Rosberg: Race focus affecting qualifying

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Fortis

Since entering formula one in 2007, Lewis Hamilton has been lauded as one of, if not the fastest driver over a single lap. So good was his speed over one lap, he had never been out-qualified by a teammate over the course of an entire season.

However all that changed in 2014, when he was out-qualified by current teammate Nico Rosberg 12-7.

Rosberg secured 11 of the teams 18 pole positions compared to Lewis’s 7, winning along the way the inaugural Pole Position trophy.

So good was the German’s form over a single lap, that in the last  10 races of the season, he out-qualified Lewis 7 to 3.

The German however failed to carry over the same form into races, where he only converted 3 of the 11 poles into race wins compared to Lewis’ 6 from 7.

Questions we’re being asked as to whether or not Rosberg was setting up his car more for qualifying rather than the racing and as such, come race day, found himself trailing home in second place more than he would’ve liked.

For the 2015 season, he stated that over the off season he had analysed his performances so as to see where he could improve and found that he needed to improve on his race craft, as that’s where he has been losing out the most to Lewis.

Rosberg  believes that this change in focus could now be affecting his qualifying efforts, where he is currently trailing Lewis by a significant margin of 9-1. However, despite the gap in qualifying, he has so far won 3 races.

The recently concluded Hungarian Grand Prix was no better where, while running in a strong second place, a late race coming together with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo resulted in a right rear tyre puncture. The susequent damaged saw him finished down in 8th position behind Lewis when it looked as if he was on course to take the lead of the championship with a second place finish. This would have been a great position to be in going into the summer shutdown period.

The coming together has seen his teammate increased his lead in the standings from 17 to 21 points.

Rosberg was asked to comment on the current reasons behind his poor form in qualifying:

Part of it is that I worked on my racing. I wanted to improve that and that’s definitely been better so I’m pleased with that.

Of course that has slightly compromised qualifying, some of it but not most of it is explainable for me. I don’t understand why it’s such a big difference to last year at the moment.

He has however insisted that his current frustrations with qualifying is not getting the better of him, as it’s his performance in the races which is more important.

It’s frustrating in the moment, but I’ll be firing on all pistons again and ready to attack,” he said. “It’s not something that holds me down in any way, it’s the way it is.

As long as my racing is good I can turn around.

With the changes in the aerodynamic profiles of the cars, it has become increasingly difficult to follow closely behind and overtake cars with similar pace. This was something we first saw in Malaysia.

Despite having a large pace advantage over their rivals, both Mercedes drivers found it difficult to get through traffic. Sebastian Vettel also encountered the same problem in Bahrain, when after running wide at the last corner, he had to replace his front wing and subsequently found himself stuck behind the Williams of Valteri Bottas for the remainder of the race, even though he was on fresher tires and significantly faster.

This dirty and turbulent air coming from the back of the cars has placed far greater importance on qualifying on Saturday’s.

If he’s to realise his dream of following in his fathers footsteps and become a world champion, Rosberg will need to start winning the Saturday battles again.

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14 responses to “Rosberg: Race focus affecting qualifying

  1. As good as Rosberg was at qualifying last year I don’t anticipate him coming back from his current qualifying position to out score Hamilton this year. Come to think of it I believe this year will be worse than the last for him.

  2. I used to think that Rosberg was under-rated. His consistent performance in beating Schumacher was impressive. But I’ve noticed, over the years, that many drivers’ confidence gets sapped and never recovers. This is where we’re at today. He’s got about as much chance of the WDC as I have. Ok, a little bit better chance than me as I drive a VW diesel.

  3. Just goes to show if you just copy what the other guy’s doing your less likely to win. If he’d have faith in his approach from last season he’d be winning the championship most likely, with it being easier to convert poles into wins.
    It seems Rosberg has always tried to beat Lewis at his game than trying something different.
    That’s why I think Lewis has had the beating of him since day one at Mercedes.

    • His biggest mistake was in underestimating Lewis and believing that he would not look to improve all aspects of his racing.

      • I don’t think he underestimated Lewis. I think he underestimated himself. Rather than building on last year he decided to start over. Which clearly was a wrong choice.

        • Then he should’ve aimed at improving every area of his racing rather than looking at just how he performed in races.

          So from my POV, it does look like he underestimated him, because he felt that he had him covered in qualifying , especially after what he did last season.

          • No I’d don’t think so. I think he doesn’t see it as Lewis winning last year as much as he saw it as him losing it last year. Up until the last race he believed that he could do it. And even though I believe Lewis is the better racer of the pair, it would be unjust to nico to say that there wasn’t a chance that he could pull it off. But this year it’s different. he wasn’t able to put together the same kind of performance as he did last year. Unlike Lewis who did do better.

  4. Rosberg never tried to race last weekend, once he realised Hamilton was behind, he settled into having a trackday. After the safety car, he panicked and fell apart.
    Rosberg will never be a top class F1 driver all the time he’s got a hole in his bum. It’s time Mercedes told him to stop getting in the way of Hamilton, especially when the Ferraris are going well.

    • Exactly, Gregor.

      And as far as last year and Rosberg thinking until the last race that he could win, well, if he looked for just a second at the season the only reason he had any chance to win the WDC was thanks to the double-points contrivance. With his primary competitor winning 11 races to his five and with the Monaco fiasco which, likely irreparably damaged his inter-paddock relationships, it is a fantasy to think of 2014, for Rosberg, as anything but an abject failure.

      Further, the media continues to act as if no one ever perceived Rosberg as the opposite of their Rosberg-based rhetoric today. After Hamilton’s race start clutch problems in Austria writers had the nerve to make such spurious statements like, “now that Nico knows he can overtake Lewis fair and square…” he now feels he’s at least Hamilton’s equal.

      That is how far the Nico Rosberg love affair has gone (and the want to see Hamilton fall on his face)… it’s deep ended.

      • Just a small point…

        “…the only reason he (Britney) had any chance to win the WDC was thanks to the double-points contrivance.” – DWil

        Leading into Abu Dhabi, Lewis Hamilton was on 334pts, while Nico Rosberg was on 317pts; a 17pt difference. Even with the 25,18,15… points structure, the title fight would still have remained alive. Double points didn’t keep the fight going artificially. There would always have been a title deciding finale’.

        So, as I see it, given the domination of Mercedes in 2014, had Lewis DNF’d or had a mechanical gremlin – which wasn’t exactly rare that year, in fact Nico had one that very race, as an example – it was almost certain Rosberg would have placed 1st, or no worse than 2nd, and won the title fair and square; and that’s applicable under a normal points structure.

        Now to clear up my position; I am aware that double points significantly increased the chances of Rosberg artificially, and in my opinion unfairly. Had Nico won purely based on a double points contrivance, I would not have thought that fair or good for the sport. Double points was a terrible idea.

        In the end, double points didn’t have an effect on anything… either keeping a title fight alive or the title outcome.

        To close, given what I said above about how close Nico got, even under a normal points structure, I can’t see how that would be characterised as an “abject failure”. If Nico being of concern to Lewis at the final round – even without the Abu Double effect – is an “abject failure”, what does that mean for Lewis’s performance? Or perhaps we have a different interpretation of what “abject failure” is.

        • WTF-
          I know that a 17-point lead isn’t insurmountable, even with normal scoring, and I’ll get to that. The gist of my comment the abject failure part. Being in equal cars and being bested 11 races to five without ever overtaking your direct rival during an entire season, is damn-near complete failure. The victory disparity rendered the pole wins for Rosberg little more than pre-race media hype.

          Despite Nico’s season-long blather about being equal to Hamilton and despite the press often failing – abjectly – to honestly assess the two drivers, we know that his post-China GP, “It felt just like when we were kids,” remark was most revealing. That one remark revealed Hamilton’s driving career psychological advantage over Rosberg. And in person v. person sports you first must believe you can defeat an opponent before you actually do beat them; all great tennis players prove this; even in golf, even when Tiger Woods was not at the height of his golfing prowess, opponents choked in final round play when paired with him (in tennis the personal post-morgen remark goes something like, “Roger [Federer] was just too good today,” rather than the totally disconsolate golfer who over a period of four hours become very publicly unhinged due to perceived pressure felt from just the presence of Woods and can barely muster a post-choke quote).

          After the 2014 season Rosberg gave and largely got away with the lame, “too much focus on qualifying” excuse as to why he lost over twice the races to Hamilton where both drivers crossed the finish line. Not enough was or is made of the Monaco Affair, which would have resulted in a 12-4 Hamilton wins advantage and a 25-point lead entering Abu Dhabi. Nothing is said of the perception of Rosberg throughout the paddocks, though every person approached in the paddocks that Monaco qualifying afternoon felt Rosberg cheated.

          When viewed with all this in mind, for me, Rosberg’s season was an abject failure.

          All of these facts concerning the Rosberg v. Hamilton 2014 matchup even with Rosberg on the pole at Ahu Dhabi told the sober- minded that, short of complete disaster, The WDC was a wrap for Hamilton, double-points or not.

          Yes WTF (and the rest of the TJ13 community) I engaged in hyperbole in averring that only double-points could give Rosberg a 2014 season WDC. However, in my defense (lol) I maintain that when all the aforementioned is taken into account, “Double-Bernie-Bucks” was little more than a ruse to bolster a flagging F1 and to give meaning to the season’s finale.

          • Fair enough, mate. I genuinely take many of those points on board… of which the most resonant for me is; “…ever overtaking your direct rival during an entire season”. That crucial point is most certainly one of the bigger flavours of 2014.

            Thanks for responding. I’ll give the hyperbole a wider berth. I am certainly guilty of it on occasion; it was just a point I felt relevant.

            Personally, I still can’t characterise 2014 as a “failure” for Rosberg, or any variation of failure, by virtue of being able to challenge Hamilton for the WDC in Abu Dhabi, with or without Double Points. But I take your point, Rosberg wasn’t the better race driver on any day in a fair fight that I can recall in 2014 – unlike this year, on a few occasions.

  5. Last year Lewis became too aggressive in qualifying after Monaco, that’s what handed Rosberg the 11-7 stat really. It wasn’t that Hamilton was slower, it was that he kept overdriving Q3 and making mistakes. Personally I think he was deeply upset by Monaco and Spa.

    This year is just more normal, and the car suits Lewis even better. I don’t think Rosberg has an answer, though of course he has to keep looking for one and finding positive answers to the questions.

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