Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2015

Rosberg set to deny Hamilton his prized Brazil win again

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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With his fifth pole position in a row, Nico Rosberg may be reflecting on how he could have made Lewis Hamilton work a bit harder for the 2015 championship if he’d hit this kind of form sooner.

In the face of this setback Hamilton was careful not to repeat his pre-race remarks about how eager he is to finally win in Brazil, home of his hero Ayrton Senna. “My main job is done this year,” he pointed out after qualifying. But following up his championship triumph with successive defeats to his team mate is definitely not in his game plan.

As Hamilton admitted after qualifying, if he isn’t able to get past Rosberg at the start, the fact they are so closely matched on performance will make it difficult for him to do so in the race. This was the problem he had at the last race in Mexico and this same race 12 months ago.

Just as then, Hamilton’s best opportunity is likely to come around the pit stops. However with both drivers having to start on the soft tyre, two-stops being the preferred strategy and the medium compound tyres offering better performance over a stint, Hamilton may find himself with little alternative other than to mimic Rosberg’s tactics.

If you find the prospect of another battle for victory conducted exclusively between the two silver cars, the world champion sympathises. “I would much prefer to be racing with five or ten drivers,” he said in the press conference after qualifying, “but it’s just not how Formula One is.”

There’s no denying that, on paper, this is hardly shaping up to be a classic race. Ferrari have the second row to themselves and aren’t likely to face too much competitive from Nico Hulkenberg, a strong fifth for Force India, or Daniil Kvyat’s Red Bull.

The main points of interest should come from Valtteri Bottas, who is quick enough to take on the Ferraris but was moved back due to a penalty, and Daniel Ricciardo who starts from the back row with Renault’s new engine in his Red Bull. However there’s little to suggest the revised engine is the answer to their problems – he was 0.4kph slower than Kvyat’s old-engined car in qualifying.

Rain is not expected during the race but the ambient temperature is expected to be significantly cooler, by around seven to ten degrees Celsius. This will inevitably have an effect on the ever-critical operating windows for the tyres. On a weekend when most teams have found their tyre temperatures rising too quickly, they could be about to experience the opposite.

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Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Nico RosbergMercedes1’11.7461’12.213 (+0.467)1’11.282 (-0.931)
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’11.6821’11.665 (-0.017)1’11.360 (-0.305)
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’12.2401’11.928 (-0.312)1’11.804 (-0.124)
4Valtteri BottasWilliams1’12.9341’12.374 (-0.560)1’12.085 (-0.289)
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’12.1851’12.243 (+0.058)1’12.144 (-0.099)
6Nico HulkenbergForce India1’12.5951’12.485 (-0.110)1’12.265 (-0.220)
7Daniil KvyatRed Bull1’12.7301’12.527 (-0.203)1’12.322 (-0.205)
8Felipe MassaWilliams1’12.9801’12.858 (-0.122)1’12.415 (-0.443)
9Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’12.6391’12.825 (+0.186)1’12.417 (-0.408)
10Max VerstappenToro Rosso1’12.8241’12.712 (-0.112)1’12.739 (+0.027)
11Felipe NasrSauber1’13.1111’12.989 (-0.122)
12Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’13.2671’13.045 (-0.222)
13Sergio PerezForce India1’13.1401’13.147 (+0.007)
14Marcus EricssonSauber1’13.3461’13.233 (-0.113)
15Romain GrosjeanLotus1’13.0561’13.913 (+0.857)
16Pastor MaldonadoLotus1’13.385
17Jenson ButtonMcLaren1’13.425
18Alexander RossiManor1’16.151
19Will StevensManor1’16.283
20Fernando AlonsoMcLaren

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Nico Rosberg17.933 (1)36.940 (1)16.409 (2)
Lewis Hamilton17.991 (2)36.951 (2)16.281 (1)
Sebastian Vettel18.025 (3)37.175 (3)16.475 (4)
Valtteri Bottas18.042 (4)37.537 (7)16.506 (7)
Kimi Raikkonen18.048 (5)37.383 (5)16.501 (6)
Nico Hulkenberg18.101 (6)37.632 (9)16.437 (3)
Daniil Kvyat18.244 (9)37.355 (4)16.723 (8)
Felipe Massa18.125 (7)37.802 (10)16.488 (5)
Daniel Ricciardo18.180 (8)37.490 (6)16.747 (11)
Max Verstappen18.287 (12)37.546 (8)16.799 (15)
Felipe Nasr18.314 (14)37.884 (14)16.730 (10)
Carlos Sainz Jnr18.299 (13)37.821 (11)16.867 (17)
Sergio Perez18.248 (10)38.020 (16)16.723 (8)
Marcus Ericsson18.360 (16)37.999 (15)16.794 (14)
Romain Grosjean18.254 (11)37.821 (11)16.756 (12)
Pastor Maldonado18.344 (15)38.155 (17)16.768 (13)
Jenson Button18.498 (17)37.879 (13)16.845 (16)
Alexander Rossi19.190 (20)39.497 (18)17.306 (18)
Will Stevens19.079 (19)39.791 (19)17.366 (19)
Fernando Alonso18.757 (18)51.717 (20)20.623 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes340.1 (211.3)
2Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes339.4 (210.9)-0.7
3Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari338.5 (210.3)-1.6
4Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes338.2 (210.1)-1.9
5Romain GrosjeanLotusMercedes336.5 (209.1)-3.6
6Nico RosbergMercedesMercedes336.5 (209.1)-3.6
7Valtteri BottasWilliamsMercedes336.1 (208.8)-4.0
8Nico HulkenbergForce IndiaMercedes335.1 (208.2)-5.0
9Daniil KvyatRed BullRenault335.1 (208.2)-5.0
10Daniel RicciardoRed BullRenault334.7 (208.0)-5.4
11Felipe NasrSauberFerrari331.5 (206.0)-8.6
12Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari329.8 (204.9)-10.3
13Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari328.3 (204.0)-11.8
14Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault326.7 (203.0)-13.4
15Max VerstappenToro RossoRenault325.7 (202.4)-14.4
16Pastor MaldonadoLotusMercedes323.9 (201.3)-16.2
17Jenson ButtonMcLarenHonda319.5 (198.5)-20.6
18Will StevensManorFerrari314.5 (195.4)-25.6
19Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda314.5 (195.4)-25.6
20Alexander RossiManorFerrari306.5 (190.5)-33.6

Over to you

Which of the Mercedes drivers do you think will come out on top? And who else can spring a surprise at Interlagos?

Share your views on the Brazilian Grand Prix in the comments.

2015 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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19 comments on “Rosberg set to deny Hamilton his prized Brazil win again”

  1. Rosberg controls the stint lengths so it’ll be easy for him to make sure the old tyres are good and slow for Lewis’ inlap when he stops for a set of quick new ones. I’m not expecting too much to be honest. The TV director will flit incoherently around the midfield giving us replays of the last seconds of a few moves missing the skilful bits that set it up.

    Still, there can always be a surprise, so I’ll be glued as ever.

    1. @lockup,

      Rosberg controls the stint lengths so it’ll be easy for him to make sure the old tyres are good and slow for Lewis’ inlap when he stops for a set of quick new ones.

      it may not be quite as simple as that. Last year, Hamilton had enough of a speed advantage that he could do a fastest lap when Rosberg came in for tyres.

      However, I do agree that it’s unlikely to pass at the pit stops. If Hamilton has the same pace advantage as last year, it might be better to try to lengthen his stints, to be able to harry Rosberg with new tyres all stint long.

      1. Yeah you’re right @adrianmorse, tho thinking about it of course they don’t choose the strategist does. Perhaps he’ll do us a favour.

      2. Hm, but so far this year we have seen Rosberg catch up on Hamilton with tyre wear compared to last year. In Mexico they were about the same – Rosberg had % left on his first set of tyres, while Hamilton was down to “%” after doing another laps on those same tyres (more or less the scenario @lockup mentions) @adrianmorse

  2. Please rain. Please, please rain.

  3. I don’t know why it is that (Q1 aside) Daniel Ricciardo was slower in times and in the speed trap than Daniil Kvyat, because Ricciardo is using the new Renault engine, not the old one.

    1. I don’t buy too much into Ricciardo’s performance to judge the new Renault power unit. Coming into the race redbull’s were well aware that, they are gonna take that penalty. So it is clear their concentration was on the race rather than the quali. So that might be a reason for it. At least they spend around 11 tokens ;)

  4. So Hamilton was 1/2 a tenth faster based on best sector times i.e. he didn’t pull it all together as well as Nico in Q3. My feeling is that Hamilton has better underlying pace (albeit not massive) over Rosberg. He needs to think carefully about when to pull the trigger and use it in the race to get the jump.

  5. I will have no problem with the race if Rosberg’s in front – Hamilton is generally quicker, so he’ll likely keep within touching distance and the suspense of whether Rosberg cracks under pressure as in Austin, or not as in Mexico will be rather tense to watch.

    Of course, if Hamilton gets by, it’s utter boredom as he know Rosberg is next to unable to pass him on track.

    Keeping an eye on the recoveries of Ricciardo and Bottas as well as the Lotus (who showed great one-lap and long run pace right up until they’ve messed up quali) will be fun as well.

    I don’t think this will be a dull race.

    1. Oh, and Ricciardo should be able to pick out opponents surprisingly easy judging by his top speed (achieved with medium downforce rear wings and no monkey seat instead of an upturn in performance by Renault, mind you).

      1. Kyvatt would of made better use of the new engine. He is better. Ricciardo will ram someone and break his wing like usual.

        1. Ricciardo is better than Kvyat IMO. Most of the incidents involving Ricciardo were not his fault. Ricciardo has been more unlucky than Kvyat this season, which is why he is behind in the points. Don’t forget that he beat Vettel last year.

  6. Another thing worth noting is that Rosberg’s first set of tyres will be in better shape than Hamilton’s as he didn’t push as hard in Q2. I have a feeling that this race might be won already in normal circumstances. Hopefully Bottas and Ricciardo can produce at least some sort of entertainment.

    1. Rosberg did push (or rather, didn’t hold back as the times would suggest) in Q2, he just had woeful understeer in sector 2 – see the onboard / overhead shots. The front was sliding away, apexes were nowhere to be found, there was also a minor lock-up somewhere (nothing significant enough to flat-spot, though). I was pretty sure he’d have to go again (there was also radio chatter of a cool down + another hot lap; Rosberg overruled that), but the horsepower advantage of Mercedes ensured that it wasn’t necessary.

  7. Why is Raikkonen so slow in the speed trap? That is a masive diference between him and Vettel

  8. The Speed trap data is not representative any more. Basically, all the cars start to brake before that point as Senna S has been tighter corners.

    1. Interesting to note that Rosberg got a perfect lap, while Lewis left 0.14 on the table to his best sectors (1:11.223). But yes, they should move the speed trap back a bit, maybe it’s still configured for the pre-hybrid era lower top speeds.

  9. Can someone please explain how anyone cannot atleast admit it is very questionable how toto and Hamilton have been acting since Hamilton won the chamiponship. Like for me it’s clear to see in black and white. Hamilton is clearly rattled and toto is throwing around comments like “this is a team excercise Lewis is aware” “we have a guy at the back of the garage who needs to finish second in the constructors” am I missing something or is doe thing clearly going on?

Comments are closed.