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: deecting 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 specically 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