AT A TIME
The problem in Singapore was that he took this too far, and hardly completed any laps at all before qualifying. And Marina Bay is not a place where a driver can go into qualifying and expect to perform if he has not built up a proper picture of the limit over the course of the weekend.
For Hamilton, it seems this was inuenced by an unusual sense of distractedness throughout. One source close to him said: “He just didn’t turn up in any mood to work.” Meanwhile, insiders say Rosberg is genuinely different. For a start, he has driven more cleanly on track, especially when he has had places to recover. Mercedes executive director (technical) Paddy Lowe says:
Mercedes insiders add that Rosberg is also working better behind the scenes. He is well known for his technical approach to racing, but in the past this has sometimes been a weakness rather than a strength. He would dig down into too much detail and get lost, missing the bigger picture. And as the engineering team is a nite resource, that would affect his weekend.
A driver’s job is to focus on the big picture, on the things that make a difference to being faster. This is what people say is so impressive about working with Fernando Alonso, and Rosberg has learned that lesson this year. It seems the mantra is being put into practice here, too.
In fact, Rosberg has applied this Buddhist-like ‘focus on the now’ across the board: in his focus on his private family life with his wife and young daughter away from the track and in his refusal to get dragged into controversial subjects of debate in news conferences.
This focus has emerged organically, rather than through some grand plan, says a source close to Rosberg, and is perhaps attributable to a sense of control and ‘innerness’ that reects his origins as the son of a Finnish father and a German mother.
Rosberg is the introvert to Hamilton’s extrovert. Hamilton is emotional; Rosberg less obviously so. This also carries over into their on-track characters, where Hamilton is intuitive and extemporaneous; Rosberg more deliberate and controlled.
But while this year Hamilton has swung from one extreme to the next, Rosberg has found a middle way that has brought his strengths to the fore, while minimising his weaknesses.
Hamilton is still the faster, and you can’t deny that he has been desperately unlucky this season. But you can only control what you can control, and that ‘one race at a time’ philosophy may yet take Nico Rosberg, in 21 steps, all the way to the world championship.
Rosberg failed to maximise on Hamilton’s early exit in Malaysia, making contact with Räikkönen, receiving a ten-second penalty, and ultimately finishing third