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.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III