In the wake of another title loss, Nico Rosberg has indicated he is ready to make a change in his approach to racing triple Formula 1 world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton.
In contrast, Hamilton is riding a wave of confidence and form at present, while some think Rosberg is even being bullied off the track, as in Austin a week ago.
Clearly, given his demonstrated ability to beat Hamilton both in qualifying and at grands prix, Rosberg is a fine driver, but perhaps he needs to leave Mercedes in order to fully show it.
“No. I’m happy here, driving the best car in F1 that gives me the chance to win races,” the German insisted to Brazil’s Globo in Mexico.
“I am not thinking today that I will not win next year. On the contrary, I am quite optimistic that I can beat him,” Rosberg said, referring to Hamilton.
Perhaps, then, it is Rosberg’s approach that needs a re-think. David Coulthard, who knows the dilemma well given his long stint alongside former double world champion Mika Hakkinen at McLaren, agrees: “Nico is a fine, professional racing driver.
“But at the moment it isn’t enough,” he told the Telegraph. “It’s going to take a ‘back to the drawing board’ approach.”
And that could start straight away, this weekend in Mexico, after some people observed that Rosberg is being consistently bullied by Hamilton in wheel-to-wheel battles.
“I don’t want to comment on that,” Rosberg insisted. “But I have heard the fans and thought about it. I will not tell you how I will react because it would help him. I keep it to myself.”
“One thing is certain – I have to rethink some things. I just want to say that I understand what I have heard, because I have lost positions in these manoeuvres. I understand the question,” he added.
Another perspective on Rosberg’s situation, however, is that he is increasingly regarded as the Mercedes ‘number two’, even inside the team.
Niki Lauda, the team chairman, sided strongly with Hamilton after the Austin incident, insisting that a group discussion involving both drivers was not even necessary.
“I can understand why you ask me that because you see things from the outside,” Rosberg responded. “But I can tell you that inside it is quite different.”
“Niki says certain things, that’s true, but he is not the actual person within Mercedes addressing these issues. Niki is about the direction of the team, but he is not Toto Wolff.”
“Again, I understand your question, but I feel supported by the team,” Rosberg insisted, “otherwise I would not continue here. I appreciate having a boss like Toto, he is very capable and we are very lucky to have him as our leader.”