Mercedes Should Reconsider Nico Rosberg For 2016

Before you get your daggers out, let me tell you that I am a Nico Rosberg fan. And I know that there are few of us compared to the millions who support and cheer for Lewis Hamilton. Maybe this is why there’s a gap of millions when it comes to their pay as well, but that post is for another day. (Read: Formula1 Is Cruel)

I have been a Rosberg fan before he jumped into the cockpit of a Mercedes racing car. And when he did, he showed the world that he was better than Michael Schumacher 2.0! He clinched Mercedes’s first pole position and race win after their return to Formula1, but that historic feat is now history too. (Read: Give Everyone Mercedes Engines)

If you’ve been reading my blog and listening to my podcast often, you’d know that when we witnessed Rosberg vs. Hamilton in the 2014 Formula1 Season, my support was skewed towards Rosberg. Don’t ask me why though! But you could ask me that despite being a Rosberg fan why I would support Mercedes’s decision to replace him in the 2016 Formula1 Season.

Over the years, I have gone from treating Formula1 as a business first and a sport later. Perils of my job, I guess! In Rosberg’s context, something seems to have changed since the radio ban on driver coaching last year and his collision with Hamilton at Spa. (Read: Nico And Nico-le)

While growing up in the world of Motorsport, I was always told that there were two kinds of drivers. First, the types who’d know what to do to go fast and they did so. Second, the types who needed to be told what to do to go fast and they did so. Basis radio exchanges and reports, it increasingly seems that Rosberg is the one who relied on coaching via radio messages than Hamilton. The third type of driver, if I may add, would be Pastor Maldonado! (Read: A Strategy Of Errors)

As for the clash in Spa, did that alter team dynamics in the Mercedes garage? Your guess is as good as mine. But Rosberg’s inability to challenge Hamilton on a consistent basis for the latter half of 2014 and for six out of the first seven races of 2015 has me worried. But should it worry Mercedes too? (Read: Did Bernie Call Mercedes…?)

The Mercedes driver pair of Hamilton-Rosberg has scored a podium at each of the races contested this year and many of these have been 1-2 finishes, the goal that every constructor races for. But Rosberg has looked a shadow of his 2014 self and has been unable to challenge Hamilton’s authority with as much ease as he could last season. Strangely enough, he seems content in finishing second and prefers to apply pressure on rather than attacking Hamilton. (Read: Formula One Is Funny)

From Mercedes’s point of view, it would be important to have a driver pair that can challenge each other to better results (yes, I too wonder what would be better than a 1-2 result every race!). With Rosberg unable to rise to the Hamilton challenge in 2015, maybe it is time to look elsewhere. This is important to keep Hamilton honest and grounded especially in a season where he’s dominating. (Read: Drive It Like You Stole It)

And then of course, Mercedes should plan their succession. Who next do they seem most able to lead a team after Hamilton? We’ve seen how Ferrari are still reportedly feeling the vacuum of Schumacher’s departure in 2006 (2007 was a lucky win for them) and this is also where the driver market could open up if a Bottas or Hulkenberg are considered as Rosberg’s replacement. For those who would like to point out that he already has a valid contract, Formula1 has time and again proved that when necessary, a contract is only a piece of paper!

Rosberg’s strength has been his consistency, but maybe his overly consistent self is unable to visualize him finishing higher than second, who knows. And after all, Formula1 is a ruthless business. If you don’t believe me, you can ask an Alguersuari or Buemi!

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

9 comments On Mercedes Should Reconsider Nico Rosberg For 2016

  • I can understand were you’re coming from but for a fact it ain’t Rosberg that is bad, it’s Hamilton that is too good, he got most of it, 1 lap speed, race pace, overtaking skills and so on… I can’t see anyone beating him, Rosberg is better than Bottas and Hulkenberg.

  • You use way too many exclamation marks! It’s very irritating! and unprofessional! an exclamation mark is a lazy man’s adjective!

  • Yea true whatever u said, but look at it from the constructors point of view, maybe they dont want a competitive driver, so then they will have to deal with more clashes and controversies on and off track.. Maybe they are happy with the second finishing Rosberg.. Just like the old Ferrari days when Barrichello was their No 2 driver.. And Nico is happy being the wingman, so why not just let it be to ease off the tension.. Maybe they won’t look for another driver..

  • Whilst I agree with most of your post I do believe that Nico could only keep pace with Lewis through that data and being told. However as much as I don’t like Nico due to his underhand tactics last year, do you not think that Lewis may of just upped his game and has always had that bit extra? I mean I don’t think wheel to wheel Nico could pass Lewis anyway as seen last year.
    Just a thought.

  • Two words come to mind: Rubens Barichello.
    The designated, reliable No.2 driver – It’s a tried and tested model, really. Nothing wrong. And if Nico has resigned to his fate (and the second step of the podium), so be it. In my opinion, it is a far better situation that the unpleasant situations caused last year when the drivers were battling (on and off the track) – not to mention the countless PR disasters too.

  • In many ways I think Nico is the perfect compliment to Lewis. They know eachother and are a similar age – they have a history of friendship – its a very cosey situation for a brand like Mercedes. Lewis has the star power but Nico is intelligent, polite and literate. And he is also quick and fairly dependable. Does a team want a drive like Lewis constantly pressured and challenged? The dont need it at the moment and if the others speed up Lewis will still have the burning desire to win. It might be that they need a stronger driver to tie up the constructors but even then there arent many who could do a much better job than Nico…a few perhaps – but worth destablising the team? I get a sense Mercedes are doing as much as they can to come across a friendly team – they dont have quite the same ruthlessness of McLaren for example…I wouldnt mind seeing Hulk or Bottas in there tbh but as a Lewis fan I appreciate Nico. A more fiery character would clash with Lewis and be a pain…(IMO)…

  • Very interesting post. I personally wondered why the contract extension for multiple years when Nico has always been the one to do things that create drama with Lewis, causing the team management undue consternation (and press work) and scarring the brand. And what can you say about a driver who is highly dependent on his team-mate’s Friday and Saturday setup/data in order to try and beat said team-mate? Is it not a concern that Nico consistently needs to know about “the other car” in order to discern what steps he should take to improve his race pace? Is that helping take the team forward? Nico has far more downside than up. It doesn’t help that Lewis ramped up his on-track game for 2015 with complete dominance and Mercedes showing their understanding of his value and leadership by the size and depth of his contract. That message should seem loud and clear to Nico. After all, he is quite cerebral.

  • People Only See What They Want To See.
    Older Drivers Take Longer To Excel Than Their Younger Counterparts – So What ? – That Does Not Mean They Are Dead ( No Pun Intended, Whatsoever ).
    Have You Checked The Points Statistics From Both MERCS Drivers In Their Very Last Thirteen ( Not 3, 13 ) Races Together In 2012 ?
    As I Said, People Only See What They Want To See.

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