Why Rosberg could beat Hamilton to the title this year

© F1 Pulse, 10 March 2014
© AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

If the pre-season tests are any indication, then Mercedes is the team to beat this year. That may be clear but it's unclear which driver at Mercedes will emerge on top. The safe bet is Lewis Hamilton, who already has a title in his bag, but the following are reasons why you shouldn't count out Nico Rosberg:

ROSBERG BEAT SCHUMACHER

© AP Photo/Mark Baker

When seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher was announced to drive for Mercedes in 2010, Rosberg was automatically rendered by many as the unofficial number two driver in the team. But after three years as a pair, Rosberg comprehensively beat the veteran German in the standings, even registering the team's first victory in 2012 along with four more podium finishes. Schumacher, in that same period, had only lucky podium when several frontrunners retired at the 2012 European GP in Valencia.

"Is Michael Schumacher not a ‘real’ benchmark? He is one of the best of all time. Full stop." - Nico Rosberg, October 2012.

ROSBERG HAS A POINT TO PROVE AGAINT HAMILTON

As Rosberg displayed in his years as Schumacher's teammate, the German will continue to prove to his critics that he can indeed beat a world champion teammate. Hamilton has always been deemed as a favourite over his teammate even before the season begins, including when he was paired with Jenson Button at McLaren. Hence, the Briton gets the mental advantage even before the racing begins, relieving him of some of the pressure. Rosberg, in contrast, continues to face questions from the media if he feels iffy in the shadow of world champion teammate. The answer can only settle on track against what could be a complacent teammate.

"I'm not happy, but I am pleased with this season... with a cleaner season next year, I want to stay in front of my teammate on points." - Nico Rosberg, November 2013.

HAMILTON'S SHAKY PERSONAL LIFE

© Sutton Images/Corbis/AP Images

While Rosberg is set to marry his long-time girlfriend, Hamilton on the other hand has had a topsy-turvy relationship with his long-time girlfriend and pop-star Nicole Scherzinger. The on again-off again (currently reported to be on) has had an obvious and detrimental effect on the 2008 world champion, who has dabbled in the world of celebrities, leading to many of his critics suggesting that he is often distracted.

"I tell you, seeing this Hollywood girl of his I wonder what he is doing... He flies all the way over there to see her and if he cannot, you know..., then he has to fly all the way back frustrated. I don't know why he doesn’t just go out with a girl from the countryside that no one has ever heard of who doesn’t have a big career of her own..." - Niki Lauda, 2008.

NEW REGULATIONS

© Mercedes

Hamilton's biggest asset is his speed. He's probably the fastest driver on the current grid. But he won't be able to use that to his advantage this season as the new regulations require drivers to juggle with fuel consumption, tyres and the two energy recovery systems. Hamilton prefers to keep things simple and it's little wonder that he has requested for less buttons on his steering wheel so that it minimises his division of focus. Rosberg doesn't mind the number of buttons on his steering wheel and has opted to soldier on with what he has been given.

"The driver is being completely overshadowed by the new technology. We have entered an era in which only the tools count. Now a driver cannot trust his instinct to attack his opponent because he is just one small element of the machine." - Jean Alesi.

 

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