F1 2015 Driver Review: Nico Rosberg

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Nico Rosberg

Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 6
Races: 19
Wins: 6
Podiums (excluding wins): 9
Pole Positions: 7
Fastest Laps: 5
Points: 322
Laps Led: 349
Championship Position: 2nd

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Nico Rosberg’s 2015 campaign lacked the fire or spark of last season as he carried the weight of his loss in Abu Dhabi with him all the way until the United States GP in Austin. It took a second championship defeat to wake him from his slumber and bring the very best out of him – it was too little, too late.

The year started with a string of good but far from brilliant displays, struggling to match Hamilton in either qualifying or the race. Rosberg blew his chance to get back in the title fight in Hungary by tangling with Daniel Ricciardo, and from then on, it was all about Lewis. Rosberg was unlucky, sure, but the 69-point gulf at the top of the standings is fair.

From Japan onwards, he found his feet in qualifying to put together a string of six straight pole positions. After snapping again in Austin after Hamilton’s move at turn one, Rosberg looked to be in a better frame of mind in the final three races of the year as he recorded his first F1 hat-trick. He also seemed to work better with the updates on the Mercedes W06 Hybrid ahead of 2016.

Heading into the new season, Rosberg appears to be in a far better place than he was even a month ago. With three wins and six poles in a row under his belt, he proved late on that he can beat Hamilton in a straight fight. Now he just needs to do it when there’s something to play for.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

I’ve long maintained Rosberg is the 2010s equivalent of say a Giancarlo Fisichella or a Jarno Trulli, a tremendous qualifier without the divine race chops to truly contend for a World Championship. Flash back 12 months and you’ll see nearly the same words written here about the German. Once again, Rosberg rose to the occasion only when it seemed there was nothing to play for, other than attempting to gain a psychological edge into the winter back against his teammate in the second chassis.

It goes back to the start of the season. Rosberg won at Spain and Austria, convincingly, and lucked into a Monaco win. At no point did it really seem he was able to match Hamilton toe-for-toe in the title chase, as he did for most of 2014.

Quite honestly though, I think Austin may have marked a turning point for him. Rosberg’s facial expression was the human version of Grumpy Cat, wanting to be anywhere but sitting there, as Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were joking around and trading respective World Championship stories.

Internally, I think Rosberg was burning, and then came out blazing the last three races. He has the fire, the speed, and he has the comfort level with the car… at times. If he can maintain all those elements consistently, then and only then can he beat Hamilton in the same car.

IndyCar’s ‘Phoenix’ flying into 2023 season: Romain Grosjean enjoying the pilot’s life

IndyCar Romain Grosjean pilot
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The IndyCar driver known as “The Phoenix” already has taken flight before the 2023 season, and newly licensed pilot Romain Grosjean also got a head start on the opener.

Fulfilling a dream several years in the making, the Andretti Autosport plunged into aviation training over the offseason. Since beginning with online studying last August, Grosjean quickly progressed to earning his licenses for multiengine planes and instrument ratings while completing 115 hours of flight time.

He has landed twice at Albert Whitted Airport, whose primary runway also doubles as the front straightaway on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg street course.

“Just to land on the start-finish line, that was pretty cool,” Grosjean said during IndyCar Preseason Content Days ahead of the Feb. 2-3 test at The Thermal Club. “The air traffic control guy was like, “Yeah, left on Acre Five, turn, and then back. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s the last corner of the racetrack, I’ll take it and go back to the pit lane. He was like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, that’s true.’ So it was quite funny.”

Grosjean, 36, said he had wanted to become a pilot since he was 30 but was discouraged by Europe’s complicated and time-consuming licensing process (“to go to ground school twice a week, and with our life, it’s impossible”). He was inspired again last year by (now former) teammate Alexander Rossi, who flew to some 2022 races after earning his license a couple of years ago.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” said Grosjean, who had grown “bored of waiting in the airports.”

He plans to fly to nearly all the races this year (“if the weather is good enough, I’ll be flying”) and jokes about being “commercial by the end of the year, so then I can take Roger (Penske). Roger can pay me to fly him around to races if things go bad with racing.”

Grosjean’s social media has been filled with posts about his new hobby, which afforded him the opportunity recently to take his wife to Key West for lunch from their home in the Miami area. The trip took 37 minutes there and 41 minutes on return and highlighted why Grosjean loves flying: “Freedom. Freedom to go anywhere you want, anytime you want. It’s the beauty of it. We can go to the Bahamas for a day if we want to. Anywhere. I think that’s just great to know that you can do whatever you want.”

It’s reminiscent of the cross-country trip across the Midwest in an RV that Grosjean took with his family during the summer of his 2021 rookie season.

“There’s one thing that I told my kids, and I told my friend about America, and for me, that’s the biggest difference between Europe and here, is here everything is possible,” said Grosjean (whose “Phoenix” nickname was derived from a brush with death in his final Formula One start). “If you have the wish, if you give yourself the possibility of doing it, everything is possible. It is different in Europe. Much more boundaries on the way. Much more steps that you need to do in a certain order. But if you want to be extraordinary (in the United States), if you want to do something different, you don’t need to do those steps because you can work through.

“Yeah, I like doing things, and when I do them, I like doing them well. But here I think just the opportunity of driving the RV, flying planes, for my kids to do whatever they want to do, we love that here. Yeah, it’s been the best discovery for us.”

The Swiss-born Frenchman already has flown himself to a race this year, jetting up the Florida coast for his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut last month. It was his debut as a Lamborghini factory driver, and his new deal will continue with the Twelve Hours of Sebring and possibly the Petit Le Mans while he also helps develop the automaker’s new hybrid prototype (LMDh) for next year.

Grosjean, who finished a disappointing 13th in the 2022 points standings with one podium for Andretti in his first full season, said IndyCar will remain his priority in 2024.

But he hopes the IndyCar schedule will afford racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance races and perhaps another his longest plane flight yet — a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed like that we get the weekend off from IndyCar,” said Grosjean, noting that 10 IndyCar drivers were in the Rolex 24. “I think it would make a lot of sense. I think for both series it’s amazing. If we can get Le Mans, it’s also amazing because it’s just cool.

“I remember Mario flying across the Atlantic doing Monaco and the Indy 500, and those guys, they were racing everywhere, Formula 3, Formula 2, Formula 1. They were doing the races in opening of the Formula 1 race, and I think that’s very cool for us. So yeah, looking forward to the project. There’s going to be a lot of development coming on. By the time we finish the IndyCar season, the LMDh will be here in the States, and that’s when I’m going to spend a lot of time on it.”