Nico Rosberg can win the 2016 F1 world title in Brazil - but is it that simple?
After he finished second in the Mexican Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg will head to the next race in Brazil with the knowledge that a victory at Interlag...
After he finished second in the Mexican Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg will head to the next race in Brazil with the knowledge that a victory at Interlagos will mean he wins the 2016 Formula 1 world championship.
In fact the 31 year old German will be champion with a variety of scenarios in which he scores 7 points more than his English rival. So if Rosberg is second with Hamilton 5th, Rosberg is 3rd with Hamilton 6th and so on.
The German driver has won the Brazilian Grand Prix for the last two seasons, and his title rival Lewis Hamilton has never beaten him at the 4.3-km track since they became Mercedes teammates at the start of 2013.
Hamilton has also never won at Interlagos – although if he does win the next race it will become the 24th venue where he has claimed an F1 victory, which would be an outright record.
Heading into the final two rounds of the season, Rosberg leads Hamilton by 19 points. Two years ago, it was the Briton who held the advantage with two races to go (he led Rosberg by 24 points ahead of the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix), and it was Rosberg who needed to produce a win to keep the title fight alive heading into the season finale.
On that weekend, Rosberg did exactly he needed to do – he took pole and won the race – while Hamilton spun just as he was starting to exert maximum pressure on his rival.
So the evidence of 2014 suggests that Rosberg can deal with the pressure and win when it counts at Interlagos, but it is a very different scenario being the hunted rather than the hunter. At the 2014 Italian Grand Prix, it was the German driver who made two crucial mistakes at the first chicane while leading, which handed Hamilton the win and kickstarted the Briton’s surge to his second world title.
Interlagos also has a history of producing title upsets – just look at Hamilton in 2007 and 2008 – and if it rains things could get even more complicated for Rosberg. The German struggled for pace in the wet at Monaco – arguably his most disappointing performance of the season – while his teammate excelled.
The wet weather would also play into the hands of Red Bull, which is probably the strongest team when it rains (look at its pace at the start of Austin 2015 and Daniel Ricciardo at Monaco this year) and its drivers could well get in amongst the title protagonists in the event of a downpour. Red Bull’s aggressive strategy in the dry could also play a role in the championship battle.
Unreliability is another factor that could hurt either Mercedes driver and Hamilton’s post-race comments about being “petrified” of another Malaysia-style failure while leading in Austin suggest it still may be a worry for the Brackley-based team.
Mercedes does appear to have got a handle on its starting procedure after Hamilton’s struggles in Italy and Japan, and both he had Rosberg made decent getaways in the US and Mexico.
There is often a discussion about the role of luck in a close title battles, and Rosberg does appear to be coming out of difficult situations (the Virtual Safety Car in Austin and the first corner clash with Max Verstappen in Mexico) with minimum damage to his championship lead. Some times that’s just the way it goes.
After yesterday’s race, Rosberg looked back on a “tough” Grand Prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and reflected that his second place was not the worst place he could have finished given the championship situation.
He said: “I had a tough race today. At the start I had a good getaway and thought I would be able to take the lead from Lewis, when I saw he had a massive lock up and went straight through the grass.
“Then, suddenly, Verstappen hit me heavily after he had a lock up too and forced me off the track. Luckily my car wasn't damaged and it didn't cost me a position. Lewis was that little bit quicker today, so I didn't manage to achieve my goal and win here again.
“But being second is not too bad overall. Now I look forward to flying home after two long weeks and relaxing a bit with my family, ready to come back stronger in Brazil and go for the win there. I think the Interlagos track suits our car much better, so I'm looking forward to going there and seeing what we can do.”Do you think Nico Rosberg will secure the world championship next time out in Brazil? Or do you think the title battle with go down to the wire? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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