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.