Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2014

Hamilton vs Rosberg: Did unreliability decide the title?

2014 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2014With both their drivers going up against each other in the final race to decide the world championship, the one thing Mercedes didn’t want was for one of their cars to break down.

“We want the championship to end in a straight and fair battle and not by one of them breaking down,” said Toto Wolff before Sunday’s race.

He didn’t get his wish – on lap 23 Nico Rosberg began to suffer a problem with his Energy Recovery System which eventually dropped him out of the points and ended his championship challenge.

The only saving grace was that his team mate Lewis Hamilton was already set to take the title and looked unthreatened from Rosberg behind. Rosberg even admitted afterwards his ERS problem was of no consequence “because Lewis won the race fair and square anyway”.

Both drivers lost potential race wins and other strong results earlier in the season due to technical glitches. Did either suffer more than the other – and was it enough to swing the outcome of the championship?

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Mercedes’ drivers significant reliability problems in 2014

RaceSessionLewis HamiltonNico Rosberg
ProblemConsequenceProblemConsequence
AustraliaFP1Engine failureUnable to complete any laps
AustraliaRaceEngine failureRetired shortly after starting from pole position
BahrainFP1Flat batteryNo significant loss of running
ChinaFP2SuspensionCurtailed race simulation shortly before end of practice
ChinaRaceTelemetryLost three places at the start
SpainFP1ERS failureOnly covered 9 laps (Hamilton did 17)
CanadaRaceERS failureRetired shortly after passing Rosberg for the leadERS failureStill able to finish second
AustriaFP1Loss of powerOnly covered 19 laps (Hamilton did 32)
BritainFP2Engine failureLost half an hour of running
BritainRaceGearbox failureRetired while leading
GermanyFP1Loss of powerLost a small number of laps
GermanyQualifyingBrake failureStarted last
HungaryQualifyingTurbo failureStarted last
ItalyFP2ElectricsMissed first hour of practice
ItalyFP3Gearbox faultUnable to set a time
ItalyRaceStart modeFell from first to fourth at start
SingaporeRaceWiring loom faultRetired having qualified second
USAFP2Gearbox faultOnly covered 18 laps (Rosberg did 34)
Abu DhabiRaceERS failureFell from second to fourtheenth

It is always difficult to quantify the effect unreliability had on a driver’s season is always difficult because we can never be certain where they would have finished.

There is also the problem of distinguishing between what constitutes a reliability and what is a consequence of a set-up mistake, a driving error or a failure to maximise the best of the car. For example, Hamilton’s glazed brakes during Q3 in Spa have not been included in the above table, as this was not necessarily a case of faulty hardware or finger trouble by a mechanic.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2014However the above table of significant problems experienced by the two drivers during all race sessions this year shows that, as you would expect, they were more or less shared equally between the two.

Hamilton and Rosberg each experienced five such problems during competitive sessions (qualifying and races). Of these Hamilton twice retired from the lead of the race (Australia and Canada), while Rosberg lost one likely win (Britain, although Hamilton was catching him).

Canada is an interesting case, as both drivers suffered near-identical ERS failures. Rosberg managed to nurse his car to the end of the race, coping with the additional strain on his brakes, but Hamilton retired after his discs overheated. This is another case of how it can be difficult to distinguish between what is a retirement due to simple misfortune, and where compromises made in car set-up and the performance of the team in managing it during the race can play a role.

Curiously, at different times in the year both drivers experienced problems which cost them exactly three places at the start: Hamilton in Italy, Rosberg in China. Rosberg only fell behind other cars and soon recovered the positions, but Hamilton’s setback was more serious as it allowed Rosberg through into the lead. Hamilton eventually caught and passed his team mate, however.

Hamilton was also put on the back foot by his two consecutive mid-season qualifying problems, which consigned him to starting from the rear of the field on both occasions.

Early in the season it seemed as though Hamilton would be considerably more adversely affected by unreliability than Rosberg. That turned out not to be the case. But in the final reckoning it’s highly unlikely Hamilton’s 67-point margin of victory (inflated by 25 due to double points) would have been eradicated had both drivers enjoyed perfect reliability.

However the sheer number of problems the pair experienced during the championship will surely be a priority Mercedes will want to address during the off-season.

2014 F1 season

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Author information

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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95 comments on “Hamilton vs Rosberg: Did unreliability decide the title?”

  1. the final points difference is correct,considering on race day the stats are overwhelmingly in lewis favour.but nico did well in quali,tho.

    1. consider if Hamilton had got the mechanical failure instead of nico in the last race… and the fact they were separated by only 1 point in the old points scoring system before the last race. the final points differences is exaggerated (by double points), of what really transpired during the season, ie Hamilton is only as good as Rosberg.

      1. well, tell me about the 5 races rosberg won this season. australia-ham retired, monaco- he cheated in qual, germany-ham started on last, austria-ham spinned, brazil-team didnt pit ham on the right time, ham spinned. tell me just 1 race where rosberg won without hamilton having any kind of problems.

        whereas hamilton beat rosberg fair and square in 8 races, and overtook him in the race like 8 times in the season while rosberg was never able to overtook hamilton.

  2. Another fun and detailed article Keith. I love this site.

  3. Just a shame that in Abu Dhabi Merc had only one job, and they failed to do it. In a way the season started as it finished, with the stunning performance of the car reduced to nothing for one driver due to unreliability. If they don’t have the same margin next year it may become a serious problem, considering how RB managed to transform their car throughout the season. Speaking of RB their season was also bookended, but this time by confrontations with the rule book. Lessons there too?

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      26th November 2014, 0:40

      You can’t say Mercedes failed. I’m sure they did everything they possibly could have done to maximise the reliability.

      It was the last race of a new generation of engines, of course things are going to be warn out, these things happen. There’s nothing more Mercedes could’ve done.

      1. Nico’s engine was only on its 3rd outing. Operationally I can’t assume that Mercedes were anything other than highly competent at Abu Dhabi but the level of unreliability this season would strike me as unacceptable (although comparatively low, and impressive) for a team that is serious about dominating the formula. Mercedes should and will be looking into it.

        1. -unacceptable in terms of component failures, especially considering Merc were very solid in testing

  4. Also, there were two races (Monaco and Spa) where Nico had a big “influence” on Hamilton’s race.

    1. And there was the race in Hungary, where a badly timed safety car cost Rosberg a more than likely victory although he hadn’t done anything wrong. He was just on the wrong portion of the track at the wrong time.

      1. @nase

        The safety car definitely hurt Rosberg, but he was still in a position to beat Hamilton and others on track. What cost him more was being unable to overtake and actually losing a position to Jev.

        1. @f190 I disagree that not being able to get by JEV cost him more. The safety car put him in that position to begin with, so he never should have had to be behind him. That he couldn’t get by is not a reflection that NR ‘can’t even pass a guy in a lesser car’ like some might imply from his sort of comment. There can be many reasons why at that particular time he wasn’t quite able to get by and I’m sure they have nothing to do with NR being inferior. I think he did enough this year to show his worth.

          1. The SC put Rosberg on 4th place, behind RIC,MAS and MAG. The position to JEV he lost later while trying to overtake MAG. He also lost position to ALO moments later.

            The SC didn’t wrecked his race. He did a poor job to recover from it. ALO was also affected and finished 2nd with a way lesser car.

          2. Again though, to say the SC didn’t wreck his race seems quite silly, no offense intended. Without question it changed everything for him given how things were going before the SC came out. It changed the rhythm he was in, his tire situation, everything. Yes he didn’t recover well…because the SC came out and the bad luck of the draw completely changed his day. Given the car he had and what he normally did with it including before the safety car of this race and being there for the WDC until the end, I would suggest it is not as simple as implying failure on his part. The car was just never as hooked up as he initially had it. Obviously. He didn’t suddenly forget how to race.

          3. I agree with @robbie. Hamilton started the race with a spin, Rosberg with a 10-second-lead ahead of everyone else. Then, suddenly, by no fault of his own, the difference is annihilated. Yes, he had a clumsy restart that also hurt his chances. But not as much as the safety car, by quite a margin. He lost 30 seconds to Hamilton, 25 to Vergne, 23 to Massa, 17 to Ricciardo, just to name a few. And, most importantly, he lost his track position, finding himself just ahead of Magnussen, who was on intermediates and immediately overtook him, enabling Vergne to take his chances as well.

            Long story short:
            I don’t think it’s a stretch to single out the bad safety car/medical car timing as the one incident that destroyed Nico’s race, particularly his lead over Hamilton.

          4. Well I agree that Nico has lost a bunch of lead time to other driver due to the safety car but still he was ahead of HAM. Why did he not finish ahead of HAM even though he is on a faster strategy?? RIC was behind HAM after the safety car and same strategy as NICO and he managed to finish ahead.

      2. And the safety car in Bahrain? It helped Rosberg…he just didn’t take advantage.

  5. “But in the final reckoning it’s highly unlikely Hamilton’s 67-point margin of victory (inflated by 25 due to double points) would have been eradicated had both drivers enjoyed perfect reliability.”

    > This is not correct. With equal reliability HAM would have finished about 75 points in front of Rosberg. Then if you add Spa and Monaco, HAM would have finished the season 100 points ahead. HAM had his problems in the beginning of the season so that’s why some people think Rosberg was close to him, but in fact he’s clearly ahead.

    1. Probably a true assessment here.

    2. @francorchamps17

      So what you’re saying is that Hamilton’s margin of victory wouldn’t have been eradicated, but extended? It seems like you’re agreeing with the part of the article you quoted, yet you said “that is not correct”.

      1. Perhaps he’s just referring to the 67 points part…

    3. @francorchamps17

      This is not correct.

      And yet you appear to agree with me?

      1. Hamilton would have won 13 GPs, meanwhile Rosberg would have gained one and lost won.

  6. Article of the year!

  7. If you take out what I would say is pretty irrelevant stuff from practice sessions (Neither had no practice at all at a grand prix and the data sharing policy of Mercedes minimises the impact missing a single session would have) and include Spa which although not technically a car reliability issue was certainly a team mate reliability issue then in my mind it looks like this:

    Rosberg:
    3 DNF (If you include Abu Dhabi as effectively a DNF) (-75 Points)
    2 race compromising issues in China and Canada (-13 for China, -7 for Canada)

    Total max potential point loss as a result of reliability: 95 points

    Hamilton:
    3 DNF (-75 Points)
    2 Qualifying issues resulting in back of the grid starts in Germany and Hungary (-10 Points each)
    1 race compromising issue in Monza which ultimately cost him 0 points

    Total max potential point loss as a result of reliability: 95 points

    So it has effectively completely evened itself out over the season in my opinion, it basically means that over the course of a season with equal amounts of points lost due to reliability issues Hamilton outscored Rosberg by 67 points.

    If you adjust the 67 points because of the double points farce then that leaves you with a 42 point deficit. Effectively on average Lewis has outscored Rosberg by 2.2 points per grand prix over the season.

    Such tiny margins.

    You could of course throw Monaco into the mix as 7 points lost by Hamilton but although in my mind (and the majority of others) Rosberg made his mistake intentionally, we cannot assume that Hamilton would have taken pole even though he was up on his lap at that point.

    All in all, the best driver this year won – of that I don’t think there can be any argument.

    1. How did Nico lose 13 points in China? He was 2nd. Also people fail to understand a bad pitstop put Nico behind in Canada, Hamilton retired ahead of Nico. Also Abu Dhabi Hamilton was ahead of Nico it is not like he lost 25 points.

      1. That is what is known as a cock up on my behalf, I read the quali result not race result – in which case the reliability losses are worse for HAM than ROS.

        I know Hamilton was ahead but I based it all on if you assume maximum points loss rather than trying to predict who would come first and who would come second.

        I would also quite like to see the poll re-run regarding Monaco, I know that at the time I gave him the benefit of the doubt but as the season has gone on and with other events (i.e. Spa) I became more convinced it was intentional, perhaps that was just me though! – Although Martin Brundle had the same conclusion by the end of the season too in the show on Sunday.

    2. I don’t think the practice sessions are as significant but as drivers get so little real track time these days I didn’t want to gloss over the potential effect it might have had.

      Besides which, if I hadn’t included it I certainly would have been accused of purposefully ignoring it to hide the fact that one of the drivers was seriously disadvantaged as part of a nefarious Mercedes conspiracy’… blah blah blah, the usual predictable nonsense, you know the drill.

      in my mind (and the majority of others) Rosberg made his mistake intentionally

      Actually on F1 Fanatic the majority did not believe Rosberg went off deliberately.

      1. @keithcollantine But that was before Spa… it would be interesting to do the same poll again and see if the results are different (not entirely scientific though, as probably not the same people will be voting).

      2. I’m also glad you did this Keith, by giving a glimpse as to the average rate of failure as a function of time. Many of the unreliability issues in practice could have arisen in the race or qualifying, and it would be wrong to just analyse only a small subset of car running time

      3. If the stewards and those who voted in the subsequent poll had read this article I wonder if they would have given Rosberg [on balance] the benefit of the doubt

        http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/06/sports/06iht-prix.2718507.html?_r=2&

    3. If you discard each race where according to Keith they had a technical problem, it leaves us with: Malaysia, Bahrain, Spain, Monaco, Austria, Belgium, Japan, Russia, United States and Brazil.
      Result: Hamilton 204, Rosberg 201.
      That’s close.

      1. Spa should certainly not be on that list, but Monaco is suspect too. Without those it would be: 186 for HAM and 158 for ROS.

        If you extrapolate that 8 race result to a 19 race season (ie divide by 8 and multiply by 19) we get: 442 vs 375 with a difference of 67 points …

      2. But that does include Spa. Not reliability, but very important. Excluding that, Hamilton finished ahead 6-3.

    4. I like to speculate on this kind of things. Let’s consider not the full potential points lost but the “likely” points lost for reliability issues or caused by the team mate, reasonably the position held at the moment of the reliability problem. In case of Hamilton issues in qualy let’s consider, as a conservative value, that he would have finished right behind his team mate or on the same position he actually finished, whichever is the highest. Let’s also take into account the points one driver earned because of his teammate’s reliability issues. Double points are not considered except in [box brackets].

      HAMILTON
      Australia -25 (1st to DNF, he experienced the engine failure right at the start, while on pole position)
      Canada -25 (1st to DNF)
      Great Britain +7 (2nd to 1st thanks to Rosberg retirement)
      Germany -3 (2nd to 3rd)
      Hungary 0 (3rd to 3rd)
      Belgium -25 (1st to DNF, got a puncture form his team mate while leading the race)
      TOTAL: -71 POINTS LOST

      ROSBERG
      Australia +7 (2nd to 1st, thanks to Hamilton retirement)
      Great Britain -25 (1st to DNF)
      Singapore -18 (2nd to DNF)
      Canada 0 (2nd to 2nd, he was 2nd when Hamilton first had shown his issues, would have “probably” ended up 2nd if neither of them had any issues)
      Abu Dhabi -18 (2nd to 14th) [-36]
      TOTAL: -54 POINTS LOST [-72]

      Hamilton’s margin at the end of the year: 42 [67]
      Hamilton’s margin with no reliability issues etc: 59 [66]

      So definitely Hamilton was not helped by reliability throughout the year, except for that one single point only considering Abu Dhabi double points, while without double points he would have been penalised (17 points difference). Anyway, I’m glad neither double points or reliability were determining factors in deciding the title.

      1. I don’t really get your reasoning on Hungary in particular. He started from the back and ended up in front of his teammate who started on pole. Given that performance why would you assume he most likely would have got 3rd without his failure in qualifying? I get that you just have a “conservative rule” in place, but that seems better to account for failures in the race rather than this sort of thing.

      2. Hamilton could have gotten pole in Germany and/or Hungary. Even if he didn’t, it’s more likely that Hamilton would have one one or both of those races (seeing how he easily won races with Rosberg on pole). So just saying he could make up one position (or even nothing) seems a bit meager. Hamilton would most likely have won one or both of those races and Rosberg would have lost points there too.

        Rosberg already lost the win in Silverstone because he made his stop way too early (also picked the wrong tyres). Just like Vettel.

        So I’d say the points difference would have been slightly bigger if both hadn’t had mechanical (or teammate related) failures. Although not by much. In the end Abu Double sort of corrected for the extra points lost for Hamilton.

        What would have been different though is that Hamilton would have won the WDC already before the last race.

        1. @gwan
          I wanted to stick to the facts as much as I could. In Hungary it’s impossible to say where Hamilton could have ended up if he started 2nd or on pole (maybe he could have been handicapped by the SC as much as it happened to Rosberg, who knows?) so I used the simple rule of “right behind the teammate, or the same position he ended up, whichever is the higher”. This means a 2nd place in Germany and a 3rd in Hungary. I believe this is a fair approach as you don’t give any space to pure speculation and try to give what is fair.
          @patrickl
          I feel the same about Germany and Hungary, probably he could have won one of the two, but this is just mere speculation. I wanted my approach to be as conservative as possible, and proving that the title by no means was decided by reliability. Any more point awarded to Hamilton would have proven the point even more, so they would be only redundant.

          When I said “I like to speculate on this kind of things”, I meant in a realistic and conservative way ;)

          1. As others have explained before, the SC didn’t cost Rosberg the race. Alonso suffered just as much from it and nearly won it in a much slower car.

            I still don;t see how it makes sense to compensate for technical failures and then not compensate for failures that occured during qualifying.

            Still I agree with the conclusion. Perhaps Hamilton would have been slightly more ahead in points, but the title wasn’t decided by it at all. Albeit that Hamilton would have been WDC in Brazil.

          2. @patrickl while I did compensate in Germany, in Hungary the race was simply too complex to make a call of how Hamilton would have ended up with no issues in qualifying. One could argue that since without issues he would have qualified ahead of Ricciardo, he would have likely won the race, so you could add another 10 points. But it’s a bit too much speculative and, honestly, redundant in making the point I wanted to make.

    5. Monaco will never sit easy for me. The lock up was highly likely to be unintentional. However, reversing back up an escape road onto the track when he knew it would bring out yellow flags is another matter. There wasn’t time to get another lap in, Nico should have stayed put until the session had timed out, there was no benefit to him to getting back on track quickly other than to potentially affect following drivers…

      1. oh please stop. there wasn’t anything intentional – think of it from rosbergs view point… risking penalties,.. it was too risky – and he beat Hamilton in the first part of q3, so he would have been on a high to beat him to the end. it is such a shame people always think of the negatives before positives.

        1. Lol, of course Monaco was deliberate. Even Brundle’s accepted that now and even at the time he acknowledged that most of the paddock thought it was deliberate. Check out http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/f1/reports/2014-monaco-gp-report/ – virtually all the drivers knew it was deliberate and the tyre load data showed Rosberg could have made the corner, on top of which why else would Rosberg have run first?

          Spa was deliberate too, as Rosberg’s onboard showed, which amazingly makes cute Nico Rosberg the biggest cheat in F1 history.

          He’s been on a charm offensive since Spa and it’s been nice to see. He was as sweet as could be at the end. But how sincere was it?

          Anyway won’t see any shenanigans next year with Nico clearly on a yellow card with the team, so Nico has to fear Lewis won’t be overdriving Q3. It might not be such a great season for us fans.

      2. And all of a sudden he’s such a great guy because when he had nothing to loose he said some good things about Lewis.

    6. Previous World Championships have been won on less than 2.2 points per season. Prost won one of his by 1/2 a point.

    7. the best driver of the Mercedes drivers won. put ricciardo in the Mercedes please.

    8. This is a good look at the numbers. I agree that effectively, both drivers had three DNFs (counting Abu Dhabi for Nico). I also like discounting the double points for the last race. The 42 point difference is entirely accounted for by the 11-5 win wargin. Six more wins equals 42 points.

      If you just count 16 finishes, average points per finish were 22.4 for HAM and 19.8 for ROS.

  8. All in all, everything considered, 384 vs 317 points is an accurate reflection of how well each driver drove this season. They both lost about the same amount of points due reliability.

    Rosberg was good, but Hamilton was just plain better.

    1. Agreed.

      It is also worth noting that Hamilton has won against drivers in the same team who are not “no.2” drivers.
      Whereas Vettel, Schumacher, Alonso etc. have always insisted they are no.1 in a team.
      Even Raikonnen had to rely on Massa’s help to win the 2007 title in a year where Hamilton/Alonso fought in the same team against each other for every point.

      1. “It is also worth noting that Hamilton has won against drivers in the same team who are not “no.2″ drivers. Whereas Vettel, Schumacher, Alonso etc. have always insisted they are no.1 in a team.”

        I’m not sure that’s strictly true. Whatever McLaren’s policy regarding how to treat their drivers, there can be little doubt that Hamilton was viewed as the no.1 in 2008.

        I don’t think it’s fair to say that Vettel was the no.1 Red Bull driver in 2010, and he certainly didn’t ‘insist’ on being treated as such. I don’t really feel like the team had a no.1 that season, but if they did it would more likely have been Webber, as the senior driver and the one who actually led the majority of the championship that year. (2011-14 Vettel literally was the no.1 Red Bull driver, what with being the world champion.)

        1. I agree. Vettel/Webber same ranking in 2010, but from then on it was Vettel all the way. Mercedes will continue with two number 1’s next year unless they face a strong team fighting for the championship (McLaren Honda) then they will have to back one driver or they will take points from each other.

        2. I think Vettel was quietly number 1 driver as he was Red Bull’s boy, the first product of their junior program. Considering Webber’s chances of winning the championship in 2010 compared to Vettel’s, I can’t think of a good reason not to help him then an active desire for him not to win, highlighted to me by Turkey (where the team blamed Webber, despite it being Vettel’s fault. Watch the replay, Vettel turns into Webber just before they brake). After Vettel won the title, they could be more open about it.

  9. I think the fans who were neutral concerning this battle, me included, can consider themselves lucky with how the reliability issues fell taking into account the race head-to-head (9-4 to Lewis when both finished the race without technical problems) – Lewis could have easily wrapped up the title way earlier if the reliability situation played out differently.

  10. Amazing Keith, awesome

  11. Can someone make a table of the most reliable team of 2014, then please?
    Be good to know who has the best QC, and fewest breakdowns/component failures?

  12. Possibly.
    But only one reliability issue ensured there was a chase, and that was in the first race. If that hadn’t happened and Lewis had won, then Nico would probably have slipped into the number 2 driver position by Monaco, where he would have been 35 points behind before the race, not 3 points as it was in reality.

  13. Nice article. Agree that the point difference that they ended up on is pretty much what it should be based on performance differences.

    I’d say the biggest difference would be that, if they hadn’t had so many issues, Hamilton would have won the WDC already in Brazil. No fretting over double points would have been necessary.

    I also don’t agree with your assessment of Silverstone. Rosberg clearly got the tyre strategy wrong (too early and wrong tyres) just like Vettel did. Hamilton got it right like Ricciardo and could have easily won the race.

    Also, when considering the Canada outcome. Didn’t Hamilton use a diffrerent brand of brakes to Rosberg? I seem to remember something like that came out after Hamilton’s brakes failed again in Germany and Toto blamed the brand forbidding Hamilton from using those brakes for the race. Hamilton actually had to race with brakes that he hadn’t used before.

    1. Regarding the brakes, you are right. And, it should be noted that Hamilton was unable to return to his favoured brake material for the rest of the season. If Merc are convinced over the winter that the Brembo brakes are up to standard, and permit Hamilton to return to them, expect a much stronger Lewis on Saturdays next year.

      1. yeah herrd that on sky on the weekend. He has always preferred the Brembo brakes. In a race i expect he could get used to them but when he needed to go right to the limit in qualifying he was probably a few % off his best because of this.

    2. I read an article somewhere discussing abt why lewis is quicker on race day whilst nico on saturday and abt why lewis uses less fuel. It mentioned that ham prefers rear brake bias while nico prefers front. In canada their rear brakes failed so nico was able to continue while lewis couldn’t.

  14. I was looking forward to one of two possible scenarios:
    1) Nico in P1 & Lewis trying to decide if he wants to preserve 2nd or try to pass for the lead – could have been some interesting moments
    2) Lewis in P1 & Nico desperate to pass – would certainly have been some interesting moments

    We got 2.5) Lewis in P1, Nico dropping down the order, and Lewis serenely cruising to victory. Happy for Lewis, gutted for Nico, bummed to have missed a crucial fight between the two.

    1. Nico has all season to give Lewis a crucial fight on a Sunday. He never passed Lewis on track in the 19 races for a win! End of!

  15. For me it seems FP failures are not worth mentioning considering they would have still finished 1-2.

  16. We’ve got so used to near 100% reliability, that when a car breaks down now people are shocked by it. The Mercs have had very good reliability considering how fast they’ve been.

    1. Personally I haven’t been shocked at all by the unreliability this season. We were told it would happen before the season began. This generation of cars are so complex and this was only their first season. I expected this.

  17. To be honest, I’m loving that the cars are breaking.

    That means things are getting pushed beyond their limits. That’s F1.

  18. Brilliant article.

    Does anyone know how many times Lewis overtook Nico (and made it stick) on track? I’m guessing six or seven. Did Nico manage it on Lewis even once?

    Could it be that Nico, knowing he can never overtake Lewis sets up his car to maximize one lap pace, get pole and hope that Lewis can’t make it past? It seems uncanny how Lewis is usually as fast as or quicker than Nico in the first few laps with a full tank. Even after getting pole.

    1. That has definitely been my impression

    2. I doubt that Nico would ever start a race thinking he can ‘never’ overtake LH, and given that LH was able to use DRS to get by NR on, I’m assuming, several of the times, would make it obvious to NR that he couldn’t just ‘hope’ LH wouldn’t make it past. This rivalry would have been even more enthralling if LH more often than not started second, as happened, but didn’t have the luxury of DRS in his pocket. That said, of course that was available to NR too, and he too often couldn’t respond and DRS LH back, but I really rescent these easy passes in F1, and the tire scenarios would have been wholely different if LH had to work them a lot harder having started behind NR more often.

    3. Hamilton overtook Rosberg at the start in Bahrein, Belgium and Abu Dhabi. After the start, he overtook Rosberg in Italy (thanks to Rosberg’s mistake), Japan and USA.
      Rosberg never actually overtook Hamilton, except in Bahrein, where he was overtaken back right at the next corner (best race of the season imho), and in Belgium where he caused a puncture to Lewis, so it doesn’t really count.

  19. Rosberg lack of overtaking (Bahrain, Hungary, Spain) and lack of defending (America) along with mistakes (Italy and Russia) decides the title.

    1. Maybe you can count japan in

      1. @f1fan-2000 Hamilton was pulling away from Rosberg after he passed him

        1. Yeah thats why poor defense from rosberg

          1. I haven’t done this but let’s not forget to count the number of times LH passed NR using DRS, which makes all drivers look defenseless.

          2. @robbie How often was Nico able to breeze past Hamilton using the ‘easy’ route of DRS leaving Hamilton defenseless? Still none!

          3. @jerseyf1 Yeah I’ve acknowledged that. Doesn’t change the fact that you shouldn’t shoot a driver down for being a poor defender when DRS can make any leading driver look silly and defenseless.

          4. @robbie I’m no fan of DRS, but the point is that it can’t make any leading driver look silly and defenseless – a prime case being that Nico Rosberg was never able to use it to pass Hamilton (and others). So either Rosberg was incompetent in using his DRS button or Hamilton was a better defender.

          5. @jerseyf1 Well no not really. I think you are mixing two points. We agree that LH did the better job of having race pace and therefore was more likely to DRS Nico. Nico generally never hauled in LH such that he could DRS him. We all saw that. I’m just saying let’s not call any driver a bad defender when it is a case of someone DRS’ing him. DRS is there to promote passing and prevent processions because of F1’s addiction to aero downforce, and therefore by default is like a push-to-pass button, which makes the job of passing much easier and the job of defending near impossible. There’s just too much differential in speed, by design. Of course that also depends on the track and the drs zones, as some have been tweaked such that drs doesn’t give quite the advantage that it did in it’s first season of use as they learned more.

            I’m not sure LH even had to TRY to defend from someone drs’ing him this year, did he? Nico certainly got drs’ed by LH, and unfortunately those passes are almost always a foregone conclusion. I’m not convinced that LH always had so much more pace than NR that even hauling him in with slightly better pace would have meant getting by NR…not without drs…at perhaps at least a couple of races.

    2. Mistakes in reference to what happened in Italy should, of course, be in quotes.

  20. Doesn’t really matter to me. Without Rosbergs questionable actions at Monaco and Spa it would have been settled at Brazil. All that matters to me is that the right man won in the end.

    I do feel sorry for Nico. As soon as his engineer said his ERS was gone I knew the championship was over for him and I started imagining what it must be like in that cockpit with the childhood dream slipping away from you.

    1. When Hamilton also started slowing down, a scenario of Hamilton’s car failing and Rosberg finishing in P5 (or higher) looked possible for a short while.

    2. The childhood dream slipped away 1 second after the lights went out.

      1. @ootony it slipped away in 2012 when Mercedes announced Lewis. He’s a better driver and Rosberg will not win a championship with Merc if Lewis is the other driver.

        1. @Francorchamps Yes, A lot of people thought that but clearly they were wrong as he came within one mechanical failure of doing it…

          1. How about 2013?

  21. if you delete the points for the races where either driver had mechanical problem , together with spa and monaco [ for the obvious reasons ] then the WDC was over with 2 races to go ; that despite the fact that pirelli brought tyres which were too conservative to sochi which enabled rosberg to overcome his first lap error and run the race without stopping thereafter

  22. Basically, the races in which nico has retired he is already behind lewis (or gonna be passed becos of tires in silverstone) while races in which lewis retired he is likely to be ahead of nico (winning all races he started from pole bar aus, and including spa). But because of nico retiring under double pts 67 points should be the real gap between them. It is just that w/o reliability lewis would have over 400 points.

  23. The fact that reliability was roughly evenly distributed between the drivers is here nor there. Reliability determined the championship because if you shuffled those DNFs around (e.g. give some, or all of them to Lewis or Rosberg respectively) you get situations where Lewis would’ve won, and situations where Nico would’ve won.
    If Lewis would’ve had the ERS issue, Nico would be world champion! Something as frivolous as that!

    Contrast this with 2013, where even if Vettel had all the DNFs of Webber he would still have won the championship.

    1. You’re ignoring double points. If you take out double points, then Lewis having a problem would mean Nico still loses, finishing down wherever he finished. You think it would have been fair or just for Nico to win the championship despite being so clearly 2nd best on the Sundays this year? Fanboyism.

  24. Rosberg is just faster in single lap, needed more experience running at the front, next yr he will improve if no one get closer to him in quali he can run with it easy.

  25. It’s apparent that Lewis had more mechanical/electrical trouble. It’s also apparent that Lewis was the far stronger racer on the Sunday. Nico could only really win by qualifying in front of Lewis and/or by cheating.

    I never really saw these two as particularly close, Nico was handed a gift with the double points and it would’ve been a crime if he had won the championship. Hamilton/Button was a much more close rivalry, Button is a much better racer than Rosberg and could test Hamilton.

  26. wow mercedes had problem in every race, on one of their cars…

  27. There are a few potential reasons why Hamilton retired with brake failure in Canada while Rosberg could nurse his car to the finish.

    The first – and possibly most significant – reason is that Hamilton prefers to run more rear brake bias than Rosberg. Notably, the problem that forced Hamilton out was the rear brakes overheating. Hamilton runs more rear brake bias than Rosberg because he is more capable of dealing with an unstable rear end under braking. This has several benefits, such as improving fuel efficiency (as we saw in Lewis’ fuel used in most races this season) since the ERS-K harvests energy at the rear axle, not at the front.

    The second reason is because he was running in the hot air right behind Rosberg for almost the entire race until he overtook him through the pitstops on lap 45 (and his brake failure occurred later on the very same lap). This would’ve heated up his brakes more than Nico’s, who was running in clean air the entire race. That could be seen during the pit stop before he retired – some fire spurted out from Lewis’ front right wheel as he was pulling out of the pit box.

    The third reason is that, after the team pulled in Hamilton’s car to retire it, they quickly identified the problem as the rear brakes overheating and radioed Rosberg to move more of his brake bias to the front, which he did. It was definitely a commendable drive by Rosberg to manage with the change in the car’s handling characteristics, but I don’t feel that he “handled the situation better” than Hamilton or “did a better job at nursing his car home” (not to mention that his second place finish was largely thanks to a slow Perez holding up the quicker Red Bulls due to being much faster on the straights). I simply think that the circumstances were such that Hamilton was in a worse situation than Rosberg was when the ERS failed. It was largely just misfortune, though of course Hamilton could have avoided the “hot air” issue by qualifying ahead – he was ahead of Rosberg in every session until the pressure was on in Q3, where he made a mistake and locked-up.

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