Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 6
Podiums (excluding wins): 9
Pole Positions: 7
Fastest Laps: 5
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.