Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg: Head-to-Head Records at Remaining 2014 Races
If you were Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton at this moment in time, with the title on the line, how would you approach the final eight grands prix of the 2014 Formula One season?
Would you take each race as it comes, focusing on extracting the utmost from every individual weekend? Or would you drive against the backdrop of the world championship standings, calculating from the cockpit of your car?
Would you hide your telemetry and adopt the poker face in an attempt to gain every possible advantage? Or would you openly hand over your car data, delivered with a simple message: "Catch me if you can"?
The battle between Hamilton and Rosberg, the Mercedes maestros, was always regarded as a meeting of minds, a clashing of styles—and their differences will become ever more distinct as things get more serious, as races run out and as desperation creeps in.
One thing that could play on the minds of both drivers—although, admittedly, perhaps not at the forefront of their thinking—is history.
With all but one of the remaining venues having hosted grands prix in the past, the previous results and performances of both Rosberg and Hamilton could provide some vital clues about just how they will perform this year.
A track that ranks among the favourites of one driver, for example, could be the worst nightmare of the other.
Such is the way of modern sport that Hamilton and Rosberg are likely to pinpoint the exact races in which they will look to attack and highlight the ones to switch to damage limitation mode.
Here are their head-to-head records in the remaining races of 2014.
Belgian Grand Prix, Spa-Francorchamps
Despite having a race-winning car every time he has visited Spa-Francorchamps in Formula One, Hamilton has only one Belgian Grand Prix victory to his name.
He actually crossed the line as the winner of the 2008 event, but was soon demoted to third for cutting a chicane prior to a late pass on Kimi Raikkonen, forcing the British driver to wait until 2010 for a Spa win that he could keep.
Hamilton, who has twice started from pole at Spa, has been inconsistent in Belgium in recent years, retiring from the 2009, 2011 and 2012 races due to collisions with other cars.
Rosberg, in contrast, is yet to even stand on a Belgian Grand Prix podium in seven attempts, although his failure to impress at Spa is largely down to the machinery that has been at his disposal.
It is no coincidence that the German claimed his best ever result at Spa last year, fourth place, in a car that won four races over the course of the campaign.
Hamilton remains the best bet for pole position in Belgium and it will be up to Rosberg to raise his game and force the victory out of his teammate's hands.
Italian Grand Prix, Monza
Like Spa, Hamilton's record at Monza, another of Formula One's iconic venues, is underwhelming considering his status as a world champion.
He has only stood on the famous podium on two occasions, the first of which occurring as long ago as his debut season in 2007.
Hamilton was forced to wait five years for his next trip to the balcony, yet made sure he returned in style with an assured win from pole in 2012.
But if the 2008 world champion's record in races at Monza is underwhelming, Rosberg's is abysmal.
The German has only finished in the points four times in eight attempts at Monza, although he did manage to beat Hamilton in the same car in the 2013 event.
You suspect, however, that Rosberg might be satisfied with hanging on to the coattails of Hamilton in this year's Italian Grand Prix.
Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay
It took Rosberg until his seventh full season to record his first Formula One victory, but he could so easily have won the Singapore Grand Prix in consecutive years in 2008 and 2009.
The German was among the beneficiaries of the infamous "Crashgate" incident involving Nelson Piquet Jr., leading the field as the race restarted, with even a penalty for pitting under safety car conditions not preventing Rosberg from finishing a close second to Fernando Alonso.
He orchestrated his own downfall the following season, when he was penalised for crossing the white line at the exit of the pit lane when he had the pace to challenge Hamilton, the eventual winner, for the lead.
2009 remains Hamilton's only win in Singapore, with a gearbox failure denying him victory from his second pole position at the Marina Bay circuit in 2012.
Both Mercedes drivers will fancy their chances under the lights in 2014.
Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka
Hamilton took one of the finest wins of his career in Japan—but did so at Fuji Speedway, not Suzuka, in 2007.
The 2008 world champion took third spot in his first appearance at Suzuka in 2009 but has since failed to finish any higher than fifth, retiring from last year's event, and has never started from pole at the legendary circuit.
Rosberg's best result in a Japanese Grand Prix, meanwhile, was fifth place for Williams in 2009, with eighth his best finish for Mercedes at Suzuka.
Hamilton and Rosberg are both likely to achieve career-best results at Suzuka in 2014, although it is unclear who will come out on top at a venue that has crowned so many world champions in the past.
Russian Grand Prix, Sochi
With the Russian Grand Prix a new addition to the Formula One calendar for 2014, it is impossible to rely on previous results to predict just how Hamilton and Rosberg will fare.
Judging by the above simulation video, however, the Sochi Autodrom appears to possess features—most notably 90-degree turns and winding straights—which have graced the Valencia and South Korean street-style circuits in recent years.
The Russian event, with no previous history, will present a unique challenge for both Mercedes drivers, requiring them to adapt, as well as drive, quickly.
With Rosberg widely regarded as the more intelligent and flexible of the two, the smart money would go on the German—but could Hamilton's more aggressive, daring style see him ultimately gain more over the course of the race weekend?
The Russian Grand Prix promises to be among the most revealing races for the Silver Arrows pair.
Unites States Grand Prix, Circuit of the Americas
Hamilton won the first United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in 2012, in what proved to be his final victory for McLaren.
The British driver, however, endured one of his most frustrating races of last season at the Austin circuit, yet still came away with fourth place.
Rosberg, in stark contrast, has only scored two points in his two visits to the Circuit of the Americas, with ninth place last year his only top-10 finish.
The German's poor qualifying performances are at the root of his failure to make it big in America—he has failed to qualify any higher than 14th at the track—and that will almost certainly be something Hamilton will look to capitalise upon.
Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos
Despite being crowned world champion at Interlagos in 2008, Hamilton has only one Brazilian Grand Prix podium finish to his name.
He took third behind Mark Webber and Robert Kubica in 2009, but has retired from two of his last four appearances in Brazil.
A gearbox problem put paid to his hopes in 2011, and a collision with Nico Hulkenberg resulted in him retiring from the lead in 2012. Most recently, the British driver was lucky to continue after hitting Valtteri Bottas last year.
For Rosberg, Interlagos has generally been a favourable circuit in the past.
His fourth place for Williams in 2007 was a career-best result at the time and indirectly prevented Hamilton from becoming world champion in the Brit's debut season.
Rosberg qualified second on the grid in the wet at Interlagos in 2013 and even took the lead, albeit briefly, on the first lap—an outstanding feat when you consider that Mercedes' form had slipped by then.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina
It's difficult to envisage anything but a Hamilton victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 29-year-old excels at the Yas Marina circuit, with two pole positions and one victory to his name (a retirement from the lead of the 2012 race prevented his second win).
The twisty last sector of the lap, in particular, is tailor-made for his hustle-and-bustle driving style.
Despite the double-points race seemingly having Hamilton's name written all over it, Rosberg has a credible record at the track.
The German actually out-qualified and out-raced Hamilton, in the same car, in last year's event, claiming his first podium finish at the track with third.
That bettered his previous best finish of fourth, which was achieved in the 2010 grand prix.
Even so, you suspect that Rosberg will have to produce a champions' drive to stop Hamilton scurrying into the sunset—if indeed the title race is still alive by then.