In a returning feature, a whole host of Badgers will turn their attention to the pressing matters in the sport and share their thoughts – the Scrutineering Bay is back!
First up for 2015…
What’s Up With Nico Rosberg?
(BadgerGP.com Staff Writer)
Nico Rosberg is rightly regarded as one of the more intelligent drivers on the grid, but I feel that sometimes this manifests itself as a curse rather than a blessing.
If you subscribe to the idea that he deliberately ruined Lewis’ Q3 lap in Monaco last year, you may also see that he used his knowledge of the track, and indeed his car, to perfectly engineer a mistake, and escape without damage.
The year previous in the principality was a race that Hamilton could have won; the safety car for Romain Grosjean and Jean-Eric Vergne’s wrecked cars presented an opportunity for the Brit to keep up with him during the pit stops. However, Lewis lost around half a minute to him, as Nico set the quickest possible delta (a specified quickest time allowed under the Safety Car) to make sure he stayed ahead.
Indeed, Monaco 2013 was an example of Rosberg’s intelligence paying dividends, but his latest display of wits – understanding that Hamilton was slowing down in China – was not.
He understood that he was in effect getting held up, but as Lewis rightly pointed out, it’s not the leader’s job to worry about those that would depose him, and his retort of “If I was slow, you should have overtaken me” made Nico seem incredibly petty for complaining so publicly.
I don’t think he’s petty – just frustrated. Before 2014, I didn’t rate him much as a driver. Apart from his incredible maiden win in Shanghai 2012, I didn’t see much – he inherited the win from Hamilton and Vettel in Britain, and was able to control the Red Bulls in Monaco after Lewis’ mistake.
Now? Not the case.
A stunning win in his home country, another Monaco triumph, and finally cracking Lewis in Brazil showed his talent – this guy is no pretender.
Put simply, Lewis Hamilton – one of his closest friends since adolescence and his World Champion team mate – is just a tenth quicker where it matters. And that’s hard to admit.
The inter-team cold war between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg was the saving grace of 2014. Had it not been for the German’s performances against Lewis, we would have had a one horse race for the title just like 2013 and 2011 – not what the sport wanted and/or needed.
But the 2014 version of Rosberg has gone missing heading into this season. Where’s the spiky, yet articulate dialogue? The pure one lap pace he was so impressive with has ultimately dried up. The consistency evaporated, and the press conferences – when not bristling with petulance – seem defeatist from the off.
Then I think about it a bit more; what really was Nico’s real strength throughout 2014? Breaking it down, he’s not lost that pace or consistency, he’s just failed to maximise opportunities that have come his way as much as he did before. Lewis, probably thanks to the reassurance of a second world championship has merely got his act together, which brings the conclusion that Rosberg isn’t going any slower – Hamilton is simply going faster.
There lies a small victory in the reoccurring psychological battle before the season has gotten underway. Nico had the confidence to push himself further and harder when he knew he had a world champion on the ropes in the middle part of last season, but Lewis isn’t the same driver he was 12 months ago, while, it seems, Rosberg just might be.