The only way a racing driver can truly be measured is against his own teammate at any one time. His teammate is the only other driver on the grid driving virtually the same car as himself. The others have the excuse of a slower car when they get beat, but not the teammate.
This is why teammates in Formula One rarely remain friends, even when, like Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, they were once firm friends. The two Mercedes drivers virtually grew up together on the kart tracks across Europe although even then there were tensions underneath the surface caused by their very different upbringings. Hamilton came from a council estate in Stevenage, Rosberg from the riches of Monaco courtesy of his father Keke, a former F1 world champion.
For the past two years Hamilton has beaten Rosberg to the world drivers’ title and, in doing so, their relationship has nosedived.
This season was supposed to be different. Rosberg began by reeling off four straight wins whilst Hamilton’s car suffered reliability problems. At one point the German enjoyed a 43 point advantage over his British rival. Since then, however, Hamilton has won six out of the last seven Grands Prix and motored ahead of Rosberg to a 19 point advantage.
Yesterday saw Rosberg turn pole on the grid into defeat to his teammate for the second successive race, made far worse because it was at the German GP on his home circuit at Hockenheim.
The summer break for the sport could not have come quickly enough. Rosberg will be hoping his teammate parties a little too hard over the next three weeks before the racing returns at the Belgian GP. Hamilton has a penchant for parties, but also for winning world titles. A fourth in the early stages of winter would make him the third equal greatest driver of all time in terms of drivers’ world titles, alongside Sebastian Vettel and Alain Prost, and behind Juan Fangio (5) and Michael Schumacher (7). On the evidence of the past few years Schumacher, let alone Fangio, could be in his sights.
All of which makes sorry thinking for Nico Rosberg. He is trying to be the best in the world but, right now, he is not even the best in his team. There is little to suggest this rot will be stopped any time soon.