Nico Rosberg seized his opportunity to close the gap on Lewis Hamilton at the top of the Drivers’ Championship at the Belgian Grand Prix.However, Kevin Magnussen’s crash allowed the Brit to roam from the back of the field on to the podium to limit the inroads his Mercedes team-mate could make into his lead.
The two men remain well ahead of the pack in the pursuit of the crown as Hamilton attempts to make history by becoming only the fourth man to win the title in four consecutive seasons. Rosberg has eight races remaining to overhaul the 31-year-old to claim his maiden crown, and his return to the top of the podium may just be the spark he needs to make a run for the trophy.
The German’s challenge is reflected in the latest Betway betting odds backing him at 7/2 to clinch the Drivers’ Championship. He enjoyed the perfect start to the 2016 season, repeating the form he displayed towards the end of the previous campaign, winning the opening four races of the term.The 30-year-old put together four flawless drives to surge ahead of Hamilton at the top of the standings, holding a 43-point lead after his victory at the Russian Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s engine problems held him back, while he was also guilty of committing costly errors leaving him with plenty of work to catch the German, as he admitted that he was out of jokers.The tension between the team-mates almost boiled over at the Spanish Grand Prix when Rosberg wiped out the Brit in the early stages of the race, forcing both men to retire from the meet.
That moment would prove to be a turning point for Hamilton however, as he regained his focus on the circuit, securing his first win of the season with an excellent drive in Monaco. The defending champion reeled off victories in five of the next six races, including four on the spin between the Austrian and Germany Grand Prixs to wrestle the initiative away from Rosberg.
Although Rosberg was consistent during the same period the brilliance of Hamilton elevated the pressure on the German, forcing him into riskier strategies on the circuit.The biggest disappointment of his season came at his home Grand Prix where after claiming pole position he endured a horrendous start to the race, leaving him to settle for a fourth-place finish.
Opportunity then presented itself in Belgium after the summer break due to Hamilton’s engine trouble. Rosberg fulfilled his side of the bargain to put the pressure back on his team-mate, but the unforeseen circumstance of Magnussen’s crash played right into the hands of the Brit.
The gap between the two Mercedes drivers is now nine points, and both men have strong records at the remaining circuits left this season. Hamilton made his charge to win his previous two titles at this stage in 2014 and 2015 with wins in Italy, Singapore, Japan and the USA to his name, only failing to win in Singapore in back-to-back years.
Should the Brit maintain his stranglehold on those circuits he could well have wrapped up his fourth title on the bounce, making it imperative for Rosberg to snatch those potential wins away from his team-mate.
The German secured victories in Brazil, Mexico and Abu Dhabi last season and will be determined to repeat the same success this year. If the form book holds from 2015 it may not be enough for the 30-year-old to claim his maiden crown.
Rosberg will have to make his move early on his team-mate and do his utmost to be flawless from now until crossing the line in Abu Dhabi to have any hope of stopping Hamilton from raising the trophy once again.