The old adage “there are no points for qualifying” is one that has always rung true in Formula 1. Ultimately, it does not matter if you are in the form of your life on Friday and Saturday if you cannot win the race on Sunday, for that is when the points are awarded.
So Nico Rosberg will know that the job is not yet done in Brazil. Having not won a race since the German Grand Prix in July, and now trailing Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 24 points at the top of the drivers’ championship, he needed a big weekend at Interlagos to keep his hopes alive.
So this is when he must now make it count. After suffering five straight defeats at the hands of Hamilton, Rosberg looked weaker than ever following the United States Grand Prix. However, he has responded in very impressive fashion this weekend. Whenever Lewis has cranked up the heat at Interlagos, Nico has had an answer. It is a fire that has been lacking in recent weeks.
Winning today’s race would not exactly bring Rosberg back into the hunt for the title. Assuming Hamilton comes second, the gap would drop to 17 points once again, meaning that finishing second in Abu Dhabi would still be enough for Lewis.
The double points round has really changed the shape of this championship fight, so much so that Hamilton would have been crowned champion today with victory under normal circumstances. Alas, we’ll have to wait another two weeks to have our winner.
Although victory in Brazil won’t help Rosberg, beating Hamilton certainly will. Psychologically, it will remind him that he can outrace his teammate in a straight fight at the front (something he has done just once this year, at Monaco). It will give him a big boost heading to Abu Dhabi, and leave Hamilton needing a top two finish to be champion. The pressure will be greater. One mistake or problem could prove to be costly.
It would be a real statement of intent from Rosberg, too. If he can win the race after topping every session, perhaps even posting the fastest lap along the way, it would be a sweep that will prove he has what it takes to be F1 world champion.
Either way, the fight at the front has the makings of another Interlagos classic. Where titles have been won and lost, the 2014 season will enjoy its last prologue before entering one final battle in Abu Dhabi at the end of the month.
You can watch the Brazilian Grand Prix live on CNBC from 10:30a ET today.