Rosberg and Hamilton: Two Different Champions

Rosberg and Hamilton: Two Different Champions

Nico Rosberg shocked the world with the announcement he would be retiring from F1 after reaching the top of the summit. Well, shocked everyone except teammate Lewis Hamilton. His former best friend and championship protagonist managed to turn the news into another demonstration of his negative attitude.

After a belated congratulation to Nico on Twitter, he sat in a press conference looking smug that the German had left the sport and claimed to have not been moved by the news. He got the dig in that it was the first time Nico had won in eighteen years, so he wasn’t surprised he was packing it all in. The implication – in fact, direct statement – is that he always defends his crown, whereas Rosberg has run away from the challenge.

This is classic Lewis, only seeing the world through his eyes, judging others by the standards he sets himself. Standards that have recently, once again, been called into question. The old adage about being a bad winner and a bad loser will now follow Lewis around until he retires. He hinted that could also be soon but it was likely bravado, an attempt to steal back some of the limelight.

What Hamilton and Rosberg present us is a unique opportunity to see the two sides of the same coin. That coin being what it takes and what it means to be a champion.

Lewis Hamilton is the natural born talent. Billed as the fastest man but this doesn’t – and hasn’t – made him a true champion. He’s the idea of a perfect racer, the deserving winner. The reality is a guy that has off days, managing to cover up his shortcomings with the attitude of a spoilt brat. But distraction and misdirection have helped build a legend.

Hamilton’s talent speaks for itself. Any Formula One fan will tell you he’s one of, if not the greatest, driver of his generation. Perhaps only Fernando Alonso could be said to have more raw talent but poor career moves have damaged his chances to prove this. Sebastian Vettel has amassed more titles, he being the opposite to Alonso and benefitting from an extended run in the dominant car of the day.

A look at the list of F1 records and it’s clear to see Lewis will leave a lasting legacy, one that only the most gifted can achieve. He has scored more points than any other man in the history of the sport (admittedly, he benefits from the new scoring system); he ties with Michael Schumacher and Vettel for most podiums in a season; is third in the all-time list for podium finishes with a higher percentage of podiums than Prost and Schumacher above him; third for total poles behind Senna and Schumacher; most wins at different circuits.

The list goes on, he appears in most categories in a high position, and tops fifteen of the all-time charts (many from his debut season run). That side of Lewis Hamilton cannot be doubted. It is what’s led to him becoming a champion. It’s also what separates him and Nico.

One is driven to go on, smash records. One content and complete following the ultimate success. For Rosberg, reaching the pinnacle was the end of a journey. Each step of that the German was mindful of how a champion should behave, something that has eluded Lewis.

Hamilton’s ultimate goal is to be mentioned as an equal to Senna and Schumacher. He’s mistaken their ruthlessness and transformed it into petulant behaviour and entitlement. They could never accept defeat with a smile but they wouldn’t tarnish the fair success of others.

Lewis attempted this following the Abu Dhabi grand prix. In an interview with Channel 4, he was offered a chance to pay respect to the new champion and was asked if on this occasion, Nico had won in a fair fight with the same car. Hamilton openly scoffed and said: “I wouldn’t say that. No.”

The Briton has been unlucky with failures this season. Those are elements beyond his control. The “what ifs” aren’t helpful and take away from Nico’s hard work. They also cover up the moments he made mistakes that hindered his championship push. Had his starts been more consistent, the mechanical failures wouldn’t have mattered.

Also, as Lewis points out, he’s the only Mercedes driver (including customer teams) to have suffered failures. Rather than this point to a conspiracy, it should be a pause for consideration. It seems reasonable the most ragged, on the edge racer would ramp up engine modes more frequently. It’s possible his racing style took the finite life out of the engines at a faster rate.

But Lewis has never taken a gracious approach to failure or the success of others, why should he look inward for problems when he can blame imaginary “higher powers” within the team.

Nico Rosberg may lack the God-given minerals that make Lewis a natural competitor but there is more than one way to be a success. He has become champion through focus and dedication, hard work and sacrifice. These alone aren’t what make him the opposite side of the champions’ coin: it’s his demeanour and attitude.

Rosberg was the ultimate professional. He took his setbacks with a smile, the lips sealed to avoid uncomfortable comments that could come back to haunt him. Working alongside Schumacher and then Hamilton, he never looked out of place as a driver, he was more than an equal with how to present himself.

For all of Lewis’s derogatory antics, Rosberg has the last laugh. Hamilton will never be able to wrest the crown from his head. He retires undisputed champion with nothing left to prove.

People will claim he was scared to defend the title, and while Hamilton would still have been favourite going into the new season, it wouldn’t have been shocking had Rosberg retained. Just as the Brit wasn’t surprised by Rosberg’s retirement, no one would have been by another close challenge from the German. The psychological hold over Rosberg had been broken.

And why should Rosberg satisfy Hamilton’s desire to recapture the title by beating him? Lewis talks of how he’s always allowed people the chance to challenge for his crown as some act of nobility. Rosberg has been the noble man of the pairing and doesn’t need to hinder his personal life to please the wants of a self-centred man-child.

Hamilton’s recent comments will remove any doubts about the content of his character and anything lingering in Rosberg’s mind about whether it was a decent exit strategy.

He retires proving the adage “nice guys come last” to be codswallop. As a nice guy, he came first. Technically less times than Lewis this season, but first where it mattered most: top of the championship standings and attitude stakes.

Lewis will most likely repeat the former of those himself – he’s too talented to avoid a fourth title (unless he falls foul of the decisions that have blighted Alonso’s career path) – for the latter he’ll need further education on behaviour and mental approach.

Hamilton lacked the gracious, humble approach a decent gentleman would having taken following the climax of the Abu Dhabi grand prix. But he can learn from these mistakes as long as he takes constructive criticism on board. There were enough former drivers and champions highlighting the error. A good man has open ears.

Nico Rosberg was the man who didn’t need such lessons. He bided his time and struck when the opportunity arose. He leaves the sport as the perfect example of how a champion should carry themselves.

He drives into the future with the number 1 pasted to his car for all eternity

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23 thoughts on “Rosberg and Hamilton: Two Different Champions

  1. Rosberg was lucky that he had no DNF’s this year. Lewis on the other hand had 3, one of which was Malaysia where he was half a lap ahead of the nearest car and cruising home to victory (so not pushing the car) with a new engine, and the engine blew up. This ONE DNF cost Hamilton 25 points and would have cost Rosberg’s a position and a loss of a further 3 points – so 28 point in total. Add this ONE event to the fact that when either of the Mercedes finished a race this season the lowest position scorched was 5th, so had Hamilton enjoyed the same reliability as Rosberg, it is likely that he would have scored at least an extra 20 points, taking his tally to 28 + 20 more than he managed with the 3 DNF’s. making him the winner by a country mile. I don’t think he is a bad loser as is being suggested, had he finished all the races the same as Rosberg, then I am sure he would have seen Rosberg as a worthy champion that beat him fair and square. The facts are Rosberg only beat Hamilton because of the 3 DNF’s and Rosberg, Hamilton and the rest of the paddock know it. (Especially Toto Wolff) hence no punishment for Lewis’s race craft at the last race. Frankly, Mercedes had already retained their championship, yet they sort to interfere with the outcome of the drivers championship, which frankly is the one all the fans are interested in.

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    1. Thanks for reading and offering a good comment. There’s no disputing Lewis was unlucky with failures – that was highlighted in the article – but it’s all guess work as to how it would have panned out without them. After gaining a healthy lead, it could be said Rosberg was happy to trot to the season finale with a series of second places. Had he needed wins maybe he would have fought harder. We’ll never know. All we do know is he amassed enough points when the chance came along and did enough to stay in front. He did beat him fair and square, Lewis was just unlucky. The point is: Lewis hasn’t carried himself like a champion, ever. Nico has.

      As for Hamilton avoiding punishment, it’s the right call. The team were wrong to interfere in the last race but the reason he’s been given grace is because they’re already one driver down and can’t afford to upset Lewis now.

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  2. Nicolas whined this whole season. He took his own team mate out in a race for God sakes! He’s champion by proxy. Engine failure, preferential strategies, it goes on and on. Lewis won 10 races, TEN! Would have won 11. Your fan boy bias is showing. Wolf and Hamilton’s crew should be ashamed of themselves with the treatment and bad strategies for their defending champion. Everyone knows they did everything they could to help Nico win. And job well done. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great driver as well. But don’t act like he was exemplary. He wasn’t even close.

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    1. That’s the first time I’ve ever been labelled a Nico Rosberg fanboy. My criticism of Lewis comes out of my desire to see him improve his attitude as a future champ. Nico may have made minor complaints, but when he’s lost championships he’s never “whined” or moaned, he’s knuckled down and got on with his job. That’s what you’d expect from a champion. Lewis courts controversy far too readily.

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  3. Nico Rosberg HASN’T behaved like a “champion”. Not in the slightest. Being able to put the number “1” on your car and defend that title is a fundamental part of being a champion. Why would you expect a champion to behave in a certain way?? They are humans, all of them – they have unique personalities. Everyone is different and what on EARTH is wrong with that? You come across as another of these people who believe that personality should be taken out of sport. That they should all be robots. What’s wrong with a bit of controversy?? As for your mistaken assertation that Rosberg never whined… Are you serious?? The guy is the biggest whiner I’ve ever seen interviewed. They stripped Hamilton of half his mechanics and gave them to Rosberg (and apparently there’s a LOT more to that story than has been revealed). Coupled with the fact that Lewis was probably the unluckiest driver on the grid in terms of reliability, his claim that it WASN’T Nico really winning the title, but circumstances combining to hand it to him, isn’t entirely unfair. Fact is, if you’re claiming that quitting as soon as you’ve won the championship is the “behaviour of a champion”, then you and I have VERY different views of what makes a champion. I’m not Lewis’ biggest fan but you can never accuse him of not being, or acting like, a champion. The guy absolutely LIVES to win. It’s such a stereotypically British trait to knock our sportspeople who want nothing more than to win at any cost. Whinging about how he’s not “nice” enough. I doubt he’ll lose much sleep over it fella. I would stop bashing successful people if I were you mate – it gets old. Quickly. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last but if you think Lewis would care what you think for a millisecond, then you’re very much mistaken. As they say “An elephant doesn’t notice an ant”.

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    1. When to retire is a very personal decision with factors rarely revealed to the public. Going on to defend a title is admirable but likewise, knowing when to step down is equally important. How many boxers have gone on for one fight too many? Damon Hill admits he went on racing for too long. F1 is a dangerous sport, if the motivation level drops, especially with a new family as a distraction, standing down is the sensible choice.

      Of course, nobody wants blank faces without personality representing our favourite sports but we do want good examples for our children. Lewis would rather hint at more to a story (the mechanics) than demonstrate another great British trait: reserve.

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      1. He specifically said that, had he not won the title, he would have carried one. That puts paid to the idea that he quit because of his new family, doesn’t it?? It shows a complete lack of fight and ambition to not defend your title and, to be honest, it devalues it completely. My guess is that he was fully aware that it was a total freak set of circumstances that led to him winning the championship and it was incredibly unlikely to happen again, so he bowed out before the inevitable happened.

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        1. It shows he had a list of priorities. The hunger to carry on, at the expense of raising his family, isn’t there now he’s won the title. Had he missed out, the desire to compete would have meant he couldn’t turn his back on the sport.

          The championship isn’t devalued because the man that won it is missing the following year. Was the 1993 season devalued because Mansell went to Indy Car?

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      2. And why on earth do you want sportspeople to be “reserved”?? My guess is that, as a sports “writer”, your job would be pretty redundant if everyone held their tongues. I’d much rather they spoke their minds and wore their hearts, and weaknesses, on their sleeves.

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        1. Don’t confuse being reserved with being boring, or having an engaging character the same as a bad attitude. Of course, colourful personalities are better for sport but so are respectful ones.

          As a “tutor”, I thought that would have been an important lesson you ensured was crystal clear.

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      3. You praise Fury – an overtly sexist, racist, drug-taking halfwit for “wearing his heart on his sleeve”, while ciriticising Hamilton for the same thing. Fuck me… Line up Hamilton’s and Fury’s quotes side-by-side and I don’t think it’d take too long to work out which are more unprofessional. In fact, it doesn’t really seem like you write many positive stories at all. Except for about Damon Hill, who is probably the most boring sportsperson ever to have existed.

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        1. No one has been more critical of Fury over the years than me. But that article was about breaking down the barriers that still exist when it comes to mental health issues.

          There are many positive articles here, but I guess negative people will always look for the downside in things.

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      1. He hasn’t undermined anything. He’s essentially spoken the truth. Would it have been better to hold his tongue and take it with a bit of grace? Sure, but he hasn’t really said ANYTHING that is unfair or inaccurate. A great number of his comments have been answers to direct questions from sports journalists who want their controversial soundbites. They ask specific questions, intended to elicit a particular answer. Imagine you had done your job almost perfectly for a year, only to have various uncontrollable situations result in a colleague of yours being promoted over you – if someone asked whether you thought it was them performing better than you, or simply a set of uncontrollable circumstances, what would you answer?? I guarantee that you’d say it was a set of circumstances. His life’s work?? Rosberg is still pretty young fella. He had a future in motor racing ahead of him if he wanted it and if one single championship, won by default, is the sum of his life’s ambitions, then he’s not much of a champion.

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        1. You’re describing opinions and unforeseen circumstances as absolute truth. Sure, Hamilton was unlucky with failures but that was one known variable. Without them he certainly would have scored better in those particular races but we don’t know how Rosberg would have responded. Perhaps the last four races would have seen him push harder rather than coast to a championship.

          Hamilton has done what you are doing, and peddled the idea Rosberg isn’t deserving, it’s all been a fluke. In any sport, if you finish the season or contest top of the standings, you are the deserved champion.

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  4. Mr Kinsey, your article does make for an interesting read, i am a Lewis fan boy, but i do agree with you he does behave like a petulant child at time, i dont think he should be gracious in defeat, why should he, he is a racer, i do think he should handle it better though, i also think that maybe this year has shown that maybe he needs a little more ‘attention to detail’, and more formula 1 focus, when they changed the clutch settings from 2 paddles to 1, it is my understanding that lewis declined the offer to practice with the new system, which in turn may have cost him at the start of the season with his poor starts, he has also only done a few laps with the new tyres, as he was ‘poorly’ (or uninterested as it comes across to me) which again may cost him next year? As stated, i am a lewis fan, his job is formula 1 racing driver, and i think he needs a more focus onto his racing!

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  5. And ABSOLUTELY the 1993 season was devalued. I was only 13 at the time and I remember, even then, being massively disappointed that the champion wasn’t there to defend his title. I was never a Mansell fan at all but I would MUCH preferred it had he defended his title. It’s no different to, say, Wimbledon being devalued if Federer, in his prime, said “Nah, don’t fancy it this year”

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    1. Sport is bigger than any individual. A person’s choice to leave doesn’t degrade the value of a championship. You must be running out of authentic titles, if you readily apply this belief. Numerous boxing champions retire on the top, football captains bow out when lifting a trophy, and so on. When it happens, the title they surrender is still as illustrious.

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      1. Name me one single boxing “great” (or even one who is widely remembered at all) who has bowed out the moment that they won their first belt. Football is a team sport rather than an individual sport and you are COMPLETELY missing the point when you say “sport is bigger than the individual”… When did I ever say that it wasn’t? It’s not the sport that has been devalued, it’s Rosberg’s achievement that has been devalued by not defending it.

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