Lots of coverage in the build up to this weekend’s race was focused on Nico Rosberg; was the German going to be able to kick-start his faltering 2015 campaign? Is the break between Bahrain and Barcelona what he needed? Could he beat Lewis Hamilton in a straight fight?
On Saturday he squared up to Lewis in equal machinery and beat him to pole position for the first time this season. While that was the shot in the arm he needed in terms of the battle at Mercedes, race day would always be the real litmus test. Lewis had the measure of him in similar positions last season – Nico would have to dig deep to prevent any repeat, thus preventing a damaging psychological counter-punch from the Briton.
And that’s exactly what he did.
The cool, calm and collected Rosberg nailed his start to get the edge heading into Turn One, a complete contrast to Hamilton who bogged down with wheelspin and lose out to Sebastian Vettel and, very nearly, the Williams of Valterri Bottas. From there on it turned into a battle of strategy between Lewis and Sebastian for second place, peppered with the occasional spat between the Mercedes pitwall and Lewis.
Nico drove superbly to dominate throughout, never looking like relinquishing the victory he so desperately needed. If – and it still is a massive if – Rosberg takes the World Championship this season, this weekend’s performance will be the keystone of the success, the point where the challenge was reignited.
It might not have been the clear-cut, street-fight he really needed to get that elusive one-up on his perennial rival, but it’ll do for now. Congratulation Nico Rosberg – you’re our TOP DOG for Barcelona!