Why did Nico beat Lewis at the end of the season?

racecub

Champion Elect
Been thinking about this and wrote a small piece to consider the issues. Putting my personal allegiances aside, Ive come up with a few theories. Which one is correct? I don't know. I suspect it's a combination of a few of these theories. Be interesting to hear your views on this.


Why did Rosberg beat Hamilton to the last six poles and the last three races in 2015?

There are many theories and possible reasons for the change in fortunes of the two Mercedes drivers towards the end of this season. I thought it would be interesting to look at all of them and debate the merits of each. Depending on your allegiances and your views, you will undoubtably find some of the following suggestions more plausible and more palatable than others.
Let's start first with the 2015 driver's champion himself. Let's consider whether Hamilton himself is in any way responsible for his downturn in performance compared to his team mate in the last few races.
There are those who proclaim loud and clear that Hamilton parties too much; that he mixes with 'the wrong crowd', that he isn't focused, that his outside interests detract from his racing. Hamilton says his outside interests are essential to his well being, that he has never felt happier in himself and feels he's driving better than ever. He says he was travelling and pursuing his other interests throughout the season and not just at the end, and he just won the world championship. But there we have it, it's one to consider.

Theory one: Hamilton parties too much.

Staying with Hamilton for the time being, here's the next theory. Having won the championship, did Hamilton let up a little? It's not in Hamilton's nature to give up, to not race, and Hamilton doesn't just want to win championships, he wants to dominate F1. But did he subconsciously take his foot off the gas just a touch having sewn up the championship, and thus allowed Rosberg back in?

Theory two: Hamilton backed off slightly.

Now let's take a look at Rosberg. Firstly at the beginning and middle of the season. His wife was expecting their first child, and she was poorly. She had to be hospitalised at one point. Leaving her to go racing may have been difficult for Rosberg, may have caused distraction and worry. This could have been the reason he performed less well than Hamilton. Once his young family were safe and healthy, he picked up his pace.

Theory three: Rosberg's early season form was effected by worrying about his wife.

Remaining with Rosberg, he has shown on several occasions that he doesn't perform well under pressure. His late mistake in Austin which killed his championship chances is a prime example. There have been others, especially when closely pursued by Hamilton. With the championship decided, and that particular pressure removed, did this free Rosberg up to perform at a higher level?

Theory four: Championship pressure removed from Rosberg.

Having looked at the two drivers, let's turn our attention to the car itself. Hamilton frequently proclaimed in the earlier part of the season, that it's the best car he's ever driven. But since Singapore, when Mercedes had a shocker, Hamilton has felt the car has changed. He feels a 3-6 tenth advantage he held over Rosberg has changed to a slight deficit. And this is born out by qualifying results. Rosberg says he is just driving better. But the car has changed, that's a definite. Hamilton says he's underestimated the impact of the change.
Lewis:-
"[Mercedes engineers] said they don't believe they made the car slower. It definitely isn't faster."
Lewis thought he would be able to adapt to this and drive round it but it's proving difficult, and it has implications for next year.
Last race Hamilton dropped a suspension part that he felt wasn't particularly useful to him, but it didn't improve things and cost him about a tenth and a half a lap.
Lewis : "It can't go back to where we were before, because they don't want to go back to where it was before"
So, has the car had a fundamental change that favours Rosberg but compromises Hamilton? Hamilton thinks so, Rosberg doesn't.

Theory five : A change to the car has compromised Hamilton and helped Rosberg.

There is another theory regarding the car. One put forward by Mark Hughes, technical writer for Autosport. He wonders whether the minimum tyre pressure regulations introduced at the end of the summer may have played to Rosberg and hampered Hamilton. His thinking went thus... On a lower pressured tyre, Hamilton could deal easily with what was thrown at him from the rear of the car. Rosberg couldn't so he had to be more specific in how he set the car up. When the pressures were higher and the car stiffer, the set up area was narrowed. Rosberg was used to finding this set up point, it was something new for Hamilton as he had previously just adapted his driving to the car.

Theory six: The minimum tyre pressure regs adversely affected Hamilton.

And finally we come to look at the Mercedes team itself. Have they had an effect in the final few races of the season? Mercedes want to win. Mercedes want to dominate. They aren't too bothered about personalities, as long as they they win one / two in the drivers and they win the constructors. That's what Mercedes want. So, having secured the constructors and the drivers, was their next target getting Rosberg to finish second against a threatening Vettel?

Theory seven: Mercedes compromised Hamilton to secure second place for Rosberg.

On a similar note, and along the lines of Mercedes dominating; have Mercedes selected safe risk free strategies to ensure maximum one/two finishes? Whilst proclaiming to allow the drivers to race are Mercedes actually preventing racing by sticking rigidly to strategies that ensure a safe one/ two finish? By using a single strategist for both drivers Mercedes will always favour the driver ahead on the track and prevent challenge from the driver behind.

Theory eight: Mercedes use of a single strategist has compromised Hamilton.

Yet another possible theory is the state of mind of Rosberg. He was comprehensively beaten by Hamilton this year with the championship being secured with three races to go. Were Mercedes concerned about the state of mind of Rosberg for the next season? Did they make conditions more favourable for Rosberg to succeed over the last few races? Hamilton already had the title, so a little softener to Rosberg? Hamilton has said how Rosberg needs ' massaging ' by the team; and Lauda has said how important state of mind is.

Theory nine: Mercedes felt the need to boost Rosberg's confidence

So there we have nine possible theories as to why Rosberg had the upper hand in the last few races of the season. Some are very interdependent on each other. Likely there are more than one of the suggested reasons at play here. So......
Theory ten: a combination of some of the above suggestions.

Now it's over to you. Why do you think Rosberg had the upper hand over Hamilton for the last few races of the season?
 

Spinodontosaurus

Points Scorer
In races where neither driver suffered a mechanical DNF it is now 27-20 to Hamilton over their 3 years together, exactly the same as Hamilton and Button over their 3 years together. The qualifying tally is 30-27 in Hamilton's favour.

Rosberg beating Hamilton on a fairly frequent basis should not be a surprise, although the way this season played out was. I admit I don't know why that is, and all the proposed explanations I have seen only deal with why Rosberg was beating Hamilton in latter stages of the season, not with why Hamilton was so dominant in the early stages.
 

Incubus

Champion Elect
So much of Hamilton's motivation has come from equalling his hero's tally, a certain level of depletion is inevitable now that he's achieved it.

Lewis has always made it clear - even more so over the past few months - that he never even looked at other multiple world champions' records, he only ever cared about taking three titles, equaling Senna's tally, something which at times came across as a bit of an personal obsession if truth be told...This is why in his words he took part in "proper" celebrations this time around unlike his previous titles.

In a sport where three tens of a second every three mile amounts to an eternity the most minuscule decresease in all-out motivation will make all the difference, so he really needed winter to artive to recharge his batteries.
 

Bill Boddy

Professional layabout
Contributor
There is one possibility that you didn't mention, that is that Rosberg is better than you thought, that there really is not very much between them and that when Mercedes made a change to the car it made it more to Rosberg's liking, together with Rosberg relaxing, speeding him up, this tipped the scales slightly his way.

Have a look at the videos comparing the difference between them on qualifying laps, you will see that it is less than the blinking of an eye.
 

snowy

Champion Elect
Lewis had piled pressure on himself in 2014, making silly mistakes on the first qualifying attempt in Q3. Nico was able to take advantage of this. Lewis addressed this by cutting out the errors and piling the pressure on Nico's first Q3 lap.
At the start of 2015 Nico had addressed his race deficit but hadn't reckoned on Lewis addressing his qualifying deficit. When Nico addressed his 2015 qualifying errors and deficit, he put the pressure back on Lewis, who was probably, and very mistakenly thinking, I've already crushed Nico's will and self-belief.
 
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racecub

Champion Elect
There is one possibility that you didn't mention, that is that Rosberg is better than you thought, that there really is not very much between them and that when Mercedes made a change to the car it made it more to Rosberg's liking, together with Rosberg relaxing, speeding him up, this tipped the scales slightly his way.

Have a look at the videos comparing the difference between them on qualifying laps, you will see that it is less than the blinking of an eye.

But I did address those points. Point four, Rosberg relaxing. Point five, the car changing in Rosbergs direction.

If Rosberg wasn't any good we wouldn't be having this discussion, it's because he's good that we're having it.
 

Dario Resta

Podium Finisher
Don't forget the cap at Austin. The cap riled Nico, probably more than Lewis realises. Nico might moan a lot, but Lewis likes to have a dig, and he definitely yanked Nico's chain with that one.
 

Hamberg

FOTA VIP, I've got the avatar to prove it :)
Contributor
So theories 4-9 are based on Hamilton being compromised by the car, rules or team, theories 1-2 are Hamilton backing off and 3 is sick wife.

Yep, balanced.

Theory 10 (already dismissed by OP) Rosberg is just driving better and importantly is getting and converting poles.
 

marksawatsky

Podium Finisher
Contributor
That is a great write up on the theories, they all make sense and I find it hard to pick just one. Do we have a math genius on here that can look at how Lewis and Nico compare in qualifying to the other drivers? Would that reveal if one driver slowed down or another got quicker?
 

The Artist.....

Champion Elect
Hamberg

For balance, we should have the same set of "theories" covering the first half of the season! I mean, it would be easy to suggest, for instance, that Mercedes had rigged things in Hamilton's favour in the first half of the season... (Not that I believe it for a second).
 

Hamberg

FOTA VIP, I've got the avatar to prove it :)
Contributor
What's interesting is theories 4-8 could also lead the article title to be reversed "why did Lewis beat Nico for most of the season"

Because the car and single strategist favoured Lewis and compromised Nico until Hamilton had the championship virtually sealed. The tyre rules were more to Lewis liking (not in team control) If this were the case 9 would be building Lewis' confidence. Quite frankly 1&3 cancel each other out and 2 again could be reversed.

Wow, so Mercedes are favouring Hamilton and there was us all thinking it was equality at Mercedes.

I wonder what Nico could achieve without this favouritism to Lewis...
 

Hamberg

FOTA VIP, I've got the avatar to prove it :)
Contributor
Hamberg

For balance, we should have the same set of "theories" covering the first half of the season! I mean, it would be easy to suggest, for instance, that Mercedes had rigged things in Hamilton's favour in the first half of the season... (Not that I believe it for a second).

I genuinely posted my previous one not having seen this!
 

racecub

Champion Elect
For balance, we should have the same set of "theories" covering the first half of the season! I mean, it would be easy to suggest, for instance, that Mercedes had rigged things in Hamilton's favour in the first half of the season... (Not that I believe it for a second).
Absolutely! Apply them in reverse if you like. The only reason I posted them for the last few races is that there was a distinct change in form I thought worth looking at.
It wasn't half a season though, it was three races that Rosberg won at the end, that's what? About a sixth of the season? In qualifying about a third of the season? So if stood out as worth looking at.

However you call it, there was a change and I looked at possible reasons for the change. I looked at both drivers, the car and the team. And yes you could reverse the car and team theories and apply the opposite to the majority of the season before the change in form of the two drivers. Whichever way makes you feel happier. It's really the same thing.
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
I think the second Red 5 but the wall in Mexico, theory 7 bit the dust.

I suspect the tyres had a lot to do with it - the Hamilton qualifying drop off predates the championship win.

There was clearly something Mercedes struggled with in relation to tyres in Singapore (one race in 2 years they didn't have winning pace). This came after pressuregate at Monza.

The timeline suggests if Mercedes made a change to mitigate against either another Monza or another Singapore (surely they did) then Rosberg was the beneficiary.
 

racecub

Champion Elect
I agree T bag. I think maybe more than one of those theories might apply to some degree but the most likely to have an affect is a change to the car after Singapore.
Yep theory 7 would only have been applicable pre Mexico.
 
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