Rosberg showing the strain as Hamilton closes in

2016 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton recently said his chances of winning a fourth world championship this year “seemed impossible” after the Spanish Grand Prix.

Rosberg’s advantage peaked after Spain clash
“It’s crazy to think that the 43-point deficit I had at the time, which seemed impossible – I’m only human so those days I feel like it seemed impossible – you’ve just got to keep going, as painful as it can be, as hard as it can be,” he said.

Of course a 43-point lead is far from insurmountable when there are 400 points available to be won. Hamilton of all people should appreciate this, having lost a 17-point championship lead with 20 available over the final two races of 2007.

While it’s easy to appreciate Hamilton’s disillusionment at failing to win a race up to that point, he might have taken some comfort from his points-scoring rate compared to team mate Nico Rosberg over the past two seasons. As noted here at the time, it gave every reason to believe Hamilton could catch up, lending real intrigue to a championship contest which was very one-sided last year.

Sure enough five races later Hamilton is now just one point behind his team mate:

As the graph shows, Hamilton has taken points off Rosberg at a slightly quicker rate than usual. After Spain Rosberg might have hoped he could cling to his points lead until the end of the season with a clutch of second places and his team mate’s inevitable upcoming engine penalties.

Verstappen humbled Rosberg at Silverstone
But Hamilton’s swift demolition of Rosberg’s margin has brutally exposed his team mate’s shortcomings, and left him looking desperate at times.

Spain was a no-score draw for the pair after Rosberg, slowing due to an error with his engine settings on the first lap, fought his team mate off with uncompromising resolve. It was a legal move, but a tough one to make against a team mate, and it contributed to both cars failing to score.

In Austria Rosberg overstepped the mark, provoking contact between the two cars again as Hamilton attempted to pass him on the final lap. This was more grist to the mill for those who believed he deliberately parked at Mirabeau in Monaco two years ago, and was aiming for Hamilton’s left-rear tyre at Spa later that same year.

It’s easy to overplay these occasional signs of desperation in Rosberg’s driving. What has been more revealing about the past few races is the number of times he has been found wanting on the track – particularly in the most challenging conditions.

On a wet track in Monaco Rosberg’s pace was so poor Mercedes invoked team orders to keep him from wrecking Hamilton’s race along with his own. In similar circumstances at Silverstone he slipped back from Hamilton and was humiliated by Max Verstappen who overtook him around the outside of Becketts – the most unlikely passing place on the entire circuit.

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It was qualifying in Austria which best illustrated Rosberg’s tentativeness in the wet and his dependence on his team. While Nico Hulkenberg pounced on the opportunity to attack a damp track on slick tyres Rosberg could not have been more emphatic when asked if he wanted the same: “Negative, negative, negative” he replied. He was overruled, and while he ultimately lapped half a second off Hamilton’s pace his instinct to play it safe was revealing.

Rosberg didn’t fancy slicks in Austria
Rosberg’s latest setback came at Silverstone when his team, pressed by its driver for more information on how to handle a gearbox fault, broke the new-for-2016 regulations limiting the type of assistance drivers can receive on the radio. It came as little surprise to see Rosberg become the first to fall foul of the restrictions: what we heard of the teams’ radio messages before this year gave a strong impression Rosberg relied on them more than most.

It’s always been these telling inadequacies, rather than the few headline-grabbing controversies, which have made it hard to envisage Nico Rosberg as a world champion. The graph above makes it clear which driver accumulates points more rapidly over time as the effect of occasional technical problems is diluted.

Whenever Hamilton suffers such a misfortune the conspiracy theorists immediately proffer outlandish explanations for how Mercedes are favouring Rosberg. They should instead reflect that the best thing Mercedes could do to assure Hamilton’s continued success is re-sign the driver he has beaten on each of the five occasions they’ve shared a team for a season.

The run-up to Rosberg’s home race in Hockenheim next week would seem the perfect time to do just that.

2016 F1 season

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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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109 comments on “Rosberg showing the strain as Hamilton closes in”

  1. Nico Bottleberg….

    ….I’m joking.
    In all seriousness, how can someone lose a 43-point lead so quickly? I really want Rosberg to challenge Hamilton for the championship all the way to the last race. How can I be so sure of that if he’s doing this?

    1. @ultimateuzair You can’t. Arguably, he’s having the harder time of the two in terms of technical problems recently – no post-British GP drama without his severe gearbox problem and he may have lost the Austrian GP with a clumsy move on the last lap but it was sheer chaos that propelled him into the lead in the first place as his Saturday suspension failure and gearbox penalty looked to have mired him back anyway – but even if those things are beginning to equal out at Mercedes, he’s just plain slower especially when things don’t go normal.

      Still, I think his recent technical misfortune and Hamilton’s significant upturn in fortune (see Ricciardo’s Monaco gaffe and Vettel’s Montreal gaffe, he’s even had his share of engine troubles when he was unlikely to pass Perez in Baku anyway) contributed as much as Rosberg’s huge driver inadequacies (even by his own standards).

      I’d say it was 1/3 Rosberg being plain slower, 1/3 the heavy swing in fortune and 1/3 Rosberg being especially awful in Monaco, Spielberg and Silverstone. (Not to mention his Montreal spin when he finally muscled past Verstappen only to spin out due to what looked like a missed brake bias re-adjust after the hairpin.)

      1. So none of it is down to Hamilton ? It’s all down to Nico ?

        1. Effectively, yes. The only things Hamilton messed up this year so far are the starts in Melbourne and Montreal. He was very lucky a few times post-Spain – e. g. in Montreal, among others – but he himself has also driven superbly well.

        2. So it’s Nico plus reliability and luck. But not Lewis.

    2. Tony Mansell
      19th July 2016, 14:40

      Nico Rowboat?… goes backwards when its wet

    3. @ultimateuzair, that 43 point lead would be the equivalent of one 1st place and one 2nd place finish, and I can recall even more highly respected drivers managing to lose just as large, if not larger, points leads in less time than Rosberg has.

      For a historical example at how quickly a lead can vanish, just look at Schumacher back in the year 2000. After the Canadian GP that year, Schumacher had a 22 point lead in the WDC – that would be roughly equivalent to a lead of 60 points (two wins and a 5th place) under the current points system.

      Thanks to reliability issues and start line shunts, in just four races that lead of 22 points turned into a 2 point deficit – a short run of misfortune can see a points lead evaporate very quickly.

      1. The point is, it’s Rosberg’s bad and sometimes desperate driving more than anything which has costed him his points lead.

        1. And of course, you could never accuse Hamilton of desperate manoeuvres during racing…

          1. what desperate manoevures this season?also whenever lewis is the aggressive one,normally both drivers can continue to race.but when its nico,one or both drivers normally end up with a dnf because of race ending silverstone it could have easily been another double dnf.

          2. I have in the past. Hungary 2015, Baku 2016, all of 2011 just to name a few.

          3. @matt

            “also whenever lewis is the aggressive one,normally both drivers can continue to race.but when its nico,one or both drivers normally end up with a dnf because of race ending contact”

            Well that would be because when Hamilton is aggressive and shoves Rosberg, Nico has enough common sense about him to get out of the way – see the 2015 US GP as an example. Plenty of run off and Nico used it, as opposed to just turning in on Lewis.

            There have been plenty of times in the past where contact between these two has been avoided PURELY because Rosberg took avoiding action!

  2. pastaman (@)
    19th July 2016, 12:35

    Looks good for HAM now, but future grid penalties for power unit allotment are going to make things a lot more difficult than in 2014/15

    1. he will take 1 hit (double engine change) and start from the back of a wet spa .. with safety cars. That means he would be left with 3 engines in his pool. Even with that I can see him finishing on the podium.

    2. Probably not. There are rumors on Twitter that Hamilton will take his 6th and 7th engine at Spa and start from the back of the grid. Leaving his allocation in good shape for the remainder of the season.

      1. He’s doing OK on ICE’s, but he’s short on turbos and MGU-H’s the last I saw.

        #44 Lewis Hamilton: ICE – 3 | TC – 5 | MGU-H – 5 | MGU-K – 3 | ES – 3 | CE – 3
        #6 Nico Rosberg: ICE – 3 | TC – 3 | MGU-H – 3 | MGU-K – 2 | ES – 2 | CE – 2

  3. Ouch.

    1. Indeed, so this was just to remind us all that Rosberg isn’t championship material :(
      Whether that is the case or not it still doesn’t mean he can’t give us a good show from time to time.
      I just hope Hamilton keeps his current form and Rosberg back to how he was at the end of last year, throw in a Red Bull here or there and we have some good races coming.

  4. It’s been a long known fact, though often unaccepted or outright denied, that the only way Rosberg can get the better of Hamilton is if he receives team help (legally or otherwise), or if Hamilton experiences technical or mechanical problems.

    Other than that, they are in a totally different class.

    1. @stubbornswiss That’s hardly true, Rosberg has been the better of Hamilton on numerous occasions in the past three years. That does not mean Hamilton is the better driver on their respective best days but those don’t always happen.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        19th July 2016, 14:00

        @xtwl – Hamilton seems to have the times in his career when he struggles to perform. I don’t know why it happens but he gets stuck in a rut where he struggles. All it takes is one decent performance and he’s suddenly flying again. I would be amazed if he doesn’t pull well clear now by the end of the season despite any grid penalties he has to take.

        1. Hamilton had a huge weakness in his early career of being ruled by his emotions. Not that he seems to have complete control and happiness over his personal life, he seems near-unbeatable. And this is from someone thinks Hamilton is undeserving of the incredible levels of praise he receives. Right now, along with Vettel, there is no better driver in the world. I would, however, like to see him in a non – dominant car now puerly to contrast his approach with his attitude from his earlier years, when he was unstable, in unfancied McLaren’s

          1. …in unfancied McLaren’s

            I can’t think of any his McLaren years where the car was un-fancied.

            Even in 2009, the car was one of the fastest by the end of the year (with Hamilton taking several wins) and in 2011, Button proved categorically it was Hamilton (and his feud with Massa), not the car. The 2012 car was easily the fastest at the end of the season, but for its reliability slump.

      2. @PorscheF1 Rosberg had his days… some can argue to better luck… he is a dirty racer who doesnt know where to draw (crazy) lines/limits… He constantly trash talk, and almost never admits mistakes! He is not a terrible racer, certainly pushing Ham to limits, but he is not off the same caliber of a true champ… He certainly has a chance at the champs, but i ve strong feelings he will crash ham out if it goes down to wire and he has shown numerous times he will do it mindlessly…

        1. @mysticus Pointless comment filled with untruth. Thank you. Please be objective.

          1. Pointless? Statistics has a point… Thank you, I am objective. Just because Rosberg got lucky for a few races doesnt make it a great racer! Which parts i said is not objective?

            He has crashed people on purpose to make a point with his own words… Not talking about out of exit on racing line accidents…
            He stupidly and recklessly pushed people off track.
            He constantly trash talks and as i said, never admits the slightest mistakes when he is involved with crashes.
            Tell me which season Rosberg was superior to Ham when he had a non problematic car! As i said before, statistic on long run is as objective as it can get!

      3. Something went wrong with my last line, should’ve read;

        That does not mean Hamilton is the better driver on their respective best days but those don’t always happen.
        That does not mean I don’t think Hamilton is the better driver on their respective best days, but those don’t always happen.

    2. ColdFly F1 (@)
      19th July 2016, 15:21

      It’s been a long known fact, though often unaccepted or outright denied,…

      The only revealing part of your username @StubbornSwiss is the geographical reference.

      1. Whereas there is absolutely nothing revealing with YOUR name, @coldfly.

        1. @coldfly @stubbornswiss Nice banter, guys – thoughtful swipe, witty response.

          1. ColdFly F1 (@)
            19th July 2016, 22:35

            Who needs a Caption Competition to have some fun ;-)
            @stubbornswiss, @atticus-2

    3. @stubbornswiss ” that the only way Rosberg can get the better of Hamilton is if he receives team help (legally or otherwise), or if Hamilton experiences technical or mechanical problems.”

      If I post examples of Nico being faster will you admit you were wrong?

      1. Please do mate? But i think you know damn well that statistics in the long run will fail your short term examples…

        1. @mysticus
          Are you seriously going to defend the claim that Rosberg can only beat Hamilton if Lewis experience technical problems or has been sabotaged by the team?

          1. @kingshark No, he isn’t. He added cheating to it too,… *sigh*

          2. I m not defending anyone, just pointing that statistics have a better value than personal opinion. I am still waiting for the “If I post examples of Nico being faster will you admit you were wrong?” to see what those examples are. Faster is a very relative term… faster as in a single lap? So far Ham turned out to be faster into Championship finish… Which matters the most…

            PorscheF1: Be objective was your words. After a few races through the season, many declared Ros to be champ, but mid season now and both are almost equal which rather happened quite fast. Is it Ham’s turn in the luck department?

    4. @stubbornswiss
      I’d love to understand the mental gymnastics to justify the claim that Rosberg apparently needed help to beat Hamilton in Australia and Baku. Go ahead, make my day.

      1. Well you could say Rosberg got “help” by Lewis not getting a good start, (which could be seen as a technical issue) in Australia, and getting qualifying help and engine mode issues in Baku. so he’s not completely wrong.

        1. Hamilton getting a bad start is not a technical issue, it is a driver issue.

          1. @Neiana Not to be drawn into an argument, as I respect others opinions, but as much as is being said about Hamiltons series of bad starts, it appears that people are forgetting that MB actually acknowledged that he suffered from clutch problems in the first few races.

            So yes, a bad start CAN be a technical issue.

          2. @stubbornswiss
            Rosberg basically never gets the privilege of this excuse when he got beat off the line (Japan and USA last year). People were mocking Rosberg for his poor racecraft. The double standards are appalling. Also, Hamilton did not have clutch issues in the first few races. He’s just been poor at starts.

            Qualifying in Baku was Hamilton’s own fault and Rosberg was miles ahead of him in the race before his engine mode problems occurred.

          3. @kingshark

            “Also, Hamilton did not have clutch issues in the first few races. He’s just been poor at starts.”

            Except that Mercedes actually said that there was a hardware issue with the clutch. But yeah ignore the facts and paint your own picture :)

            “Qualifying in Baku was Hamilton’s own fault and Rosberg was miles ahead of him in the race before his engine mode problems occurred.”

            Mercedes enforced a setup change between practice and qualifying that ruined the rhythm Hamilton had built up round the lap. Yes putting it in the wall was his own doing but his qualifying had already been hampered by the team.

            His engine mode problems occurred from the start of the race so are you really declaring “miles ahead” to be the difference between their grid slots? Seems like @stubbornswiss is not the only one doing mental gymnastics ;)

      2. Let’s see… In Australia, Hamilton fastest in FP1, FP2, and FP3….

        Then Hamilton faster in Q1 (1.5 seconds), Q2 (0.2 seconds), and Q3 (0.3 seconds).

        In Baku, Hamilton again fastest in FP1, FP2, and FP3… but yeah, Hamilton’s qualifying in Baku sucked. :)

        Possibly because the team misprogrammed his car, but that’s an unknown to anyone outside Mercedes.

    5. Agree 100 %

    6. Not a totally different class– Rosberg is still a very, very good driver, and he’s very fast, especially over one lap.

      He’s a bit weak in the wet (specifically in the W07, for some reason), although he’s always been slightly more cautious than Hamilton in the wet. He doesn’t react well to unexpected problems during the race, and handles pressure from the rear poorly– then again, that could be describing Vettel (except the wet weather part).

      I’d say he’s in the top 5 for current F1 drivers, and with anyone but Hamilton in the other Silver Arrow, would probably have at least one WDC to his name.

      Hamilton is easily in the top 3 right now, but the W07 is a good enough car that it’s difficult to tell how close to “the best” he is at the moment– but considering he was able to change his driving style to suit Austria and then win it, his skill should not be underestimated.

      1. +1. Nice summary, without bias. IMNSHO:

        Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton are the top tier drivers. All round, attacking, yet balanced drivers in all conditions. All have off days occasionally, but these men are inspiring most of the time.

        Verstappen, and Ricciardo are very, very close.

        Rosberg, Button, Perez, Raikkonnen are next. Great in some conditions, good in most, but with one significant weakness (e.g wet for Rosberg, qualy for Jensen).

        Massa, Bottas, Hulkenberg etc are next.

  5. Excellent, informative graph, by the way.

    Are such graphs / data available on the website?

  6. Rosberg would probably be better of mentally and the results could improve, if he accepted the fact of the above graph and reverted from getting desparate, but just concentrated on maximizing his tally, give a good show, i.e. give Hamilton fair and hard competition and then hope for the miracle: Hamilton’s season ending unusually bad, giving Rosberg the title on the merit of the Merc winning the Constructors title.

  7. I do rate Rosberg at a technical level, he’s very quick. I used to find him likeable too. It’s just that it doesn’t work being desperate to win when you can’t win. And then I suppose being an only child in Monaco and all he rest of it, he’s spoiled.

    Mercedes really need a different personality in that car. If he’ll pull Barca and then Austria while he’s waiting for a contract, and deny any fault, how can they trust him if they give him a fresh deal?

    1. Sure would be fun to see Vettel in the seat… It’ll never happen because Vettel loves being at Ferrari, and I’m not convinced either Vettel or Hamilton would like to be teammates, but they are each other’s closest rivals and it would be fantastic to see them in the same machinery.

    2. I think the word ‘desperate’ is just rhetoric being used to describe how Nico appears. Within the much more level-headed and professional team they would not be considering Nico as desperate. They are intimate with the situation and the history. They know they have an intense rivalry going on which is difficult to manage especially given the history going back to their youth, but would rather have it as it has been than to give team orders.

      Going back to the word desperate, prior to the incident in Austria, with Nico looking to win having come from sixth, and LH questioning how Nico got ahead and with softer tires, LH also trailing in the standings by a healthy margin at the time, the word desperate could just as easily be used on LH. Can you imagine the rhetoric coming from him and from posters had Nico won from 6th over LH the pole sitter? The conspiracy theorists would still be burning up their keyboards in outrage, no doubt assisted with a little whinge from LH like ‘the team switched crews on me for no apparent reason’.

      I try to weed through the rhetoric just as Mercedes must, which is why they can trust Nico in re-signing him. They’re not thinking from a journalist’s nor an armchair fans standpoint. They’re living the reality as we speak. They know there would have probably been even more drama if LH had lost in Austria, so have been happy to move on, and likely don’t lay everything on Nico’s shoulders and completely exonerate LH in reality.

      1. You sound like you made your mind up all by yourself after having had a couple of beers with Toto and Lauda themselves. I think the word desperate is a good adjective not for Nico, but for the countless of detractors that somehow manage to find fault in everything Hamilton does. To say that questioning how Nico got from 6th to first in a race is to be blind to the fact that Mercedes aided Nico at the expense of Hamilton on at least two separate occasions that race. Mercedes looks for 1-2 finishes, they don’t care which driver is in which position. That’s led them to craft race strategy to help Nico despite Lewis showing time and again that he can get stuff done that the other guy can’t. What’s needed at Mercedes is separate strategists and not one guy looking for the 1-2. I mean, that’s if competition between drivers is genuinely what they they want.

      2. “I think the word ‘desperate’ is just rhetoric being used to describe how Nico appears.”

        I would say the word describes, not Nico himself, but some of the moves he has made in trying to defend. The recent “squaring the corner” move in Austria was desperate, for example: He drove straight on, turning so late that he would barely stay on track himself, hoping that Hamilton would see him and go straight on, leaving the track completely. There was very little chance of this, as he was out completely of Hamilton’s line of sight, so much so that Hamilton gave him the maximum possible space to try to avoid contact on the exit of the corner. It looked like an almost panicked move. Either that, or it was very deviously and dangerously calculated (i.e. “We’ll probably crash, but we’ll probably both DNF, which is better for me than him finishing ahead”) which is much worse, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

    3. @lockup I don’t know the truth of it, but I believe the delay on the contract cards is because they’ve entered another round of negotiation as Mercedes only offered a 1-year (more likely year-by-year) extension. Whether this is true (and if it is, what the decision behind making such a short offer) is unknown.

      1. I think they’ll match the duration of LH’s contract, and I think there is no ‘delay.’ There is simply no rush.

      2. The thing is @optimaximal @robbie yes we know, or think we know, they want different lengths of contract. But is it really a negotiation, when Merc hold all the cards? No other team is looking at Rosberg. Merc can just say “N years Nico, take it or leave it.” Nico has to take it. Why haven’t they said that already and taken the pressure off?

        What is going to change between now and the end of the year? The current trend is Rosberg looks more of a liability as time goes by – No2 in performance but would rather take the other car out than get passed.

        1. @lockup I’m of the opinion that he’s being offered a 1 year as a kick along to make sure he doubles-down on this championship. “Win this one and we’ll talk next year” etc.

          1. Hmm I dunno @optimaximal. If he needs a kick along what does than mean, in terms of character?

            And if anything I’d say he gets over-aroused, with too much ‘at any cost’ about it. Lewis was on a roll before Monaco, on another roll before Spa, then this year each time he’d made a mistake and was too desperate not to pay the price. He has a mismatch between talent and ambition, it seems to me, that he tries too hard to make up for. He needs a less talented teammate, really.

        2. Lol @lockup Try not to lay it on too thick. No other team is looking at NR? Why would they when he seems a lock for Merc around the paddock? Other side of the coin, Merc is looking at no other drivers.

          Again with your drama…why haven’t they said that already? To whom? You don’t know what they have and haven’t said. Taken the pressure off? Off whom? You can’t possibly expect any of us to be flies on the wall yet you sure can paint a picture based on what none of us knows. You just can’t help yourself but to read something more into Nico’s signing being a mere formality and therefore carrying no urgency as the team has said numerous times.

          The last thing the team thinks of with Nico is a liability. To say he’d rather take the other car out than get passed, would be reworded by you to say when LH overcooks his car and at least tries to steer having applied too much accelerator prior, inducing his own under steer, that’s not ‘rather taking Nico out than getting passed’…that’s Championship material.

          There’s no difference between Nico not steering to try to force LH wide, only to then be surprised when LH cut hard right and ran over his front wing, and LH applying too much throttle and inducing his own lack of control with induced under steer. Nico just happens to not think the way to then go is to steer into your teammate and risk taking them both out. He goes wide to avoid the kind of contact LH was too desperate to avoid in Austria.

          1. Well Toto has mentioned Wehrlein and even Alonso @robbie. It’s a longish shot but I wouldn’t be totally shocked if they’re keeping an eye on Stoff, even. That would fit in with Toto’s alternate philosophy of a senior/junior lineup.

            I have to agree we don’t know what’s been said behind closed doors though. The one certainty is Nico would love to sign, but Merc haven’t actually offered him a contract yet. We will see, in time, meantime we can only amuse ourselves with speculating :)

      3. I would think that Mercedes intentionally delayed the negotiations and in so doing eliminated Nico’s leverage. Rosberg and his people are fools to have let the music stop with only Nico standing. He has no leverage because he can’t threaten to go anywhere. If I were Mercedes I’d use the threat of Vandoorne and offer him a 3 or 4 year deal for peanuts per year. Nothing personal Nico, it’s business.

        1. I just get no sense whatsoever that there are ‘threats’, ‘delays’, or ‘leverages’ even in their vocabulary. They’ve already said on more than one occasion they will be re-signing Nico, that it is a formality, and therefore no rush.

          I think all that has happened is that people have jumped on this anti-Nico bandwagon and decided for themselves that Mercedes must feel the same way, when in reality he is family to them and they probably love and respect the guy and see huge value in him and the continuity of having him going forward with the changes coming for 2017.

          1. @robbie An excellent comment you made a few posts above, with reference to EVERYTHING said in these forum comments being from ‘an armchair fans standpoint’.

            Couldn’t agree with you more.

          2. Nico will definitely sign with Mercedes. No one is disputing that, but it is the terms under which he will be re-signed which are contentious. One would have to be really naive to believe the PR talk from both sides on this matter. Of course they are going to say it is a formality, when in fact there is hard bargaining behind the scenes.

  8. I’d love to know what was said behind closed doors after the contacts this season.

    The books that’ll be written in 5 years or so’s time will be superb! Webber’s as a great example of what we had to wait to read.

    1. Hmm, not so sure about Webber. I’ve read his book and while there is a large level of fascinating insight into the inner workings of Formula and RBR, it is very clear that he feels an extreme level of bitterness over his unsuccessful career relative to his car’s championship-winning pace. Not only are large sections greatly exaggerated from real events, others have simply been made up to discredit mainly Helmut Marko and Christian Horner, and to a lesser extent Sebastian Vettel (yes I am aware he largely doesn’t blame Vettel in the book but he makes a number of lies about him as well). Both as a driver, and even more clearly since moving on to Porsche, Mark Webber has first of all been shown to be very untrustworthy in what he says (some of his quotes during his career were ridiculous) but as a callous and bitter individual determined to find reasons for his lack of success (which ultimately is due to his talent being slightly, and only slightly, below that of world class). He is, ultimately, a bad loser, and has the opposite view to that of the amazing attitude of David Coulthard – that, if you lose to the best, then there is no shame.

    2. While Rosberg and Webber may be comparable on their sporting prowess (if we aren´t being unjust of at least the pre-tyre-supplier-swith Webber with that), I´d kinda doubt Rosberg delivers a comparable book. He´s much more diplomatic, not to say tentative on his PR.
      That said, it´s kinda telling that an article can be so hard on Rosberg an in 35 responses there´s not one trying to defend him. The guy has no fans, invokes no passion, and isn´t expected to be a real challenger. People are/were hoping for Vettel, Ricciardo, Verstappen to fight Hamilton.

  9. I think the only way for Rosberg to seriously fight for the championship this year is to both up his game and for Hamilton to have at least two DNF’s (and for Rosberg to win both these races). It seems that when all things are equal, Hamilton is simply faster and better at everything – heck, he’s even better at taking both the Mercedes out of the race. Rosberg has to grab every opportunity to score more points than his teammate, and if that’s impossible, minimize the score deficit.

    Silverstone was a good example: while his teammate sailed on to another “easy” victory, Rosberg was left fighting with a car that was a full second slower in qualifying. If the same happens in Hungary, I can easily see Hamilton fighting for the win against one or both Red Bulls while Rosberg takes a safe fourth place.

    1. @kaiie

      heck, he’s even better at taking both the Mercedes out of the race

      Coffee came out of my nose reading that one.


    2. Fair comment but I would point out that Nico missed practice, and is rarely a full second slower…usually a tenth slower or faster almost all the time.

      Lots of racing to go which is lots of opportunity for NR to do everything he can and he’ll either come up short or show that he is still rising. He’s had far better starts on average. From Nico’s standpoint, in his own mind, he beat LH at the start in Spain and around turn 1 before LH put himself on the grass and took them both out. In Austria he was in a position to win over the pole sitter having started 6th, and at Siverstone the team cost him a handful of points with too much advice. I think Nico should be continuing the season with high expectations for himself to continue taking the fight to LH like never before.

      1. im sorry ,but youre talking nonsense because of your disliking of try and put blame on lewis for both incidents proves this.lewis has beaten nico 3 seasons in a row.he even beat nico when they were kids.
        lewis is the better driver,its as simple as that.but nico is still good enough to beat lewis on merit from time to time.

        1. No I don’t dislike LH but I disrespect posters who sound like LH can do no wrong and NR is only ever wrong.

  10. An article that is almost in line with my own thoughts on Rosberg. But I do think the last two para’s are questionable. I think the time has come to put another driver in the team who shows at least some promise of being a top flight F1 driver. There are several who could do with promoting, just to see what they can do, a position not helped by Ferrari keeping Kimi for another season.
    If the other teams catch up next season and Hamilton has another run of bad mechanical luck, then Mercedes will need a better driver than Rosberg to ensure they can fight for the championship.

    1. I don’t think Mercedes is looking to replace Nico, nor do drivers get promoted ‘just to see what they can do’. Nico has already proved to be a top flight driver who just happens to be up against a very tough old friend on the same team as his one and only rival for the Championship. My goodness what Nico is learning from this that will propel him forward after he moves on from Mercedes and is on another top team. I think he is already formidable and will continue to up his game and learn and excel.

      Anyway with respect to next year, let’s see if indeed the teams are closer, let’s see if the new cars suit some drivers more than others, and let’s remember another driver would be new to the team which would perhaps guarantee that if LH had another run of bad mechanical luck, for sure that might open the door for another team or two. With Nico they have continuity and a Championship leader whose always looking to improve and isn’t phased having LH as a teammate like others might be.

      1. I don’t see anything that Rosberg is a top flight driver, he’s good and he works hard. mainly studying data, trying to copy his partners techniques to improve lap times and use his engineer’s advice as much as possible, as noted in his radio requests. But he, as far as I have seen, doesn’t show that extra 1 or 2% that promotes him to the top flight. Show me where he has shown that extra ability that puts him the top flight compared to Hamilton, Alonso, possibly Vettel, and recently introduced that, much too young, Verstappen.

  11. This was a bit harsh on Rosberg. He has had a couple of real stinkers this year—Monaco and Great Britain. But he has also been excellent, e.g., Baku. My read on Rosberg is that he is incredibly skilled and very quick—-he has one-lap pace to match the greats. But there are moments in sports when you have to be ruthless, and Rosberg only seems to get there after the other car is already along side. However, I think it is possible that Rosberg gets his Saturday mojo back and runs off a string of pole positions and thus puts himself in a position to control Hamilton in the mirrors on the ideal strategy. He’s done it before.

  12. Tony Mansell
    19th July 2016, 14:54

    Article seems a little harsh if only because it is so accurate whilst most of the media seems at pains to look at LH’s shortcomings and forever caveat his undeniable greatness (come on, 3 WDC and counting) with the fact he doesn’t share their taste for beige chino’s and bow ties. On the other hand the limited NR is given an easy ride considering how easily he was trounced last year, how poor he is in the wet (always the measure of class) and how hes thrown away a bigger lead than Devon Loch before halfway this season.

  13. I find it humorous that you can replace “Rosberg” with “Alonso” and substitute “Mercedes” with “McLaren” and it becomes an article from when Hamilton and Alonso were at McLaren a few years back. There is no hope for equal billing against Hamilton around here.

    1. – SPOT ON –

  14. I would love Rosberg to win the championship just because it would make the fight in 2017 a classic. Imagine the fireworks in Mercedes when they have to manage two world champions!!!

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      19th July 2016, 22:41

      Nico to lead by a few points into the last race would suffice for a great season!
      And then let the best man win (most likely Ham).

  15. The points tally tells a story of similar performance, the issues tally tells a story of similar misfortune. But when you analyse it then you see the difference between Hamilton and Rosberg.

    Hamiltons issues of his own making have tended to be quick, single problems. Clipping a barrier at Baku, losing the lead from the start a few times, taking to the grass in Spain. Single problems which have cost him the win but when you watch him in the race his form is still typically there.

    Rosbergs issues though point towards a lack of performance. Monaco, Canada and Britain he was just lacking outright performance. He’s undoubtedly a quick qualifier, and when he gets to lead a clean race from the front he can certainly deliver. I just wouldn’t have faith in him going wheel to wheel with people. Which is fine for Mercedes while they have the clearly superior car. But if they lose that in the coming seasons he’s just not a driver that has ever over delivered on the results expected of the car.

    1. Spot on. The only true measure of a driver is if they can out perform the equipment they’re given – even though that is a very difficult calculation to make.
      The best drivers not only outperform their machinery but also continuously evolve and improve their skill level. There was a time when Vettel could not take being pressured (who can forget his spin and gift of a win to Button in Canada) but you can’t imagine him making the same mistake now.
      I just can’t see NR either outperforming his machinery or his skill level improving. I’d love to be proved wrong though – maybe next year?

    2. “taking to the grass in Spain”,
      A driver tries to avoid an accident after a provocative move, and you call it his own doing. Well that is creative writing.

      1. There was no contact prior to taking to the grass so it was literally his own doing.

  16. Thinking how close Nico would be to winning a WDC if it weren’t for the lauded talent of his teammate, and he may still win this year, where would he sit against previous WDC winners? Could he be the least talented winner and be solely remembered for the dominance of Mercedes in this era or is it more complicated than that? Are there any previous WDC winners that we would rate lower than Rosberg?

    I personally don’t think he’s missing much as a driver, he can’t be slow to be that competitive with Lewis on Saturdays after all but he does seem to be lacking something on Sunday which is where I think our favourite champions have tended to excel.

    1. @alec-glen, I think that many would rate Jacques Villeneuve as being below Rosberg’s level – I’ve certainly heard many call him the weakest champions in the history of the sport, and I think that most of them would still stand by that claim even if Nico won a title.

      1. I would think that Damon Hill was not as good as Jacques Villeneuve.
        Also, to add the the conversation, there are many World Champions that became champions when they were not at their best, but failed to do so when they were at their peak such as Mansell and Alonso.

      2. @anon Who are the ‘many’ you mean? People who haven’t a clue I would suggest, or are not F1 insiders.

        1. @Robbie

          I agree with you. Jacques Villeneuve was a great driver.
          He just wasted his career when he went to BAR.

          1. @Nikos Well, he didn’t ‘waste’ his career when you look at how things fell into place for JV in chronological order without the luxury of hindsight. The Renault engine in his WDC winning Williams was no longer being developed so he took a massive risk and formed his own team and because of JV Honda came back to F1. The ingredients were there but as we have seen over and over that isn’t always a guarantee of anything…example Toyota who spent hugely for very little result.

  17. Well, we’re not really surprised on how it unfolds, are we? Rosberg has always had this deficit.

  18. Is this some kind sign Rosberg to Mercedes plea….I would suggest that mercedes consider sacking Rosberg in order to save the brand..He’s continual lack of sportsmanship is not what they should want to be remembered for.

  19. Hamilton had some problems in this year…

  20. And yet again the comments section is filled with conspiracy theories.

  21. The facts are there, but a piece is missing. Roseberg beat Hamilton 7 races in a row. His starts were better too. One could even conclude he drove better!

    Hamilton struggled during starts earlier this year. Consider Baku wasn’t great and Silverstone started under safety car. I dont see evidence the first lap fumbles are gone.

    Plus Hamilton seems to be over performing his normal qualifying results against Roseberg. There has been little between them over the years, so it is reasonable to wonder if the trend will continue.

    In fact, qualifying illustrates that the margins are thin. In 2014 Roseberg took the pole trophy.

    Consider the difference in points/race (or qualifing position) as Roseberg’s handicap. Compare it to the normal variation in results. Hamilton failed to cover this gap in 2014 and lost the pole trophy. I suspect it isn’t much different for points.

    Perhaps a statistics wizard could work the numbers for real, but my gut tells me Roseberg can be expected to win the title about 1/3 against Hamilton.

    1. “Over performing his normal qualifying results against Rosberg”…. Care to explain what are you trying to say here?

      Taking Baku, China, Russia and Monaco out of the equation, Rosberg has yet to out qualify Lewis when his car hasn’t suffered some mechanical issue. And he tends to out qualify him by an average of 3 tenths.

      Yes he lost the pole trophy in 2014 (some achievement), but did not still win the title? What about 2015, did he not win the pole position trophy?

    2. “In fact, qualifying illustrates that the margins are thin. In 2014 Roseberg took the pole trophy. ”

      Splutter!! I’ll have whatever you are having. Lewis has beaten Rosberg in qualifying more often than not. but that is not the main issue. The main issue is race pace, and ability to adapt to a changing car balance and circuit . If you add a tenth or two per lap, over a 58 lap race, you can easily see why Lewis streaks off into the distance when he is leading, or even why he catches up and overtakes. I have never seen Rosberg pull out those kind of gaps on Lewis when they were following each other throughout the race, OR caught up and overtake him on a track (all things being equal). That should tell you something.

    3. I’m afraid your analysis doesn’t stand up
      in 2014 hamilton had one goal and one goal only …win his second WDC ; for that reason his qually laps were conservative …as events have clearly demonstrated on most circuits front row starts were all he needed to beat rosberg , so he didn’t take any risks and achieved his goal
      in 2015 with the monkey off his back he outqualified rosberg
      in 2016 he has outqualified rosberg every time he hasn’t had a car problem

      rosberg won the last 3 races of 2015 … don’t believe the fact that hamilton had already won the WDC at that point had any connection with that ? dream on
      rosberg won the first 4 races of 2016 …..nothing to do with hamilton’s car problems of course ?
      mercedes redesigned their 2016 clutch system , wonder why ,if the old one was satisfactory

    4. the only thing that will enable Rosberg to win the championship is reliability. In other words so long as Hamilton suffers later in the season as he did in the first four races, Rosberg may have a chance. If however they start on equal terms with no reliability problems, Hamilton is favourite to take the title. Even when you look at 2014, again reliability problems affected the number of poles Hamilton was able to achieve…

  22. Whatever. More ego feeding. I guess people need it.
    To compare to football, it is clear to see that Lewis is a specialist like Messi, and Nico is a hard worker like Ronaldo.
    Too bad F1 is so first impression minded that any later change (for better or worse) is stated factually wrong.
    At least Nico would be happy with his own improvement. That’s probably enough.

  23. I had high hopes that Nico had turned the corner on his rather dismal 2015 (when it counted) when he started this year well and to a certain degree even managed to rattle Lewis a small amount.

    Sadly he seems to have let that slip, particularly with wet conditions. Hopefully he can pull himself together and make a competition out of the WDC – there’s no one else for this year.

  24. if rosberg wasn’t german [ well , sort of ] mercedes wouldn’t even be considering a new contract for him because

    he cracks under pressure [ everyone says what a wonderful overtake verstappen made at silverstone ……most don’t seem to notice that he could only do it because rosberg made a mistake …again ]

    he gets the red mist and does stupid things

    mercedes are going to have real competition next year ….they can’t afford a driver who will throw points away ; wehrlein is lined up for 2018 , button on a 1 year contract for 2017 would be an ideal replacement , not as quick at hamilton but will rack up the points

  25. Rosberg lack of pace in wet weather is baffling. I’m an Hamilton fan but I’m surprised Nico is struggling so much.
    I’d like to see Alonso in that car, but Mercedes has no incentive to change their line-up performance wise. They’ll do it only if the atmosphere in the team becomes too hot.

  26. That last section about the conspiracy makes no sense whatsoever. They wouldn’t have to sabotage Hamilton if Rosberg was able to beat Hamilton on his own. Their only other option would be to hire a German driver who could beat Hamilton, but I doubt one exists and the drivers who at least fit the ticket by being German are stuck in contracts.

    The conspiracy theories are nonsense, but adding a nonsensical view from the opposite side is just as nonsensical.

    1. “Their only other option would be to hire a German driver who could beat Hamilton, but I doubt one exists ”

      But are you actually saying that putting Vettel (a German driver) in the MB would not result in him trouncing Hamilton? That’s nonsensical in itself, it wouldn’t even be close.

  27. “On a wet track in Monaco Rosberg’s pace was so poor Mercedes invoked team orders to keep him from wrecking Hamilton’s race along with his own”

    really? After Mercedes confirmed that he was suffering from severe rear brake failure….everyone was passing him in that race.

    In Austria, the 5 place grid penalty for suspension/tranny failure…no mention. During the “crash”, Toto himself said that Nico had severe rear brake issues….conveniently ignored in the write up.

    In Baku. Hamilton screaming for instructions on the radio and them spitting the dummy when told they couldn’t give him instructions “then I’ll turn it to every setting”… mention of that reliance on his engineers. But yet Nico asking for similar help when he’s missing 7th gear….oh, it must be because he’s an idiot and relies on his engineers.

    Over the last 5 years, perhaps the most biased and poorly researched article on this website.

  28. Okay… so let me make this real simple for everyone.

    The ultimate ambition of every Formula 1 racing driver is to win the World Drivers Championship. Not pole position trophy, not fastest lap trophy, not best dressed medal, not even coolest hair style award. Can we all agree on this? Great!

    Now the FACTS (not my opinion) tell us that Lewis Hamilton has won this World Drivers Championship three (3) times. Not once, not twice, but THREE times. With two (2) different teams. The FACTS (again, not my opinion) also tell us that Nico Rosberg has won this World Drivers Championship zero (0) times.

    Going by these FACTS, I believe it is absolutely reasonable to deduce that Lewis Hamilton is definitely a better Formula 1 driver than Nico Rosberg. (We could also go back a bit further, and compare the FACTS from their karting days, but lets leave that for another time).

    I find it totally absurd that some ladies/gentlemen on these forums can argue the exact opposite, that Nico Rosberg is in fact the better driver compared to Lewis Hamilton. What FACTS or statistics are they basing these arguments on? It totally boggles the mind, and I can only infer that the real conspiracy theorists in this whole Hamilton / Rosberg rivalry are these people who make these unfounded arguments.

    As they say, the FACTS speak for themselves.

    I rest my case.

  29. I think the title fight is too close to call and that while the Champion will be one of the Mercedes drivers I don’t think either of them are clear favourites at this point.

    With just one point between Rosberg and Hamilton it is now effectively an eleven race championship.

    Assuming that neither driver has any new reliability problems or are adversely affected by incidents beyond their control I think the title will be very close and will go down to the last race.

    If Mercedes manage to keep their performance advantage for the rest of the season then in a normal race they should finish 1-2, however there may be somewhere like Singapore 2015 where Mercedes just aren’t on the pace though.

    Also if both drivers perform at their best I expect Rosberg to be quicker than Hamilton at least two or three races, add on to that the engine penalties Hamilton will inevitably receive and that could be at least another two races he finishes behind Rosberg and depending on the race Hamilton may finish quite a bit lower down than second.

    Although I have read some comments suggesting that Hamilton can make multiple engine changes at one event to stock pile parts for the rest of the season so that the penalties only affect one race, I am not clear on the rules so I don’t know if this is possible.;

    Of course it is highly unlikely that the rest of the season will be straightforward without any drama, there are bound to be a few unexpected events which could in the end decide the title. We have seen how a couple of DNFs or poor performances can quickly change the title fight.

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