Rosberg pushing Hamilton harder in 2015

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Brought to you by TJ13 Editor in Chief Andrew Huntley-Jacobs

In our pre-season podcast predictions, I said I felt this year Nico Rosberg would push Lewis Hamilton harder than he did in 2014.

The driver’s title last year went down to the last race of the season, which is pretty close, and double points inflated Lewis’ margin of victory when compared to the points system of 2013 and 2015.

Yet despite this I felt Rosberg having ‘lost’ his first drivers’ title would do what Nico does and go back to the drawing board to find how he could improve.

Following the Austrian GP, Rosberg admitted “racecraft was the area where I needed to push on a little bit from last year, and this year it’s really coming good so I’m happy about that.”

This was evident in the mountains of Styria, as the German overtook Hamilton at the start and then proceeded to drive away from him on both sets of tyre compounds.

Rosberg was around a third of a second per lap quicker than Hamilton on the prime tyre during the race, which was surprising to many observers.

If the F1 app supplementary information is to be believed, Hamilton was putting in far more steering input and throttle than his team mate from start to finish during the race. Further, Lewis’ braking stats were around half those of Rosberg.

Much of this would be to do with the understeer Hamilton was suffering and the constant lack of grip which led him to brake less and lift and coast more.

So is Rosberg closer to Hamilton this year?

In an attempt to answer this question we must compare the seasons to date.

  • Australia: Ham (0), Ros(25)
  • Malaysia: Ham (25), Ros (18)
  • China: Ham (25), Ros (18)
  • Bahrain: Ham (25), Ros (18)
  • Spain: Ham (25), Ros (18)
  • Monaco: Ham (18), Ros (25)
  • Canada: Ham (0), Ros (18)
  • Austria: Ham (18), Ros (25)

Rosberg led Hamilton 165: 136

Mercedes ability to run their first engine to the Canadian GP and have no DNF’s after eight races, bodes well for both drivers will finishing each race of the season.

In 2014, Lewis was leading in Australia when his car failed and was also second in Canada when forced to retire because of brakes. Add back in those points (and reduce Rosberg’s tally to 18 for Australia) and you get the following 2014 table after the Austrian GP.

Hamilton would have led Rosberg 186:158

The adjusted difference at this stage of the season in 2015 is then much closer, because Rosberg is pushing Hamilton harder this year.

Hamilton currently leads Rosberg in 2015 169:159

Interestingly, a significant difference between last year and this is that Hamilton has dominated Rosberg in qualifying. He is now 7:1 ahead of Nico compared to 4:4 at this stage last season.

Yet Nico is within 10 points of the world champion and has won 3 of the last four races. One clearly fortuitously.

One of the other predictions I made on the podcast was that Lewis would dominate the flyaway races and then Rosberg would begin to put up more of a fight. Different circuits suit different driving styles and drivers, and for Nico the tracks at this phase of the season in 2014 would deliver his best results when compared to his team mate.

Hamilton had a difficult summer and early autumn in 2014. Rosberg took pole position at Silverstone, in Germany, Hungary and in Spa.

Rosberg was comfortably leading at Silverstone when he had to retire the car, he won in Germany and was stymied in Hungary due to a rain affected race and an internal dispute over strategy preferences.

From pole in Spa, Nico would have been bitterly disappointed to give up the lead to Hamilton, before colliding with him and finishing Lewis race. Improved racecraft would see him better able to defend these situations.

The duel between the Mercedes pair will be fascinating over the next three races. However, if Nico Rosberg is to make a fist of the challenge for the 2015 drivers’ title again, he will need to make the most of his chances before the late Autumn when Hamilton will feel he is back on circuits more to his liking once again.

Since becoming team mates at Mercedes, Lewis and Nico have one Silverstone win each. In just under two weeks we will hopefully see a titanic struggle for supremacy once again in the fields of Northamptonshire – which at present… are bloody cold.

22 responses to “Rosberg pushing Hamilton harder in 2015

  1. Good write up. Logical, well thought out…

    I was not one of those who thought Rosberg would come back stronger in ’15, and Hamilton’s early season form was as devastating as any driver I’d seen. I feared he’d maintain it.

    But you were correct, Andrew. I recall you making such predictions on the site and in the podcast.

    *kneels down*

    Ok, unzip. Let’s get this over with.

    😀

  2. The sole reason why it looks as close as it is right now, is due to the 17pts swing for the Monaco debacle. Had that not happened, the gap would’ve been at 27pts.

      • Hamilton is the better driver Fortis, that’s not the point. Point is that Rosberg deserves great credit for making a contest out of it (not the role of pantomime villain some sections of the media like to assign him) – even if he loses the contest in the end. Must be bloody hard to keep coming back head to head with a guy who keeps beating you and not cracking mentally – I remember Eddie Irvine had a nice quote about being hit over the head repeatedly!! I expect Ham to win, but credit to Nico for giving us hope of a contest (and all credit will go to Ham if/when he is WDC).

        • No one is discrediting what Nico is doing, but the points table is painting a somewhat inaccurate picture.

          Given how dominant the car is and the lack of competition from behind, building any form of a substantial gap is not that easy to do when if you finish 1st your team-mate is guaranteed to finish 2nd barring any mechanical failures.

          • The points table also doesn’t show that Rosberg halved the gap in qualifying this year on ‘Hamilton tracks’ – a significant achievement.

          • Ok so he halved the qualifying deficit on so called ‘Hamilton tracks’ but he didn’t surpass it, however that’s not really relevant at present because we’re not discussing qualifying. Last year it was 4-4 now it’s 7-1, so clearly he has upped his game.

            Also the points table won’t show that because points aren’t awarded for qualifying.

            8 races in and he has only out performed his teammate twice, but due to the Monaco, the points does not show that.

          • Points table is the points table.

            Then again if we look at year on year form, Rosberg could be heading for a similar dominant weekend in Silverstone – pole.. without a DNF add the win.

            We can all argue black is white 😉

          • Dominate weekend in Silverstone in ’14, you are joking right?

    • I think AHJ is taking a broad brush look at phases of the season – not arguing the minutia

      On that basis, you could argue, Nico was expected to do better in Monaco – but surprisingly didn’t get his car set up properly – otherwise pole was his for the taking. A Rosberg 1-2 would have Hamilton 13 points ahead at present.

      You could also argue Hamilton has had no technical problems like Rosberg which cost him a P2.

      Hamilton finished ahead of Rosberg in 2014 10-4 – its now 5-3

      But I don’t see that as the point of the article – and the next three races this time last year set up what was to happen in the season’s run in.

      • Ok, fair enough.

        I just hope when he takes the title at seasons end, we don’t hear, “oh he had it easy”

        • Well given Merc have such an advantage they can still basically make a mess of Q3 and race day and finish 1-2, I think that’s always going be classed as having it easy.

          The last time we saw that? 2014 and prior to that 2011. It’s not a season whereby Merc are winning by fine margins thanks to delivering in all the important sessions. 2010/2012/2009 it is most certainly not.

          Rosberg is certainly no Alonso/Vettel and I think the likes of Bottas, Hulk and Ricciardo would probably beat him too.

    • I do wonder if Lewis, even if it’s only subconsciously doesn’t try quite as hard when he has a points margin over Rosberg, as he just expects to beat him on average. I think Rosberg is like a metronome, I think he’s as consistent and as fast as they come. I think Lewis fudementally quicker, but his form fluctuates more. Either way hats off to Rosberg, he effectively took a battering at the start of the season, kept his head and is now just 10 point adrift.

      • When you say his form fluctuates, could you explain?

        Because if you actually compare both drivers form, when Lewis has finished a race, he’s on the podium, not the same for Nico.

        Apart from Austria and Silverstone last year where he made mistakes in qualifying, he was guaranteed starting either 1st or 2nd.

        As for the points comment, that’s not actually true either, did you miss the 2nd half of the season from Monza onwards? Was he not extending his points lead until the Monaco debacle?

        Nico is yet to overturn a points deficit.

        • I mean the gap in qualifying and races fluctuates between the two and I think this is more down to Lewis than Nico. If Nico was gonna finish 3rd, he will finish 3rd, but Hamilton can be anywhere between 1st and 3rd, think what I’m trying to say Rosberg getting closer to Hamilton in some races, is Lewis fluctuations, not Rosbergs.

  3. It was obvious that Hamilton’s car was suffering from the same clutch problem that ruined his start a couple of races ago. On a track where you can’t overtake, the final outcome was plain to see within a couple laps.
    Claiming Sunday’s race was heralding a new beginning for Rosberg is simply ‘clutching’ at straws.

    (Nice pun even if I say it myself)

    • “On a track where you can’t overtake”

      I thought we saw a significant amount of overtaking?!?

  4. There were plenty of overtakes during the race. However, what is missing from all accounts is the battle for first that was occurring before Kimi-Alonso. Post, Rosberg got the safety car leaving the track jump, Hamilton stumbled – clutch again? – and the race was effectively over.

    Rosberg: “I defended well in the first couple of corners against Lewis and then it was great to open up the gap,” the German said (from BBC).

    What Rosberg conveniently forgets is that the crash occurred —- IN TURN 2. Obviously the two drivers were immediately informed of the wreckage and the yellow, and the safety car came out… race over.

    Though I totally get Rosberg’s, I’m at least as good as Lewis, comments – Rosberg also told BBC that he identified “race craft” (does he even realize the implications of what he’s saying?!) as his 2014 short-coming, what I don’t get is how, certainly after having time to compose one’s self, the post-race banter here and elsewhere omits the pre-crash battle – albeit brief as it turned out to be. And given the equal attributes of the two cars, how it could be thought, withou the accident, that a Hamilton DRS pass at first wing opening wasn’t in the offing?

    A sober look at the recent races would take into account a gifted Monaco win – it’s not minutiae it’s a fact – and note, with the revelation that the clutch change (it does seem mysterious that a change was made, as persistent “clutch issues” haven’t been publicly noted by Mercedes) has hampered Hamilton since its insertion into his car before Spain are prime reasons for the recent 3-1 Rosberg v. Hamilton edge.
    ——————
    And I know with certainty that the following statements will draw ire (if the last paragraph didn’t) but once again, oh well.

    Without taking into account the 2014 double-points drama contrivance, Rosberg would’ve had to win Abu Dhabi with Hamilton finishing 7th or worse to win the 2014 WDC. So, barring the catastrophic, the WDC race was effectively done.

    Of course the obvious reply is to, point to Rosberg’s “car issues” at Abu Dhabi. However, having witnessed hundreds of sporting events and interviewed thousands of athletes and many on multiple occasions, which allowed me to asses not only their athletic ability but also their psychological make up as an athlete, car issues provides a perfect excuse for what could well have been a psychological breakdown by Rosberg.

    I say this because, while it seems that most everyone glosses over indicators of Rosberg’s – other drivers as well – mindset, it is through listening to his/their seemingly, unrelated to the immediate story statements that are paramount to understanding the athlete, as they almost always predicate his/her behavior in times of potential duress.

    For Rosberg, his career is littered with quotes indicating weakness – as has Hamilton. But the difference between the two is that Lewis reaches into a well of resolve, borne, apparently, through not having the socio-economic advantages of a Nico Rosberg, watching his parents struggle in every way while supporting their son in the most expensive of all sports, and through the habits acquired by consistently winning at every level of his racing life.

    To date, we have not seen Rosberg do the same.

    Next — “race craft?!?” What the hell is that? Though the vagueness of Rosberg’s assertion went largely unnoticed by his defenders, that term, without explanation, is meaningless (and leave it to the F1 media, in toto, to fail to ask the obvious follow-up question of Rosberg, “Nico, could you be more specific?”

    Seriously folks, think about the ramifications of Rosberg statement, since he is wont to explain, blaming a lack of “race craft” for his 2014 failings? Does that mean he’s wasted his career to this point and millions of Williams and Mercedes company dollars because, until the 2014-15 off season he never thought to work on improving his ability to better himself at his craft?!

    It certainly means, even with an F1-champion driver father at his disposal, Nico Rosberg never took the time to evaluate and seek to, at least lessen, his weaknesses as an F1 driver… until the three months between last season and this.

    Additionally, it is interesting and perhaps telling that, in the inter-team transient world of F1, Nico Rosberg has never been mentioned as a “person of acute interest” by the media when coveted seats came open. Maybe his Williams exit, “I’m not sure Williams can win races,” pronouncement when he was leaving for Mercedes has something to do with that (and in 2010 Mercedes was thought to be a winning team?).

    Finally, per my quite taken out of context previous lengthy statement here, there seem to be plenty of people here who are from the U.S. who don’t follow U.S.-based sports because… after winning an in-season game, or in this case, race, the adage in response to over-exuberant post-game celebrations is, “act like you’ve been there before.” Though the tennis press has mostly given into today’s psychological profile of tennis player, until about 2010 this adage was consistently used to describe top male and female players who performed all manners of celebratory antics for either winning a close match versus an opponent they actually should have drubbed (in other sports called, “playing down to your opponents level”) or for winning a non-major tournament in which they were already one of the prohibitive favorites to win.

    Rosbergs’s leap into the arms of his garage crew and continued walking victory lap fist pumping, etc. easily met the criteria for such criticism.

    Postscript: who also crossed the white pit lane exit line? And did so while LEADING a race… Nico Rosberg, 2009 Singapore GP.

    • Can we have a TL;DR shorter version of your comments from now on please. Pretty , pretty pleeeeease 🙂

  5. As Long As LEWIS Is In Front, In Terms Of Points, I Can Live With Any Kind Of **Pushing**.

    GO, 44 !

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