One of the things you notice spending time in media scrums is that body language can give away massive amounts without a driver uttering a word.
It’s the biggest giveaway and something that you can immediately pick up on if it’s being hidden – Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso are very good at this, and rightly so – giving away the fact that they fell compeitive is an edge they wouldn’t want to lose.
Being in Barcelona this week, the difference between the Mercedes drivers is fascinating. Both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have had a solid day of running behind the wheel of the W04 at the halfway stage but their postures, wording and overall demeanour would make you believe two completely different stories.
Take Nico Rosberg. After setting the fastest time on the first day of the test, the young German was upbeat and smiling;
“It’s a much better base, you can feel the centre of gravity is lower, aero is better, feels stronger and it’s a pleasure to drive. A lot faster than last year.”.
“Last time I was on this track the car was a whole second slower so this feels great. I’m comfortable and able to push.”
Immediately you can tell the young Nico knows this Mercedes is an improvement on anything he’s driven in the last 12 months, maybe even the last 3 seasons combined. He’s been here while the team have gone through some tough times – this, for him, could be the light at the end of the tunnel.
Consider the form of the team that became Mercedes the day Nico signed the contract to race for them. In late 2009 in it’s brief Brawn GP disguise, it was heading for a Drivers and Contructors title double.
Lewis Hamilton on the other hand is a puzzle in himself. 24 hours after Rosberg went top with a time of 1min22.6, the Brit finished his time behind the wheel with a 1min22.7 and ended up only 4th. His thoughts on the day were mixed;
“We’re just focusing on ourselves and working on our programme for the first race, and it’s going in the right direction,” he stated, immediately after wiping his brow from 120-odd laps in the car.
“I’ve got a great group of guys behind me. I’m sure they’ve been working hard over the years, but I’ve only just arrived and immediately I see just a fantastic determination and effort going in. I hope it all pays off.”
Completely different stance from a man coming from a regular race winning team such as McLaren, who have been at the pinnacle and delivered race victories throughout his time there. Now he’s out of that environment, you can’t help but feel that his confidence in building a dynasty or legacy like he wanted to might be harder than he expected.
And there-in lies the difference between the two right now. The Mercedes might be good starting point for the team to develop and fight with which Rosberg sees as a firm step forward. As for Hamilton, is definitely is a step backwards for him and he now knows it; one feels it’s the best car he’s been in for 3 years, the other the worst.
The reality for both is only 3 weeks away.