AT A TIME

F1 Racing - - “ONE RACE 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 inuenced 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 reects 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

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