Nico Rosberg at Canada resolved a question many had been pondering.
The outcome was resounding, the German would make a worthy champion at season’s end.
Two victories, with four second places the spread in the sandwich across the opening six events were testament to Rosberg’s consistency, but it was his performance across the weekend at Montreal which has turned heads.
Not only did he claim pole position at a circuit which is renowned as team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s playground, Rosberg managed a severely compromised W05 – lacking 160bhp courtesy of ersK failure – for essentially the entire back half of the race, to second, ceding the lead to Daniel Ricciardo with only two laps remaining.
Whilst Ricciardo was a worthy and extremely popular victor on the day, the significance of Rosberg’s achievement cannot be understated – it was a vintage clutch performance which has the potential to define his campaign. By no means pretty, but the points are still on the board and nobody can take that away from him.
It was an effort which evoked memories of Michael Schumacher at Spain in 1994, when the German also came home in second with a car stuck in fifth gear, an outcome which proved decisive to his ultimate title triumph.
Thus, it was not a case of defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory, rather an outcome which could have resulted in a big fat zero, instead culminating in the harvesting of eighteen precious points.
Hamilton meanwhile, who was plagued with the same issue, suffered this fate courtesy of brake failure on his forty-sixth tour.
Rosberg now enjoys a twenty-two point advantage, the largest he has enjoyed since Australia.
A net loss of three points isn’t a bad outcome considering he has saluted the chequered flag first just once compared to Hamilton’s four triumphs in the subsequent events.
The German’s cunning, as evidenced at Monaco, is another point in his favour. Irrespective of the qualifying fiasco – whether he genuinely made an error or was a little bit naughty, he maintained his composure in spite of a seething Hamilton, to claim victory, when it seemed that the Briton had the title wrapped around his finger.
These minute blows – as they appear at the time, have the potential to inflict significant damage as the campaign progresses.
Indeed, Hamilton has now suffered two retirements – each mechanically induced, but this does nothing to displace the notion that Rosberg has always been there or in place to pick up the pieces when misfortune strikes, as proved true at Canada – with second place as good as victory under the circumstance.
This isn’t to say that Rosberg is a better driver than Hamilton. In a straight fight, a wise man would back the latter, but when the wick has been turned up, ultimately it has been the German who has delivered.
It isn’t inconceivable that Rosberg could continue doing what he has done best this season – picking up second places with the occasional victory, even if Hamilton is the man ahead of him, and scoop the title.
Hamilton is an individual possessed of extreme emotions, which could be perceived as fragile, whilst Rosberg goes about his business with aplomb, and these are the qualities which can mark the difference between winning or losing a title.