Eight points clear with six races remaining is hardly job done for Nico Rosberg but his victory on the streets of Singapore is significant because it capped a weekend when he basically blew his team-mate Lewis Hamilton away and that will give him a vital confidence boost at a critical time of the season.
This was his third consecutive win since the summer break, his first victory in Singapore and it swings the championship pendulum in his direction as we enter the business end of the season.
The German has led the championship before and has previously been in a position to win the title, particularly in 2014 when it went down the final race of the season, but has always fallen short, ending up playing bridesmaid to Hamilton, so although he is unlikely to have suffered any kind of inferiority complex the perception was that perhaps he didn’t have what it takes to beat his team-mate when it really mattered.
But the dominant manner in which he won Sunday’s race, holding off the charging Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, shows that after 200 grands prix he has the ability, the experience and the determination to win his first world crown this season.
But has he got the maturity to take it all the way without being dazzled in the full glare of the spotlight with Hamilton breathing down his neck?
Rosberg has always had the pedigree to become a great, being the son of former world champion Keke Rosberg, although it was never nailed on that he would become a Formula One driver.
He considered becoming a professional tennis player before his destiny proved to be motorsport and he has enjoyed relative success since moving to Mercedes in 2010 with Michael Schumacher as his team-mate.
He constantly outperformed Schumacher, who was in the twilight of his career, before the German legend retired in 2013 and his new team-mate was a different story – Lewis Hamilton who moved from McLaren and he soon found himself being outperformed.
He might have wrestled the championship lead from the defending champion in Singapore Sunday but he can expect the Brit to fight back ferociously and the fact that Red Bull appear to have finally got their act back together will add to what should be a fascinating final six grands prix, although it still looks like two-horse race with Ricciardo 86 points behind Hamilton.
Ferrari, tipped to be stronger this season and finally challenge Mercedes have again failed to deliver, although both Sebastian Vettel, who finished fifth after starting last, and Kimi Raikkonen, who did give Hamilton a run for his money, drove well Sunday.
But, barring a miraculous recovery, their season will go down as another disappointing failure.
So although Red Bull and Ferrari might run a little bit of interference in the remaining races in Malaysia, Japan, America, Mexico, Brazil and finally Abu Dhabi it looks like another shootout between Rosberg and Hamilton who I still believe is the superior driver.
And it is precisely because I think Hamilton is better than the German that Rosberg must take full advantage of the initiative he now has and prove me and others wrong.
As we have seen, Hamilton is not unbeatable; he is prone to mood swings and openly hates losing, as all champions do, but he is an exceptional driver and I still think he will win the title.
It is going to be close and let’s hope it goes to the wire and the final race in Abu Dhabi when we will find out if Rosberg, a little bit like Felipe Massa at Ferrari, is a champion or just another excellent driver who never quite managed to emerge from the shadow of a superior team-mate.
His reputation is on the line. Game on, Nico!
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