TIME

F1 Racing - - “ONE RACE AT A TIME” -

Nico Ros­berg has de­vel­oped a mantra. He is tak­ing the sea­son race-by-race, he says. This is how he has an­swered ev­ery sin­gle ques­tion about the cham­pi­onship since the sec­ond event of the sea­son in Bahrain. There he won his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive 2016 grand prix, in what would be­come a se­quence of four straight vic­to­ries.

He’s been us­ing his mantra as a pair of psy­cho­log­i­cal blink­ers to keep him fo­cused on the mat­ter at hand: deect­ing the pres­sures that come with com­pet­ing against a man like Lewis Hamil­ton. It has been adopted rigidly, even when the odd slight shift has ex­posed cracks that show its in­ter­nal work­ings.

In Italy, for ex­am­ple, Ros­berg ad­mit­ted for the rst time why he was stick­ing so rigidly to ‘The Mantra’. It en­abled him, he said, to stay fo­cused on the mat­ter at hand, rather than be dis­tracted by uc­tu­a­tions in form. He specically men­tioned that he’d gone from lead­ing the cham­pi­onship by 43 points af­ter win­ning the rst four grands prix, to be­ing 19 points be­hind af­ter Hamil­ton’s run of six wins in seven races, fol­low­ing their mu­tu­ally elim­i­nat­ing rst-lap crash in Spain. From Monaco, Hamil­ton went on a roll that car­ried him through to Ger­many as F1’s sole win­ner, with only Ros­berg’s vic­tory in Baku (where Hamil­ton was no­tably off his A-game) break­ing the se­quence.

“If I think about 43 points go­ing to 19 I would lose sleep over that,” Ros­berg said. “So I just don’t think about it and en­joy win­ning the races.”

There was another slight shift af­ter his vic­tory in Ja­pan put him 33 points ahead. This time Ros­berg ad­mit­ted he was “well aware” of the gap, but added: “There is still a long way to go. And Lewis is still Lewis and he is al­ways go­ing to be tough to beat and he is go­ing to give it ev­ery­thing so there’s no point think­ing about that be­cause it is work­ing quite well to stay in the mo­ment.”

It cer­tainly is. Or at least it is on pa­per. Notwith­stand­ing Hamil­ton’s prob­lems, Ros­berg ap­pears to have driven a bet­ter sea­son – com­pared to Hamil­ton – than ever be­fore.

In Sin­ga­pore, Hamil­ton might have been ham­pered by a hy­draulic fail­ure, but Ros­berg put in the per­for­mance of his ca­reer with a dom­i­nant drive to vic­tory

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