Nico Rosberg has weighed in on the upcoming Mercedes battle between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, claiming that the Finnish driver can beat the three-time World Champion at his first time of asking.
Rosberg, who retires from the sport as the 2016 World Champion, leaves the Formula 1 grid without a defending champion in 2017. His campaign last season was one that saw relations with his teammate struggle, with contact in Barcelona and Austria proving to skewer the relationship between these competitors.
Rosberg believes that Bottas can achieve the unlikely this season and beat Lewis Hamilton, he said,
“Bottas is fast and though Hamilton will be at a very, very high level and it will be difficult to beat him, I have proved that he can.”
– Nico Rosberg
It was a tight fight in 2016 and Rosberg must acknowledge that his “proof” that it can be done wouldn’t exactly hold up as concrete evidence in a court of law. Rosberg improved personally in 2016, nobody can take performances like Monza away from him, where he eclipsed Hamilton at the start but more impressively, maintained his leading gap when the Monza-specialist was running 2nd in clean air.
Over the season though, Hamilton was the better driver. He put in more dominant performances and was able to come through difficult circumstances like Spa with a steely tenacity. Malaysia was the turning point of the championship, despite the attrition Hamilton had suffered earlier on. Had the Brit’s engine not blown up, he would have headed to Suzuka with a 5-point lead over Rosberg in the Driver standings.
This doesn’t denounce Nico Rosberg of the 2016 World Championship, but for the German World Champion to hold up the 2016 campaign as proof that Lewis Hamilton can be beaten on track ignores the attrition that the British Driver suffered.
If Hamilton has the same luck for the upcoming season, then Valtteri Bottas will be able to beat him.