- Mar 22, 2014
And thus the Nico Rosberg Consolation Tour™ continues.
Taking pole for the fifth race in succession, the German was able to deliver once again on his promise with his second straight victory since the US GP – coincidentally, the race where his title hopes were officially extinguished.
Compared to the man who spun out in the final laps in Austin, the Rosberg of recent times is looking much like a renewed man. Back is the fast-but-composed driver who gave teammate Lewis Hamilton such a challenge in last year’s championship fight, and Sunday was no different, with the Brit unable to find a way past after his customary first-corner challenge was dealt with.
Whether this run has actually done anything for the German’s battered ego is a question only he can answer, but it’s certainly added some intrigue to what was supposed to be a three-race victory lap for his teammate. So read on for a look at the latest saga of Hamilton v. Rosberg, and some of the other big talking-points from the 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix.
You’d think with both championships locked up we might get a break from controversy at Mercedes. Eh… Not quite.
Throughout a weekend which saw him play second-fiddle to teammate Nico Rosberg for the second race in a row, Lewis Hamilton seemed more perturbed than a Monegasque national waking to find his car sideswiped by a purple Zonda, first no-showing the post-qualifying photo-op on Saturday, before criticising his team’s refusal to put him on a contrarian strategy on Sunday.
Speaking on the podium post-race with Sky’s Martin Brundle, Hamilton relayed his frustration at having no available “plan B” to challenge Rosberg, saying: ““if there are any other strategies, let’s do it, let’s take a risk, let’s do whatever” and they’re like “look after the tyres”, and I’m like “No, I’m racing””.
Given Rosberg had the pace advantage heading into the race – and certainly seemed to reinforce that at the start – it’s fair to suggest Hamilton’s closeness was helped by the German simply managing his own race. However, from a fan’s perspective Hamilton still brings up a good point. Mercedes already has its name on both 2015 trophies, as far as the car and the drivers go, there is nothing left to prove. If Rosberg needs help beating Sebastian Vettel to second in the driver’s standings even with the advantage of pole, that shouldn’t become Hamilton’s problem. Team boss Toto Wolff has on several occasions made known his willingness to let his drivers battle on track, not letting them do the same on strategy when there is nothing of consequence at stake is equally frustrating. If Hamilton believes he had the pace to win, let him prove it under such circumstances. It can make the difference between a race like Sunday’s being considered “boring” (as it was by many) or entirely memorable, and more of the latter is something the sport could definitely do with.
As has been the case all season for Williams, even when they have a banner day, they can’t seem to get everything right.
After securing third in the constructor’s standings for the second-straight year, news broke that Felipe Massa’s eighth would not stand after breaching the FIA’s regulations on pre-race tyre pressures. And while Williams have lodged an appeal, they look unlikely to be granted the reprieve granted to Mercedes at Monza, with the FIA having closed the loophole used by the latter pertaining to testing procedure.
In the long run, the outcome of Williams’ appeal will have no serious impact – the team sealed third with Valtteri Bottas’ fifth regardless – but it is fascinating that these sort of cock-ups keep happening at the Grove-based outfit. Williams is a team who for two years now, have been on the cusp of returning to the winners’ circle, and it’s unforced errors like these that could cost them, should that opportunity present itself. As the team shifts its focus to 2016, perhaps a look at who is calling the shots is in order, because if they do manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, they are sure to never hear the end of it.
For a team that didn’t get its 2015 chassis on the track until the final test in Barcelona, it’s safe to say Force India have made the most of a difficult situation.
With Nico Hulkenberg’s sixth-place in Brazil, Vijay Mallya’s underdog team has managed to cement fifth place in the constructor’s standings, marking the best finish in the team’s eight-year history.
It’s a massive accomplishment for a team that has had to walk a financial tightrope in recent times, with reports in October of the team asking for an advance on their 2016 payments. Moving up from 2014’s sixth may not seem like the biggest leap to most, but the extra cash could make all the difference with the current payout structure of F1 as it is.
The team deserves particular credit for the job it has done since introducing the B-spec version of the VJM08 at Silverstone in July – in the preceding eight races, the team averaged a meagre 3.875 points per race, but have over doubled that since, with 89 points in the last 10 races.
On the downside, it’s apparent the Silverstone outfit can’t afford to rest on its laurels if it is to maintain its position in 2016. With the expected increase in performance from McLaren-Honda and a possible works budget for Lotus, they’ll have to punch even higher above their weight financially. Deputy-team principal Bob Fernley and technical director Andrew Green have shown what they can do on a limited budget with the VJM08B, the challenge next year will be putting a quality car on the track from the get-go in Melbourne.
Were Mercedes right to disallow Hamilton’s request for a different strategy? Is there an underlying problem with race-management at Williams? Can Force India hope to consolidate their holdings in 2016? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.