Is Rosberg weak against Hamilton?

23

I was reading an article over at AUTOSPORT this morning regarding Nico Rosberg and his approach to battling Lewis Hamilton for the world championship this year. Mainly, the question was put to Mercedes team boss, Toto Wolff, about how Rosberg seems to putting up a weak fight.

Wolff says he doesn’t see it that way:

“The way I see him and the way I feel where he is, he has not given up,” said Wolff.

“There is no way a driver will give up unless it is not mathematically possible any more. This is what I see in Nico’s case, with his character.

“Of course, we try to maintain a good relationship in the team and not have any animosity and sometimes when a driver appears to be nice it is seen as a weakness, but it is not that at all.”

From my vantage point, Ben Anderson and Ian Parkes are right in their story because I can draw a straight line from the Belgian Grand Prix last year, when Nico was punished internally at  Mercedes for daring to touch Hamilton’s left-rear tire at Spa, and his driving style today in which he is muscled off the track at Japan and beaten comprehensively ever since.

I’m no Mercedes insider but I feel like the day the team punished and publicly eviscerated him for driving hard and not yielding to Hamilton at Spa Francorchamps was the day they took the stuffing out of him.

What I like about Lewis Hamilton is what he displayed at Japan last week. He’s not in F1 to tiptoe around his teammate or be accommodating to their title hopes or potential for race wins. He’s there to take victory and title himself and he’s aggressive in that pursuit. Just like Senna, Schumacher, Vettel and even Alonso.

If Nico were aggressive, given the domination they currently have in the points over rivals to survive a DNF, he may have not lifted and driven off track to allow Lewis to take the lead. I feel that if he would have done that, he would been castigated by the legion of Hamilton fans and met with harsh rebuke from Mercedes. Makes you wonder if this team is really the best option for Nico long term. If he’s willing to play the Rubens Barrichello, then yes it is.

I said last year that Nico had one choice after Spa, he could humbly take a back seat and play the scolded dog or he could decide that his title hopes are more important than being able to take a bum whipping by Mercedes for daring to challenge and not yield to Hamilton. I think we know what he chose.

I like Nico a lot and think that he has the speed and talent to win titles given the car he’s currently in. I’m just not sure he or Mercedes are in a place mentally to allow him to do that and actually get aggressive with Hamilton which could result in more Spa-like results.

When it is all said and done, I get the feeling that Nico is driving for a team that definitely comes first over his personal aspirations as a driver. Right now, they seem to be aligned with Lewis’s personal ambitions but I get the feeling that’s less to do with playing favorites and more to do with Lewis’s ability to perform and work the team to his will. That’s the sign of a champion, that’s what I like about Lewis and what I would like to have seen in Nico. Now that would be an epic Mercedes teammate battle like Prost vs. Senna.

Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT via Ben Anderson and Ian Parkes

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Jason

With regards to Spa last year, all season the team had said to both drivers that they were free to race, just don’t take your team mate out. What Nico was publicly castigated for was that during the post race briefing he said he deliberately left his nose in and caused an accident. That is why the team were furious. Look at turn 1 and turn 2 overtakes at Suzuka in the last 5 years and you will see what Lewis did was very similar to many other overtakes that he has made and have been made against him. The… Read more »

Lovejoint

Exactly!

Negative Camber

Yeah, I get that. I know why they were upset, what I’m saying is, like Shaolin above, Nico should have said what ev…I’m here to race and if Lewis gets close, that’s his issue. Same for turn 2, we can parse every second but the fact is they both entered, Lewis had the inside but Nico was there, Lewis knew he was there…so there is a choice. Lewis pressed him wide and Nico lifted. I’m not arguing that Lewis was wrong, that’s what I like about him. He’s a champ and pushes the limits and isn’t backing off for anyone.… Read more »

Malunda Wanda

Unfortunately, you are getting it wrong and asking Lewis fans to understand. The choice in those incidents is to make the right decision. If positions were switched in Spa, Lewis would’ve known not to cross the red line of taking out a teammate. In Suzuka, he would’ve known to yield for the 2nd turn & attack at a better moment during or after the 1st lap. In both incidents, Nico seemed to pick the wrong moments to keep his boot in & paid the price.

MIE

I don’t think Lewis has come up against a team mate as determined as he is. When the two Mercedes drivers have gone wheel to wheel, Rosenberg has been the one to give way or back off on every occasion except Spa 2014, and then the team came down on him like a ton of bricks. If the positions had been reversed at Suzuka, I think Hamilton would have squeezed Nick off the road at turn one, knowing that being hung out to dry on the outside of turn two wouldn’t be a successful move. Rosenberg doesn’t have that approach… Read more »

Shaolin

I do think there is still that difference between champions and the rest. If Lewis, Vettel, Senna, or Schumacher had been reprimanded like Rosberg was in Spa last year, they wouldn’t have cared one bit. Next race they would have raced add hard as always. Rosberg just doesn’t have the same killer instinct

Junipero Mariano

On track, Nico is there or thereabouts with Lewis. Off track he is much more of ago along to get along kind of guy. One can see that in his views on changes in F1 or how rarely he pooh-poohs the team. This is the philosophy he brings to his motorsport career, just like Lewis’ “win or bin it” style works for him. If he wanted to, I think he could have a Tom Kristensen type of domination at WEC.

Shane

Simple, same machine however Hamilton is a better driver.

jiji the cat

Don’t know if he is a better driver? He most definitely is more aggressive and I think this is where the difference lies. Since spa last year nico has lost the killer instinct (if he ever had it)

Alex Brașovan

What I find more worrying for Nico that his lack of aggresion against Hamilton is that he’s constantly being outpaced by the latter. Once Lewis gets in front, he’s always able to pull a healthy gap and manage it from there. Whatever effort Nico makes to reduce it is meant with an immediate response from Lewis. I feel that even if Nico were to become more aggresive, Lewis would still get back at him and gain the upper hand. Bahrain 2014 is a perfect example of that.

Djangoneverchained

Nico is caught between a rock and a hard place. Vettel is close enough to snatch second place from Nico in the WDC. Can you imagine if Nico took both cars out in Japan? Hell would break lose! Nico made a bad start and Hamilton capitalized on that mistake. Nico tried to take back the no.1 position instead of filtering in the the 2nd position and then staying as close as possible to Hamilton. That was another mistake he make. I don’t think Nico is weak I think he just doesn’t have that extra to fight Hamilton consistently. Last year… Read more »

MattyA

BBC 5 Live Japanese Podcast 6:45min mark, Rosberg: “It was a battle into turn 1 and 2 and I lost out in 2, it was very very tight and I had to back out on the outside otherwise it would have been a collision”. Spoken like a beaten man (or 2nd driver) to me.

Samouri

People can use the excuse that Spa in 2014 had taken the spark out of Nico, in order for him to be more competitive with Lewis. I really don’t share that view. At the start of the 2014 season. Why was Lewis able to win 4 out of the first 5 races, if Rosberg was at the same level as Hamilton? It may have been 5 out of 5 for Lewis, if he didn’t have a mechanical failure at the very start of the first race in Australia. At Monaco Nico’s win was determined as usual with qualifying, which was… Read more »

Paul KieferJr

As I had suspected, you had two Alpha males (Hamilton and Rosberg) vying for control of the team. One of them got bit hard (Rosberg) and he was forced to back down. Now they’ve ruined what could have been a great driver. Even if you put him on another team, the chances of him getting back his Alpha status are 50/50 at this point. You’ll need to find a team for him to succeed in, but only time will tell if he can get back to his winning ways. Who’s available that could beat Merc anyway? Ferrari? They’ve already got… Read more »

edward

Spot On,… Nico is almost something like damaged goods from here & what team would look at him as some one who can Bring It against a Hamilton or Vettel, Ricc. Much less a Verstappen or even Bottas… in a top level car….?

edward

Agree 100% Merc destroyed what should be a proper battle between these two guys by castrating Nico publicly and immediately after the incident much less the race. They wanted Lewis to resign, period. They backed him completely, Nicos admission that he did not back down for Hamilton ‘on purpose’ was construed and spun by hamilton that nico ‘hit him on purpose’ which i think was just that, complete PR spin. Nico had been pushed aggressively by Hamilton all year & the one time he refuses to back down, He is castigated for it. The die was cast. IF you pay… Read more »

Peter Aletras

Nico needs to get some ink. Perhaps a unicorn, or a pretty sunset. He already has the blonde hair.

Pierce_KF

If Rosberg had the metal to place his car along side of Hamilton (even partially) and let the results speak for themselves you would be watching an entirely different Championship for the past two years. Hamilton knows that all he has to do is glance in Nico’s direction and he will relent on every occasion. I really wish Nico was stronger mentally to accept the discipline from the team (and outrage from the Hamilton fans) to produce some consequences for Lewis. I guarantee it wouldn’t take many altercations for Lewis to think twice about shutting the door. The other outcome… Read more »

Gsprings

People, give me a break, let’s not try to pretend rosberg is as good a driver as Hamilton, only sometimes is he as good as Hamilton, rosberg is not as consistent as Hamilton, so what if merc favor Hamilton, he’s earned it, wouldn’t be the first time a team favored the driver with the wdc’s over the driver with none, it happened with vettel and webber it happened with shumacher, don’t blame merc for rosberg shortcomings, I think the bad thing for rosberg is that Hamilton seems to have his head together, Hamilton can lose focus as we all have… Read more »

Negative Camber

I’m not sure I was trying to convince you of that but my hunch would be that if asked, Nico would feel that he is. If that’s the case, I’m suggesting he’s got to take command of the situation and prove it whether that ruffles the teams feathers or not. it all depends on what he wants in his career.

Gsprings

German team favoring a brit over a German, how wild is that

ikewire

Nico simply does NOT take the fight to Hamilton, not even close to the level of aggression Hamilton possesses (that COTA “non-turn-in” is a perfect example with Nico being shoved completely off). I mean, can you imagine Prost and Senna in that same scenario? We saw that and we know it came to tears each and every time. The great rivalry like Senna v. Prost had two amazing talents that believed they truly deserved to take victory over all others, with both pulling out all the stops to make that happen. The current battle with Lewis and Nico is, unfortunately,… Read more »

David Rodriguez

I honestly feel that Hamilton has more of a nature gift than Rosberg. He has always felt the pressure from Hamilton. I guess he can be compared to Rubins Barrichello as Micheal’s teammate at Ferrari. The difference between Rosberg and hamilton is that overtime Hamilton is chasing Rosberg, The pressure gets to Rosberg as hamilton tries to force him into a mistake. If Rosberg is far ahead than he does just fine, but it’s the fact that Rosberg doesn’t cope under the pressure very well.