Let’s get one thing straight – I don’t mean the above literally. With only 4 races of the season completed, there is a lot of racing to still be had throughout the field, with many a twist and turn along the way. But even though it may seem like a silly question, allow me to explain why it may actually be a valid one.
Nico seems to have a serious problem. I’m sure that much is obvious to everyone. Throughout 2014 and the start of 2015, Nico has moaned and grumbled about various things he isn’t happy with from the other side of the garage. The fact that he has found something new to complain about following the Chinese Grand Prix, will not be a surprise to many. But the way he went about it certainly was. After a strange outburst in the postrace press conference, while sat next to Lewis, many have been asking what is going on in the Germans head.
One could argue it started way back at Spa last year, where Rosberg ran into the back of the sister Mercedes while fighting for the lead on lap 2 of the race. Since that infamous incident, Lewis has won 8 of the last 10 grand prix, while Rosberg has not recorded a single pole position in that time. Lewis has had Nico beat – and the signs of strain are starting to show. After frustratingly missing out on Pole on Saturday by the smallest of margins, Rosberg yet again bemoaned his luck, and realised he was facing the very real prospect of another Hamilton procession. And so it turned out to be – Lewis pulled a comfortable gap over him, which at its smallest was around 2 seconds and never really looked under threat.
The same couldn’t be said for Nico though – an interesting race saw him saving his tyres, whilst having to manage the gap to the ever present Ferrari of Vettel. He got the job done – but then the cracks started to show.
“It’s interesting to hear from you Lewis that you were just thinking about yourself with the pace” said Nico in the press conference, after sitting through Lewis’s explanation of the easy race win he had just cruised to. “Unnecessarily that was compromising my race, because driving slower than was maybe necessary at the beginning of stints meant that Sebastian was very close to me and that opened up the opportunity for Sebastian to try that early pit-stop, to try and jump me.” This marked the first time in history that any competitive athlete had accused the race winner of being too slow, and that they wanted them to speed up. All joking aside – it was a strange sight watching Rosberg squirm next to Lewis, as the latter sat smirking along with Vettel, who also probably could not believe what he was hearing.
And this is why I pose the question: Is the season over? Nico is already acting like he is on the ropes, and has only served to show the world that Lewis has got under his skin. His own team may as well have said as much when they absolved Hamilton of any wrong doing. So can he come back from this latest setback? The truth is it is looking less and less likely that Nico has an answer for Lewis, whether it be mentally, or just in outright pace. Despite a strong showing this weekend at Bahrain, where only a brake issue stopped him from finishing higher, you couldn’t help but feel Lewis still had the upper hand all weekend. There is no doubt that Lewis now has the psychological edge, and if Rosberg doesn’t halt the slide in the next few races, he could be in danger of being out of the title far too soon.