After 4 races of the 2016 season, Nico Rosberg led Lewis Hamilton by 43 points. By the end of round 12, Nico now trails Lewis Hamilton by 19 points. Nico has had some poor performances (at least by the standards of his opening 4 races and the team), while Lewis has regained his stride.
How has it gone wrong for the only driver capable of challenging Lewis Hamilton?
Firstly, the strained relationship nearly reached a breaking point at Spain. A double crash, where both Nico and Lewis were at fault led to a near breakdown between the two. Mercedes decided to continue to allow their drivers to race. At Monaco, a traditional strong circuit for Nico was to be a bad race for him. He could not get the pace on a wet but drying track and lost ground. A win at Baku provided him with a brief respite. Since then, it’s been downhill for Nico.
At Austria and Germany, his cornering would cost him dearly. A repeat of Spain occurred at the Red Bull Ring on the last lap, when Nico and Lewis collided. The damage to his wing forced him to limp home in 4th and almost forced Mercedes to issue team orders. In Germany, Nico Rosberg nearly drove Max Verstappen off at the hairpin. This resulted in a 5-second penalty. To compound that, Mercedes waited nearly 8 seconds at the pit stop before changing tyres. At the British Grand Prix, with the team breaking the rules of pit-to-driver communication, the penalty cost Nico a 2nd place finish as he was demoted to 3rd.
He is not capable of handling the pressure of a title challenge. It’s now showing in his racing. Canada, Monaco and Austria were examples of poor racing. Despite having a far superior machine, Max Verstappen easily held him off. His starts have deteriorated. It was at the start where he lost the German Grand Prix. Frustration beyond the norm can be heard through his radio conversations with the team.
All said and done it’s only a mental blockage that is holding him back more than other incidents. It hampers his performance, which needs to stop. He has 9 races to get back on track, and after 2 years of being the runner up, it’s time he steps up and wins that elusive World Championship.