Nico Rosberg, Paddy Lowe, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Circuit of the Americas, 2015

Austin defeat in 2015 spurred Rosberg on to title

2016 United States Grand Prix

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Losing his world championship chance at the United States Grand Prix last year motivated Nico Rosberg to clinch the title this year, the new world champion revealed.

Rosberg was leading the race when an error, which he blamed on a gust of wind, allowed Lewis Hamilton through to win the race and take the 2015 title.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2016
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in pictures
Speaking after winning the championship in Abu Dhabi, Rosberg said the race had been a “big turning point” for him.

“Austin was a horrible experience for me,” Rosberg admitted. “I spent two days just on my own thinking and I said I didn’t ever want to experience that again and then I went and won the next seven races on the trot, so for sure it was a big moment for me and one of the key moments for being here today.”

Rosberg’s subsequent winning streak included the first four races of this season, which formed the basis of his championship victory. He said the victory meant more to him for beating his team mate, who is already a three-times champion, and who he had never previously beaten over a full season while driving for the same team.

“It feels like I’ve been racing him for ever and always he’s just managed to edge me out and get the title, even when we were small in go-karts,” said Rosberg.

“He’s just an amazing driver and of course one of the best in history. So it’s unbelievably special to beat him because the level is so high and that makes this, for sure, so much more satisfying for me because the benchmark is so… and I took the world championship away from him which is a phenomenal feeling.”

“It’s been a great year as well, for sure he drove at an extremely high level, he’s done some incredible racing so he’s been a very very tough competitor and I don’t know how many points we are apart at the end, you know, five points, which is unbelievable. With the same car.”

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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41 comments on “Austin defeat in 2015 spurred Rosberg on to title”

  1. That was the race he overtook Hamilton only to lose the win at the end. And he kept winning after that until he got the second longest consecutive race wins along with Schumacher and Ascari behind Vettel.

    1. Probably much of the feeling he describes that Austin left him with was down to that: it was one of the most comprehensive beating of Lewis Nico has managed to perform (wet performances, overtake on track, huge lead) and he ruined it.

      @keithcollantine I think the category is wrong, isn’t supposed to be 2015 US GP?

  2. What would he say if Hamilton’s engine hadn’t let go in Malaysia? ‘Austin defeat spurred me on to finish second again in the championship.’ Just seems a funny thing to say after the event.

    1. Retirements and mechanical failures have played a part in every single championship year, you know?

      1. The essence of the title suggests Rosberg picked up his performance because of the loss, when in fact, this year he got out-qualified 12 to 9 (almost the same gap as 2015 despite Hamilton not being able to take part in a few Q3’s this year), and won less races than Hamilton, despite finishing more.

        Essentially, nothing has changed between them this year to previous years, only that Hamilton has suffered many more issues.

        1. He did raise his game. The competition was also tougher, red bull were able to sneak between them sometimes. It wasn’t as straight forward as before with the added complication of a wider strategical variety with the third set of tyres and the longer calendar.

          At times, rosberg was the better man, and Lewis made a couple of bad starts that we could also say played a big part in the outcome of the championship. There are so many variables that coming up with 1 is difficult. The points reflect the reality, even if we know Lewis is the more talented driver.

        2. Exactly – one could argue that Rosberg has actually fared worse against Hamilton this year than in 2014, so the notion that Austin 2015 made him a better driver this year is bogus. He’s been consistent and bullet proof but if he thinks he had the beating of Hamilton this year, that’s pure fantasy.

        3. With the crucial difference being that in the latter stages of this championship Rosberg could afford to come second to Hamilton, and may well have been going into the races with that as his goal. In previous years he could not. There is now no telling how the last couple of races would have played out had Rosberg needed to win at least one of them, because whatever else is true, Rosberg had already scored so many points that he did not need to win the races to win the title.

          1. For me at least that’s why I blame Malaysia for making the end of this season so disappointing. There’s no way to claim who would have won but at least both drivers would have fought hard to the end.

    2. Who knows, because it did and that’s all in the game. In the longest season ever, Hamilton had plenty of races to make up the numbers elsewhere. That he failed to do so is in no small part due to his rather unimpressive getaway in at least three separate races.

      1. Ham scored 380 over 19 races. Rosberg scored 385 in 20. Rosberg might be WDC in 2016 but Ham was still better. He won’t care of course, but somewhere in the back of his mind he’ll know it. :P

        1. The trophy is handed to the official winner, not the driver a majority of fans believes is the best driver. Rosberg won, because he kept at it, believed in himself and his chance, he didn’t give up, despite the fact that Hamilton often was the best.

        2. @f1bobby Did you just bothered reading the article? Be fair to Rosberg because that’s exactly what he’s saying.

    3. Rosberg didn’t actually say that the Austin defeat “spurred him to the title” — that’s a summation of his words from a journalistic viewpoint.

      What Rosberg did say is that it forced him into deep introspection– it “was a turning point” mentally. At the highest levels of any discipline, improvements in skill or advantage are so incremental that the mental aspect becomes most important– it forms the base from which one can expand one’s personal performance envelope and exceed one’s previous limitations. In 2015, Rosberg beat himself several times, making errors in the heat of competition. Rosberg has the experience and skill to win from the front row–these were clearly mental errors under stress. Lewis was also definitely “hungrier” than Nico, he said it himself. As I understand Nico, what happened in Austin is that he committed himself to never beating himself again, and he became hungrier than he had ever been.

      And that is exactly what we have seen this year. Yes, Nico became a better driver–mentally. He was the hungrier this year. Lewis afforded himself the luxury of reveling in his other interests rather than continuing to spend every professional day honing himself to an even finer edge, confident his talent would allow him to live a celebrity lifestyle, dabble in the recording studio, and still show up on Thursday, throw down the laps, and walk away with another championship– he said so himself. Lewis is one of the fastest drivers in history wet or dry, but that’s not how consistent excellence works. It’s interesting that Lewis has not had a bad start in the latter third of the season after so many in the early races. To me, that shows that he only devoted the considerable extra time needed to figure out the new single-paddle procedure once it became clear that not doing so would cost him. Nico was likely spending more time working on the new starts all along, looking for any edge. In a mechanical sport, just being able to drive the fastest is not enough. To win a championship, consistent effort and mindset are AS important as talent and skill, as you never know when events out of your control will come up and bite you. One must do everything possible to maximize everything under their control to win. In the last 4 or 5 races, Lewis did. Before that, not so much. And it cost him.

      One of my favorite quotes is from the Clint Eastwood movie Unforgiven: “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.” It’s a great observation on life. No one “deserves” a championship. You earn it. Rosberg certainly earned it. After 2015, he could have resigned himself to number 2 status and allowed Lewis to continue to “edge him out” for the rest of his career. And most expected that to happen. Rosberg should be commended by all who truly appreciate the sport for looking into himself, redoubling his purpose, doing everything that was in his power to maximize his driving within the constraints of his style, cut down his mistakes, and maximize his results when his teammate had errors and mechanical problems. That is by definition how one wins a championship over a long season.

    4. Hamilton could also improve his clutch skills and understand better how to operate the steering wheel: he’d champion if he managed that, too.

    5. If the pressure was on Ham, as it has been on Nico, it is not a given at all that Lewis would have won the last four. I mean you only have to look at how Lewis performed in Japan to see that.

  3. The Nico Rosberg that hobbled into the 2015 US Grand Prix third in the standings (behind the Ferrari of Vettel) was not capable of beating Hamilton over a season no matter what the circumstances. Rosberg responded to his nemesis’ second title in a row with three victories from pole.

    But Hamilton no longer had the motivation of a title to chase, right? Come 2016, those “sexy laps” that generally put Hamilton half a second down the road the previous year barely got his nose ahead in Bahrain, CotA and Interlagos. Whilst in 2015 Lewis found it all too easy to maintain or extend his practice margin over his teammate, this year those seemingly one-sided weekends have all too often seen Nico within touching distance come the end of qualifying or the race. Hamilton’s 2015 monopoly on virtuoso weekends was also broken by prodigious efforts from Nico in Singapore and Japan.

    The influence of these marginal performance gains on Nico’s side versus the infinite counterfactual permutations that would have handed the title to Hamilton is a topic for the eternal abyss of internet comment threads, but this is undeniable: Nico Rosberg picked himself up and dusted himself off after two consecutive title defeats and found a new performance level in himself in a way that only a great sportsman can.

    1. but this is undeniable: Nico Rosberg picked himself up and dusted himself off after two consecutive title defeats and found a new performance level in himself in a way that only a great sportsman can.

      well said @william-brierty

      1. @sravan-pe Thank you…albeit your comment of the season didn’t make Keith’s comment of the day!

        1. @william-brierty It is indeed tough to get COTD. :D

  4. That loss didn’t spur him on to do jack….

    This has been one of Hamilton’s most dominant performances against Nico this season. The gods have been on Rosberg’s side all season long…..

  5. To all Ham bots: Rosber WON,deal with it.

    1. This ☺. After Austin 2015 Rosberg won 12 of the next 24 through to the end of this season and just plain Lewis in the remaining 2015 races through sheer pace , regardless of this ‘Lewis already won the title and backed off ‘ nonsense. Rosberg is a worthy champ this year hammy fans , get over it.

      1. Yes because the end of 2015 is part of the 2016 campaign…..

        1. No, because your brain is not a part of your head.

    2. George Soros’ MoveOn movement funded Ham bot to push recount championship points and chanting #NotMyChampion

  6. I look forward one day, if he is so inclined, to reading Rosberg’s biography about how he and his family got it together to mount the challenge, and win against Lewis Hamilton. There was such an atmosphere of “We did it!” between Vivian and Nico – great teamwork indeed! Let’s not forget they became parents in the last 12 months, quite the added workload indeed!

    Rosberg needed luck on his side, but he made the absolute most of it, and he made Lewis pay when he faltered.

    A worthy champ indeed.

  7. A very average driver took the world championship away from biggest hero alive in F1 history is a phenomenal thing.

    1. Yes it is. It inspires me fully. I don’t get this Rosberg hate by normal, average people. He should inspire all of us, because none of us normal people are “the biggest heroes alive.” His story is actually more relevant to our lives than Hamilton’s “hero”-ness. He could have accepted the label of second best at Mercedes after being beaten comprehensively for 2 seasons by “the biggest hero alive in F1 history.” But instead, he looked deep into himself and did the work necessary to put himself in front of the “biggest hero alive in F1 history” enough times so that he was in a position to take the opportunities that occurred in his favor this year. What he did, and his candor in speaking about the pressure and intensity he was under this weekend, is an inspiration to me to work even harder at what I do, and to stand up even stronger to the pressure and intensity in my own life. It means that if I work really hard and stick at it, I can achieve more than anyone else will give me credit for.

      Even “the biggest heroes alive in F1 history” can lose focus and slip up. You have to be there to take advantage. And thus the true beauty of sport, and life.

      1. Excellent comment there @slowhands. That Rosberg found the path to beat Hamilton after coming close already in 2014, despite Hamilton being the more gifted driver, doing it by hard work, determination and keeping his cool in the onslought of mind games, constant questioning from many proves what people can be capable of when they put all their effort in.

        It offers hope and a target to all of us, because there will always be those who are better, more gifted or with other advantages, but it shows we can still grow out above that to achieve our ideals.

        1. I think this is very personal @bascb and @slowhands.

          For example :

          Hamilton being the more gifted driver

          depends on what you take into account. Hamilton comes from a middle class family. Rosberg comes from a wealthy family with an ex-F1 driver as a father. Not only did he had the financial resources to start a carrier in motor sport, but he also had the advices and connections of Rosberg sr. Things money can’t buy.
          Seeing Hamilton winning again and again through hard work (they are all hard working, there is no such thing has Lewis slacking off and jumping in the car at the last moment) and sacrifices despite the advantages Nico had in life is inspiring.

          I don’t want to take anything from Nico, but I can’t identify myself to him, whereas I definitely can with Hamilton.
          In the end, if Rosberg is inspiring you in your life, all the best. Enjoy his WDC next year!

          1. a career in motor sport
            no such thing as Lewis

            I should check my messages before posting them…

          2. Yeah, well, Hamilton had Mercedes pay a large part towards his career as well @x303, and let’s not forget that when they were younger it didn’t hurt him that he could travel together with the Rosbergs or spend time in their place either. And let’s not forget that his career was far from shoe string budget because his was also part funded by Mercedes/Mclaren for the last couple of years into F1.

          3. Absolutely @bascb. Apart from the Rosbergs’ invitations, the funding from McLaren and Mercedes came from Hamilton’s results i.e. from his hard work.

            To get back to your point, I understand that Rosberg can be an example of work and dedication. He won the championship brilliantly and now he can inspires others to follow his example.

      2. Thank you @slowhands & @bascb both your comments made me feel hopefuls

  8. My views on Rosberg have not changed this season even with him becoming World Champion.

    I thought before that he was very good driver, while not on Hamilton’s level, if Hamilton was not at his best and suffered problems then Rosberg could finish ahead of him in the championship, you just have to look at how close 2014 was to see that.

    I have seen comments stating that Rosberg has performed brilliantly this year and has had the best season of his career, although he has not had a faultless season, but if he has had such a good season then that just proves that he is not on the same level as Hamilton, as he still only beat Hamilton by 5 points despite all of Hamilton’s engine problems and Hamilton not being at his best. Everything else being equal an 90% Hamilton is still better than a 100% Rosberg.

    It doesn’t matter how well Rosberg performs, if he wants to beat Hamilton over the course of a season he has to rely on Hamilton underperforming and/or having other problems.

  9. Mercedes giving dud engines to Hamilton all year long is what spurred Rosberg to the title. Don’t confuse it nico.

  10. Some first time F1 WDCs go on to win more and dominate, but they are few. Others who win one WDC see it as achieving their objective and can live with that, as often mentioned by JB. After 11 years of trying I don’t see Rosberg being the former type. What I do see is a determined and relentless Lewis Hamilton impatient to start next season. So Mercedes should forget about punishing Hamilton because they know that next season he will be out to show who’s the daddy! whilst the unknown is with Rosberg, will he settle for one championship or does he want to go head to head with a determined Hamilton?

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