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Then came Italy.
After Italy, then Singapore.
Hamilton went on to win six of the final seven races, and took the championship by 67-points (42-points if we discount the finale’s double-points).
Back to 2016 and few could argue Nico Rosberg is off to an auspicious start, taking the top step of the podium in Australia, Bahrain, and China with relative ease. He has been on top form since the Japanese GP last year, but thos final six race weekends don’t count towards this years drivers’ title – and 3 races in a 21 race season will not define the champion.
On the other side of the Mercedes garage, Lewis Hamilton’s poor start in Australia handed Rosberg the lead of the race from lights to flag. In Bahrain, contact with Bottas at the start meant Hamilton was racing for the bottom step of the podium. Then came the Chinese calamity where Lewis was forced to start from the back of the grid after reliability problems with his Mercedes W07 Hybrid. Then contact with Nasr in turn one, left him fighting just to score points.
All this has contributed to Rosberg’s 36-point lead, which is his biggest championship points lead ever. His form to start the season has been impressive, but little in the history of his Formula One career would suggest he will maintain it. Few can argue that the German’s current form is something we have seen consistently from him during his F1 career, but surely there will eventually be a regression towards the mean.
Hamilton, on the other hand, has proven throughout his career that he will win races. Given his speed and the best machinery on the grid, he will soon string some together.
The 2016 championship is again shaping up to be another entertaining showdown between Mercedes team mates. However, the Ferrari and Red Bull duos should be able to take the fight more effectively to the Silver Arrows this year which may interfere with the battle Royal between Lewis and Nico. Undoubtedly the progress of the Red Team and the Bulls makes Hamilton’s 36 point deficit more stark at present but #44 has demonstrated in past times that despite the odds he can stage the most remarkable of comebacks.
The question over the coming weeks, is how Rosberg will respond if (when?) Hamilton gets rolling, collecting wins and points in the process. Given the history alluded to earlier, will see Rosberg begin to crack under the sustained pressure…
Back at the 2014 Italian Grand Prix following the debacle in Spa, whilst leading and under pressure from Hamilton, Rosberg twice missed the Variante del Rettifilo chicane… handing Lewis the win.
We also may hear again radio outbursts similar to those during qualifying for the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix. “DAMNIT!” was the response from Rosberg across the airwaves when he learned that Lewis had pipped him for pole.
Pick your own Rosberg memories for discussion in the comments, where he appears to have cracked under the pressure – but with just days to the Russian GP only time will tell whether this weekend will see the evaporation of a 36 points lead begin.