Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg, Sepang International Circuit, 2016

Rosberg “improved his race craft” in 2016

2016 F1 season

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Better race craft is the key improvement Nico Rosberg has made in 2016, according to Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe.

Rosberg has never held the lead of the championship this close to the end of the season. Lowe reckons he has improved his game on Sundays to match the level he can reach in qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2016
Japanese Grand Prix practice in pictures
“I think Nico is an incredibly strong driver and I think we have seen over the last three years that he can qualify extremely well,” said Lowe in today’s FIA press conference.

“For me, the step that he has made this year is that he has improved his race craft considerably. He’s proving himself much better able to fight for the positions.”

“He’s come across a few points along the way, with a few incidents that didn’t quite come off how he wanted, but overall that’s where he has made the step.”

However Lowe warned Lewis Hamilton remains a “very difficult guy to beat for Nico”.

“In one way that’s unfortunate for Nico to have such a strong team mate but the two together are an incredible force for the team – they push each other. That’s what is fantastic.”

“When you have two very strong team-mates is that they actually elevate the total performance of the team, and we see that. We have races such as Monza where Lewis was incredibly string and then Singapore where Nico was incredibly strong and that’s what you need, for each driver to push each other to new limits.”

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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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  • 79 comments on “Rosberg “improved his race craft” in 2016”

    1. Lowe missed the moves on Hamilton and Verstappen earlier in the year then?

      1. those are to be considered te be “the incidents that didn’t quite come off” I guess @optimaximal, part of the learning process. Although in my view the penalty against Verstappen that Rosberg received would probably not have been handed out had it been a different driver and different stewards :-)

      2. I’m starting to think Sina Rosberg might join Bette Hill as the only women with husband and son world champions.

    2. Buttering up for the inevitable championship so it seems, does Paddy already know something we don’t…..

      1. If Mercedes ever wanted to sabotage Hamilton they would have done it a long time ago. Take off your conspiracy tin foil hat.

        1. Who said it’s Mercedes?? More like a rogue mechanic….

          1. One does not simply walk into Mercedes engine stores, it’s turquoise gates are guarded by more than simply security guards. There are cctv cameras there that do not sleep. The Fia is ever watchful. It is a secure warehouse, riddled with the highest tech motion detectors, microwave and infrared. The very air you breath is filtered and controled. Not with ten thousand men could you do this.

          2. There is no rogue mechanic. Stop with this madness…

            1. You know for a fact then?

          3. Gerulf Dösinger (@)
            7th October 2016, 14:18

            A rogue mechanic??? Are people out of their minds now? Are you trolling! :D

            1. We all know there’s never been any cheating whatsoever in F1 throughout it’s history…

            2. A rogue one doesnt need to hide… All it takes is a nut to be tighten to over or under its requirement to break or leak! Given how precisely even the nuts are designed, not very hard job, unless there is a second someone who inspects all nuts and bits a second time to check the tick boxes…

              Of 8 engines, only one car getting the rotten eggs, consistently, sounds a good recipe for conspiracy!

      2. If you don’t know Rosberg is gonna win this year, then it’s your own fault.

    3. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      7th October 2016, 11:17

      Certainly his speed and consistency this season is the best it’s been in this Mercedes era, but his wheel-to-wheel decision making this season has been questionable at best.

      Spain was probably 50-50 with Hamilton.
      Austria was 100% his fault.
      Germany was like 90% his fault, and
      Sepang was 100% his fault.

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        7th October 2016, 11:19

        Sepang with Kimi, that is. Not the first corner spin as that was no fault of his at all.

      2. I think the improvement has been more that Rosberg hasn’t shied away from having a go at it, rather than in the exectution, if anything @tophercheese21. We can only hope he improves that part too :-). I do appreciate it, because it means that next time he is behind HAmilton we can have some hope that he will go for it.

        I think that Spain was largely Hamilton to blame, Austria, yeah, he was lucky not to end both of their races there. Germany was his fault but I am not sure a different team of stewards would have handed out a penalty (and maybe Max or Lewis would have gotten away with the same move) and for Sepang the panalty was too severe, while it was clear that it was off course Rosberg causing it.

        1. Nicely put :-)

          The problem with Germany was that it came right on the heels of Austria!

      3. @tophercheese21

        Germany was like 90% his fault.

        That penalty in Germany was a joke to be honest. Verstappen did worse to both Raikkonen and Perez at Spa and was not even investigated.

        1. @kingshark

          Verstappen did worse to both Raikkonen and Perez at Spa

          There’s precedent which shows Verstappen’s moves were legal and Rosberg’s was not.

          In the case of Rosberg, he’d made the exact same move on Hamilton in Austria and been penalised for that, so how he could have expected to get away with it again is not obvious.

          1. Max on Perez was legal? Ok.

          2. Daniel Neukirch
            7th October 2016, 13:56

            Yeah neither was the move on kimi… He not only pushed him off, but he did such a fine job he couldn’t even stay on the track…

          3. @keithcollantine
            There’s absolutely no way Max’s move on Perez at Spa could possibly be considered legal if what Rosberg did to Verstappen at Hockenheim was illegal. Not only did Verstappen push Perez completely off the circuit, he didn’t even make the corner himself (unlike Rosberg at Hockenheim).

          4. @evered7 @kingshark I genuinely don’t know on what grounds you’d question Verstappen’s defence on Perez – are we thinking of the same incident? Verstappen was on the racing line, or at least close enough to it, he had no reason to yield. We’ve seen this loads of times before. Whereas Rosberg was nowhere near the racing line on both occasions.

            1. @keithcollantine

              Verstappen was behind Perez on track and simply ran out wide hit Perez and had two wheels off the track. Very similar to the Ves-Ros incident Germany although Rosberg as Kingshark says would have cleanly made the corner. I’m not sure if it is legal, but Verstappen although he used the racing line, caused a collision

            2. @lolzerbob if you are on the racing line, you can keep it, and dont mind others… if you get off the racing line, you have to be well ahead of your opponent and not make two moves… thats what spared ros penalty for spain! it is ridiculous if you ask me, but some stuff can be fit into the rules when it looks a bit grayish…

          5. Would be interesting to know the nuances of why Ricciardo in Monaco 2015 on Raikkonen was legal but Rosberg Raikkonen last race was not.

        2. @kingshark The narrative of Verstappen being a poor man’s Maldonado kind of idiot isn’t going to get more true by repeating it over and over again.

          1. @jeffreyj
            Who here said that?

            1. You didnt litteraire say that. I was paraphrasing (with hyperbole) the narrative some people are repeating over and over about VES. It’s annoying imho

      4. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        7th October 2016, 17:11

        The should never have been a penalty in Malaysia against Rosberg. It was hard but fair. Rubbing is racing after all. He didn’t drive kimi off the circuit like Lewis has done to different drivers multiple times so people should quit moaning.

        1. @peppermint-lemon

          I agree, remember hockenheim 2014 where Lewis did the exact same to Kimi in a big divebomb. Or when Bianchi bashed and damaged Kobayashi’s car in Monaco. They are all the same move

    4. Easily being consistent when you have the best car and a teammate unable to challenge the majority of the time….

      1. “the majority of the time”
        Yeah right…

        1. Yeah I am right….

          1. No you are not. If you were, Hamilton would not have won 6 races this year. Or 2 WDCs…
            In my opinion Hamilton is still better than Rosberg, but that does not mean that Rosberg has not improved this year.

            1. OK Rosberg has beaten Hamilton fair and square in a straight fight….

            2. What I know is that Hamilton has beaten Rosberg unfair and unsquare in a number of occasions…

            3. i think improved in relation to himself. i really doubt he has improved his season has just been scotch free.

      2. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        7th October 2016, 19:58

        Are you still hurting from Schumacher being better than Hill?

    5. You can’t knock Rosberg’s consistency, but while he is standing his ground better his wheel to wheel racing with similarly powered rivals remains incredibly sloppy and arguably outright dangerous. It’s entirely possible for him to race well, proven by his first corner overtake on Hamilton in Spain before the incident (I’m inclined to go 55-45 against Rosberg as he was the one to throw himself across the track to block, but I doubt he realized Hamilton was that close) but it seems to me he’s more interested in looking strong and not yielding then actually pulling off a racing overtake or defense.

    6. What a load of rubbish. Nico is having a great season and it’s not just down to luck – he has made some great starts and dominated from the front on various occasions and has made sure to cruise home in 2nd when that’s not possible. The one area he had been poor though is his race craft!

      He’s made 2 very poor moves trying to drive people off the track, his move on Hamilton at Spain was dodgy at best, his move on Kimi was very risky and not very clever considering it could have easily put him out of the race..

      1. Spot on, he wants to look strong so just gets in the way and causes incidents. An actual strong racer knows to change his line so he gets early drive through the next sequence. THAT is just not in him though.

        If he was playing chess, he’d only be looking at the pawn that just moved.

        1. But the thing with Nico is that if he was playing chess, he’d always play a pretty good match and would make the most of the situation he found himself in. He wouldn’t be the best player and would sometimes make extreme moves to make up for his inadequacies but he’d keep mistakes minimal and would force you to use all of your chess skill to beat him.

          Hamilton would be on his phone posting pictures and arguing with his girlfriend – when he was in a “good chess mood” he’d be unbeatable but sometimes he would lose a few early pieces and his head would drop making him look like a shell of his former chess-playing self. No-one would doubt that at his best, Lewis was better at chess player however despite being more skilful, he wouldn’t win as many games against Nico as you’d expect him to.

    7. Seriously there’s at least 5 drivers I would that would be more consistent than Rosberg in a Mercedes and that’s coming from a Hamilton fan.

      1. ” that’s coming from a Hamilton fan.”

        Of course, it is:-) This line usually works when you are a fan of the driver you are criticizing ;)

        1. It’s the truth, Nico hasn’t done anything special at all. He’s been gifted the title due to his teammates bad luck. He’s done what he had to do in the best car, many others would do the same.

          1. Alright then. Last week he dropped from 2nd to last and overtook the whole grid, with actual overtakes, to finish 3rd. Or 4th had Lewis finished. A couple of races ago, Lewis started last and with 3 actual overtakes and the help of VSC and SC ended up 3rd. Would you care to explain please: 1) what the word “luck” means to you and 2) What is the so special thing Lewis has done, that (as you say) many others wouldn’t have been able to do on this specific car?

            1. You do know that Rosberg dropped on with the VSC as well???

          2. if Nico hasn’t done anything special, then Lewis must really, really sucks!

          3. “He’s done what he had to do in the best car, many others would do the same.”

            I don’t disagree with that but who was the last champion who this comment didn’t apply to?

            Certainly not Hamilton, Vettel or Button.

      2. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        7th October 2016, 17:18

        Rosberg has won 8 races this year. He has driven with world champion level of skill. He got to a podium from last place by passing on track previous race. He deserves the title of he gets it.

    8. “Better race craft is the key improvement Nico Rosberg has made in 2017”
      Back to the future.

      1. @abdelilah That makes more sense.. Paddy Lowe has come back from 2017 where Nico is a racecraft wizard.
        Pity he didn’t come back before Sepang and fix Lewis’s engine bearing ;)

      2. @abdelilah
        Rosberg is a racing god in 2017 confirmed.

    9. To be fair there is only one way it could go. But it wont get significantly better or it already would’ve. Unless he was 8 again and then he’d still be in the shadow of the race-crafty cockney ( a stretch that)

    10. He’s fast in clear air yet, and from the front leading, he still cant overtake cleanly, he’s semi ok on the mid to lower field drivers but pit him against Hamilton, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Raikkonen, etc. and he’s ordinary at best and has proved he’s not good under pressure. These next 5 races will test his race craft and temperament under pressure if he doesn’t get away well and has to negotiate drivers at the pointy end of the grid.

    11. Rosberg was half of the problem at Spain, and yes what happened at Austria was clumsy, but I still feel that his other penalties were too harsh. As a whole, I think Rosberg’s racecraft is more aggressive (which as a neutral is a breath of fresh air) and he has pulled off a lot of decisive overtakes. He’s also generally looked a bit more racy at the start of races too, he’s learned from what Hamilton did last year (and has continued to do this year).

      Would Rosberg of old have come from dead last to finish on the podium at Malaysia? I’m not so sure of that. I thought it was a very good drive considering he only had assistance from virtual safety cars, which are arguably not as helpful as a real safety car or especially a red flag.

    12. Compared to previous years Rosberg has been more feisty this season, that’s true. However, ‘more’ isn’t the same as “improving”. It’s just that now it’s more obvious for everyone to see that his ‘race-craft’ isn’t all that crafty at all imho.

    13. Rosberg is no better or worse than he’s ever been. Only difference this year is the rub of the green.

    14. ““Rosberg “improved his race craft” in 2016”

      Funniest headline of the year.

    15. Oh, snap!

    16. Couldn’t agree with that… he still seems a bit clumsy far too often when he’s wheel-to-wheel with someone who’s properly fighting him. If anything, I think this year has shown it more than others.

    17. I really wish for the end of Mercedes domination and closer competition of the grid. On track actions were predictable, but off track stories were way too nauseating for me. It is inevitable, but I am really tired for all this Nico-Lewis fan feud which sounds sort of like argument of Trump supporter. It’s been three years with this situation, ffs.

      I hope for 2012-esque season when it looked like everybody had a chance, or at least duopoly like 2007. I wait for a day I can cherish the race more than this endless debate.

      1. 85% chance of a Mercedes winning a race for the last 3 seasons, this lack of completion has did more to kill the sport than any weird rule change or move to paywall television. I will not look back on this era fondly.

        1. I agree – it’s so easy to get pay TV for free but most I speak to who have given up talk about how boring the races are rather than how difficult/expensive it is to get.

          85% chance actually makes it sound closer and more exciting than it is. Most of that 85% is down to reliability which isn’t exciting. Watching Red Bull win because Hamilton’s engine blew up and Nico was hit in first corner isn’t actual competition. It’s just luck….

          It’s more along the lines of ‘providing something doesn’t break on the car and they don’t crash, it’s 99% likely that Mercedes will win.’

    18. Not taking anything away from Rosberg. He has driven very well. But I fail to understand the race craft Lowes alludes to.
      Mercedes have had Random starts and Random engine failures. These alone are responsible for the results we’ve witnessed and the tally on the points table between the main competitors.

      1. An accurate and succinct comment.

        To suggest that NR having avoided his only real competition this year through clutches, starts, blown engines, backing people up in t1 and thus a series back of the grid starts, colliding or shoving or crashing into said competition the only time they are anywhere near each other? Sorry, but that simply suggests his race craft has disintegrated anytime someone who has equal machinery is in the race.
        Actually his race craft this year is a joke. Just look what happens when a Red Bull is around!

        No NR really is the luckiest driver of this year.

        You only have to put him at the back for another three races and have an engine blow to know that. Where would his points tally be then?

        Or just count the penalties…

        Lowe is a biased idiot – one that he has form on for years. He can’t stand drivers. He can only cope when ‘it’s the car’ and anyone can win in it.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          7th October 2016, 17:33

          Well, it’s not like Hamilton hasn’t been a little lucky in both of his previous championship seasons. He had a team mate that was weaker than him quite a lot of the time and also has a car that was far stronger than any other teams cars. I still think Hamilton is quite a bit better than Rosberg but he has just been rather unlucky this season. However, it’s not like Hamilton has done a perfect job in every race either this season.

          1. So……if a driver is better than his team mate, in fact if he’s so good the team stunggle to find someone better than him, does that make him lucky ? Or does that just make him very good ?

            1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
              7th October 2016, 21:34

              I know this may sound silly but probably a bit of both. If Hamilton was against someone that clearly was a lot worse than him then it will sort of will be both his skill and luck that helps him win a championship.

              I don’t think Rosberg is much worse than Hamilton but there were quite a few races last year and the year before that because of Rosbergs performance not being that good, it meant less pressure on Hamilton and sort did make it easier for him. But then the same goes for Rosberg when he is comfortably in the lead of a race I suppose.

              And yes, this will be the same for any driver pairing when one is clearly better than the other. It my be hard to understand what I’m getting at though.

    19. Mr. Race Craft. What a Joke.

    20. I can agree with what Paddy is saying. The Rosberg of 2014 outbraked himself at Monza just by seeing Hamilton close the gap to him quickly. The Rosberg of 2016 on the other hand held his composure until the last lap of Austria. He finally did make a mistake, but at least signalled his intent well.

      Credit to him. Not often do you make a comeback against the same team mate after 2 seasons of convincing drubbing. Look at Webber, Massa for example.

    21. No it’s not, it’s Lewis breaking down that’s made the bloody difference!

      1. No its not on balance Rosberg has been better the table doesn’t lie.

        Rosbeeg has bouncebackability. Over 4 years he has lost out here and there in small incriments to Lewis and no shame in that but he comes back better and Lewis has to raise his game all the time.

        Lewis won 2008 due to another drivers bad luck if we are going to play the what if game.

        1. What has 2008 got to do with comparing Ham with Ros in 2016?

          It’s very simple, if Hamilton’s car doesn’t breakdown last weekend, he’d be leading the WDC right now. That doesn’t take into account all of the other reliability issues that Ham has had to deal with THIS season relative to Nico.

        2. You are wrong. When Hamilton suffers a DNF, it is a conspiracy. When he profits from his rivals its because of his skill and he deserves it.
          No matter what happens, he will always be the champion (to those on Twitter with tin foil hats).

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