Nico Rosberg was voted Driver of the Weekend for the second time in three races after his victory in the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver took over half the votes after winning the race from pole position and moving a step closer to clinching the world championship.
Nico Rosberg’s Japanese Grand Prix
For the third year running Rosberg beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position at Suzuka. But crucially, this time he beat his team mate to victory too.
That came about partly because of Hamilton’s slow getaway from the lights. But Rosberg consistently had the beating of the world cbampion throughout practice and qualifying too.
Despite Hamilton stating this isn’t a strong track of his, I think it’s more that it is just a strong track of his teammates. It was narrow in qualifying, but faster is faster, and in the race Rosberg just had it in the bag. He had speed on tap at the start to open a gap and brought it home only as quickly as he needed to. No other driver did anything to really shine to be honest. So a pretty obvious vote for Rosberg.
Rosberg ‘dominated’ the weekend in the sense that he kept setting the benchmarks session after session. No matter how much time Hamilton found on a lap, he found a few hundredths more. Hamilton was always there, breathing in his neck, but Rosberg never seemed to feel the pressure, which is a remarkable development. After such a perfect weekend on a track that has a reputation for being narrow and tricky, it’s hard to name anything he could’ve done better.
Most of the drivers aren’t under much pressure at this point in the season however this could be Rosberg’s only chance to win a title. The amount of pressure on him must be huge even compared to Hamilton (considering he’s already won three).
Rosberg was faultless throughout the weekend and beat Hamiltonin practice, qualifying and the race.
I think what Rosberg lacks in talent when compared to the recognised elite currently in F1 is made up for in his application and sheer hard graft. It is his single minded determination in the face of sharing the garage with one of the best drivers in F1 that I admire. He rarely complains when decisions go against him and he can be blindingly quick. Race-craft is still a question mark for me but he has markedly upped his game this season and whilst he has indeed made some questionable moves this season he is at least giving it a go and learning from the experience. A worthy champion if he makes it this year for sure.
Japanese Grand Prix winners and losers
Max Verstappen also took advantage of Hamilton’s poor start and brought his Red Bull home second under stiff pressure from the Mercedes.
Rosberg had a pretty much flawless weekend but I voted for Verstappen. His race management (harder when not leading) and in particular his defence against Hamilton for lap after lap were both outstanding. In the end he forced an error from Hamilton who may have been better served waiting for another run at him on the main straight. I don’t believe Hamilton could have held the corner in the chicane at his speed if he’d have kept the inside line – he braked too late.
He was racing. Rosberg was just driving very fast.
There was praise too for Sebastian Vettel whom many felt was also in with a shot at the podium before Ferrari made a debatable tactical call late in the race.
Made a great start, made everyone remember who he is by both taking Perez and Ricciardo like they were driving on 50 lap old tyres and stormed away only to be let down by a terrible strategy call once more. He said his aim was to finish second, his only mistake was thinking that was possible. They should have been happy with third. Instead he was sent on a mission impossible. The third time this year Ferrari choose the softer compound when clearly the harder was the way to go.
And one other driver’s passing style was appreciated:
The best moment belongs to Hulkenberg, great overtake on Bottas and the radio message “see you later” made my day.