Rosberg has won the last seven races and is the man to beat for the Championship. However his closest rivals, Hamilton and Vettel, have been plagued with issues in the opening four rounds of the season and to write them off now would be lunacy…
Only three drivers in history have managed what Nico Rosberg has done.
The German driver joins a select group of Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher who all started a season with four or more successive wins.
Rosberg also joins compatriots Schumacher and Vettel, as well as Italian Alberto Ascari, with his seven-win streak which started with the Mexican GP in 2015. If he manages two more wins, he’ll equal Vettel; if he wins in Spain, Monaco and Canadian GPs, he’ll hold the record.
He is also now the ‘most successful’ Formula One driver not to have won the Driver’s Championship, after winning more races than the previous owner of this accolade Sir Stirling Moss. Sir Stirling won’t be rushing to change the record books anytime soon – after all, this is not the first time a driver has taken the honour from him, only to hand it back to Sir Stirling after going on to win the World Championship …
The history books also show that no driver has ever won six races in a row, or three opening rounds of a season, and not gone on to win the World Championship. Surely 2016 will be his year?
Not if Lewis Hamilton has anything to say about it…
We mustn’t get too carried away with ourselves. Rosberg’s two rivals for the Championship are triple- and quadruple-champions who have had more than their fair share of reliability issues and race incidents this year. We are yet to see a wheel-to-wheel, three-way fight between them.
Rosberg has been in the right place at the right time to capitalise on the misfortunes of Hamilton and Vettel, allowing him a bit of breathing space to gain a 43 point lead.
2nd, poor getaway
3rd, poor getaway
7th, PU failure in Qualifying
2nd, started 10th after PU issue
3rd, wrong tyre choice
DNS, PU failure
2nd, incident with Kvyat
DNF, incident with Kvyat
Reliability problems have lost championships before – just look at Nico Rosberg’s season in 2014.
However this is the longest F1 season in history – we still have 17 races to go. And if anyone is capable of mounting a comeback and blitzing the field, it’s Lewis Hamilton.
But does Rosberg now have the psychological edge?
Hamilton undoubtedly had the edge on Rosberg in the mental stakes last year. In the first three races Hamilton appeared unperturbed by the increasing gap to Rosberg. It appeared he was treating the 2016 season as a marathon and not a sprint, with the inner confidence that he would come back and dominate to take the Championship.
Russia saw the mask slip slightly, and Hamilton suddenly looked less than comfortable. Post race remarks about an engineer swap and defensive body language hinted at tensions starting to boil. If his plan was to let Rosberg take the lead and then relentlessly reel him back in, it looks like it’s all starting to go wrong for the three time World Champion.
Is it Rosberg’s to lose? Time will tell. Hamilton has not only equalled hero Ayrton Senna’s win total, he’s eclipsed it. Neither he or Vettel are out of this fight just yet, but both have the one of the biggest uphill battles in F1 history to climb.
2016 Russian GP results
- Nico Rosberg MERCEDES
- Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES
- Kimi Raikkonen FERRARI
- Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS
- Felipe Massa WILLIAMS
- Fernando Alonso MCLAREN
- Kevin Magnussen RENAULT
- Romain Grosjean HAAS
- Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA
- Jenson Button MCLAREN
- Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL
- Carlos Sainz Jr TORO ROSSO
- Jolyon Palmer RENAULT
- Marcus Ericsson SAUBER
- Danill Kvyat RED BULL
- Felipe Nasr SAUBER
- Esteban Gutierrez HAAS
- Pascal Wehrlein MANOR
DNF: Max Verstappen; Sebastien Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg, Rio Haryanto
The Spanish GP takes place on 15th May