2013 will probably show just how fast Nico Rosberg is, and whether or not he belongs in a top team in Formula One. He’s been paired up with Lewis Hamilton, a former F1 World Champion and a multiple race winner, and someone who’s highly rated by everyone in the paddock.
Rosberg made his F1 debut for the Williams team back in 2006, taking the fastest lap accolade in his debut race in Bahrain. His father Keke was the 1982 F1 World Champion, and after his first race every one was saying he would follow in his father’s footsteps. However it took 6 years to reach the top step of the podium, winning the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix in dominating fashion from his first career pole position. However he wouldn’t get another chance of victory after that race, due to the lack of development of his Mercedes car, and the increased speed of its competitors.
His first years for Williams were when the team were in decline, and he never had a car that could challenge for wins on a regular basis. The 2008 Singapore Grand Prix was perhaps his best shot at a victory with the team, but he messed it up by running over the white line exiting the pit lane and incuring a drive-through penalty. The fact he still finished second that day outlined his speed. He spent four years at Williams, with only two podium finishes to show for it, and 75.5 points, before being signed by Ross Brawn for the new Mercedes team, which bought out the Brawn team at the end of 2009.
The pressure of joining this team was probably diminished by the choice of his teammate within Mercedes – a returning seven-time World Champion by the name of Michael Schumacher. But whereas Schumacher struggled, Rosberg acquired three podium finishes and finished 7th in the championship in his first season there. In fact Rosberg out peformed Schumacher in all three years they were together, scoring 5 podium finishes to Michaels one, and scoring 324 points to Schumachers 197! And of course there was that win in China.
Now he has Lewis Hamilton to compete against. As the saying goes, the first person you want to beat is your teammate, so it’ll be interesting to see if Nico can do just that. He’s not used to playing second fiddle to a teammate, but neither is Lewis. Both are competitive drivers, but whereas Lewis’ future is assured, Nico needs to step up to the plate and prove he belongs. If he suddenly finds himself being outdriven by Lewis, its surely got to rock his confidence. He cannot afford to be totally dominated by Lewis, because there are plenty of other drivers out there good enough to take the Mercedes drive.
If Lewis and Nico are evenly matched, then its all good, as everyone knows how good Lewis is. His career will prosper if he knows he’s just as good as a past world champion, who has never failed to win at least one race during a season. If Lewis wins a race or two, Nico needs to be close to him, and be in position to win other races. That’s of course, if Mercedes provide them with a good enough car to challenge for wins. Its possible, but with the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari & McLaren competing, its going to be hard for them. But thats another story that will pan out next season.
So is 2013 a make or break year for Nico Rosberg? Be close to Lewis and he’ll be ok.