We continue looking at five of Nico Rosberg’s greatest drives in light of the German leaving the sport as the 2016 World Champion. Here, we look at a 2nd place result that came about under very testing circumstances! The race? Canada 2014…
2014 was of course the first year of Mercedes dominance in the hybrid-turbo era. Canada marked the seventh race of the 2014 Formula 1 season and prior to it, Mercedes had won every race, lead every lap, taken every pole…you get the gist of it. They had only missed out on a 1-2 at the very first race of the season. Every other one had featured a 1-2.In terms of the rivalry between Hamilton and Rosberg, the pendulum had just swung back to Rosberg coming into Canada, after winning in Monte Carlo previously. Canada would see Rosberg maintain the upper hand, in what was a quite remarkable race…
“I had a tough start but I was able to defend in the first few corners and fight against Lewis.”
Rosberg took a fantastic pole, at a track where Hamilton is usually king. The race start was pretty hectic, as the Mercedes went head-to-head into turn one. Rosberg held Hamilton off, who slipped back behind Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull. A safety car then appeared after the Marussia’s of Max Chilton and the late Jules Bianchi took each other out. Just a couple of laps after the restart, Hamilton darted past Vettel with DRS, and the Mercedes battle was on.
It was an unusually quiet first segment of the race. The two Mercedes romped away into the distance, whilst behind, the Red Bull’s of Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo got stuck behind the two Force India’s. Whilst this took place, things started to go wrong for Mercedes…
Over the course of laps 37 and 38, the two Mercedes cars both lost their MGU-K systems. Effectively, the turbo’s had gone, and the cars just had the V6 engine to run on. That was 160 bhp out of the window! This also put a lot more stress on the cars rear brakes, as well as resulting in a significant loss of lap-time. The cars behind started to close in, led by Felipe Massa’s charging Williams. He was at the time on a one stop strategy, and had leapfrogged the Red Bull’s and Force India of Sergio Perez. Teammate Nico Hulkenburg was behind the four of them. Massa had closed in at such a rate, that when both Mercedes made their next pitstops, he emerged in the lead! Despite being on much fresher tyres, Massa stormed off due to the Mercedes being so much slower and it looked like he would go on to win.
Hamilton had actually emerged in front of Rosberg, but on lap 47, Hamilton’s breaks gave up the ghost and he was out of the race. Massa then made a second pitstop, and Rosberg incredibly was back in the lead. He had already soaked up the pressure of Hamilton throughout the Grand Prix, but now had two Red Bulls, a Force India and soon a Williams right on his gearbox. Mercedes really thought his brakes were going to go too. Rosberg though was doing a stunning job of managing them, and his pace actually picked up a bit! There were no lockups, or wide moments. This really showed how good Rosberg is at working around problems, and why some have called him ‘the scientist’.
“We were managing the loss of power but as soon as I finally made the jump on Nico in the second pit stop, my brakes failed going into turn 10.”
Ricciardo piled the pressure onto Perez, who also was suffering with brake issues. On lap 66, the Red Bull passed the Force India, and just two laps from home, Ricciardo sailed past the limping Mercedes. A spectacular crash between Massa and Perez on the final lap of the race meant the race ended under the safety car. Ricciardo had won, taking his first F1 victory. But Rosberg’s second place was equally as remarkable. That car should not have got to the end of the race, let alone in second place. Yet Rosberg nursed it all the way to the end, and banked 18 crucial points in that year’s championship. Hamilton had pushed his car to the limit, and paid the price.
“With so much going on, I had to ask my engineer where I finished at the end as I thought I was probably about fifth or sixth. I was so happy to hear that I was in P2!”
Autosport magazine rated Rosberg’s drive that race as a 10/10. And it is hard to disagree. A great first part of the race staying in front of Hamilton Aand an incredible end, nursing a major problem and still making the podium. Surely without a doubt, one of his greatest ever drives.