Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2016

How Rosberg can win the title in Brazil – and why he probably will

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Nico Rosberg’s chances of clinching the world championship in Brazil are much stronger than they were in Mexico.

As Lewis Hamilton was unable to make major inroads into Rosberg’s points lead in Mexico, a win for Rosberg would guarantee him the championship. But he could secure the title by finishing as low as sixth depending on what happens to his team mate.

The table below shows all the possible outcomes of next week’s race at the Interlagos circuit for both drivers. The outcomes in which Rosberg would win the championship are highlighted:

Rosberg’s points lead after Brazil Hamilton
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th/DNF
Rosberg 1st 26 29 32 34 36 38 40 42 43 44
2nd 12 22 25 27 29 31 33 35 36 37
3rd 9 16 22 24 26 28 30 32 33 34
4th 6 13 16 21 23 25 27 29 30 31
5th 4 11 14 17 21 23 25 27 28 29
6th 2 9 12 15 17 21 23 25 26 27
7th 0 7 10 13 15 17 21 23 24 25
8th -2 5 8 11 13 15 17 21 22 23
9th -4 3 6 9 11 13 15 17 20 21
10th -5 2 5 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
11th/DNF -6 1 4 7 9 11 13 15 17 18 19

Perhaps the biggest worry for Hamilton is that there are few scenarios in which the championship remains open if he finishes behind Rosberg in Brazil. They all involve both of the Mercedes drivers finishing outside the top two places, something which hasn’t happened all year (see below).

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Sochi, 2016
If Rosberg leads a Mercedes one-two it’s over for Hamilton
Note that if Rosberg ends the race 25 points ahead of Hamilton he will only have won the championship if he has finished second.

If Rosberg finishes second and Hamilton fourth, Rosberg will be 25 points ahead of Hamilton. But even if Hamilton wins the final race and Rosberg fails to score, meaning they end the year level on points, Rosberg will win the title on count-back. Both will have won nine races but Rosberg will have four seconds to Hamilton’s three.

However in all other outcomes where Rosberg ends the Brazilian Grand Prix 25 points ahead of Hamilton, the championship will remain unresolved. Hamilton will still have a slim chance of winning the title by winning the race while Rosberg fails to score, in which scenario he will win on count-back to third place finishes, by four to two.

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In order for Hamilton to go into the final race knowing a victory would secure him the title regardless of where Rosberg finishes, he needs a points lead of at least six. He would achieve this by winning the race while Rosberg finishes fourth.

You can check all possible outcomes to the championship using the F1 Fanatic Points Calculator:

How likely is Rosberg to win the championship in Brazil?

Out of the 19 races so far this season more than half have produced an outcome which, if repeated in Brazil, would secure the title for Rosberg:

Round Race Rosberg Hamilton Rosberg points lead*
1 Australia 1 2 26
2 Bahrain 1 3 29
3 China 1 7 38
4 Russia 1 2 26
5 Spain 19
6 Monaco 7 1 0
7 Canada 5 1 4
8 Europe 1 5 34
9 Austria 4 1 6
10 Great Britain 3 1 9
11 Hungary 2 1 12
12 Germany 4 1 6
13 Belgium 1 3 29
14 Italy 1 2 26
15 Singapore 1 3 29
16 Malaysia 3 34
17 Japan 1 3 29
18 United States 2 1 12
19 Mexico 2 1 12

*What Rosberg’s point lead would be after Brazil if he and Hamilton finished in that order again

Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2015
Hamilton hasn’t beaten Rosberg in Brazil at Mercedes

The other concern for Hamilton is that Interlagos is one of few circuits where Rosberg has dependably been quicker than him. In their three previous races there as team mates Rosberg has out-qualified and out-raced Hamilton every time.

If Hamilton is going to keep his championship chances alive until Abu Dhabi he will have to produce his best performance yet at Interlagos – a circuit where he has never won in his nine previous appearances.

2016 Brazilian Grand Prix

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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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101 comments on “How Rosberg can win the title in Brazil – and why he probably will”

  1. Now hope it will rain in Interlagos and we have the same outcome as in rainy Monaco. Than we would have a tie going to the last round.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      4th November 2016, 17:36

      Unless the rain is so bad that they can’t finish 75% of the race, @grapmg.
      Then even a repeat of Monaco (and half points) allows ROS to finish 1 place behind HAM in Abu Dhabi.

      1. @coldfly Yes that is correct. Can’t remember the last race when that happened.

        PS. I’m not in favor for Hamilton nor Rosberg, just hope for an exciting fight for WDC between the two in the last race.

        1. I hope Rosberg wins it in Brazil just so that I won’t have to watch Abu Dhabi.

          1. You don’t have to watch it at all if you like.

        2. @grapmg the last half points race was malaysia 09.

      2. knoxploration
        4th November 2016, 19:30

        This post prompts me to wonder… if you get half points for a win because it was a half-race, does that also count as half a win for the purposes of breaking a championship tie, or is it still a whole win?

        1. As the winner in such a race gets 12½ points it is unlikely that he would tie in the championship in points. But someone gets 7½ points and another ½, if those land with a rival for the championship it still could tie.

          1. knoxploration
            4th November 2016, 22:01

            To illustrate my point, say I have four race wins (100 points), a win in a half distance race (12.5 points), a second place (18 points) and a ninth place (2 points). That’s 132.5 points in total.

            Now say that you have five race wins (125 points) and a third in the half distance race (7.5 points). That, too, is 132.5 points. We are exactly tied on points.

            Now, do we say that I have 4.5 race wins, and you beat me in the championship with more race wins? Or do we say that we both have five race wins apiece (as I still won that half race, even if it only gave half points), and then use second places as a tie breaker, allowing me to beat you in the championship?

            That’s the question here: Does a position in a half race count as a full or a half-position when using the number of finishes in each position to break a tie?

        2. Your classified finishing position is 1, so it is treated as one whole race win.

        3. A win is a win.

          1. Knoxploration
            6th November 2016, 2:46

            I would agree too, but that begs the question of why you award only half points for it, if the meaningful value is a full win?

          2. Knoxploration You make a very good point. My simple logic says that if only half points are awarded, then the win should also only have half it’s value too. But the other posters are probably right in their assessment of the situation that a win is a win. After all, you can’t dig half a hole can you? I must admit to not knowing what the answer is and I would be interested if somebody looks up the rule and answers your question.

        4. The sporting regulations refer to ‘1st places’, not ‘wins’.

          Regulation 7.2:
          If two or more constructors or drivers finish the season with the same number of points, the higher place in the Championship (in either case) shall be awarded to :
          a) The holder of the greatest number of first places.
          b) If the number of first places is the same, the holder of the greatest number of second places.
          c) If the number of second places is the same, the holder of the greatest number of third places and so on until a winner emerges.
          d) If this procedure fails to produce a result, the FIA will nominate the winner according to such criteria as it thinks fit.

          That last one is interesting!

  2. What a fight. Can’t wait for Interlagos. Should be an emotional one for Massa as well.

    1. Agreed. I hope he gets a proper send-off.

  3. So, I guess it’s easy peasy for Hamilton. Just win the race!

    1. It’s easier peasier for Rosberg. Just needs a couple of first corner collisions with his teammate.

      Not that I think that will happen.

      1. Not so easy-peasy for Hamilton, he can win both races and still lose, Rosberg would need only one 2P and one 3P (or 2P in both of course).

        Nico has no need to tangle with Lewis at all, just follow him to 2P in both races so he is unlikely to force T1 collisions.

  4. i hope rosberg wins because it will validate his title. it’d be a bit of a damp squib if he clinches it by following hamilton home 4 times in a row.

    1. No, it wont. Having a DNF and still winning the title is what validates it – as he would have won it on an equal footing to Lewis.

      1. Yes, Rosberg would have more points if he wins the Title, and the Title would be his. There is no such separation in the WDC that indicates if kbdavies feels it was a valid championship or not. They are all valid. I don’t think Rosberg is worried about you feeling it is validated or not. It’s not Rosberg’s fault for Hamilton’s DNFs.

      2. @kbdavies
        so he wins in Brazil and has a DNF while leading in Abu Dhabi. Fair enough.

      3. I didn’t hear you speaking up that Lewis titles weren’t fair because he didn’t have a wiring loom installation error like rosberg did in Singapore.

        Did Mercedes make Lewis hit the wall in Baku? If Lewis was half as dominating as his fans suggest Lewis could have more than one DNF and still have a comfortable lead.

        See Sebastian vettel as an example of how to dominate your teammate with the best machine on the grid.

        Fact is Lewis is responsible for the races that he messed up on his own, wasn’t faster than Nico when his car was working, etc, and had he performed on those days we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

        The better driver will win the WDC this year. If to Lewis it’s because he out drove and if it’s rosberg it’s EXACTLY THE SAME.

        1. Desperate stuff. Keep rehearsing the ‘Lewis wasn’t perfect either’ fakery, in case Rosberg wins a championship with 5 competitive wins to 10, which might make it the worst ever.

          1. Is that you Donald trump?

        2. “See Sebastian vettel as an example of how to dominate your teammate with the best machine on the grid.”

          Seb didnt grow up with Web nor raced long enough along side him from the start… Web is 11 yrs older than Seb, so expect some difference…

          Ham n Ros grew up racing together or one another all their career! there is no generation gap…

          Fact is Ham was winning Msia with a big margin, and he was gonna level the field if he won!

          Another fact is Ham didnt magically screwed up his starts! Both cars had the issue! It is to do with hardware in hand, and Merc admitted and knows about it…

          Another fact for you, Ros knew he couldnt race Ham on level field, so he caused another situation in Spain like in Spa last time and he lost no points in spain due to knocking both out, but in Aus is the only one he screwed up big time loosing points….
          If Ver was penalized earlier for his moves, we wouldnt be talking about silly points…
          If you wanna fact check reliability, check Lewis’s engine counts now! Not Just singapore 2014, also in 2014, Ham had more DNFs, as Ros didnt leave the field on last race, even without it, he was lagging behind, not leading!
          If you think Ros winning the title would be the better driver, you dont watch F1 fairly…

          1. Wow the Waa-milton fans are out in full force. Coulda shoulda woulda – Rosberg deserves the title when he wins it.

          2. @sjzelli No Rosberg does not.

          3. What about Azerbaijan? Please realise rosberg has fairly beaten Hamilton many times, and the final points tally determines the championship, not ifs and buts.

  5. I think probably is too strong a term. Hamilton probably was going to win 2007 until China. Abu Dhabi and Brazil came so close to torpedoing Vettel’s championship. In Mexico Rosberg was lucky with the clash with Verstappen.

    I still think even with only 2 races to go the championship could yet see a twist.

    1. you know what ‘probability’ means right?

      1. I sure do! So a quick glance over the possible outcomes shows less that could result in Rosberg winning the championship in Brazil than see it go down to Abu Dhabi. And then factoring in each driver’s season form for a likely finishing position for them both gives you a high probability of the championship not being decided in Brazil if you really want to throw statistics into the mix.

        So thank you for asking, but I’ll stand by Rosberg ‘probably’ winning in Brazil being an incorrect statement. Peace!

        1. I’d say “probably” is too open, you can’t say if it is correct or not. If by probably you mean that it is more likely to happen than the opposite (i.e, probability > 0.5, or 50%) then we have a basis for discussion.

          Of 111 possible combinations (not counting half points due to an unfinished race as a possibility, but maybe we should) Nico gets it in 33, less than one third. But of course they are not equally likely. You can go by stats from previous races and estimate a probability, but it is just that, an estimation.

          The worst stat for Lewis to consider is that he never won at Interlagos in 9 races. Not winning again this year would be a disaster for him, but still Nico would be WDC only in 33/100 scenarios. And Lewis would actually improve his present situation with a 2P if Nico gets 7P or worse (how likely is this?), he wouls still be behind Nico but a victory in Abu Dhabi would get him the title.

          Now what is the likeliest outcome?. With Merc’s dominance, I’d say its a 1-2 for Merc. Nico does not need to fight Lewis for P1, so I’d say Lewis P1 and Nico P2 is a very likely outcome, and it will leave the WDC to be decided at Yas Marina (with a big advantage for Nico, who would only need to be 3rd if Lewis wins, 7th if Lewis is second, 8th if 3rd, and whatever if Lewis does not make the podium). But going by Lewis’ previous record at Interlagos I’d say that he’s unlikely to win, and then the most likely winner is Nico who would of course get the tittle.

          So I’d conclude that Nico has a pretty high probability of getting the title next Sunday (but not necessarily over 50%). And most scenarios where he doesn’t get it leave him with a great advantage for Abu Dhabi. The WDC is his to lose more than Lewis’ to win. But of course it has happened many times before.

          Now if we could bring that tiny Shanghai gravel trap to Interlagos…

          1. Statistics are always open to a level of interpretation. Hamilton has a higher average finishing position that Rosberg taking out DNF’s. Even using DNF’s and going from his average classification their average classification doesn’t find Rosberg a sufficient points gap to take it in Brazil.

            And of course, the people who do it for a living, the bookies all have Hamilton as favorite. Keith’s article was an interesting interpretation of statistics and was good for opening up a discussion, but I and people who’s job it is to calculate that probability for the bookies disagree.

          2. Actually bookies’ odds are not based on the probability of each outcome so much as on what the punters are hoping will be the outcome. The odds are chosen to get as close as possible to the same total payout whatever the result – and of course to make sure that it is less than the total the punters have paid in.

            If Hamilton is the favourite it is because more of the punters are his fans than Rosberg’s.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      4th November 2016, 15:24

      Absolutely! Rosberg is only 19 points in front so a DNF for Rosberg and a win for Hamilton will mean that Hamilton goes into the last race of the season in front.

      Rosberg was lucky in Malaysia with the overtake on Kimi and was lucky in Mexico to have not been taken out by Verstappen.

      I just hope that Hamilton doesn’t have any issues for the remainder of the season and makes Rosberg earn it. It’d be a real shame to see Hamilton retire from a race handing the title to his teammate.

      1. Rosberg at Malaysia was extremely lucky that Hamilton had that complete engine failure, which caused his retirement while comfortably leading that race with only 16 laps to go, and on to a certain win. Without that failure, Lewis would be leading the championship today by 9 points.

        1. Not only that, Ham was unlucky with Bottas and China was another complete disaster Nasr hitting him, gearbox penalty etc… Baku was complete cock up by team not telling him what has been changed before hand… and not the same behavior with nico in a similar situation… if it wasnt for the help with nico, he would be most likely DNF or dropped a lot further down had the team not helped at all like they did with ham!

          Ros had the most help and most reliable car this year, and still reverted to dirty driving antics… if he wins this year, he will be one of the most undeserving drivers…

          People keeps saying Ham screwed up starts and caused this issue… right, how many times mercedes drivers had screwed up the start? mercedes acknowledged the hardware issue, and knows about it… it is not just ham magically forgot how to start off the line… thats the dumbest reason everyone whoever hates him…has been giving

          1. @mysticus Don’t forget Russia where Hamilton again had car problems during quality or free practice and in the race again, cause Hamilton was closing in on Rosberg hard until the team told Hamilton he had a pressure leak or whatever it was

          2. also, if Ros loose the title after this much luck and drama he created, he will never get the caurage / chance as everyone will look down on him after this, an wont take him seriously…

  6. Brazil’s going to be interesting. Rosberg will have the full weight of the potential title on his shoulders (far more then Mexico, where it was only a vague possibility at best) and with his recent record at the track he’ll be expected to win. However, Hamilton’s on song and determined to do all he can (not to mention win at his idol’s home circuit) while Red Bull and possibly Ferrari are nipping at the Mercedes’ heels. Austria may also come to his mind, another track he’s usually superior on but this time he failed to take the win. Time will tell, of course.

    1. Didn’t it take Senna a fair few goes before he finally won an F1 race in Brazil? Maybe then, this could be the year that Hamilton finally does it himself.

      1. It took Senna 10 attempts. Something tells me Hamilton would rather like that to happen to himself.

        1. It took Senna 8 attempts before he won in 1991.

  7. I really hope it rains so hard in Brazil cause we all know Rosberg is not good in the rain. I also feel like Hamilton deserve it more, Hamilton could be in the lead was not it not for the Malaysia DNF. So gutted by it still and i can’t help but i feel like Rosberg is being helped to become WDC.

    1. @patienceandtime
      Bahrain 2015 Rosberg’s brakes failed with 2 laps to go costing him 3 points. A combined 50, let me say that again, 50 points lost in Italy and Russia. Hamilton lost 12 points in Singapore, the race in which it mattered the least and 10 in Monaco. That’s in effect 31 points that Rosberg lost just through reliability. Yet nobody talks about this do, they? Rosberg had raised his game this year and has proven too much for Hamilton at certain venues. There’s nothing concerning Hamilton’s unreliability this year to make any fuss about. Rosberg will be a very well deserved champion and I don’t care what your response might be, because I’ve stated only facts. FACTS.

      1. And Hamilton won the championship by 59 points so reliability wouldn’t have altered the outcome.

        This year though if Hamilton loses by less than 28 points and Rosberg doesn’t have a DNF due to reliability then Malaysia can be identified as a single point in the season that potluck has affected the outcome.

        1. Fair enough, but still not enough to claim Rosberg was handed the title completely by unreliability.

          1. Would Rosberg be leading the championship now. If it wasn’t for that complete engine failure that Lewis had suffered at Malaysia. The answer is……..No he would trailing Lewis by 9 points……FACT.

          2. @sravan-pe

            Well, that’s not what I’m saying. Taking Rosberg’s bad luck out of 2015, Hamilton still won enough points on merit that even if Rosberg had gained the extra points lost from bad luck, Hamilton would still have won the championship.

            This year though, unless Rosberg ends on 28 or more points or more than Hamilton. That single incident of bad luck Hamilton had, that Rosberg didn’t is enough to account for Rosberg’s point lead which is absolutely a deciding factor.

            Luck and reliability is almost always a factor in a championship. For instance taking reliability and none fault retirements out of the equation Hamilton wouldn’t have won 2008 (but would probably have won 2012).

          3. knoxploration
            4th November 2016, 19:33

            You know what’s also a fact, Samouri? Hamilton wouldn’t have been able to be in the situation to challenge in Malaysia, had his team not clearly ignored the spirit of the rules to buy him a free supply of engines which *no* other driver on the grid has had access to.

            That engine failure? That was karma.

          4. @samouri

            … But it did happen. You can’t change reality.

            Why not just look forward to the remaining races? Either driver can still win, how good is that?

          5. knoxploration: what a load of nonsense.

            Mercedes protested that loophole at the start of the season and not only were they overruled by the other teams (who wanted the ability to get extra engines) but they were also lynched by people saying they only wanted the rule change to get an advantage over the other teams. The rule wasn’t changed and people complain anyway about them “getting an advantage”. Average IQ of an “f1 fan” is 12 it seems.

          6. Absolutly Martin.
            Let’s also add, contrary to what knoxploration wrote that that loophole is still available for all to use.
            McLaren and Ferrari did it previously, I don’t remember knoxploration ranting against them. That post was just a plain lie.

        2. What about those points gained as a result of Rosberg obeying team orders in Monaco?

          1. That Rosberg was too slow and would have angered the whole team had he kept in front?
            Remember Brum: you win the championship with your team, no against it.

    2. Hamilton deserves it more because he hits walls in Baku?

      Hamilton deserves it more because he chokes in Japan?

      You’re saying a DNF means a driver deserves a championship?

      Sad fans these days. That’s why F1 is falling apart.

      1. I think it depends who you’re a rapid fan of.

        I’m certainly hoping the one I’m a fan of wins. But either way, I won’t be sore, the winner will have earned it.

        1. I meant rabid, but rapid almost works haha.

      2. ThisNoNameID2 (@patienceandtime)