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A win would suffice

How Rosberg could wrap up the F1 title early in Brazil

With the right results, Nico Rosberg could seal his first F1 title with a race to spare in Brazil. What does he need to do to avoid last-day drama in Abu Dhabi, and how can Hamilton halt him? DW has crunched the numbers.

Brasilien Formel 1 in Sao Paulo (picture-alliance/dpa/F. Bizzera)

On their three visits as Mercedes teammates, Rosberg has had the measure of Hamilton in Brazil

The gap was 26, but Lewis Hamilton's victory in Mexico whittled Nico Rosberg's advantage in the drivers' championship standings down to 19 points with two races remaining.

The German's simplest route to the title could not be more clear cut - win in Brazil and there's nothing Hamilton can do, Rosberg will be champion. The same applies, incidentally, for the finale in Abu Dhabi: if Rosberg secures his 10th win of the 2016 season at either of the remaining races, he will claim the title in the process no matter how Hamilton performs.

Should Rosberg finish second in Brazil, he'd need his teammate to roll in fourth or lower; finishing third, Hamilton would have to place no higher than sixth.

Hamilton with 'nothing to lose,' Rosberg in driving seat

The chances of either Mercedes finishing outside the top three or four seem vanishingly small, even at the unpredictable Interlagos circuit, famed for its sudden showers. Much more likely than an eighth-place finish, for Hamilton and Rosberg alike, is that one or both of them will fail to finish the race altogether.

In Rosberg's nightmare scenario, in which he is forced to retire and Lewis Hamilton wins in Brazil, the 31-year-old would remain master of his own destiny. He would then trail by Hamilton by six points going into Abu Dhabi, still able to leapfrog his teammate by winning the twilight race in the desert.

Meanwhile, should Hamilton be forced to retire on Sunday, he would need his teammate to finish no better than seventh to still have a shot at the title in the United Arab Emirates.

German F1 commentator Christian Danner told DW that he expected Rosberg to stay "just as cool as the rest of this season" as the title race concludes, but conceded that "Hamilton has the advantage of being able to attack without restraint." As to the possibility of a first-lap collision, for instance involving Red Bull's hard-charging teen Max Verstappen, Danner was stoic: "Verstappen always poses something of a threat - but not just for Rosberg."

Unhappy hunting ground for Hamilton

Despite the pressure, Rosberg should go into the weekend with a degree of confidence. As Hamilton's teammate, he has out-qualified and out-raced the Brit all three times the Mercedes duo have been to Brazil - winning there from pole position in 2014 and 2015.

Hamilton überholt im letzten Rennen 2008 Timo Glock (Imago/Andreas Beil)

Hamilton may never have won in Brazil, but he did seal his first world championship there

"I have great memories from those two wins but, at the same time, we all start from zero this weekend," Rosberg said in Thursday's press conference, adding that he would be "trying to go for the win" on Sunday, rather than approaching the race conservatively.

Hamilton has never won at Interlagos in nine career attempts, a statistic he really needs to change this weekend. That said, he will no doubt retain fond memories of securing the 2008 world championship there via a last-lap overtake, confounding local Sao Paulo hero Felipe Massa in the process. He feels he has "nothing to lose" going into the last two races this season.

"I don't really know why I have not won here," Hamilton said in Brazil. "It is the right time to right that wrong and make that change … I feel better prepared here than I have been in any of the last 10 years and I hope that shows in the results."

Rain is currently forecast for race day, and when it rains on the hills outside Sao Paulo, it just as often pours. As veteran Jenson Button put it when asked, Rosberg would likely prefer the track to stay dry on Sunday, reducing the chances of the kind of chaotic race so often associated with the Interlagos circuit.