Analysis: Has Mercedes F1 driver Rosberg found his inner devil?

What is behind Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg's recent run of Formula 1 form, that has enabled him to defeat team-mate Lewis Hamilton in straight fights in the last two grands prix? IAN PARKES analyses whether the German is getting mad and even

Analysis: Has Mercedes F1 driver Rosberg found his inner devil?

In forming an opinion of Nico Rosberg you get the impression of a relatively mild-mannered individual rarely prone to speaking ill of anyone or, in particular, any act of aggression.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has, however, suggested that in light of recent incidents with team-mate Lewis Hamilton a fire has been stoked within Rosberg that has allowed him to turn the tables on the three-time champion.

In the opening exchanges of the Japanese Grand Prix, and most notably at the first corner of the United States Grand Prix, not for the first time in their partnership, Rosberg was effectively muscled out of the way by Hamilton.

Perhaps, whether consciously or subconsciously, the usually cool, calm, collected Rosberg's ire has been raised.

Suzuka provided the kindling, Austin lit the blue touchpaper as Rosberg was as angry post-race as he has been at any stage of his time at Mercedes.

Since then, Rosberg has been the dominant force in Mexico and Brazil.

One suggestion has been that Hamilton has taken his eye off the ball, has enjoyed himself a little too much, and that this has allowed Rosberg to clinch near-perfect results in the last two races with pole-to-flag wins.

Hamilton has denied any lapses in his mental approach, although has conceded to struggling to fit in his customary amount of training given his workload that followed his latest title triumph.

As for Rosberg he, too, has found it difficult to pinpoint why, after being thumped 12-1 by Hamilton in qualifying over the first 13 races, he has suddenly chalked up the last five in a row, and now with back-to-back wins.

Rosberg has suggested it has all been about "putting together pieces of a jigsaw".

As Rosberg added: "It's complex. It's been a matter of digging into it, pushing on and trying to understand.

"For various reasons I've been trying to make improvements where I can, but there has not been one big thing I've changed. I've been going at it, and I've been making progress, which has been great."

In Japan, Hamilton edging polesitter Rosberg aside and nudging him off the Suzuka circuit proved crucial as the former went on to coast to victory by 18.9 seconds.

In Austin, given the conditions that dominated the event and the fact Rosberg forced his way back into the lead after dropping to fifth from first because of Hamilton's aggressive move at Turn 1, the manoeuvre was not as critical, but has seemingly provided a spark.

Rosberg's mistake later in the race ultimately proved to be the deciding factor between the duo, allowing Hamilton to take the chequered flag, and with it his third championship.

At the time Rosberg described Hamilton as being "extremely aggressive" and going "one step too far".

Asked of Wolff whether he had seen any extra resolve in Rosberg since the Turn 1 incident in Austin, Wolff provided his own personal insight.

"Yes, maybe," he replied.

"It's my own personal guess, but maybe a different, more proactive, dynamic approach."

Pressed further, Wolff added: "I've said he was driving in anger and I am not sure I am right, it is just what I see. I could be wrong.

"I think Nico is developing as a racing driver, and you can see all of those Turn 1 incidents had a similar pattern."

It is a suggestion, nothing more from Wolff, that Rosberg has found something inside himself that all drivers require if they are to ultimately become champion.

The final race of this season in Abu Dhabi will likely offer no further clues, and instead it will be the first few races of next season that will truly show if Rosberg possesses the inner devil required to finally win his first title.

shares
comments
Alex Wurz open to F1 team boss roles despite rejecting Manor

Previous article

Alex Wurz open to F1 team boss roles despite rejecting Manor

Next article

2016 F1 season will be 'difficult' for Lotus/Renault - Maldonado

2016 F1 season will be 'difficult' for Lotus/Renault - Maldonado
Load comments
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Plus

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences

Formula 1
Sep 17, 2021
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Plus

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021
Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season? Plus

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season?

OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects

Formula 1
Sep 15, 2021
The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence Plus

The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence

OPINION: Daniel Ricciardo has long been considered one of Formula 1’s elite drivers. But his struggles at McLaren since switching from Renault for 2021 have been painful to watch at times. Yet he’s recovered to banish those memories with a famous Monza win – built on a critically important foundation

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
How Verstappen is ruining his F1 title battle with Hamilton Plus

How Verstappen is ruining his F1 title battle with Hamilton

OPINION: The Italian GP clash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen followed a running theme in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight. Their close-quarters battles have often resulted in contact - and although Hamilton has shown a willingness to back off, Verstappen must learn to temper his aggression

Formula 1
Sep 14, 2021
Italian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Italian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Two drivers produced maximum-score performances as, for the second year in a row, Monza threw up an unpredictable result that left several others ruing what might have been

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Ricciardo was set for Monza F1 triumph even without Verstappen/Hamilton crash Plus

Why Ricciardo was set for Monza F1 triumph even without Verstappen/Hamilton crash

The clash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was the major flashpoint the 2021 Italian Grand Prix will be remembered for. Yet by this point, race leader Daniel Ricciardo had already done the hard work that would put him in position to end his and McLaren's lengthy win droughts, on a memorable afternoon in Monza

Formula 1
Sep 13, 2021
Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates Plus

Why Italian GP success is on for McLaren even if Verstappen dominates

For the second time in 2021, McLaren will line up for the start of a grand prix from the first row. It knows it has the chance of “glory” if things go well for Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris at the start of the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, but even if they just maintain their grid positions, signs from the rest of the Monza weekend suggest success is very possible for Formula 1’s other orange army

Formula 1
Sep 12, 2021