Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2016

Why Rosberg’s strong start gives Hamilton cause for concern

2016 F1 season

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Three races in and Nico Rosberg hasn’t left a single point on the table so far.

No one has ever begun the season with a hat-trick of victories and then failed to also win the title. But with more races than ever on the calendar and more points available for lower finishing positions, Rosberg knows his three wins don’t mean as much as they used to.

“It’s the longest season in F1 history with 21 races so that’s 18 to go,” he said on Sunday after going three-nil up on wins against team mate Lewis Hamilton so far this year.

“Of course Lewis is not many points behind, I don’t know, something like 30 points, that’s not much, that’s a race and a bit and he’s as focused and motivated as ever.” In fact Rosberg has almost twice as many points as his team mate: his 36-point margin is the biggest lead he has ever held in the drivers’ championship.

This is surely his strongest championship position since 2014, when after the Belgian Grand Prix he led Hamilton by 29 points with 200 still available. Today he has a 36-point lead with 450 points available.

Hamilton is taking the threat from Rosberg seriously. The world champion has said he needs to win all of the remaining 18 races to clinch the title. Actually he only has to win the next 16 but the point stands: Hamilton is now in the position of a golfer with a handicap and will likely need a period of sustained success to overturn Rosberg’s lead.

Before the season began everyone was asking if Rosberg could sustain his late-2015 form and make it the basis of a championship bid. On the face of it he has: three wins at the end of last season have been followed by three more at the beginning of this one.

This is not to be underestimated. Only three other drivers in F1 history have achieved six consecutive grand prix wins. Many of F1’s greatest drivers – like Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart – were not able to sustain this kind of success.

So is it time to take Rosberg’s championship credentials seriously? For those who don’t, it’s because Hamilton has proven himself capable of achieving the kind of sustained success he now requires to turn the tables on his team mate.

Hamilton answered Rosberg’s late-2014 challenge with six wins from the last seven races. He won as he pleased throughout most of last season, winning five out of six races as he put the title beyond Rosberg’s reach with three rounds to spare. Give Rosberg a 36-point head-start in either of the last two championships and Hamilton would still have won both of them.

Rosberg’s leads means his championship challenge has to be taken seriously. But have the past six races proved he is now performing on a par with his multiple world champion team mate? Or have circumstances conspired to flatter his efforts?

It’s hard to write off six consecutive wins as an aberration, but there are some good reasons to. By his own admission, Hamilton was not giving his all in the final races of last season when Rosberg’s winning streak began. Although Rosberg has sustained that success into 2016 Hamilton’s defeats can be explained away by two poor starts – a problem he appeared to have addressed in China – and one power unit failure.

Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sepang, 2013
Hamilton has shown Rosberg the way since 2013
As always, reliability is the X-factor when it comes to championship contests between team mates.

Hamilton and Rosberg have been team mates for the past three seasons at Mercedes and for two years at TeamMBM.com in FormulaA and Formula Super A karts in 2000-01. In their five seasons together, Hamilton has come out ahead every single time.

If Rosberg can finally reverse that trend this year it will be seen as a tremendous achievement and few will care whether Hamilton has been operating at less than full potential because of his recently-discovered distractions.

The strongest case against Rosberg being able to do that is he hasn’t out-qualified his team mate on merit so far this year. But should he prove capable of doing that in the coming races, that 36-point margin will begin to look very daunting indeed for Hamilton.

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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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67 comments on “Why Rosberg’s strong start gives Hamilton cause for concern”

  1. Agree with this
    Hamilton can turn the tide and it can happen quite quickly too. if Rosberg goes one on one with lewis and comes out on top in Qualifications from now on, that will be hard for hamilton to get the points cut down considering the Wake of cars to overtake each other and it will hard for him to pass like 2014.

  2. From my calculations, if both Mercedes were to finish every race without retirement and in a 1-2 formation across the line, Hamilton will need to win at least 12 of the last 18. So the Ferrari’s might just prove to be Lewis’ saviours by beating Rosberg at certain races, of course unless they start beating Hamilton too.

    1. I agree Mash, I think the Ferrari’s will be a major factor in the outcome of Ham’s [and Ros’s ] outcome. I don’t expect Rosberg’s run to last much longer though, as things have habit of turning around: in most sports.

    2. The maths in the report is way off, and even you haven’t really got how easy it still is at this point.
      For arguments sake, assume that Mercedes wins P1 and P2, with performances very similar to last season, then Lewis Hamilton could be in front after six race wins, staring with Sochi.
      6 x 25 + 39 = 189 versus 6 x 18 + 75 = 183… meaning Hamilton could be ahead by Silverstone. I don’t expect it to be that easy, I certainly hope Ferrari and Redbull make it more interesting, by winning a few and making it less a two-car drivers championship, but to say the world champ needs 16 out of 18 wins is just plain idiot maths!

      1. The maths in the report is way off

        Which part? You haven’t said and the calculation you describe is not one which I used in the article.

      2. Keith only meant Hamilton has to win 16 races if he has to put the WDC race beyond all doubt. Can’t argue with that…

  3. If you had Vettel or Alonso in that other Mercedes then with what could in all honesty be put down to a bit of bad luck in just 3 races I would be very confident they could overturn the deficit and go on to win the championship. But with Hamilton, while I do think that when he’s in the zone he can beat any driver even if they are also in their zone I think he’s more prone to dips in form than Vettel or Alonso.

    1. But what ‘dip in form’ is Lewis actually going through? He’s not willingly clashing with other drivers or throwing the car off the road like he did in 2011. He’s had people crash into him and his car fail on him, but that’s not his fault.

      1. @optimaximal when Bottas crashed on him in Barhain, it was because of this attitude he usually shows as “I’m entitled to pass”. Bottas didn’t have to pull back, so they crsshed. Hamilton is as responsible of that incident as Bottas, so that one can’t be considered bad luck.

        1. What on earth where you watching?

          LH got bottled in the corner by a certain team mate leaving the throttle alone until he was certain – nothing illegal but annoying if you have had it happen to you – and Bottas admitted he went in too hot? The stewards agreed!

          Honestly – go do a few races and see how you fare…

          1. I think it is silly to imply it was Bottas’ fault just as much as it is silly to imply it was Hamilton’s. It’s just a racing incident.

        2. What are you talking about?

        3. It was bad luck in that at worst for Lewis is was a racing incident. You can’t just avoid everything. Especially at the start as you leave the door open. I thought Bottas’ penalty was very harsh, even if I did think it was marginally ‘his fault’. But to write the incident up as any evidence of Hamilton doing in form or having to arrogant an attitude is just bizarre.

    2. Hm, what dips did we see last year? And what dip this year? When you look at Hamilton currently, it seems he has found his inner peace and is far more balanced in how he deals with setbacks (as Toto Wolff mentioned a few days ago).

      I don’t see him going as much rollercoaster ride anymore.

      1. @bascb

        I’m not saying he is having a dip yet, too early to say as the first 3 races could easily be put down to bad luck. He’s pretty much been on it form wise since 2012 but he did tail off last year with the championship being wrapped up.

        1. I see no solid evidence of

          but he did tail off last year with the championship being wrapped up

          that @philip, apart from Hamilton himself claiming this as reason why he lost both in qualfiying AND in the last 3 races to Rosberg.

          In reality Rosberg had the speed advantage in qualifying for 2 races 2 races before the championship was done, and if not for his car breaking down, would have won Sochi and therefore the championship would have been settled later. Hamilton was lucky in Sochi to win that race, and proved to be better in the wet in Austin. But he had been on the backfoot for both of those races already.

  4. Caption:
    “Let go Ron! I can’t breath!!”

  5. I’m one of the people who doesn’t buy into the ‘6 consecutive races’ argument. It’s spread across two seasons, in two different cars (even if one is only a evolution of the other). It’s like how lap records are reset every time a track is marginally altered – there’s enough of a distinction for statistics to be rendered moot.

    I’m not denigrating Rosberg – he’s currently in a Mark Webber circa-2010 purple patch and has won the last 3 races (and yes, the previous ones) on merit. Hamilton needs to respond, but it’s also worth considering that all 3 races have been scrappy as hell for most drivers, Mercedes have pretty much admitted they have a fundamental clutch issue (with Rosberg again mugged in China) and Hamilton was heavily compromised in China through no fault of his own…

    From Hamilton’s point of view, I’d say this is currently looking less Prost getting the better of Senna in ’89 and more like Prost beating Lauda in ’85, where the latter only finished 3 races due to massive unreliability & incidents.

    1. I agree – it’s 3 last season and 3 this season which just happen to be 6 consecutive wins with a bit of artistic license.

      1. I also agree on this, and I think the claims that the 6 wins stretch which suggests that maybe Rosberg reached another level and that this is a feat some of the legends haven’t achieved is not a valid argument. Like already said, this was achieved in 2 different seasons, and if the greats like Prost, Senna, etc didn’t make it, it’s because today’s cars are much more reliable than before. But allo the other points in the article are valid, this is the best chance ever for Rosberg to win the title.

    2. I would guess Rosberg getting passed at the start this weekend was more related to traction from his soft tire selection versus Ricciardo’s super softs.

    3. Yes the ‘consecutive’ argument is slightly flawed in the sense that they all occurred in different championships. So, I prefer to see it on the basis of his victories in this particular championship. That said, Nic has won all of them on merit and no doubt he has Hamilton worried even if he won’t publicly admit to it.
      Since championship points and awards are given out based on yearly performance, I think it is more sensible to view things in that light.

      1. Also @geekzilla9000 and @mmertens Well you can then also argue that MS 5 consecutive championships shouldn’t count as consecutive either. He achieved those in 5 different seasons that just happened to be one after another. And to @optimaximal seeing how Rosberg has achieved this streak with as you say two different machineries it is even more impressive. Granted that doesn’t mean he will win WDC this year and only last 3 of those counts towards this years championship but this is just ridiculous. Guy has achieved a remarkable feat that only three other drivers have managed in the history of the sport(btw Ascari did it over two seasons and Schumachers 6 in a row was over two seasons as well) and to me it looks like you’re just trying to belittle this achievement. Does Rosbergs 6 in a row suddenly mean that he is on some kind of another-level form? No. But it certainly shows that he is no slouch and now probably has much needed higher confidence. You of course may think what you want but in 20-50 years statistics will still show Rosbergs name on this list.

    4. @optimaximal

      I’m one of the people who doesn’t buy into the ‘6 consecutive races’ argument. It’s spread across two seasons, in two different cars (even if one is only a evolution of the other). It’s like how lap records are reset every time a track is marginally altered – there’s enough of a distinction for statistics to be rendered moot.

      @geekzilla9000

      I agree – it’s 3 last season and 3 this season which just happen to be 6 consecutive wins with a bit of artistic license.

      @mmertens

      I also agree on this, and I think the claims that the 6 wins stretch which suggests that maybe Rosberg reached another level and that this is a feat some of the legends haven’t achieved is not a valid argument. Like already said, this was achieved in 2 different seasons

      And you guys are all demonstrably wrong. That is not how statistics work. Consecutive wins are counted irrespective of season borders.

      http://www.statsf1.com/en/statistiques/pilote/victoire/consecutive.aspx
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Formula_One_driver_records#Wins

      By every objective measure, winning streaks are not bounded to by seasons. Schumacher won 6 in a row from Monza 2000 until Sepang 2001. Rosberg has won 6 in a row so far.

      I’m not denigrating Rosberg – he’s currently in a Mark Webber circa-2010 purple patch and has won the last 3 races (and yes, the previous ones) on merit.

      Rosberg has won 6 races on merit in a row whereas Webber never won more than 2 in a row, which he only did once. Perhaps more importantly, Rosberg is a far superior driver to what Webber ever was.

  6. I think Rosberg has a different attitude nowadays. He seems a lot more confident with himself.

    If he manages to win this one over Hamilton (and I have high hopes for that!), I’ll rate him very very highly. It’s not easy to overcome 2 seasons of watching your team mate take all the trophies and turn the tables like that. I don’t remember anyone doing that. Maybe Massa over Raikkonen?

    1. @fer-no65 Agreed, waiting for that too! And this would be an outstanding achievement against a three times world champion. The only driver that did it is Prost on Lauda in 1985 if I recall correctly. Quite a feat.

  7. Hamilton only needs to win the next *six* races to regain the lead. Not 16 like the article says!

    1. Nevermind, I misread that.

      1. actually you’re right…. however, he would only have to win 12 (not 16) of the next 18 to be outright champion, assuming the Nico was second every single time. However, neither of these assumptions is a forgone conclusion, with Ferrari and Redbull showing cars with some edge this year.

        1. You’re assuming that Hamilton comes second to Rosberg in the remaining 6 races – that assumption won’t win the championship. Winning 16 means that WHATEVER result occurs in the last 2 races Hamilton will still be champion ie have clinched it. Actually 15 wins and a seventh place would be sufficient – but that’s pedantry and isn’t correcting Hamilton’s assertion that he has to win 18 in a row

  8. I could be wrong of course, but I still feel like the tide turned for Nico at the last US GP. It is my opinion that when LH moved him off the track, immediately going on the radio to say he didn’t mean it, thus confirming he had overcooked the corner, I think that burned NR. I think he saved the day for Merc that day, and I remain of the opinion that the team should have and hopefully did, thank him profusely for not being stubborn, not letting LH hit him and ruin both their days, and then LH went on to seal up the WDC that day.

    Sure it was inevitable, and it was going to sting for NR anyway, but I just wonder if he kind of said to himself after that ‘no more Mr. Nice guy.’

    That said though, NR has had some luck mixed in with his excellent driving, and that’s just F1 and nothing he can do about. And for sure LH is still a massive threat. But Nico has continued to acknowledge that. So even if ‘the gloves are off’ it’s not like he is being arrogant or is going to become an idiot. He just seems to have everything in really great perspective and I hope that when we have some more ‘normal’ races he will continue to show that indeed he’s turned a page in an apples-to-apples fight.

    1. @robbie
      I think that Hamilton’s move on Rosberg in the first corner of USA 2015 enraged Rosberg more than anything else. After that, as Toto stated, Rosberg drove with a lot of anger towards Lewis at Mexico.

      Maybe Nico just needs to teach himself to be angry at Lewis all the time. Perhaps show him a replay of the Austin 2015 start before every race.

      1. I do not get all the drama about the US grad prix from the part of Nico when he himself pushed Hamilton quite a few times at first corners. Is just that Hamilton didn’t make it a big deal in his comments and it wasn’t talked as much.

  9. I think currently, this title is Rosberg’s to lose but maybe harshly, I rather expect him to lose it. I can’t help but think the past few races have flattered Rosberg slightly – he’s been put under barely any pressure at all. And I don’t buy the ‘last six races’ thing – to me he’s won the last three.

    He’s certainly quick, and certainly talented enough to win races but I’m not sure he’s got that extra strength to take a championship. I’ve watched him throw away victories by making silly mistakes when being hunted down by Hamilton or ruining his tyres trying to overtake a slower car that other drivers just fly past. Though he’s a very good driver, and certainly one of the best out there, I don’t think he’s quite consistent or skilled enough to grab a WDC.

    He’s in the unique position of knowing that for the past couple of seasons he’s in a car can be on pole and win every race. He knows the title will be either his or his team-mates, and for the past two he’s failed to clinch it. Now with the advantage he’s got I can’t help but think if he doesn’t do it this year he’s never going to.

    I’m not a fan of either Mercedes driver but I think I’d rather he got it just for variety, really.

    1. And I don’t buy the ‘last six races’ thing – to me he’s won the last three.

      Once again, this is demonstrably wrong. That is not how statistics work. Consecutive wins are counted irrespective of season borders.

      http://www.statsf1.com/en/statistiques/pilote/victoire/consecutive.aspx
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Formula_One_driver_records#Wins

      By every objective measure, winning streaks are not bounded to by seasons. Schumacher won 6 in a row from Monza 2000 until Sepang 2001. Rosberg has won 6 in a row so far.

  10. Ask yourself this:
    If today you were forced to put $5,000 of your personal funds on Rosberg or Hamilton to win the WDC, for which driver would you be more comfortable turning on the TV each Sunday?

    I like Rosberg, and I’d prefer to see him win the WDC this year, but I’d still be less anxious with my money on Hamilton.

    1. That question right there is exactly why Hamilton is a very popular F1 driver.
      Imagine a race weekend without the guy. Even those who don’t like him, still want him to appear on Sundays to race albeit from the back just so he can make them enjoy the race:)

      1. I am OK with it to be frank.. and there are others drivers who can race from the back too.

    2. I’d put my money on Rosberg, but then again, I don’t have that kind of money right now ;)

  11. Article fails to recognise that Rosberg was leading in Russia and made a mistake in the USA last year…he’s been driving well for a bit longer than these last 6.

  12. Rosberg is driving like a champion so far this year. I really hope that he can hold it together and prove the doubter’s wrong. I always had a soft spot for son’s of former drivers, and even though they have had certain advantages when beginning in the sport, they always have more to prove than someone with an unknown name. I think of Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, and Michael Andertti. I have a feeling that Rosberg is more like Hill than Andretti!

    1. Same here for the soft spot on sons of. Having been one in my sport I can relate on how hard it is mentally (though let’s not forget he was in a privileged position compared to others as for means and ressources, as probably I was). I really believe he is in a good place and could win this one. I always thought he was good enough to be champion, but hey, being on the same team as HAM has been a bummer. I believe HAM is great to watch but in all seriousness with a little luck, I can’t see why Rosberg wouldn’t win this one as far as I’m concerned. Really, i’ll happily get the pop corn out and watch how this one unfolds.

    2. Re Rosberg is driving like a champion.
      As Lennox Lewis once said “If you come to war, you have to bring your whole arsenal, not just a left hook and a haircut.” Rosberg brought all his skill and capability to the track and … well, but the sounds of it, didn’t actually need to use all of it; Hamilton, on the other hand, didn’t bring all his skill and capability, and he is paying the price.
      I think Hamilton should have got a better result than seventh. Looking at the drivers and cars that he passed, there isn’t a single one of them that he should have had difficulty passing, the first car and driver that he would have had difficulty passing was Massa in a Williams-Mercedes, and he didn’t pass him.
      Hamilton should regard this race as a failure. Saying there are 18 races to go is like saying he is happy with 7th. He needs to prove he is the World Champion for a reason.

      1. @drycrust It’s not just ‘skill’, as he was forced to switch onto the Medium tyre which wasn’t working for ANY car because of the ambient conditions. This, coupled with damage to the car (including the suspension, tray, floor, batwing and loss of a barge board) which was pushing up the tyre wear further the issues with overtaking (even on a wide track) because of the aero regs AND his starting position meant the entire weekend would have been just a write-off for most drivers.

      2. Hm, well, it’t not as if Hamilton could have jumped out of the car and put all the missing bits back on and kit the barge boards back together etc @drycrust. I think you underestimate the damage his car had there. It made it harder to drive, made overtaking harder at the best overtaking spots and worsened tyre wear.

        And you can hardly say that the incident where he lost his wing and hte damage was caused was his fault.

        I think it is significant that Rosberg has been able to string together 3 wins from the first 3 races. Yes, Hamilton gave him the opportunity, but then again, how often in the last couple of years did Rosberg mess up when he had it all in his hands? Now he didn’t.

        And he didn’t do it in any of the 3 races before that either, so now he has a string to feel confident about himself beating Hamilton, and he has the points advantage. That is a very strong position. Now we have to see wheather he can keep it going as soon as Hamilton is back in the mix next race (Rosberg would have won convincingly last year in Russia without his car breaking down) and how it goes when the first major reliability issues hit Him instead.

  13. I really think Rosberg has now developed to be able to beat Hamilton on merit. Even Hamilton needed years and losing championships to get to the level he currently is at, and Rosberg is now the one to have gotten the practice and experience of being in a title fight.

    I also believe the public booing in 2014 by Hamilton fans (and Mercedes management) was much more damaging to Rosberg than it might have appeared, and he took time to recover from that. Without it, the story might have been different already. Add to that Ecclestone declaring Rosberg winning would not be as good for the sport as Hamilton, plus Lauda obviously being a Hamilton man, and it must have been quite hard mentally to stand his own ground and work on a comeback.

    But now he seems to more or less free from all that, and with his new secure family base much more secure and this all translates to performance in the end.

    1. Hamilton doesn’t seem to be “ultimate” level.. he nearly go beaten by Massa in 2008 and has made championship ending errors in 2007 and 2010.

      and I hate this the most::: “By his own admission, Hamilton was not giving his all in the final races of last season when Rosberg’s winning streak began” – the guy is being paid millions of dollars per race and is not giving his all?? that is messed up…. people are starving around the world and Hamilton doesn’t want to put an effort into his job, that is really messed up when you are being paid so
      much- REALLY REALLY MESSED UP- no other drivers in motorsport choose to not try, or at least have not admitted it.

      1. He said that after bagging the WDC for himself and WCC for this team. He practically finished his job and whatever he paid for. If you don’t agree with that, you can force him to do otherwise if you the one paying him.

        1. @sonicslv He was still paid for the last 3 races. If he was for real, he should have stepped down for those races and handed the drive to Wehrlein.

          1. @wsrgo And he still do what he paid for, show up for the race, do media promotions for the team, etc. In fact, he probably do better for his team because Rosberg winning thus elevating team profile who have 1 WDC driver and a “second rate” driver into a team that have 2 world class drivers.

            Again, if you don’t agree with what he does, you could told him to do what he supposed paid for if you the one who paying him.

    2. He has done well.

      But seriously he has been in F1 a year longer than LH, has only ever become ‘a contender’ following a champion winning tea ate and a whole heap of ‘how to’ pointers and still as in 2014, requires last luck to get a head start?

      Look he is an excellent driver. He is a less than stellar racer and requires all the stars to align to get his act together.

      No sorry – pull it off in a none CC winning car and I will be impressed – or at least win a flaming on track battle without a tyre/car/position/strategy advantage let alone a gift, then I might sit up.

    3. Team mate
      Lady Luck

      Hate spell checks!

  14. It’s not Rosberg fault about Mercedes clutch problems. He maybe didn’t make PP on first 2 race but on start from bad position (not a race line) he got faster to the 1st corner.
    This is not 2014. and don’t expect from top teams just run over mid field. Lewis didn’t make move in 1st race vs STR (2015 Ferrari engine) so if we look big picture is bad start for Lewis will cost him championship.
    Ferrari still didn’t make clear race they lose in Australia bcoz wrong decision after red flag. Little problems with new setup engine, but I expect them to bring fight to the Mercedes every race.
    Red Bull is dark horse on slow track they will be closer to the Merc and Ferrari. Maybe even ahead of them!
    I think someone notice that Merc is super fast in clear air, and whole new car if u take that from him. Hard to overtake.
    One little mistake from Lewis from last race I know he didn’t want to have collision with Sauber but after that he push hard and make more damage on the car after he lost it and drive over the gravel.
    Poor race again let’s see can he bounce back and win in Russia.

  15. I believe Rosberg is capable of winning the title if he can continue this form and that form is accompanied by a little bit of luck here and there.

  16. – By his own admission, Hamilton was not giving his all in the final races of last season when Rosberg’s winning streak began.

    The problem with that kind of thought on Hamilton’s side is that it has given Nico a kind of boost that has propelled him into the 2016 season. I honestly think it will be difficult to knock him off that pedestal.
    I think Lewis should have continued battling after winning the championship because that is what Seb would do and has done. Winning the championship should not dwindle the desire to keep winning races.
    It is a fight Hamilton gave away which is becoming difficult for him to get back into.

  17. Rosberg may have won the first three races of the season and the last six in total but I have still not seen anything to suggest he has raised his game and is now better than Hamilton. I think they are both at the same levels relative to each that they have been since they have been teammates at Mercedes.

    Just to be clear, I think Rosberg is a good driver but that Hamilton is the better of the two, if both divers are fully motivated and on top form I think Hamilton will finish ahead maybe eight times out of ten. But there will be a few races in the season where no matter what Hamilton does Rosberg will just be quicker.

    Rosberg was quicker at the end of last season and he converted that into victory in the last three races, the question was had Rosberg found something extra or had Hamilton eased off when it was obvious that he was going to win the title, personally I thought Hamilton had eased off, subconsciously at least, you often see this in football at the end of the season if a team has nothing to play for they are not at the same level as they had been.

    With the new season this year Hamilton has been the quicker of the two in qualifying but circumstances have meant that we haven’t had a battle between them in the races and Rosberg has taken the race victories.

    In Australia Hamilton got pole but both Mercedes had poor starts and Rosberg managed to run Hamilton wide at the first corner and so Hamilton dropped further down the field than Rosberg, so after that first corner they were not together on track again, and if Ferrari had not made a bad strategy call then Mercedes probably wouldn’t have recovered to a 1-2 finish.

    In Bahrain Hamilton was again quickest in qualifying but again he made a bad start which resulted in him sustaining damage and with what happened with the Ferraris Rosberg took an easy win after making a normal start.

    In China reliability problems meant Hamilton started at the back and we didn’t get to see how they compared in qualifying against each other. Hamilton was again caught in a first corner incident which damaged his car while Rosberg was hardly challenged during the race with his only issue been having to pass Ricciardo in the opening laps whose tyres had gone.

    So far I think that 2016 is going to be like 2015, at the front at least, Mercedes have a significant car advantage but if they have any problems on a weekend then Ferrari will be ready to pounce. Also unless a driver has a tyre advantage he will find it hard to get past someone with similar pace.

    After only three races Rosberg already has a commanding lead in the Championship but I don’t think he has been really challenged yet, that is not to say he doesn’t deserve it, the only mistake he has made has been a poor start in the first race and I suppose another less than perfect start in China as he did not retain the lead from pole. Similarly you could say that the only real mistakes Hamilton has made has been poor starts in the first two races and despite been quicker in the two qualifying sessions where they have gone head to head, he finds himself over a win behind Rosberg in the Championship already.

    At the moment the position Hamilton is currently in is comparable to the ones he found himself in a few times in 2014, with a points deficit in the Championship battle despite been quicker, and assuming Rosberg doesn’t have any reliability problems if Hamilton doesn’t start closing the gap soon then the title may already be out of reach.

  18. I agree with your first sentence. Or at least, we have yet to see evidence that Rosberg has raised his game this season. Last year his race pace seemed improved compared to 2014, but at the expensive of his qualifying pace (until late season) and that set the tone for the championship. So to maintain his lead, he will need to come out on top of the qualifying battle, or at least come close to matching Hamilton – so far he is 2-0 down in qualy when Hamilton could compete.

    I think the championship is very well poised though, I still feel Hamilton is slight favourite but it is a close call. Bookies have Rosberg as slight favourite just now. Hoping for a close battle between the two because I don’t think the Ferrari’s will be quick enough to challenge for championships (hopefully they and Redbull can snatch a couple victories though).

  19. Just came to mind: Leonardo DiCaprio and Nico Rosberg are lookalikes. Wolf of Wall Street and Wolf of Shanghai Circuit!

  20. 6 in a row… In fastest car… We were all confident for Lewis to win, unless Vettel bribgsva better Ferrari.

    Lewis made 2 bad starts, 1 unreliablity .

    I guess come Sochi we will see. If Nico wins again there will be no doubt.

  21. Let’s not dig on Rosberg about the 6 wins. Even he said to Will Buxton, those wins were last season and are irrelevant.

    1. Just like Lewis past titles are irrelevant this year, right? @jabosha

      1. Rosberg doesn’t agree that those wins help him now to win this years WDC. He wasn’t asked if Lewis 3 championships work against him in the interview.

        1. Oh, I also hope I’m not coming off as it’s no big achievement, I think it is. Just like Lewis 3 championships or any that put anyone in a fantastic mix of great drivers.

  22. This stems back to last year when Rosberg started winning pole after pole. He’s been driving equal to or faster than Hamilton in races since Sochi, his Austin wind moment aside. And Hamilton let that happen. The excuse was that he was chilling out after winning the title, fair enough, but the danger always was of Rosberg gaining confidence and Hamilton falling into a rut of losing. We all know Rosberg is an excellent driver without that final touch of brilliance. But that’s enough to beat anyone not 100% focused. Hamilton gives the impression that 3 titles was always his target in Formula 1 and anything more would be a bonus, he’s cool about it. That makes me think this year will be Rosberg’s.

  23. The thing is, Rosberg’s lead is so big, he doesn’t need to be equally fast as Hamilton for the rest of the season to win the title. All he has to do is win a race from time to time, finish second on weekends where Lewis is too fast and – given equal reliability for the remainder of the season – Rosberg has the title in the bag.

  24. I think Nico can do it this time. Probably at Abu Dhabi, probably at the last corner. Maybe with Lewis ahead slowing down to put him into trouble. You know what, I’m gonna go get a quid on this very outcome.

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