< Back
PIRELLI.COM / RACING

Who can be the last
of the late brakers?

Who can be the last of the late brakers? 01

Hamilton versus Rosberg
It’s a sensational end to the most important race of the season: an incident that makes TV commentators jump to their feet and scream at their monitors.
Just a couple corners into the second lap, Nico Rosberg seems to make a crucial mistake – having fought so hard to overhaul Lewis Hamilton, who started from pole. It was a demon start from Nico, but Lewis remains only eight-tenths of a second off Nico’s rear wing: determined to hunt him down, with so much at stake.
Then, it all goes wrong for Nico. Does he leave his braking just a little too late, maybe distracted by looking at Lewis in his mirrors? In any case, the car jinks left as he locks his wheels. And then comes the realisation that he isn't going to make the tight right-hand corner rapidly approaching ahead. Everything Nico dreamed of is ruined: instead it’s now going to be Lewis winning the intense fight they have both been anticipating all season. 
Nico inevitably makes contact with the tyre wall. But before he even has time to put his head in his hands, he feels a strange bump against his left-rear wheel. He looks up and can’t believe what he sees in his mirrors. It's the identical car of his rival, Lewis, who has done exactly the same thing. An incredible early end to what promised to be a crucial race-long battle.
Lewis’s car isn't badly damaged and he can re-join the race, but the time lost means that he only finishes 14th. Not the result that he needed.

Who can be the last of the late brakers? 02

Back to the future
This isn’t some kind of fantasy script about what will happen this weekend: instead it’s what actually happened 12 years ago. Hamilton and Rosberg were both racing in the Formula 3 Euroseries, but the most important race of the year was the stand-alone Macau Grand Prix – where the best Formula 3 drivers in the world come together to crown an unofficial ‘champion of champions’. It’s a race where legends such as Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher have won in the past, and where Pirelli was appointed sole supplier for the first time just seven weeks ago: bringing 2600 tyres for both Formula 3 and GT last weekend.
Back in 2004, Hamilton was driving for Manor Motorsport (which would go on to enter Formula 1®, where it still is now) while Rosberg was driving for Team Rosberg (founded by Nico’s father Keke and currently competing in the DTM championship).
Formula 3 was just another step on the ladder that both Hamilton and Rosberg would climb together over the years, their destinies seemingly inextricably linked. And where that journey has ultimately led them to is Abu Dhabi this weekend, with Rosberg holding a golden opportunity to put previous title defeats by Hamilton – and that drama in Macau – behind him for good.

Who can be the last of the late brakers? 03

Mastering Macau
The corner where Rosberg went straight on in 2004, Lisboa, is one of the trickiest of the entire Macau lap. There’s a fast and bumpy approach, then it tightens viciously. Getting the braking right is a massive challenge, but it’s also an overtaking opportunity.
“I was surprised that I got caught out,” said Rosberg immediately afterwards. “Other drivers have said since the race that there was oil down, which explains why the car wouldn't turn in. I was pushing hard because I wanted to shake off Hamilton and get him out of my slipstream.”
In the end, Alexandre Premat – who would go on to be a factory driver for Audi – won the Macau Grand Prix that year. But was it Rosberg or Hamilton who aced the F3 Euroseries championship? The answer is neither. Rosberg was fourth and Hamilton was fifth, which the German will be hoping is a good omen for this weekend.
And what about the 2004 championship winner?  That was Englishman Jamie Green, who finished third in the DTM this year. Driving for Team Rosberg.

Read more