Ross Brawn is the undisputed Jose Mourinho of the Formula One world. He has now won races with four different teams over the years, and can boast of the strongest technical crew in F1 right now. His long wait for a race win with his new team- a team he has built from scratch after a fairytale 2009- has finally ended.
At Shanghai on Sunday, Mercedes recorded their first win as an independent team since 1955. Nico Rosberg, the son of former Champion Keke Rosberg, recorded his first race win in 111 attempts- two races short of Button’s 113. Button, of course, went on to win with Brawn GP in a 2009 heist- and this could mean good things for young Rosberg- who has finally lived upto his potential.
Rosberg was touted as future World Champion as soon as he hit the scene in 2007, even before contemporaries like Vettel and Button. He, along with Rober Kubica, was expected to dominate the F1 scene for years to come. But fortunes often turn at every corner in the world of F1, and success was to elude this young talented upstart for a very long time. A few podium finishes here and there, followed by a greater opportunity with World Champion Brawn- that was now Mercedes- surely meant a better future. In a shockingly sentimental move, Mercedes handed over a seat to ex-Champion Schumacher, who was better suited as mentor to the younger drivers.
Despite all of Ross Brawn’s skill and experience, the results for his team over the past few years- since 2009, where his eponymous team sensationally won the double- have been disappointing. Seven-time World Champion Schumacher has struggled to adapt to the modern world of racing, and Nico Rosberg- the next big thing five years ago- had flattered to deceive way too often. If anything, in 2012, Schumacher looked the stronger contender to record a podium for his team, and zoomed his way across the circuits in qualifying sessions. Sadly, the team could never translate their performance on race day, and Mercedes had a mere point from the two races prior to Shanghai. They had the car, even the drivers were aware, but luck often deserted them on the tracks.
So when Rosberg and Schumacher stormed the practice sessions and recorded a first one-two for qualifying- hopes were flying high. Could it finally be the race where Michael Schumacher sheds his tag of a ‘has-been’? Could he actually be the oldest driver to win a race…and possibly, a season? This was surely a sign of greater things to come, and Mercedes were on their way up.
But nobody thought about his young German partner- a frustrated boy who had grown up carrying the weight of German expectations only to surrender it to another boy- Nico Rosberg. After all, he had grabbed pole. A start-to-finish, for starters, should be on the cards.
Unfortunately, Michael Schumacher was once again left to rue his rotten luck when a pitstop was botched up on his 14th lap. Once again, he was to retire- with only one good Mercedes left in the race. Brawn must have been left wondering what else they needed to do, just to cross the line.
But as it happened, fate and fortune conspired in mysterious ways- surrounding Rosberg like a silver-arrowed cocoon- and not only allowed him to finish, but create history in the process. Finally, he had one. Button, his closest challenger and, one suspects, the only man who knew what it felt like to be Rosberg- was relegated further behind with a bad strategic call, and left the coast clear for the German. Hamilton was never going to challenge, and seems happy with the lead in the Drivers Championship with three consecutive third places now.
This was so much more than a mere race victory for Rosberg. It was a culmination of many years of struggle, and answering questions about himself and his desire to excel in a sport that he was destined to. This was more than a jinx- but Brawn and team never gave up on him. If Kubica was lost to a tragic accident, Rosberg was not going to be lost to ‘bad luck’.
At such moments, one realizes that, at most times, sport is nothing but a reflection of life. The hardships, sacrifices, decisions and tears all come down to that one moment you always imagined to achieve. It would all be worth it, then, you think- and keep yourself going- sometimes forgetting about your destination in a gloom of darkness. But when it happens, the whole world knows what it means to you- only because you are clueless about how to react to it, despite dreaming about it all your life.
It is all about that one moment, and the feeling cannot be repeated again- just like a first kiss cannot happen again, and just like you can’t get that first ‘acceptance letter’ all over again.
Rosberg knows what it is, now.
Much like Rohit Sharma will, for Team India, when he dons the Test whites this year- something that he was meant to do years ago, until he was hit by the Rosberg syndrome.
It is their destiny. Sooner or later, it will happen. It is written.