Is Rosberg's resolve cracking?


By Lee McKenzie

I’m sitting in Bahrain having landed in a storm. The winds have whipped up the sand and unsettled the calm that is the norm here. As I read through all my notes and quotes from the Chinese Grand Prix it seems quite fitting: Nico Rosberg’s pop at Lewis Hamilton after the race certainly made things a little more turbulent at Mercedes, although reading the reaction from the team and having interviewed Hamilton about those comments, it seems that the German might have had the wind taken out of his sails.

Rosberg accused Hamilton of deliberately backing him up to Sebastian Vettel and putting his second place in jeopardy. “The best possible race for Lewis was to back me off to Vettel so that Vettel could try and undercut me with an early pitstop. Interestingly he says he was just thinking about himself, and that says it all.”

Lewis replied by saying: “He never really got within four seconds of me. If he wanted to get close to overtake he could have done. I’m not really quite sure what his problem is.

“I did what the team asked me to do. We came here to get 1-2 and we did.”

Whether Rosberg really believed what he said or was just needing to stoke his fire is another question – maybe a little of both. It seems unlikely that he would publicly condemn his team-mate knowing what the reaction from both the team and fans would be if he didn’t completely believe what he was saying. The problem is that Vettel didn’t pass him and the situation didn’t actually arise so it’s just one man’s word against another.

It is true though that Rosberg doesn’t appear to have the same conviction in taking on Hamilton this season. Has the world champion’s restored belief and confidence taken him to a totally different level or has Rosberg’s resolve been damaged, not just since Abu Dhabi, but since that coming together at the Belgian Grand Prix last year?

The race had some great passing throughout, but once again the places being fought for were further down the grid. Again Max Verstappen put in a faultless performance until his Toro Rosso spluttered to a stop with four laps to go. His race craft continues to impress and his overtaking was brave but built in. Sweeping past cars looks like the most natural thing to him. It will take a lot more than a lack of car reliability to take the twinkle out of his star.

At the moment in Bahrain we can’t see if the stars or the sun were shining. The skies are thick with sand and it is pretty cold. I was thinking that Ferrari might rue the Bahrain Grand Prix being run in the cooler temperatures of a night race as it tries to take the challenge to Mercedes once again, but at the moment it is hard to imagine any car out on track at all. The weather is set to improve over the next few days but another storm is forecast for Saturday.

The storm in a tea cup might be fitting for China, but the storm in the desert might be a bigger worry for teams come this weekend.


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