Mercedes F1 team principle, Toto Wolff, is confident Nico Rosberg has the speed and racing craft to challenge his team mate, Lewis Hamilton, in 2015. This is despite Hamilton’s apparent superior form that has made Rosberg look second best.
Rosberg isn’t slow by any means as he proved during much of 2014, in 2015 Hamilton is faster and seems to have raised his game to another level. Hamilton is currently 27 points clear of Rosberg wining three out of the four races so far this season.
Rosberg has even come out second best to the resurgent Ferrari when Vettel won in Malaysia. However Toto Wolff is looking at things differently, in a recent interview he said,
“When you look at their performance in qualifying in China, for example, there were just four hundredths between them. That is not someone who is clearly beaten”.
During the Bahrain GP Rosberg, who was running second to Hamilton, complained to his team that Hamilton was driving too slow and urged him to speed up. After the race, which Hamilton won, Rosberg was furious claiming he had been held up by his team mate.
The real question is if Rosberg was the quicker of the two why didn’t he overtake Hamilton? He certainly didn’t play the shrinking violet last season, when there was an opportunity to overtake he went for it.
But the level playing field isn’t so level this year, Hamilton’s dominant form in qualifying and his controlled race victories is a sign that Rosberg lacks the ability to raise his game.
That isn’t to say Rosberg is lacking in raw speed, but its finding the extra tenth of a second that makes all the difference between wining and loosing. As Wolff indicated,
“That tiny little edge was enough for Lewis to make it on pole and control the race. It could have been completely different if Nico had been on pole”.
Bahrain showed Rosberg has been rattled by Hamilton’s form so far this season, for Rosberg its now a mental challenge.
“I fully expect him to come bouncing back. I don’t know when it will happen, but he’s always going to be there, no doubt. Anyway, between Lewis and Nico, I expect it to continue like it’s done, and then Ferrari is not part of the equation.”