Nico Rosberg missed victory in the Spanish GP by just 0.636s, but that tiny margin still added up to a fourth straight defeat by Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton.
It also meant that he’s lost the World Championship lead that he’s had since he won the Australian GP after Hamilton’s early retirement. Rosberg said his best chance to get ahead was at the start.
“The start unfortunately was poor,” said Rosberg. “It’s a bit of a weakness that we have at the moment, just inconsistent and now I’ve had a couple of bad starts in a row – actually three bad starts in the races. And that’s costly. Always losing out at the start, that’s not good, I need to work on that.
“Other than that, I felt comfortable, race pace was good. Best thing to do was to switch strategies. That was planned before the race. It worked out well, worked out perfectly – but this is a really, really difficult track to get close to the guy in front. I still got close, Turn 10, the last lap. I could have gone for a kamikaze move but it wouldn’t have worked. Lewis did a great job the whole weekend and just that little bit ahead. But there’s a lot of positives for me to take out of it.”
Rosberg said he was happy with the decision to run a different strategy to Hamilton by using up the harder tire in the middle stint, although he admitted there was some confusion on the radio.
“There was a misunderstanding from my side because we were going to go prime second stint – there were two variables. There was one where we go prime second stint if we have graining in the first stint or I go prime second stint to try and beat Lewis, if I feel that pace-wise I can be quicker and have a shot at it. I thought they were going prime because they thought I had graining but I didn’t have graining, so that’s why I was confused but then I understood: it was to offset my strategy so that I would have a chance to fight Lewis at the end, so it was fine, and just what I wanted.”
The big question remains what can he do to start turning things in his direction – although he says there is no need to adjust his approach.
“There’s not much to change. The race was really lost in qualifying and at the start. Those were the two opportunities I had. Qualifying was very very close, I even had a bit of a problem which we found in hindsight, where I was a little bit down on power on the straight. but the difference was not enough to get pole, but still it was actually even closer than it looked.
“And then just had a poor start, so those were the two shots that I had at it and it didn’t work out. And then in the race, I nearly got another opportunity at the very end but again, just not enough. One more lap and I could have given it a go, I think, but I would have done everything the same again at the start of the weekend. Of course, I also missed FP1 which doesn’t help either. Many small things which add up, and there are only very small gaps. So, next time.”