The 2016 Formula One season has ended and it gave us a new Champion Nico Rosberg, only the second guy in the history of Formula One to have been a champion just like his father. A lot has been written about Rosberg ever since the V6 Turbo era arrived propelling him into a championship fight with his Mercedes teammate and old friend Lewis Hamilton.
Since the start of the 2014 season, the childhood friends soon turned foe and their relationship went south. While Hamilton went for the title using his speed and natural talent, Rosberg fought him with his consistency and technicality and the ability to nurse the car better.
For two years in a row Hamilton beat his competition and more particularly in 2015 when he whitewashed the German en route to his third world title. But finally Rosberg emerged from the shadow of arguably the fastest driver on the grid to lift the title.
Was he lucky? Of course he was. While Hamilton’s unreliability early in the season meant the German accumulated as many points as possible, the Brit’s Spa engine stockpile penalty meant he was able to cut down the deficit. And at the end of the season when the Red Bulls were finally able to defeat the Mercs in race pace (or at least the 2nd Merc on track) they always dropped the ball. Be it Austin or Brazil or even Abu Dhabi, Rosberg had luck on his side at most of the time this season if not at all year.
But is he a deserving World Champion? By every definition of the word, yes. Before I even begin how he deserves his title there’s one fact that needs to be cleared and it’s the fact that, as Alonso puts it, it’s difficult to be Hamilton’s team mate in the context that he is very fast and he does not makes mistakes and has great influence off the track.
It requires great mental pressure to fight for the wins and the championship and add to the fact that you are driving against Hamilton, who is as difficult as it gets with his performance on the track. To beat Hamilton fair and square in a race is itself a feat for Rosberg and for that he deserves every bit of respect.
The worst thing for a driver is to give his everything yet being unable to overhaul his competitor and even worse is if he’s your teammate for you have to shake hands and smile and share a garage when all you want to do is punch him in the face.
The predicament would have been no lesser for Nico Rosberg, who lived through all of the above each year for the past two years. To come back after being beaten by his teammate 3 years in row and start the season again requires a battle not only with your enemy but also with your own self. To remain motivated every racing week having lost the week prior, year after year, requires resilience. Heck, Vettel could not do so for even more than a year when partnering Ricciardo in 2014.
And this resilience is what makes Rosberg a deserving world champion. For each year he upped his game on Hamilton and was able to seize any opportunities that came his way.
I’m sure people will point out to Hamilton’s reliability issues and I agree. But what people need to remember is that there have been races where Rosberg had the absolute measure of Hamilton as well, for example Singapore which was fundamentally the turning point for Rosberg.
And so Nico Rosberg is a worthy world champion, not because he is the best on the grid or one of the fastest out there, he is a worthy world champion because he went against the best on the grid in the same car, got defeated but rose each time to give it his all and when luck was finally in his way he worked hard to make the most of it.