“Broken”, “mentally defeated” and “dominated.” All observations made about Nico Rosberg by pundits looking at the first four races of the 2015 season.
Yet following a couple of spark infused overtaking manoeuvres in Bahrain, these same commentators now are lauding Nico for demonstrating “aggression”, “skill”, “commitment” and “bravery.” Martin Brundle of SKY F1 even today described Rosberg’s drive in Bahrain as – “world class.”
Yesterday Rachael Brooks of SKY was critical of the German driver because she wasn’t seeing any “spirit” or “fight” from him, during the round of driver media events.
Of course today Rosberg drove not one but two laps good enough to beat the rest of the field, but Nico maintains nothing changed for Bahrain and he approaches each race weekend with a consistent approach and a desire to win.
“I didn’t do anything differently in Bahrain. I always try and drive aggressively and push. It was just the situation that made it look different to the outside because I was able to overtake.
I’m also not planning to change anything for this race here.”
Hamilton and Rosberg are chalk and cheese. In the same way Senna and Prost’s personalities differed. Rosberg doesn’t do ecstasy and extended displays of high or low emotion. In fact there are those close to him who joke he is like the flat-line trace on a heart monitor following someone’s death.
This difference translates into the way both Mercedes approach a race weekend and even their driving styles on track.
Hamilton can be inspired to unbelievable performances as was Senna who described the 1988 Monaco GP as follows. “I was going faster and faster. One lap after the other, quicker and quicker – suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my teammate with the same car. And suddenly I realised I was no longer driving the car consciously, I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension… I was way over the limit but still able to find even more…”
Rosberg is more like Prost. Trying to assimilate every detail, apply himself in the pursuit of perfection, which is the reason his engineers believe his one lap performances in 2014 handed him the beating of Hamilton.
So it is to be expected that Rosberg announced today that, ‘nothing has changed.’ Why would it?
His approach to racing a Formula One car relies on him being intensely focused and not unduly emotional whether things are going his way or not.
Ferrari have apparently failed to close the gap to Mercedes in Barcelona having ‘thrown the kitchen sink and bathroom door’ at the task – a metaphor used by one paddock writer.
So given Mercedes dominance, fans of racing need Rosberg to approach the remainder of the season as Niki Lauda claims he did. Nico must ignore it when Hamilton is untouchable at the circuits he favours and enjoys, and maximise his own opportunities week in and week out.
Rosberg missed out in Bahrain, the first of the tracks where Hamilton has not historically been at his best. Spain is another circuit Lewis has not excelled at, but the job is half done so far.
‘Nothing has changed’ is the right approach for Rosberg’s preparation. Though a win tomorrow is important if he is to begin proving his ‘Prost-ness’ can compete with Hamilton’s ‘Senna’.