Damon Hill says that Nico Rosberg deserves to be 2016 Formula 1 world champion and would be a worthy one too, but the 1996 champion believes that Lewis Hamilton has more talent than his Mercedes teammate.
Hill told the Guardian, “If Lewis applies himself, and is right on it, there’s no way Nico can get close to him. There is a certain amount of talent which you can’t compete with, no matter how many hours you put in. Nico has got his talent too, but it’s not of the same level as Lewis’s.”
““But I have to say Nico would be a worthy champion. Anyone who goes head to head with a driver like Lewis, in the same team, and comes out ahead at the end of a long season – you have to say credit to that person. If he wins the title, it will be well deserved and I would not try to devalue it at all. He would be a very worthy champion.”
“When you see the people he’s been up against, Michael Schumacher and now Lewis, he has held his own against some pretty tough opposition. I think he’s definitely world class. And he’s got better. He’s honed his craft and become more complete in every respect.”
Hill’s father was F1 world champion in 1962 and 1968, while Rosberg’s father Keke was champion in 1982.
Hill said of having a champion father, “In some ways it adds to the complication. If you have had a successful dad, you are never a stand-alone competitor because people are always referring back.”
“But I do wonder if Keke has helped Nico away from the track, with the politics and the way the sport works. That’s very important in Formula One. Keke probably told him not to put his foot in that trap over there. Lewis has strayed into a few land mines, hasn’t he? I also believe inherited talent must be there, to a degree, with both Nico and myself.”
There is a perception in certain quarters that if Rosberg wins the title he would have inherited it from hamilton who has been dogged by ill luck this season.
Hill does not agree, “To be fair to Nico he has put in some superb performances. He has had his pieces of bad luck too. He has shown he can race. He muscled his way past Kimi Raikkonen in Malaysia, which was a high-risk move, but he did it. And when he’s been under pressure he’s held his nerve. He’s also shown this season that he’s not prepared to be pushed around. Lewis is a very wily competitor. He’s experienced and he knows how to street-fight.”
“I think in Spa two years ago [when the two Mercedes drivers crashed] Nico may not have been as culpable as he was made to appear. I think that knocked the stuffing out of him. He even got booed on the podium. But this year Nico has shown he can handle himself. I was of the opinion that butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth but I’ve come to doubt that.”
“He is also a team player and has not been anxious to promote himself as a brand. And he has often been a dutiful number two when Ross Brawn was running the team and he was asked to come second. So he has deferred to Lewis on occasions, for the sake of harmony,” added Hill.