Symonds doubts F1 needs 2017 changes

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In the round-up: Williams technical chief Pat Symonds doubts the planned regulations changes for next season

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Is Hamilton the only thing keeping Rosberg from greatness?

Thinking how close Rosberg would be to winning a championship if it weren’t for the lauded talent of his teammate, and he may still win this year, where would he sit against previous championship 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.

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56 comments on “Symonds doubts F1 needs 2017 changes”

  1. With regard to COTD, Rosberg has always been close to Hamilton. In 2014, while the end result may seem dominant because of double points and Rosberg’s car failing in Abu Dhabi, the reality is that had it been the other way round, Rosberg would have won (without double points too). Last year, especially in the closing stages, Rosberg was almost there, just few major mistakes let him down.

    I’m not saying that Hamilton wasn’t better than Rosberg by any means, because he clearly was, I am just pointing out Rosberg’s performances were and are a lot closer than many people seem to realise. He has had his share of perfect races too. Therefore if he wins this year, it would be wrong to deny that he is very good.

    1. Wins in 2014: Hamilton 11 – 4 Rosberg.

      Hamilton wiped the floor with Rosberg in 2014.

      1. Correction. Wins, 10-4. finished ahead 11-4

        1. Correction. Wins, 11-5

          1. I think I need some sleep

        2. You can’t count Monaco and Spa, thoses wins were the result of Rosberg’s dirty play, from a moral stand point they should not count.

          1. i don’t think many people count his 2nd place at spa as a win :)

      2. Winning races isnt everything.

        1. you need help.

        2. Oh but generally it is.

        3. You’re right: Keke won just one race in 1982 (he lucked into the lead with two laps to go).

      3. He didn’t wipe the floor with Resberg.

        He was better than Rosberg and he beat Rosberg, yes, but despite the wins Rosberg put up a fair fight right to the last race. Alex W says winning races isn’t everything, and I am inclined to agree in that there are still (if my calculation is correct) 76 points available at each race through not winning. Obviously, winning being 25 points, it definitely means a lot, but there’s more to racing than just the number of wins. After all, it was Keke Rosberg who won a championship with a single win.

        1. ColdFly F1 (@)
          20th July 2016, 13:20

          Finally a fact-based and level-headed approach to the ‘winning isn’t everything’ conundrum. @strontium
          Winning is 25% (25/101 points, plus some silverware and an open bottle of champagne)

  2. It’s a given that you need to be a very good driver to stay in the Mercedes factory seat for so long, to win races and play your part in a multiple constructors championship team. But at top level sport, mentality is huge for extracting performance.

    Rosberg never giving up or losing any belief he can match Hamilton is pretty inspirational. Most expect Hamilton beat Rosberg in races but Nico doesn’t. You get the impression other teammates have buckled to a stronger colleague but Nico’s ‘delusion’ is his greatest strength.

    He might not actually be faster on the whole but his mindset gets him in the zone and extracts as much performance as he’s got.

    1. Is generally agree with that statement Calum. I think it’s Merc that helps get the most out of him though. Treating drivers as equal is a sure way of extracting the most constructors points over the long haul.

    2. I actually think it’s Rosberg’s lack of believe in himself is what gives Hamilton the advantage. Whenever he is asked about his lead over Hamilton, his words say one thing but to me his body language says he is as surprised by the lead as the interviewer is.

      In any case, I think over a single lap Rosberg is one of the quickest guys out there. He does lack some racecraft in my opinion, and even when he is in the lead by himself he tends to make one or two mistakes around two thirds into the race, as if he lost his concentration. However, I am convinced that if Hamilton werent his team mate (nor Alonso, Vettel) he would be a double world champion well on his way to his 3rd. And we would probably have put him in that list of the three drivers mentioned above, wondering how he would fair against them.

  3. I think COTD is straight on the point. Where will Nico be placed in reference to other championship winners if he manages to string this championship together at the end of the year? I think he will be seen no different than any others before him. A championship is a championship so long as it is not obtained through cheating.
    This is certainly going to be an interesting battle to watch between the two men. I know Hamilton has been performing well in the last couple of races and is now just 1 point behind Nico, but my money is still on Nico to win this based on the events surrounding this year’s contest and their impact on Hamilton’s campaign.
    I will be sweetly surprised if he wins in the end but Nico remains the favourite.

    1. I think it’s going to be more down to how willing the person reading the list of World Champions is to dig deeper. If you were unfamiliar with F1 and while reading just accepted James Hunt won the championship in 1976 without reading further, you’d miss a hell of a lot. Same can be said of 2014, or even the point totals over the years.

      1. Agreed. Also 1982. Rosberg Sr. won it with just 1 win, because Villeneuve died, and Pironi had a career ending shunt. Add to that a short season because of the FIA/FOCA battle. He didn’t win another championship in a “normal” season, but he’s got 1, and that’s all that matters.

    2. A balanced comment Tata. And I don’t think Rosberg will looked upon.
      Except if he puts another dreadful performance in wet weather (like Massa did in Silverstone in 2008).

    3. “A championship is a championship”

      Except when it isn’t. The WDC is a joke, now more than ever. Hamilton only has Rosberg to compete with and when he wins we call him World Champion. Makes no sense.

      Given that most people care more about driver results than team results (just look at any comment feed on this site), F1 needs to redress the balance between driver, engine and chassis. To me, this is the biggest issue in F1 today.

      And yes, I know it’s always been about the driver / car combo. But that doesn’t make it right. We need to see way more driver impact on the end results.

  4. I think if Rosberg did win a WDC he would go down as a deserving winner ONLY because he beat Lewis to a championship. If he had someone less talented as a teammate, and won a WDC, he would probably be put in the same category as Jenson Button.

    1. I think I’d agree with this. Some champions will have an * by their name and this year Rosberg might get one for beating Hamilton but sadly I think for him it might not come down to talent that gets him that *, it will be that Hamilton has had poor reliability.

  5. ColdFly F1 (@)
    20th July 2016, 6:06

    What was Pat Symonds role in Crashgate?
    (interesting necklace)

    1. Judging purely by that necklace I would not be surprised to find him laying all sunburned at a swiming pool in the Canary Islands drinking beer at 10am and burping so loud the whole hotel can hear him.

  6. About that CoTD. I personally think that any average driver like even Perez would give Rosberg a run for his money in an equal car.

  7. COTD :”Are there any previous WDC winners that we would rate lower than Rosberg?”
    off the top of my head, won because they had THE Car that year:
    Damon Hill
    Jaques Villeneuve

    Won because the team “interpreted the rules” and got away with it
    Michael Schumacher (Benetton)
    Jenson Button

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      20th July 2016, 7:15

      You rate Michael Schumacher lower than Nico Rosberg? @uneedafinn2win
      I don’t think that ‘we’ agree.

      The rest is probably up for debate – weeks of debates.

      1. I sincerely agree with Hill and Villeneuve. I disagree with Button. I am astounded by seeing Schumacher’s name here. Yes the Benetton was dominant, but so was Schumacher. He proved it in Ferrari in the late 90s where a less-than-optimal car often hauled him close to Hakkinen.

        1. ColdFly F1 (@)
          20th July 2016, 8:12

          IMO: MSc>JB=NR>DH>JV

        2. MSC in 1994 for Benetton, should’ve been excluded from the WDC.

          MSC with unlimited resources and unlimited testing, running tens of thousands of laps, absolutely, one of the best in history without a doubt. Has the consecutive WDC:s to prove it. Nothing but respect for those achievements.

          MSC teaming with ROS, adhering to the same limitations, not allowed first driver status.
          Lost in every measurable statistic concisely.

          1. It’s something you can’t take away from Rosberg that, in equal equipment, he beat Schumacher. Sure, Schuie wasn’t at his absolute best, but it’s still not an achievement to be sniffed at.

          2. MG421982 (@)
            20th July 2016, 11:43

            If MSC should have been excluded from 1994 champ, then Senna should have been banned from the motorsport. So, let’s keep things REAL!!! There’s no more obvious deliberate move in F1 history than Senna vs Prost in 1990. Not to mention that he recognized he did it on purpose.

          3. – mental gym –

        3. Jonathan Parkin
          20th July 2016, 14:38

          Damon has himself admitted he wasn’t up to the level of Michael. However if you take his last win in F1, constant pressure from his teammate and Jean Alesi driving in soaking conditions in a car set up for the dry he was certainly a great driver.

    2. @uneedafinn2win I don’t get why people constantly label Hill & Villeneuve as been somehow undeserving or unworthy champions.

      I think people’s views of both tend to be clouded because after there championship win there career’s went downhill & both likely stayed around longer than they should have.

      With Villeneuve in particular people only tend to look at his final few years at BAR where the car was not that good & towards the end JV was nowhere near his best. But if you go back & look at the 90s, JV was one of the very best drivers in the world at the time & you don’t only need to look at his F1 title to see that but also his time in CART/Indycar where he won the Indy 500 (Coming back from been 2 laps down at one point) & won that years Indycar title at a time when that series was at its most competitive.
      He then came to F1 & was contending for race wins from his very 1st race, Nearly won the championship in his 1st year & did in his 2nd. Then just look at some of what he did in 1999 in a rubbish BAR, Early in that year he had some fantastic performances (Qualified 5th at Imola, Was running 3rd at Spain) but ultimately didn’t get results because the car was incapable of finishing a race most of the time.

      Yes in 1996/97 he had the best car but so what, How many drivers have won a championship in a car thats not the best or pretty close to been the best? Not many.
      Also in 1997 it’s not as if the car was so good that it was constantly getting 1/2’s or netting both of its drivers wins, Frentzen who was very highly rated at the time was not in contention most of the time & got soundly demolished by JV & the same was true the following year. The car was good but never had the advantage over the rest that McLaren & Ferrari had in subsequent years.

      I think people should go back & watch the JV of 1993-1999 in Indy lights, CART & his 1st few years in F1 to see how good he really was during that period. Looking just at his final handful of years in F1 & then using just those to judge how good a driver he was & how deserving his CART/F1 successes were is just as unfair as looking at Hakkinen’s sub-par 2001 or Schumacher’s 2010-2012 stint in F1 to rate there talent’s because you were not looking at there best or when they were at there best.

      1. @RogerA Thank you with respect to JV. You obviously understand. All F1 insiders consider him a monster racer. And all those who claim he won it just because of the car selectively fail to admit the utter fact that almost every year the WDC needed the WCC car and once in a blue moon a strong second place car is enough.

    3. Jonathan Parkin
      20th July 2016, 14:34

      Part of MSC championship win in 1994 was due to Ross Brawn transferring his tactics from sportscars to F1. They were so revolutionary at the time that people thought they were cheating. Although admittedly there were things like Silverstone that didn’t help and Max Mosley being a bit heavy handed with the team because Flavio criticised him at the beginning of the season

  8. RE COTD: I would definitely rate some world champions lower. Villeneuve. Hill. Button. Keke. Jones. But I have very little – to no – basis for saying that, it’s just subjective. Irregardless, the point is Rosberg would be far from the worst ever, and to suggest he is oddly enough does Hamilton (which this site is a massive fan of, understandably) a big disservice, because he’s actually come quite close to Hamilton.

  9. If Rosberg had racked up 3 wdc’s he’d be seen as one of the greats. Better than any of the 1x wdc’s for sure. People forget about the luck aspect of it over time – look at how James Hunt is seen. And in fact I rate him better than JB for example or Hill or JV.

    The question is whether he could realistically have hoped to occupy that Mercedes without top-tier competition in the other car. He was already in the team when they went looking for Lewis, after all, with a shedload of money and both Brawn and Lauda working on signing the top driver they still felt they needed.

    So if it hadn’t been Hamilton it would have been Alonso or Vettel. As usual the if is a massive IF. Nico’s rightful place in the scheme of things is a No2 in a top team, or No1/joint No1 in a Williams or Force India. His big problem is accepting that, so he could be remembered fondly like Berger and all the other No2’s we still respect.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      20th July 2016, 12:36

      very good comment @lockup!

      1. Kind of you to say so @coldfly :)

    2. Nico has no need to accept a No 2 status since he is on a dominant team that treats their drivers equally, and still refuses to instigate team orders. And I highly doubt he is concerned about being remembered like Berger. And I highly doubt people look at Berger and think of him as a No2…but rather an F1 icon? Yes I think so.

      1. Nico needs to accept the natural state of play when it happens @robbie. When his top tier teammate beats him several times in a row, when he can’t get within DRS range, when his teammate is down the inside, when he forgets to select race mode or clips the inside kerb, he needs to take responsibility not try and cheat his way out of it.

        That is what Berger accepted and Patrese and Fisi and the other dignified No2’s whom we respect and remember fondly even though they were not on the level of Clark/Stewart/Senna/MS/Alonso & co.

        1. @lockup Nah if you think Nico is just going to lay down I hope you’re not holding your breath. Maybe it’s just your wishful thinking or your bias showing through but I would suggest most people would say he might as well quit F1 as to take this top ride in a dominant car while leading the WDC chase and become a lap dog. Surely you can appreciate that Nico has a completely different outlook on himself and his position and abilities and potential as you.

          And besides I think it is very questionable and debatable as to what level and when if at all these drivers you cite ‘accepted’ their number 2 status. That implies they just didn’t bother trying and just phoned it in. Sure Fisi for example ended up learning that Briatore favoured FA at a time when everything was skewed toward MS/ Ferrari and you practically had to have a designer car and a non-competing teammate in order to go up against those things that MS had, but that is hardly Nico’s lot in life.

          1. The point @robbie is to drive hard but fair. When that’s not quite enough, they have to settle for it, not cross the boundary. Accusing me of bias doesn’t advance your argument, I gotta say, though I’m happy to agree Rosberg’s view of himself and my view are different.

            For me it’s a problem that he doesn’t apologise or accept he did anything wrong. That means he’d do it again, doesn’t it? But Toto does not want him to do it again.

            Anyway it’s not going to be our decision so we can chill and see what happens. My guess is 70/30 you’re going to get your wish, but if you don’t this is why, IMO.

          2. @lockup But you don’t know to what degree he has apologized or explained himself if he doesn’t think an apology is warranted. You just assume based on what little is said in public that he is unaccepting of his role in certain incidents. So to then assume that means he’d do it again? Do what? Race? Try? Fight? Not back down? It’s a fine line and even if he can be cumbersome at times, he is far from a point in time of labelling himself as a No 2. For all we know Toto might have been just as stern with LH for his part in cranking his wheel hard right with Nico there or not, ruining a 1-2. But he let’s them race because that’s how they roll, so I’m not convinced TW lays everything on NR like you and a lot of posters do. TW is managing these guys as he is, thank goodness, and this is what comes with the territory sometimes. As Toto has said, that is what the fans deserve and that is the way they want it too.

          3. Yes Toto wants to let them race @robbie but he can’t if one of them won’t race fairly. Nearly all the drivers thought Monaco was deliberate, in Spa Nico said it was to prove a point and Toto fined him, there were a couple of minor incidents then in Spain when Lewis disappeared from his left mirror he swerved blind across the track to the right edge, knowing he was a lot slower, said Lewis should have known, and now in Austria he made a mistake again and didn’t even try for the apex he was so intent on blocking off the entire corner from behind, saying he could do what he liked because being on the inside it was his corner.

            You need to separate desire, trying hard and so on from the behaviour required to race hard without taking a car out. The issue has nothing to do with being meek, it’s about limits. Those things simply would not have happened with Alonso, or pretty much any other driver.

            Anyway this is a loop we have been round before. Let us see what the Germany weekend brings us. If you’re right it’s a sure thing, after all.

  10. The debates on who are the best/worst champions are all extremely subjective. I think that it is fair to say multiple champions are exempt from review here which leaves us with 14 drivers to choose from.

    Farina beat Fangio to the title in 1950 well into his 40s so he is clear of debate. Hawthorn only had one win on the way to his championship but had 5 second places when only 6 results counted. Moss had more wins but retired too often.

    In the 1960s we had Phil Hill, Surtees and Hulme as single champions. Phil Hill won mainly down to Von Trips death while leading the championship at Monza. For me his title win is the weakest given the dominance of the shark nose 1.5l Ferraris. In 1964 at half distance Clark had 3 wins and 30 points to Surtees 10 but Clark only scored 2 more points all season due to unreliability. Surtees however was underrated during his career and could have had better results in better cars. Hulme won the title in a similar dynamic to what we have today, a previously dominant car being caught whilst fighting a multiple champion team-mate. Beating Black Jack was no mean feat and I think the same respect would be bestowed on Rosberg.

    In 1970 Rindt won the title posthumously but was unquestionably one of the fastest drivers ever. Hunt’s 1976 title is well documented but he did have great races on the way and no one doubts Lauda was the better driver. 1978 and 1979 are similar in that their titles are respected because of the love of their team-mates. Peterson and Villeneuve were geniuses who both deserved the title at some point but their team-mates were more consistent in very good machinery.

    Jones won in 1980 with a great car that had also been strong at the back end of 1979. A bizarre scoring system let Piquet keep one race more given Jones unreliability at the start of the year but Jones was still convincing. 1982 Nico’s father won it with only one win. Rosberg was a great driver and a real rags-to-riches story but with both Ferrari drivers out and Watson and Prost’s challenges petering out Rosberg didn’t have a very complete season.

    Mansell’s title in 1992 was long overdue and he could have won 3 times in different circumstances. Hill’s title in 1996 was well won but I feel he didn’t have the mental toughness to compete for more difficult titles. He was also getting on in 1996 so 22 wins is nothing to be laughed at – he did a great job given his personal attributes. Villeneuve was electric in 1996 and 1997 and deserved the title. He was not the most complete driver and when his motivation dwindled so did his career.

    Raikkonen won the title by a sliver in 2007 but his performances before then justified the win. 2008 shows just how important motivation is to a sports person. 2009 saw the last single champion in Button. An underwhelming career beforehand was a case of unfulfilled potential. Making tougher work than necessary in beating Barrichello was a blot on his record but his performances at McLaren show he is worthy of the title.

    Overall, F1 is a team sport and there will be seasons where teams dominate or other circumstances prevent the most talented drivers from winning the title. For me Phil Hill, Hunt, Rosberg, Villeneuve and Button leave the door open for criticism but they still achieved everyone’s ultimate dream and winning any world title deserves great respect from fans.

    1. @rbalonso @michal2009b Just wanted to mention a few things, namely it’s hard to compare drivers in different eras when for example JV and Hill were last in WDC capable cars when they were still the ‘beasts’ that we are only just now about to get back to next year, at least in terms of car and tire dimensions and of course different engines. I find today’s ultra conserving format to be F1 light. Also JV only had a capable car for 2 seasons and he nearly won it in his rookie year and did win it in his second year against MS who had a designer car and a teammate under contract to not compete against him. And JV never lost motivation throughout his F1 career. Had he, he would have left sooner.

  11. I think Rosberg can be really underrated in future if he fails to win a title. He doesn’t have many memorable wins (if any), he isn’t a very spectacular driver like Montoya, he is winning in a dominant Mercedes and has lost every title race to Hamilton. However that’s not a good picture of his career. He has destroyed Wurz and Nakajima at Williams, basically ending their F1 careers, and then even more impressively he was better than Schumacher. Hamilton is undoubtely a great driver and yet Rosberg is much closer to him than Webber, Massa or Barrichello were to theirs’.

    Well said @rbalonso that F1 is a team sport so it’s often difficult to perfectly compare drivers. IMO Hill and Villeneuve have been the least deserving champions in the last 30 years. They had a dominant cars in the 90s for some time and Schumacher was beating them in an inferior car too often. Yes I know Michael is one of the best but still. And they both struggled in many seasons later. But Button is not a one-season wonder, he showed his worth in 2004 and 2011 and proved very good against Perez and Magnussen, who are rated pretty good.

    Currently we have three stand-out drivers in Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel, all three will be future F1 legends. Kimi could have joined them but post-2007 underachievements mean he is behind them. Button is maybe not as fast but consistently driving at good level throughout his career. Rosberg’s place is something there though his lack of world title and wet track struggles mean it is hard to rate him as Button. Verstappen is an emerging star and moving up those ‘rankings’ at an impressive speed with a very bright future looming. Ricciardo’s close there too but Max can make him suffer a lot if he won’t be beating him. Bottas’s stocks are currently dropping after very good 2014, with Verstappen on the rise but also Perez and Sainz doing a very good job. Massa’s an interesting one – average in Sauber, top-level for four years at Ferrari and then back to average.

    1. *it is hard to rate him higher than Button.

    2. True, well Rosberg is now firmly best non champion…

      Also won Monaco 3 in a row, landed several wins in a row… All symptoms of doing well in an excellent team.

      If he became champion, he would easily be better than Hill or Villneue.

      Anyone other than Hamilton in other seat would struggle big time. His only real fault is… Teammate is a world class talent.

      It is hard to ignore that, essentially he is on a level of single world champion fighting guy on level of one in a generation.

      And Alonso is gone. Forget including him in same breath as Lewis Hamilton.

  12. Regarding Alonso’s tweet….


    That is all.

  13. I would consider Rosberg close to Hamiltons level. But Lewis is better.
    Nico has shown that for a certain amount of races he can be better then Lewis. End of last season and beginning of this season Lewis couldn’t beat him.
    But somehow Lewis has that “extra” to pull ahead of Nico when things matter.

    Still I can see Nico win this season.

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