February 26th, 2013 (F1plus / G. Polychronis).- The inter-team competition between Rosberg and Michael Schumacher in 2012 appeared to be somewhat sugar coated and it was hard for many to see who was truly the better competitor.
An average Formula One fan would looked at the 2012 Drivers’ Championship standings and noticed that Rosberg finished 44 points ahead of his fellow countryman. They would have then led themselves to the conclusion that Rosberg was therefore the superior driver, no questions asked. This is most certainly the case on the statistic sheets, but the attention was never drawn away from these figures that continue to manipulate so many Formula One fans.
Rosberg undoubtedly had an impressive start to the season, scoring 59 points in the first six races, including one pole to flag victory in China, whereas Michael Schumacher, after seven races had already accumulated a total of five retirements. It is safe to say however, that none of these retirements were entirely his fault. His race in Australia was marred by a gearbox issue, followed by a loose wheel in China, a careless error from Bruno Senna in Spain, a racing collision with Romain Grosjean in Monaco and then a DRS issue in Canada to conclude the streak of bad luck.
After the Canadian Grand Prix however, things started to change for the seven-time world champion and found himself outracing his teammate nine times out of thirteen races.
Schumacher’s qualifying results throughout the season were decent, as he qualified in the top 5 for seven races of the season, which was more than what was expected of him. Rosberg’s expectations were higher though, and he failed to impress in the second half of the season. In the last eleven races, he did not qualify in the top five once, which is rather lackluster for a team that were considered a worthy competitor for the 2012 title. Rosberg’s race results can also be questioned, as he finished in a lower position than his grid spot on eleven occasions (including three retirements).
The same could also be said in regards to Rosberg’s future teammate, Lewis Hamilton, as he finished lower than his grid positions on twelve separate instances; nevertheless, he was able to justify it with a total of seven podium finishes, as opposed to Rosberg’s two podium finishes. The most obvious cause for this difference between the two drivers however, would be the undeniable fact that Hamilton was driving a more superior machine, and as the season continued, it was evident that Mercedes was suffering from a substantial vehicle performance slump that they never managed to escape.
Despite Rosberg’s tough competition, he still remains optimistic about his 2013 performance prospects; in fact, he does not seem threatened by the world champion’s presence in the Mercedes garage. “There’s no concern, I’m pleased he’s (Lewis Hamilton) joining the team and it’s a new challenge for me, and yes, he’s one of the best out there so it’s going to be very interesting going up against him. But again, I’m convinced that I’ll do well and we’ll see how he goes.”
Rosberg obviously has great faith in his team to be ‘convinced’ that he will have a strong season, and as pre-season testing progresses, it is becoming more evident as to why he would be feeling this way.
The first day of testing in Barcelona appeared to be fruitful for Rosberg, as he submitted the fastest time of the session. Mercedes also looked strong on the final day of testing, as Lewis Hamilton yielded the best time for that particular session. Pre-season testing should not be looked at too closely however, as it is merely a time for teams to explore the capabilities of their cars and usually do not reflect how the season will unfold.
In a recent interview, Rosberg stated that he is able to win races ‘pretty quickly’ with his current outfit, although his expectations still remain realistic. “At the end of last season we lost a second a lap. It’s very difficult to make up that difference in one winter.”
Although Rosberg persists that he is of worthy competition against Hamilton, it is almost impossible to deny that he is the number two driver in the Mercedes garage. Rosberg will need to dig deep to find any sort of advantage over his English teammate if he wishes to seriously compete with him in the 2013 season.