Ros­berg takes five

F1 Racing - - FINISHING STRAIGHT -

Ros­berg’s win­ning streak con­tin­ues as he over­pow­ers his team-mate for a fifth con­sec­u­tive vic­tory

When a driver ad­mits that he and his team have cho­sen “the safest strat­egy” for a grand prix, you know they haven’t ex­actly had their tough­estever day at the ofce.

So it was for Nico Ros­berg, com­fort­able, com­posed win­ner of the 2016 Bahrain GP, now a back-to-back vic­tor this year and au­thor of a ve­r­ace win­ning streak stretch­ing back to Mex­ico last Novem­ber. Can this be the foun­da­tion for his rst ti­tle? Cer­tainly he couldn’t have hoped for more from the rst two grands prix of the sea­son.

But ques­tions still re­main as to the fundaments of Ros­berg’s vic­to­ries. At the end of last year, as he rat­tled in a Mex­i­coBrazil-Abu Dhabi hat-trick, we won­dered if his achieve­ments had been the re­sult of su­pe­rior per­for­mance or whether they were more the con­se­quence of a post-ti­tle lift­ing off the gas by the hith­erto dom­i­nant Lewis Hamil­ton. This year it must be noted that both of Ros­berg’s wins, im­mac­u­late though they have been, have fol­lowed start-line prob­lems for Hamil­ton.

The char­i­ta­ble will say that the in­nately an­a­lyt­i­cal Ros­berg will have un­der­stood the po­ten­tial for mishap in­tro­duced by the new­for-2016 sin­gle-clutch start pro­ce­dure, and pre­pared him­self to be best prac­tised for the change. Those who be­lieve Hamil­ton more gifted will sim­ply think: “Wait till Lewis nails it.”

These two re­main terrically closely matched, with the slight­est ad­van­tage in any area of per­for­mance, be it me­chan­i­cal, psy­cho­log­i­cal, emo­tional, enough to tip the bal­ance in ei­ther man’s favour. For the past two sea­sons that edge has favoured Hamil­ton, par­tic­u­larly so in 2015.

This year… well, let’s just say that when the 21 races are done, maybe we’ll look back and re­alise that the tiny start-pro­ce­dure ad­van­tage Ros­berg found over the 2015-16 off-sea­son had been sufcient to see him to a world ti­tle. Maybe.

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