Nico Rosberg in the Spanish Grand Prix prevailed for the first time in 2015. In doing so he beat his haughty team mate, Lewis Hamilton, for this first time this campaign too. And after an early part of the season wherein many had been questioning him, perhaps even trashing him.
So, a surprise? Well, not really. Not if you knew where to look.
It all adds up for Nico
As noted on this site recently, it had been open season on Nico but there wasn’t actually a great deal of difference between his first four rounds of this season and last, when he famously ran his team mate right to the wire, beyond the German benefiting massively from a DNF for Lewis in 2014’s opening race. Also Nico is one who has shown repeatedly that he loves to bounce right back into contention just when we’re all writing him off. His race in Bahrain demonstrated there was still fight in him too. Plenty could yet change, in other words.
And sure enough it started to change as Nico won pole in Spain with an impressive lap in that smooth style of his. Pole-sitters are rewarded at the Barcelona track even more frequently than those at Monaco. Nico was still out front after the first few corners, and in a dream ticket Lewis had sunk behind Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, where he remained for close to half the race. Nico indeed was far out front at the end. All in, it was a win that added up like arithmetic.
Lewis’ championship lead is still healthy – some 20 points – and both Merc pilots were mindful of this afterwards. But even if the numbers haven’t changed too much, the mood has shifted rather more. Nico appeared after stepping out of the car in Spain a man a world away from the frustrated presence we have witnessed for much of this season. And if last year is a guide, mood can mean rather a lot in the intra Merc battle.
Ferrari’s food for thought?
The Spanish Grand Prix, in more ways than one, seemed a shift back towards 2014, and for Ferrari this was regrettable. It turned up with a major upgrade but in something rather redolent of its previous struggle the extent to how much it worked wasn’t clear. Seb indeed finished 45 seconds after Nico, which was an uncomfortable bottom line. Neither Nico nor Merc’s non-executive chairman Niki Lauda missed the importance of it in their words later.
Of course it is but one race and Seb insisted afterwards that the improvement will be more obvious in the next two rounds. But no one at Maranello will thank you for reminding them that false dawns are known at Ferrari. And that when it reaches the inevitable point that things go less well than now that it’s not always been a place for the faint of heart. Perhaps the next few weeks will indicate how much the Italian team really has turned a corner.