By Daniel Wilson.
There wasn’t a single person who couldn’t see Nico Rosberg’s dejection after losing the title to Lewis Hamilton last weekend in Austin with an error nine laps from home, and many questions were asked of the German as to how or if he could respond.
But few would have expected a reply like that in Mexico, barely a week on from Austin. Nico laid down a crucial marker ahead of the 2016 season, proving for the first time in more than four months that he can beat Lewis Hamilton fair and square.
Nico clearly learnt from his previous starts, pulling cleanly away from his marks on the long run down to turn one. But as always, Lewis was very much in a position to pounce as he got alongside his teammate in the braking zone, but Nico defended the inside beautifully and led the pack away.
From there, he drove a perfect, well managed race and always seemed to have an answer to his teammate when he was being reeled in slightly. Over the 71-lap race, not once did Lewis manage to get the advantage of DRS to give him a chance down the pit straight, and that came about because the new world champion made some small, yet critical mistakes in key areas of the track.
For example, after the safety car restart on lap 58, Nico made the only error of his race, giving Lewis a golden chance to use the DRS system down the pit straight, but Hamilton almost crashed himself when pushing too hard into the final sector, losing around a second to Nico.
So, Nico had a clear road to take his fourth win of the season, and his first since Austria in June. But that’s not the most significant fact.
Nico has now perhaps laid down a clear marker to his teammate and the rest of the field ahead of next season. He’s shown he has the capability to beat Lewis, both in the race and more recently, on Saturdays after taking four pole positions in a row.
But some may argue Lewis could have lost his motivation and hunger to win after wrapping up the championship, and knows there is nothing to fight for in the last couple of races.
So, after all the speculation over a Hamilton-Vettel battle in 2016, has Nico just given us something to think about?