gives him more points! In Hungary he showed that letting pass Ricciardo might have been a better option and taking at least 15 points with him – there still would have been a fair chance of a strong battle between Vettel/Ricciardo and more points. The decision to go on harder tyres before was not wise either as going on softs would have increased the chance most likely.

      You see: the focus is still right in my view, it is just he takes the wrong decisions in important moment which comes from a slight lack of racing instinct how I call it, which is an entirely different matter. Furthermore he seems also a bit more fragile under pressure than others.

      In my view, something you interpret as too focused is rather a lack of racing instinct or killer instinct – he lacks the last bit that Vettel, Hamilton or Alonso have. He struggles too much with decision making when he is under pressure. Alonso was completely focused with beating Hamilton and Schumacher in 2007 respectively 2006 and he still delivered his performance! Each driver have their own preference how to increase their performances.

      1. You misunderstand, granted, I probably didn’t explain my point well enough.

        Let me start by telling you about my opinion of Lewis Hamilton. Ultimately, he’s the reason I started to follow F1 again. But I’m not really a fan. I have always been pretty neutral with regards to the nationality of drivers, so he doesn’t get any quarter because I’m British. I, honestly, have just admired drivers that are exciting to watch. I took a few years off during the Schumacher years. I just got fed up of it. But, the waves Hamilton made in 07 meant I started to watch again. Even if you don’t like Lewis, which I can understand, you have to credit him as being a little bit good.

        I like Nico. Always have. But I call it like I see it. Last weekend was not good for Nico. Not just in terms of the championship. He’s taken it very personally. I hope it doesn’t, but it could affect his relationship with the team.

        The bit that’s broken him a little is the turn one thing from last week. I don’t, for a second, accept that Lewis did it as an accident. Maybe understeer had an effect, but Lewis was going to run him out of road anyway. Nico should have conceded. Regardless of how harsh it was, it was fair racing. I honestly believe that had it not been his main title rival, he’d have made a different decision and conceded track position, but he made the wrong decision and ended up putting his car in a dodgy position that cost him a lot of valuable time. That move was only going to end one way. That’s what I’m getting at.

        He has the speed, the race craft, all of that stuff, but his obsession with Hamilton is maybe making him too blinkered in his approach. His deficiency to Hamilton is in his head. It must be, because I don’t doubt that he has the skills. But, as they say, it’s the little things that count.

    3. I really think that Lewis getting Merc’s first win back int’ day has effected him.

      @andybantam
      That’s incorrect, unless you meant “first title win”. Rosberg took Merc’s first win in 2012, before Hamilton arrived. He also won twice in 2013 before Hamilton did.

      1. Rosberg also won the first race of the hybrid era

        1. No. It was Hamilton in Hungary 2009 in a McLaren powered by a Mercerdes engine and KERS.

          ;)

      2. Thanks…

        Still think he’s blinkered though ; )

  6. Well Rosberg is quick, no question. Lewis was saying some vague stuff about setup, and from Bruno on the skypad I had the impression Nico has his car a lot pointier. If so, Lewis’ rears should last longer…

    1. That’s my guess too. Lewis were saying that his set up could be better in a race distance.

  7. I wonder seeing as the team have won the WCC and Lewis has won the WDC, if Nico will step it up a gear and try to reset for next year. His best opportunity for that to happen is here I think. If Hamilton gets the jump on Rosberg and they’re fighting into T1, I will also be interested to note whether Rosberg will force the pass and risk colliding with each other, or whether he’ll let Hamilton run him wide again? This could be a tasty beginning to the race.

    1. It seems Rosberg has a chance every weekend to take the win. To bad he has Hamilton in identical car. Overall his aggression while racing is lacking. He has all the required speed to make it happen. Last year he was equal to Ham in qualifying even beating him over the season. This year arguably with poor reliability hitting him often, and Hamilton in excellent form… well he has it going.

      In the races however he is nowhere near aggressive enough to win against Hamilton. Last 3 races are excellent showing of this problem, every time when going gets tough Lewis does decisive moves, either driving him off the track or intimidating him in to submission. That all could change, not saying that it will… but should he get an upper hand he would be winning races more often and potentially championship next year. Off corse if they really go in to a major skirmish Vettel might take the title :P.

      1. @jureo I disagree, I think he’s too agressive from time to time and thus he starts making bad decisions

        Spa 2014: he made the right choice and extended his lead
        Suzuka and COTA 2015: he chose not to give up at the start, stayed on the outside and lost several positions

    2. The problem for Nico is that second place in the WDC is still in jeopardy. He should not risk a stupid collision. Lewis, on the other hand, can be his normal aggressive self.

      I think the issue is whether Nico is thinking about the WDC or about Lewis. As has been mentioned elsewhere he might well be prepared to cut off his nose to spite his face when he faces a clash with Lewis, just as he did in Spa last year.

      1. I personally don’t think being more aggressive will help nico it’s not his natural driving style. So far Nico being aggressive has gone against him one way or another. (collisions/off the track) I think he should actually start using the style that he is meant to have. (supposedly being the more calculated) For example undercutting ham in turn 1 last week rather than going round the outside which never would of worked.

        1. I agree. Imitating Hamilton badly or trying to make a move stick through sheer willpower won’t work (at Texas Hamilton would not have done what Rosberg did when beaten off the line, i.e. pull left towards Hamilton to crowd him and then lose his options for the corner: he’d have tried to do a switchback at the corner instead). His natural model should be Jenson Button, who is or was no slouch in terms of racing – present car-engine combo excepted – but doesn’t exactly qualify as an aggressive driver. He needs to stop focusing on Hamilton and think solely about speed, which he’s got, including getting off the line quickly. Poor starts since Spa have been a major flaw for him.

      2. Who cares about 2nd place in the championship? It means nothing at all. He should absolutely risk a collision and put a marker down.

        1. A marker that leaves him without an F1 drive 2017?

        2. That would be pointless. It would lose him respect within the team and just give Hamilton a free ‘joker’ collision to use next year, if needed, when the points actually matter. That possibility alone would be a major handicap for Rosberg, as it was last year after his Spa collision and he was basically on parole with the team.

          1. I guarantee if Hamilton tries to nudge him wide this race, Rosberg isn’t going to go anywhere.
            It reminds me of the Vettel Webber incident at Turkey. Anyway, let’s hope it doesn’t matter.

        3. @john-h

          Who cares about 2nd place in the championship?

          People care about every position, or at least all those that are decided on points rather than who finishes in a race with less finishers. The P15 to P18 -part of the current drivers standing looks interesting, and of course so does the fight for P2. It´s actually P1 this year that I (apart from some short moments of hope it could get interesting) don´t care about.

        4. Fair enough @crammond, but its always about beating your teammate as a driver surely? Championship position doesn’t really matter if you beat your teammate as that is the great leveler.

          If Rosberg loses out to Vettel for 2nd place, I don’t think that would make any difference to how Mercedes see him, for a start he’s had multiple car failures this year which would go most of the way to explaining it.

          My point is, I believe that no one cares whether Hamilton finished 4th in the championship from 2009 to 2013, its all about whether a) he won the championship and b) if not, whether he beat his teammate (see the great Button points debate on here as to why that’s important). No one is bringing up the fact Hamilton finished 4th so many times ever – I read most articles on here and its hardly mentioned.

          The constructors championship is something else of course.

          1. @john-h Well yes, Rosberg being behind Hamilton is the first bad thing for him. The question is, is he at least a decent number-2-driver? Unlike Hamilton from 2009 to 2013, Rosberg has a car underneath him which clearly and with some margin is the class of the field, so finishing behind Vettel would further weaken his standing. I could easily see his career slipping down through midfield-teams after the end of his contract if he let´s drivers with weaker cars pass him on the championship table (and doesn´t recover next year). Even Barrichello managed P2 in 2002 and 2004 (the years when Ferrari had a comparatively competitive car).

      3. You Sir hit the nail on the head. If he gets silly and tangles with his team mate and lets Vettel outscore him he is loosing his value to Mercedes.

  8. Rosberg beat Hamilton by 0.188, with Hamilton making a massive mistake where he lost a good 0.5 second.

    1. And maybe Rosberg oculd have pushed harder, gained a few tenths and then made a massive mistake too and not been on pole. But he is on pole. No point ‘if’ing and ‘but’ing.

      1. Simply stating a fact.

        1. .5 sec, how did we compute that?

          1. ColdFly F1 (@)
            1st November 2015, 14:11

            I guess wetting your finger and stick it in the air ;-)

    2. And an error doesn’t could or what?

      I don’t recall anyone saying Rosberg deserved the win at the COTA.

      1. I think the point he was making is that Hamilton may still be the one with the pace for the race. No one is debating Rosberg done a better job and was quicker on Saturday.

    3. Rosberg did not improve on that last lap though, he already knew by the time he was in S3 that Hamilton couldn’t beat him (after that mistake) @pmccarthy_is_a_legend. And off course FOM did not show whether he was pushing until the end that lap, or maybe made a mistake at a similar point as Hamilton did.

  9. A little too late for Britney, but satisfying nevertheless

  10. Words become important in arguments so to title this article with the word romps (Dictionary definition – to romp – “an enjoyable time of rough and noisy play. : an easy victory”.). is something of an overly dramatic nature.
    In the history of this season I would not regard 0.188 as an ‘easy victory’. It’s also a long,long,long way from pole to finish as Nico has discovered on so many occasions in his 20 poles.
    As much as I have liked Nico – and I do – I just don’t feel he has that extra ‘ooommph’ to allow him too many ‘romps’ over Lewis.
    I am beginning to get the feel that there is a lot of posturing taking place before the actual races and that it doesn’t actually seem that difficult for Lewis to take command at some point or other.

  11. Ho Bloody Hum. Something has got to be done about the advantage of these Mercs. I don’t know how Hamilton can really be satisfied with the last two titles, given Mickey Mouse could have won in this car. It hurts watching videos of formula 1 in the 70’s when 31 cars thundered down the straight at Kyalami and any one of at least 10 of them could win the race, and then turn back to another dreary walkover by Mercedes. Boring.

    1. Amen. The Cosworth-Hewland era worked so well because the cost structure made economic sense and the technology was such that a good number of teams could build a competitive car. Technology is what has ruined F1. It’s the same reason that we could put men on the Moon during 1969 – 1976, but would bankrupt ourselves if we attempted it today; technology and its associated costs.

    2. Technological progress is very demanding upon our ability to appreciate nuanced performance :-)

    3. I’d like to see the Mickey Mouse vs Nico Rosberg teammate battle.

  12. Recent experience has taught us to wait until after Sundays race before actually celebrating anything Rosberg.

    1. That seems like a very fair assessment :-)

  13. So I see the bit where Nigel Mansell was telling Lewis that Nico was never going round the outside in Austin was edited out of the final interview, after being among the promo clips.

    But now Bruno has just said the same thing. Poor old Crofty.

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