After the two Mercedes drivers came together and retired together in Spain Nico Rosberg had a healthy lead in the Drivers Standings of 43 points. All the pressure was on Lewis Hamilton to fight back and bring himself into contention – and boy has he done it. The three-time World Champion has won 4 of the last 5 Grand Prix and brought the gap all the way down to just a single, solitary point.
This weekend the Formula One paddock has headed to Hungary, and a race track where Hamilton has claimed 4 wins and Rosberg has done no better than fourth place. Hamilton is the odds on favourite to head to Germany next week as the Championship leader and Rosberg, who won the first four races of the season, is facing more questions about his ability to compete wheel-to-wheel with Hamilton than ever.
However, as he answered questions in today’s drivers press conference Rosberg seemed calm and relaxed. When asked if the pressure was on he responded: “No. Up to now I have had the best season. In general I don’t look at the big picture but the race at hand, go for the win and that’s it. It doesn’t feel any different to any other race.”
That’s an admirable stance from Rosberg if it’s true, but I’m sure it isn’t. Rosberg was the bridesmaid to Hamilton’s pair of title victories in 2014 and 2015. It was the Brit, not the German, who delivered Mercedes first Drivers Champion since Juan Manuel Fangio all the way back in 1955, and after looking like 2016 would be his year it is Hamilton once again who stands between Rosberg and his first Drivers World Championship. His father Keke Rosberg won the title in 1982 and you can tell that Nico needs to at least equal that achievement. It maybe that the bosses at Mercedes want it too, there was certainly that feeling early on in the season when Hamilton was being dogged by poorly timed malfunctions. Now though, with Hamilton’s true pace showing and Rosberg’s sloppy attempt at blocking in Austria, it may be that there are cracks opening up beneath his calm exterior.
Rosberg talked on everything from the Nice attacks, where he has family and went to school, to the new surface of the Hungaroring and the potential return of Imola to the F1 calendar, but when the subject of the Championship was brought up there was a tightening of body language and a steely glare that gave away that yes indeed the pressure is on this weekend, and Rosberg is worried.