By Steve Aibel, Senior F1 Writer
As the Formula 1 World Championship motors toward conclusion, Nico Rosberg holds a tenuous 33 point lead over 3 time champion and teammate Lewis Hamilton. With the Formula changing next year, this is Nico’s best chance to obtain his first World Championship. In Hamilton, he faces a known quantity that can, and has in the past, string together loads of points in consecutive races.
33 points is a small buffer and one that affords Rosberg one mistake that Hamilton can’t make.
Rosberg, for once, is in the catbird seat and there are some serious reasons why he is the favorite to win his first World Championship. Statistics don’t lie and his 33 point lead revolves around 9 wins for the German versus 6 wins for the Great Britain. Rosberg also has momentum on his side, scoring victories in 4 of the 5 races since summer break. Hamilton, on the other hand, has not reached the top step of the podium since his victory at the German Grand Prix in July.
Although the road seems smoother for Rosberg, Hamilton will be loaded and ready in Austin this weekend. He has won 3 of the 4 Formula 1 competitions at Circuit of the Americas since the inaugural race in 2012. Rosberg, however, won pole in Austin last year and represents as a qualified threat to the Hamilton juggernaut.
Rosberg’s pole position in Austin last year’s was the preface to a 7 race win streak that started in Mexico and spanned two seasons, catapulting Rosberg into the same orbit as Hamilton. During this time, it can be argued that the German excised the demons that kept him from competing with Hamilton for a championship. Previously, Nico had wilted under the relentless assault of Hamilton. After the 7 race win streak, a more leveled and determined attack came from the Mercedes #2.
Rosberg developed an extremely focused approach before, during, and after each of the Grand Prix races this season. He has constantly remarked this year that his focus is on the race at hand. When he possessed a large lead of 43 points during the middle of the season, he was constantly asked if his eye was on the title. His response was measured, consistent and deliberate. His focus was on the race at hand and nothing else. A shield was built up and it was one that would serve him well as Hamilton carved into his lead and eventually took the points tally away from Rosberg.
It was at this point, where Nico folded in years previous. 2014 was a year where Rosberg had a commanding lead which was eradicated by a dominant and charging Hamilton after the summer break.
This year we have had none of that. Nothing except a mature, relentless approach…one race at a time and a singular focus on the task at hand. In practice, he is working toward set up and qualifying. During qualifying, it is all about pole position and during the race, Rosberg is full forward on acquiring the finish that he needs to keep moving toward the prize.
This year, we have seen Rosberg compete when Hamilton is relentlessly stalking him from the back of the pack. Aside from a few effervescent moments in wheel to wheel action (think Spain and Austria) Rosberg has been able to handle the attacks Hamilton has thrown at him.
Finally, Rosberg has seemed to implement a reset button after each race that puts the previous result full behind him and the focus moves quickly to the next race. He only has to do this four more times and if successful, Rosberg grabs that elusive first World Championship.
At the moment, this is a Rosberg’s championship to win!