Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 6
Podiums (excluding wins): 10
Pole Positions: 11
Fastest Laps: 5
Laps Led: 483
Championship Position: 2nd
Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)
Heading into 2014, Nico Rosberg was my tip for the title. After spending many years in the shadows, he finally had the car underneath him to challenge for the championship, and if Lewis Hamilton pushed too hard, Rosberg would be the man to pick up the pieces.
And for a while, it seemed that Nico would follow in his father’s footsteps and become world champion. His victory at the German Grand Prix capped off a perfect period that had seen him sign a new long-term deal with Mercedes, get married and see Germany win the FIFA World Cup.
However, that would be the peak of his season. Just one week later, he was left fuming in Hungary after Hamilton refused to let him past despite the team asking him to do so, eventually beating Rosberg to a podium finish. Having stewed over the summer, Nico went to Spa with a point to prove, resulting in the on-track clash between the two Mercedes drivers.
And from then on, he was always on the back foot. Hamilton had won the psychological battle, and Rosberg simply couldn’t match his teammate. His final bid in Abu Dhabi was one hampered by an engine issue, but he showed resilience by willing the car home.
Nico will be back for another shot at the title in 2015, but he knows that it will take an almighty effort to get the better of Hamilton.
Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)
To be honest, heading into this year I’d always thought of Rosberg in the ilk of a Giancarlo Fisichella or a Jarno Trulli – a very good qualifier who on his day could be brilliant, but who had all-too-few “brilliant” days. This season was clearly Rosberg’s best yet in already nine in Formula One dating to his 2006 rookie year, but it still lacked the final degree of completion that Hamilton’s year featured.
The obvious flaw was his inability to convert pole positions into race wins. He won 11 poles but only managed to translate three of those into victories. One was controversial – Monaco following his qualifying stop – while the other two were authoritative, both in his home race at Germany and Brazil when he needed a win to maintain realistic title hopes at Abu Dhabi.
I thought Rosberg lost the mind games as much as the on-track battle this season, though. The back-to-back races of Budapest and Spa were mental psych-outs that probably pushed him to the edge. At Austin he really looked a defeated man. Still, he was resilient. He rose to the occasion in Sao Paulo, and he brought it home in Montreal and Abu Dhabi with his car failing in both races, in two of the most valiant drives of the year. He was gracious in defeat, and perhaps needed to go through the rigor of losing a title battle before he can win one.