When the going gets tough, Rosberg has yet to show he can really get going

He has let a sizeable championship slip and has not enjoyed success when the bar is raised

BY Raf Diallo 15:58 Sunday 31 July 2016, 15:58 31 Jul 2016

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, left, of Britain and Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, right, of Germany after the Formula One qualifying in Hockenheim, Germany, Saturday, July 30, 2016. The German Formula One Grand Prix takes place in Hockenheim on Sunday, July 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

By the time late November rolls around, Nico Rosberg could be a Formula 1 world champion for the first time, thereby emulating his father Keke.

But if current form is anything to go by, the German is letting a rare opportunity slip as a Lewis Hamilton in imperious form is positioning himself to win a third world title in a row and fourth overall.

Hamilton had been a distance behind in the championship after five races of the season, with Rosberg having won four Grand Prix on the spin at the start of 2016 and the British driver struggling with issues at the start of races.

But in the last seven Grand Prix, Hamilton has shown the form of a world champion to seize the momentum in the 2016 championship and win six of the last seven races.

He now leads the championship with the German Grand Prix victory in which he triumphed past a Rosberg who started pole but went backwards to leave 19 points between the Mercedes pair.

Nine races to go and unless Rosberg can find something extra, he faces yet another defeat to his team-mate.

As Newstalk.com's F1 contributor Thomas Maher of FormulaSpy said pre-German Grand Prix, the "pressure from Hamilton, and the pressure on his shoulders, is ramping up again after a relatively easy start to the season. If Nico can stem Hamilton's momentum by taking a second home victory in Germany this weekend, that would be a massive psychological boost heading into the summer shutdown".

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany attends a Formula One training session in Hockenheim, Germany, Saturday, July 30, 2016. The German Formula One Grand Prix takes place in Hockenheim on Sunday, July 31, 2016. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

Well, Hockenheim didn't give Rosberg the psychological boost he needed against a superior driver. And there is no question of that. For all his technical qualities, it is clear that Hamilton is a fundamentally better racer and has tended to get the better in situations where races have to be won on the track so to speak. It rarely goes the other way.

While Rosberg had carried good momentum from the back-end of last season when he had already lost the championship, his advantage at the start of 2016 was helped by an indifferent start by Hamilton but when the going has got tough and the three-time champion has raised his game, Rosberg has been found wanting and rarely had a riposte, even if he has tried to be more assertive. That assertiveness has sometimes backfired as occurred in Austria when he collided with Hamilton but came out worst - and with a 10-second penalty. 

The Mercedes drivers do have superior machinery to rival teams but all things being equal, you would wonder how Rosberg would cope in equal equipment to other talents around the grid like Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo, who either have world titles or have shown pedigree and potential in their careers so far?

If you were to take The Telegraph's drivers rankings for 2016 by the end of May when his form hadn't tailed off to the extent it has now, Rosberg does not fare well despite the advantage of having the best machinery on the grid along with Hamilton who tops those standings.

A 19-point gap is not insurmountable in F1 given that a race win yields 25 and Hamilton's admission that engine changes leave him at a disadvantage.

But unless Rosberg shows what he has yet to really do by really performing when the bar is raised, Hamilton remains the favourite to make it championship No 4.


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