Is Rosberg a true F1 title contender after Canada struggles?


As Lewis Hamilton held off a strategically hampered Sebastian Vettel at the Canadian Grand Prix, there was perhaps a more telling story being told over a minute down the road in Nico Rosberg's Mercedes.

Consecutive Hamilton victories have not been enough to knock Rosberg off his perch at the top of the drivers' championship, but the German is now only nine points clear of his Silver Arrows stable-mate, despite starting the season with four wins on the spin.

After an opening-lap collision with Hamilton, Rosberg dropped down to 10th and was only able to make his way to fifth when the chequered flag fell, after getting stuck behind Max Verstappen's Red Bull and spinning out as he attempted a hasty late overtake.

For the second race in succession, Rosberg completely failed to overcome a poor start, having tip-toed his way around a sodden Monte Carlo a fortnight earlier on his way to a seventh-place finish.

Rosberg has lost out to Hamilton in each of the past two seasons - unable to hold off his team-mate's comeback in 2014 before being outclassed last year - so do these latest struggles indicate a wider issue for the German?

We take a look at both sides of the argument...



A third race in succession without a podium, Rosberg's worst run since 2013, and just when it seemed so good for him.

Four wins from four was the headline to Rosberg's early-season form, but that perhaps belies the reduced challenge that he faced, with Hamilton in particular dragged out of the race at the front due to technical issues.

A first-lap crash in Australia, an aero package wrecked by Valtteri Bottas in Bahrain, five pit stops in China, engine failure in Russia qualifying - Hamilton was not present to challenge Rosberg and he duly took advantage.

Since the three-time world champion has enjoyed renewed reliability from his car, his nous and steely determination has left Rosberg flailing.

Having won the previous three times in Monaco, Rosberg looked like he had never driven the circuit after rain hit and his inability to get past a speed-deprived Red Bull on one of Formula One's power havens in Montreal is indicative of a lack of hunger - the type Verstappen has already shown in his burgeoning career.



You don't win seven races on the spin - regardless of Hamilton's late-season winding down and then bad fortune - if you're a bad driver.

A champion driver does not have to a brash all-out racer - just ask Rosberg's father Keke, who won the 1982 world title with one race win but lifted the trophy through his consistency on-track.

Rosberg and Hamilton's crash in Barcelona may have wrecked Mercedes' race thanks to a pair of DNFs, but it showed that the German has the steel inside to win the title.

Hamilton notoriously hates being passed on the outside, but Rosberg had completed the rarest of manoeuvres, only for an error in set-up - and the Brit's vengeful pushing of the boundaries - to prompt a collision.

Monaco was an aberration, make no mistake, but his struggles in Canada are reflective of a wider issue in the Mercedes. Just as Hamilton had done earlier in the season, Rosberg was unable to push through the field in a car that is a totally different animal running in dirty air.

Fuel consumption and brake issues gave Rosberg so much to think about, while a slow puncture in the latter part of the race left him unable to charge through clean air and hunt down Bottas in third.

Rosberg will come again this season, there can be no doubt of that.