A championship title awaits

Date published: November 6 2016

Nico Rosberg may have stumbled at the first sudden death event in the championship race but as each grand prix passes, the permutations increase – so too does the pressure.

Last time out in Mexico it was rather simple, Rosberg needed to win the grand prix and have his only title rival, Lewis Hamilton, finish 10th or lower. Neither played their part.

Hamilton dominated the race weekend to claim a comfortable win while Rosberg could only manage second. That, though, was enough to keep his championship hopes alive.

Having built up a 33-point lead with his last victory in Japan, the German needed four P2s in the remaining four races to walk away with the title. He is halfway there with runner-up results in the United States and Mexico with only Brazil and Abu Dhabi left.

He can, however, wrap it up before the end of the season.

Should Rosberg win the Brazilian GP, which would be his third successive victory at the Interlagos circuit, he will move onto 374 points which means a P2 on the day for Hamilton, who would be on 348 points, he would walk away with the title.

A P2 for Rosberg in São Paulo would only guarantee him the title if Hamilton was fifth or lower while if he is third, he would need Hamilton to be no higher than sixth.

Should Hamilton win the grand prix, something he has yet to do, the title race would be alive in Abu Dhabi no matter where Rosberg finishes. And Hamilton could still win it.

Even if the Mercedes team-mates leave the Interlagos circuit with Rosberg 25 points ahead, a win for the Brit and a DNF for the German would see Hamilton take the crown by count-back on third-placed finishes.

Both drivers, though, are up against Mercedes’ reliability glitches which have cost the team-mates this season.

Hamilton has had the worst of Mercedes’ issues with nine engine failures alone. He has also struggled with clutch issues that have seen him lose positions off the line.

As such the Brit now faces the prospect of losing his World title to his team-mate, although this time around both drivers seem to be more amicable about it.

In the past the tension within the Mercedes garage has been volatile and although Toto Wolff feared a “volcano” in the latter part of this season, that has yet to happen. There are also no rumbles suggesting that it is coming. That, though, could change in Brazil.

In recent weeks Hamilton has been pragmatic about his position in the standings while Rosberg is refusing to entertain the media, instead opting to focus solely on the task at hand.

But with Hamilton winning the races he needs to keep his title hopes alive and Rosberg bagging the P2s he requires, one of the two may crack before the end of the game.

Michelle Foster