NRA 500

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas

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After an entertaining race won by Kurt Busch at Martinsville, the Sprint Cup Series will make the first of its two visits this year to the high-banked, 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway this weekend.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s all the important numbers and notes you need to know going into Sunday’s Duck Commander 500 – Round 7 of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

TEXAS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M/Give Kids A Smile Ford)
· Two wins, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.1
· Average Running Position of 12.3, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 101.8, third-best
· 465 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 1,194 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.396 mph, third-fastest
· 4,457 Laps in the Top 15 (74.0%), fourth-most
· Series-high 742 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green)

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Willie’s Duck Diner Toyota)
· Three top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 12.8
· Average Running Position of 12.6, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 92.3, ninth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.094 mph, eighth-fastest

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· One win, three top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.3
· Driver Rating of 88.0, 12th-best
· 191 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 1,372 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· 578 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota)
· One win, six top fives, seven top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 11.0, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 101.6, fourth-best
· 331 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.452 mph, second-fastest
· 4,158 Laps in the Top 15 (73.1%), sixth-most
· 597 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet)
· One win, four top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 13.7
· Average Running Position of 11.5, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 93.8, seventh-best
· 216 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 1,343 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.134 mph, seventh-fastest
· 4,624 Laps in the Top 15 (76.8%), third-most
· 736 Quality Passes, second-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)
· Three wins, six top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.6
· Average Running Position of 12.3, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 97.5, sixth-best
· 358 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 1,164 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.320 mph, fourth-fastest
· 4,425 Laps in the Top 15 (73.5%), fifth-most
· 703 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta/Texas A&M School of Engineering Chevrolet)
· One win, eight top fives, 11 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 17.8
· Average Running Position of 14.5, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 90.6, 10th-best
· 307 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 172.965 mph, 11th-fastest
· 3,727 Laps in the Top 15 (61.9%), eighth-most
· 629 Quality Passes, ninth-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota)
· Two wins, five top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 10.7
· Average Running Position of 12.7, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 93.3, eighth-best
· 167 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
· 1,301 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 172.998 mph, 10th-fastest
· 3,596 Laps in the Top 15 (67.2%), 12th-most
· 696 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s “Spring is Calling” Chevrolet)
· Three wins, 10 top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 8.7
· Average Running Position of 10.3, second-best
· Driver Rating of 106.4, second-best
· Series-high 488 Fastest Laps Run
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.319 mph, fifth-fastest
· 4,660 Laps in the Top 15 (77.4%), second-most
· 681 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Two wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s
· Average finish of 8.3
· Series-best Average Running Position of 9.0
· Series-best Driver Rating of 107.2
· 350 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 1,360 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 173.482 mph
· Series-high 4,827 Laps in the Top 15 (80.1%)
· 709 Quality Passes, third-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· Two wins, six top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.1
· Average Running Position of 10.8, third-best
· Driver Rating of 99.1, fifth-best
· 344 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.180 mph, sixth-fastest
· 4,023 Laps in the Top 15 (70.7%), seventh-most
· 596 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet)
· Two top fives, eight top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 15.0
· Average Running Position of 13.7, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 89.1, 11th-best
· 1,164 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 173.017 mph, ninth-fastest
· 3,605 Laps in the Top 15 (63.4%), 11th-most

source:

Texas Motor Speedway Data
Season Race #: 7 of 36 (04-06-14)
Track Size: 1.5-mile
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 24 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 24 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 2,250 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,330 feet
Race Length: 334 laps / 501 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Texas
Matt Kenseth……………………….. 107.2
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 106.4
Greg Biffle………………………….. 101.8
Kyle Busch…………………………. 101.6
Tony Stewart…………………………. 99.1
Carl Edwards………………………… 97.5
Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 93.8
Denny Hamlin……………………….. 93.3
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 92.3
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 90.6
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at Texas Motor Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 Coors Light Pole winner: Kyle Busch, Toyota, 196.299 mph, 27.509 secs., 04-12-13
2013 race winner: Kyle Busch, Toyota, 144.751 mph, (03:27:40), 04-13-13
Track qualifying record: Kyle Busch, Toyota, 196.299 mph, 27.509 secs., 04-12-13
Track race record: Greg Biffle, Ford, 160.577 mph, (3:07:12), 11-14-12

Texas Motor Speedway History
· Construction on Texas Motor Speedway began in 1995.
· The first NASCAR national series race at TMS was a NASCAR Nationwide Series event on April 5, 1997 – won by Mark Martin.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was on April 6, 1997 – won by Jeff Burton.
· The track underwent a repave between the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
· In 2011, the spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was moved from Sunday to Saturday night under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway.
· Texas Motor Speedway hosted its first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on November 6, 2005 – won by Carl Edwards.

Texas Motor Speedway Notebook
· There have been 26 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway, one NSCS event from 1997 – 2004 and two races per year since 2005.
· 134 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas; 109 in more than one.
· Four drivers have made all 26 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway – Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton and Mark Martin.
· Jeremy Mayfield was the first Coors Light pole winner, in 1998 with a speed of 185.906 mph. The inaugural Coors Light pole at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997 was cancelled due to weather conditions.
· 19 drivers have Coors Light poles at Texas, led by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. with two each.
· Two drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Texas Motor Speedway: Bobby Labonte (2003 and 2004) and Ryan Newman (2005 sweep).
· Youngest Texas Coors Light pole winner: Brian Vickers (11/05/2006 – 23 years, 0 months, 12 days).
· Oldest Texas Coors Light pole winner: Bill Elliott (4/08/2002 – 46 years, 6 months, 0 days).
· 17 different drivers have won at Texas Motor Speedway, led by Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson with three each.
· Seven drivers have multiple wins at Texas Motor Speedway: Carl Edwards (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart each have two.
· Roush Fenway Racing leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in wins at Texas Motor Speedway with nine; followed by Hendrick Motorsports with five and Joe Gibbs Racing with four.
· Three of the 26 (11.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from the Coors Light Pole; Kasey Kahne (2006), Jimmie Johnson (2012) and Kyle Busch (2013).
· The third-place starting position is the most proficient starting spot in the field at Texas Motor Speedway, producing more wins than any other starting position in the field (five) – most recent: Jimmie Johnson last fall.
· Six of the 26 (23.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from the front row: three from the pole and three from second-place.
· 20 of the 26 (76.9%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Four of the 26 (15.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Texas Motor Speedway is 31st, by Matt Kenseth in 2002.
· Youngest Texas winner: Ryan Newman (03/30/2003 – 25 years, 3 months, 22 days).
· Oldest Texas winner: Dale Jarrett (04/01/2001 – 44 years, 4 months, 6 days).
· Jimmie Johnson leads the series in runner-up finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with five; followed by Matt Kenseth with four.
· Matt Kenseth leads the series in top-five finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with 13; followed by Jimmie Johnson with 10.
· Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are tied for the series lead in top-10 finishes at Texas Motor Speedway with 16 each; followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 13.
· Jimmie Johnson leads active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Texas Motor Speedway with an 8..476. Johnson is the only active driver with an average starting position at Texas in the top 10.
· Two active drivers have a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series average finish in the top 10 at Texas: Matt Kenseth (8.3) and Jimmie Johnson (8.7).
· There have been three NSCS green-white-checkered finishes at Texas Motor Speedway: fall 2006 (334/339), spring 2008 (334/339), and fall 2012 (334/335).
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions twice in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway; the inaugural event in 1997 and spring 2007. The race has never been rain shortened.
· Kevin Harvick has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway without posting a DNF (22).
· Jeff Burton (4/06/1997) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (4/02/2000) won their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career race at Texas Motor Speedway.
· David Ragan (4/09/2011) and Martin Truex Jr. (11/04/2007) posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Texas Motor Speedway.
· 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski (11/02/2008) and Trevor Bayne (11/07/2010) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Texas Motor Speedway.
· Two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted consecutive wins at Texas Motor Speedway: Carl Edwards (2008 sweep) and Denny Hamlin (2010 sweep).
· Nine of the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Texas Motor Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Texas in their first appearance; Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman won in their second appearance at TMS.
· Jeff Gordon competed at Texas Motor Speedway 16 times before winning in the spring of 2009; the longest span of any the 12 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
· Only three of the 12 winning drivers have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Texas Motor Speedway: Jeff Gordon (16) Kyle Busch (15) and Kurt Busch (13).
· Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 23.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway was the (4/4/2004) race won by Elliott Sadler with a MOV of 0.028 second.
· Two female drivers have made NSCS starts at Texas Motor Speedway: Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick
· Matt Kenseth leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Texas Motor Speedway with 775 laps led in 23 starts.
· One NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has won at Texas Motor Speedway in two different manufacturers: Jeff Burton (1997 – Ford; 2007 – Chevrolet).

NASCAR in Texas
· There have been 35 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among three tracks in the state of Texas. Fort Worth’s Texas Motor Speedway has hosted 26 of them. Additionally, Texas World Speedway in College Station hosted eight, and Houston’s Meyer Speedway hosted one.
· 80 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Texas.
· Nine drivers from Texas have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. Six of the nine Texas native NASCAR winners have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

  • Terry Labonte (22 Cup, 11 NNS, 1 Truck)
  • Bobby Labonte (21 Cup, 10 NNS, 1 Truck)
  • A.J. Foyt (7 Cup)
  • Billy Wade (4 Cup)
  • Bobby Hillin Jr. (1 Cup, 2 NNS)
  • Johnny Rutherford (1 Cup)
  • James Buescher (1 NNS, 6 Truck)
  • David Starr (4 Truck)
  • Colin Braun (1 Truck)

Force India gives Renault tips ahead of Hulkenberg’s arrival for 2017

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 11:  Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Sahara Force India F1 Team VJM09 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 11, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Force India has sent Renault an early Christmas present by giving tips on how to look after Nico Hulkenberg ahead of his arrival at the team for the 2017 Formula 1 season.

Hulkenberg announced back in October that he would be leaving Force India at the end of the 2016 season, joining Renault for its second year back in F1 as a constructor.

In a tongue-in-cheek post on Force India’s Twitter account, the team gave Renault some advice on how to look after Hulkenberg.

“He answers the name of ‘Nico’, but ‘Hulk’ will do in public,” it reads.

“He has been a beloved member of our family for longer than we can remember, but it is time for him to go and find his own feet.

“Nico is friendly and of good nature, but there are just a few, simple rules to follow to take care of him:

  • Do not feed him after midnight.
  • Do not get him wet. Actually, just kidding. He’s pretty good in the wet.
  • Even though the resemblance can be uncanny, do not refer to him as ‘Johnny Bravo’ (if you do, let us know how it goes.

“And most importantly, and we can’t stress this enough…

  • Do NOT make him angry.

“Best of luck for your life together, your friends at Sahara Force India.”

Force India had previously left Hulkenberg’s helmet and race suit under its Christmas tree as a gift for Renault.

Porsche was quick to chip in on the claim that you shouldn’t feed Hulkenberg after midnight, with the German having ran pretty well in the early hours at Le Mans en route to victory in 2015.

The F1 season may be over, but the Twitter fun between the teams will continue through the winter.

Ricciardo: Verstappen’s arrival at Red Bull pushed me on

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 02:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing celebrates with Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Red Bull Racing after their 1-2 finish during the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on October 2, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Daniel Ricciardo says that Max Verstappen’s arrival at Red Bull four races in to the 2016 Formula 1 season helped him to raise his game as a driver.

Verstappen  swapped seats with Daniil Kvyat after the Russian Grand Prix in May, with Ricciardo’s former teammate moving back down to Red Bull’s feeder team, Toro Rosso.

Ricciardo and Verstappen enjoyed a strong 17-race stint as teammates through 2016, each taking one win and enough points to lift Red Bull up to second place in the constructors’ championship.

Reflecting on his season, Ricciardo admitted that he was unsure about how quickly Verstappen would fit in at Red Bull and get up to speed, but that he soon realized the quality of the Dutchman.

“It was a big thing. Especially that first weekend in Spain which was pretty crazy, and not just because he won,” Ricciardo said.

“I suspect the team didn’t know how good Max was and where he was going to fit. His win really gave us good energy and pushed us on to get stronger.

“In Spain everybody was watching, wondering if we’d made a mistake swapping Dany and Max around. I think his win was a relief more than anything. And it definitely pushed us on. Certainly it pushed me on.

“I think I’d been at the right level from the start of the season, which may have caused some of the commotion in the first place because I had a better start than Dany.

“With Max, I felt we were pushing each other from the off. He was closer to me in qualifying and so naturally that provides a spur because you’re looking at each other’s data and finding an extra bit here and there. It makes you better.”

Ricciardo conceded that the amicable relationship with Verstappen could become tense in 2017 should the pair become embroiled in a title fight, but hopes they can retain their mutual respect.

“Well, I’m not naïve. If we’re fighting for wins I’m sure the pressure and tension will rise,” Ricciardo said.

“But hopefully we’ll be able to look each other in the eye and say ‘good job’ afterwards.”

F1 2016 Driver Review: Lewis Hamilton

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 10:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates his win on the start finish straight after the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 10, 2016 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Lewis Hamilton

Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 44
Races: 21
Wins: 10
Podiums (excluding wins): 7
Pole Positions: 12
Fastest Laps: 3
Points: 380
Laps Led: 566
Championship Position: 2nd

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Lewis Hamilton’s year was an odd one. While he was at his brilliant best on a number of occasions, racking up 10 wins – more than any driver not to win the championship in F1 history – there were a handful of costly errors that ultimately cost him the title.

Yes, the reliability woes with the Mercedes power unit through the year hurt his title bid enormously. But that’s racing; bad luck is part and parcel of it, just as Nico Rosberg found out at points in 2014 and 2015.

Instead, Hamilton needs to look at himself to see where he could have done better in 2015. Poor starts in Australia, Bahrain, Italy and Japan were all damaging to his title challenge, as were weekends he was off the boil in Singapore and Baku.

Hamilton proved once again that he has a good balance between his life outside of F1, which he continues to quite clearly enjoy, judging by his Snapchat escapades, and his efforts on-track. He remains the strongest driver in the field. But this year, his old, successful mind-games were unable to knock Rosberg down. Nico had the answer this time around. Let’s see what 2017 brings for the Briton as he searches for a fourth World Championship.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

The year of Lewis revolved as much around him off-track as it did on it. Sometimes, his on-track runs ended through a spate of Mercedes mechanical woes, which were as unexpected as they were frustrating after a flawless winter.

Then there were his spats with the press, his Snapchat antics in Suzuka and his otherwise nonchalant approach to some outside-the-car commitments. From the outside, it seemed Hamilton was less engaged this year until he needed to be, then made peace with the fact he’d done all he could do as the year went on.

The year was defined, performance-wise, by his starts – and how poor some of them were. A number of wins were lost as a result. Even so, he still beat Rosberg 10-9 in wins and 12-8 in poles. The area he beat Rosberg in a category he wouldn’t want is DNFs – that crushing engine failure in Malaysia joined with the pair’s clash in Spain.

Hamilton was his usual peerless self at times though, and his rally to end the season with four straight wins was admirable in the face of a roller coaster year up to that point. His drive at Abu Dhabi was tenacious and smart; he backed Rosberg into the field as his only shot of snatching the title. He remains F1’s most fascinating character and out-and-out fastest driver, if not its current World Champion.

F1 2016 Driver Review: Nico Rosberg

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP celebrates with his second place trophy after securing the F1 World Drivers Championship during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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As part of MotorSportsTalk’s review of the 2016 Formula 1 season, Luke Smith and Tony DiZinno look back on each driver’s year, starting today with World Champion Nico Rosberg.

Nico Rosberg

Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 6
Races: 21
Wins: 9
Podiums (excluding wins): 6
Pole Positions: 8
Fastest Laps: 6
Points: 385
Laps Led: 489
Championship Position: 1st

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Assuming that he doesn’t backtrack on his decision to retire from racing at any point in the future, 2016 will be remembered as the strongest year of Nico Rosberg’s motorsport career. Twice burned by championship defeats to Lewis Hamilton, the German bit back in 2016 with a new approach that yielded the ultimate reward.

Sure, his “one race at a time” rhetoric was boring; we like our champions to have some fire in their bellies. However, it worked wonders. Rosberg was no longer taking baggage and stress from race to race as he was through 2014 and 2015. Each race was a clean slate.

There were low moments, such as the clash with Hamilton on-track in Austria, but Rosberg recovered from his mid-season wobble nicely. Four second places is hardly the way to sign off a championship-winning season, but Rosberg cared little – he’d got the job done.

The greatest shame for 2017 is that we won’t get the chance to see if Rosberg can build on this breakthrough year and beat Hamilton again. Instead, he’s ‘one and done’; that’s it.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

In the last year of the current regulations, Nico Rosberg always needed to win this year’s World Championship if he was to ensure he ever won one in his career. Rare do you think of him as being 31 years old, in the sport 11 seasons, because he still has a fresh face look – albeit not as young as his initial “baby face” days with Williams, and the birth of a potential mullet to match his World Champion father Keke.

Alas, Rosberg had whatever momentum carried over from winning the last three races of last season, and opened the year with four wins on the trot. The 2016 version of Rosberg did not crack despite the contact with Lewis Hamilton in Spain, nor really, through Hamilton’s midsummer run of six wins in seven races. Only in Austria did it ever look like Rosberg was really on the back foot.

His starts helped propel him all season and that crucial post-summer run of form with wins in Spa, Monza, Singapore and Suzuka was what shifted the momentum back in his corner. He trailed Hamilton by as many as 19 points but by Suzuka was up 33. He brought it home as needed to the finish, and is a deserving World Champ.