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Formula One

Rosberg is Rightfully So, A Deserving Champion

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Nico Rosberg joined the unique club of champions in Formula One by finishing second in Abu Dhabi.

He moved into second place in Abu Dhabi and made sure he was in a position to pressure Hamilton with a superb move to pass Verstappen. Despite race leader Lewis Hamilton slowing down in the final few laps with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Verstappen catching the two Mercedes in front, no moves were made and Rosberg stayed on the podium as celebrations began.

It was the knowledge Rosberg would be content to be behind Hamilton and not risk his car by trying to catch his teammate had Hamilton gone into a massive lead that inevitably forced Hamilton to use these tactics.

The German driver wins the championship by five points, ironically the same gap his father Keke won his title by, while he also followed his father in winning the title without winning the most wins in the season. Rosberg took nine victories, one less than his teammate Hamilton. To continue the coincidences, Rosberg followed his father’s achievements 34 years after his 1982 title, the same amount of time the only previous father-son pairing, Graham and Damon Hill, have done it.

His season finished with nine victories, eight pole positions, 16 podiums (including nine in his last nine races), six fastest laps (the most of any driver), and qualifying in the top two of the grid in every race of the season (although he did start seventh in Austria because of a gearbox penalty). These are staggering statistics that would make anyone’s eyes water, especially his qualifying record, in a session which is said by some to be the real test of a driver’s outright speed.

He has beaten Hamilton in a season in which the Brit has had some of the best form of his career. He won four races in a row twice in one season for a second time in his career, won at least ten races for the third season in a row, and claimed the most poles he has ever had in one season (12). Rosberg is only the second driver to beat Hamilton over the course of one season like Jenson Button did at McLaren in 2011, but he is the first driver to beat him in a season where the Brit has not made errors on track and had a series of crashes.

However, his statistics and efforts are still not sufficient for some people. A lot of dramatic comments emerged after racing ended for the season. One thing that is for sure is that the Mercedes PR and media staff will need a pay rise for the things they’ve been through and had to reply to in 2016. The team should be praised for tactics that have allowed Formula One to see a competitive championship in 2016, unlike some recent championships.

Without being gifted anything, he has been consistent throughout the year, claiming points when needed. He is ahead of Hamilton despite having fewer pole positions and victories. Had he not retired from the Spanish Grand Prix, he may have finished in every round of the championship. Unlike 2015 or earlier years, nobody is reporting on errors such as the infamous ‘gust of wind’ that lost him the win at the United States Grand Prix last year. He has improved and taken these moments out of his driving.

The only slight blemish on his record would be some of his driving at times, like his incident with Max Verstappen in Germany, or getting advice over the radio in Britain.

Many say that Rosberg is lucky because of Lewis Hamilton’s mechanical issues, but you can’t go deep into ‘what-ifs.’ What if Rosberg had had grip in Monaco and finished on the podium instead of seventh? What if Rosberg hadn’t suffered front wing damage and fallen to fourth in Austria after leading going into the final lap? These are pointless thoughts to have.  It’s unclear where you would stop what that line of questioning. Should Hamilton have won in 2007, 2010 or 2012 because of errors? It is a deeply flawed argument.

Rosberg still had to work for it. He could have stayed in the club of drivers who have taken on drivers in recent years and failed to win championships. None of his wins in 2016 immediately jump out as unbelievable as much as Max Verstappen’s drive in Brazil or other historical examples, but he got into leads and made sure he won races. It is maybe just this professionalism that leaves people unable to warm to them as he doesn’t do the spectacular.

Next year will surely be an exciting continuation of the battle at Mercedes, should they remain as the fastest car on the grid, to see whether Rosberg can go for a second title.

EMAIL CAMERON AT cpatersonf1@gmail.com

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Cameron Paterson

Cameron Paterson has been a watcher of Formula 1 since 2007, a casual television watch evolved to watching and reading anything related to something with wheels and an engine. A fan of writing, it was a no-brainer about what to do to try and get into motorsport, consistently discussing things about this great sport since 2016.