Nico Rosberg: Is He the Tiger Waiting to Destroy Lewis Hamilton's F1 Career?
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Your name is Michael Schumacher and you know you're a very great F1 driver, because that's what the man in the mirror tells you every day.
Furthermore, you've won seven world championships in your astonishingly successful career, and you've set a truck-load of records that are unlikely to ever be broken. You are, in fact, a colossus who can look down on lesser drivers with a condescending sneer.
So when your brief retirement from F1 becomes boring and you accept the offer of a race seat with Mercedes for three years from 2010, you have no reason to expect anything other than another spell of world domination.
After all, Mercedes F1 is just the renamed Brawn team that has just won the team and driver world championships, and who will be your teammate? Only a pussycat named Nico Rosberg—a guy who has never even won an F1 race.
You'll wipe the floor with him.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
But things go horribly wrong.
Gott im Himmel, that pussycat is a tiger, and he tears you to pieces. He out-qualifies you, he scores better points and he actually has the audacity to chalk up the the team's first win.
Under such pressure from the upstart, of course you're going to make silly mistakes such as smacking into the backs of other cars.
It's perfectly understandable.
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But what a shock it is when Mercedes signs the insolent brat, Hamilton, to replace you. Now you have suffered every betrayal, no indignity has been spared you.
Meanwhile on planet Earth....
The world saw Schumacher failing, but perhaps the world should have seen Rosberg succeeding as much as the Mercedes race car would allow.
Always something of an invisible man in the sport, with no great following or media attention, Rosberg was cast as a dull drone, against whom the brilliance of Schumacher would shine. But he refused to play a humble supporting role and instead proceeded to demolish the great man's reputation.
Throughout his F1 career to date, Nico Rosberg has not driven a true front-running car, and conventional F1 wisdom says that in 2013, Mercedes will not be trading punches with the likes of McLaren and Ferrari.
But conventional wisdom does not have an impressive F1 track record.
Conventional wisdom did not predict that Brawn F1 would be so strong in 2009, or that the magic would have evaporated when the team was re-badged as Mercedes F1 the following year.
And did conventional wisdom foresee the rise of Red Bull F1 to powerhouse status?
It did not.
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Now, as the 2012 seasons heads towards its end, the conventional view seems to be that Lewis Hamilton will be the main man when he arrives at Mercedes. Who better to challenge that assumption than the guy who has slain (in racing terms) the sport's most outstanding champion?
Nico Rosberg, we may be sure, does not intend to vanish quietly into the obscurity of Hamilton's shadow. He will do his level best to eclipse Hamilton exactly as he has eclipsed Schumacher.
Hamilton must know that the deadly rivalry of his old friend Rosberg is one of the several risks he has taken by signing with Mercedes. It has been made quite clear, and demonstrated by the Schumacher vs. Rosberg contest, that Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn does not believe in playing favourites.
To keep his status as one of F1's most admired and sought-after drivers, Hamilton will have to establish track dominance over Rosberg and so prove wrong those who doubt the wisdom of his move to Mercedes.
He will be riding a tiger, and as the familiar limerick says, they could finish the ride with Lewis inside, and the smile on the face of the tiger.
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