Sunday, 10 May 2015

#F1 – Too little, too late for Rosberg?

A first victory in Formula 1 this year for Nico Rosberg, and he seems so much happier now.  He beat his teammate Lewis Hamilton fair-and-square in Qualifying and in the race for the first time in a long, long time, and he will be feeling so much better about himself as a racing driver now.

I wrote after the Chinese Grand Prix a few weeks ago about the huge psychological effects his underwhelming start to this season have had on Nico Rosberg.  He has looked like Hamtilon's 'number two' at every race so far this season, and he hasn't really seemed to believe that he has what it takes to beat his teammate on track.  In Spain, however, he did believe – and his belief was vindicated, as he stood on the top step of the Podium for the first time since Brazil last year.

So, what does this mean for the Championship?  I think it's rather too early to start describing this as a 'resurgence' for Rosberg – one race win, ultimately, doesn't mean much (remember when Maldonado won this same Grand Prix, a few years back?) – but it is certainly an interesting prospect.

Rosberg will be buoyed by this.  He seemed much more like his old self this weekend – more like the Rosberg of 2014, who fought tooth-and-nail with Hamilton, and who genuinely believed he had what it took to win the title.  And this has come at a good time for him.

This race was very much a 'last chance saloon', after the disappointment of the opening four races; his chance of winning the championship this year had all but gone, and his chances of ever being a World Champion were starting to fade.  He's still on the ropes, but he's proven – to himself; to Hamilton; to his team; and to everyone else – that he can do it.  He can still take the fight to Hamilton, and beat him.  And the next race he'll be going into, on the back of this victory, with all the positive energy that will bring, is Monaco – his home race, where he has a winning record, where he knows he can do well.

How Hamilton responds to this, however, will be crucial.  He will want to reestablish his dominance, and not allow Rosberg to ride a wave of enthusiasm into Monaco and start to build some momentum, and a little winning streak of his own.  The peculiarities of Monaco will mean that much of this will come down to Qualifying.  Is that where this year's Championship will, ultimately, be won and lost?

Elsewhere, McLaren's woes continue.  Still no points, and another retirement for Fernando Alonso, and their season is slipping away fast.  This race was supposed to be the big turning point for them; after a dismal start to the year, the team told everyone to be patient, and wait for Spain – that was where things would start to look up for them.  Alonso believed the team could win its first points of 2015 at his home race.  Well, we waited for Spain – but nothing has changed.  The problems McLaren are having look bigger than anybody thought, and this entire season is going to be a write-off for them.

Pastor Maldonado, also, has seen no upturn in his fortunes this weekend.  He has still not completed any of the races he has started so far this season, and I don't think Lotus are going to put up with this any longer.  It may not always be his fault, but the fact is he always seems to get himself in scrapes.  Lotus have improved hugely from their torrid 2014 season, and they now have a car capable of winning points – but that mid-to-low end of the points positions is the tightest, most competitive part of the entire field, and they find themselves fighting with other teams as desperate as they are.  In that scenario, you need to have two drivers who are able to get into the mix and bring home points for the team.

At the moment, Lotus are relying solely on the solid but unremarkable seventh- and eighth-place finishes of Romain Grosjean; if they had two drivers finishing in that sort of area on a semi-regular basis, they would have overtaken Sauber in the Constructors' Championship by now.  Personally, I think this year will be Maldonado's last season in Formula 1.

1 comment:

Ripplingkeys said...

Reckon I'm the first to read this! Poor old Maldonado. He seems to create his own problems though, and I agree - time he was dropped. Lotus can do better, and with Grosjean consistently coming through in the top ten, they need another driver of the same calibre to bring their fortunes to where they could really be. Who would you suggest?

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