On Sundays, when the points are awarded, Hamilton has usually held the edge. Should the other teams catch up and start to mix it with the Mercedes drivers, Rosberg’s qualifying speed might become more vital, because starting at the front could be key.
But for as long as the two Silver Arrows are having a private scrap for race wins and are rarely separated by other cars on the circuit, Hamilton’s race pace is what makes the difference.
This title win might also enhance Hamilton the person, as well as Hamilton the driver. During the interviews I watch on television and online, Hamilton can come across as a little awkward. I sometimes get an impression that he’s second-guessing himself, trying to give the answers that he feels the world wants to hear.
Of course, he isn’t alone – this is an unfortunate by-product of modern sports stars being micro-managed by a coterie of skilled public relations gurus and career managers. In Hamilton’s case, he’s had such figures taking an interest in his career since the age of 12.
Contrast that with the genuine public love of Jenson Button, who could be on the verge of getting squeezed out of McLaren and F1. I’m not certain at what point the 2009 world champion became an elder statesman of F1 (and he’ll quite rightly hate that phrase), but in my estimation he has grown immensely as a human being over his years in the sport.
But I remember interviewing Button in Paris back in the winter of 2001 when, due to some complex contractual machinations, he ended up exiting an increasingly competitive Williams-BMW and was about to embark on two disastrous years in a rather naff Benetton-Renault, a move that almost destroyed his career.
That interview with Button, conducted with other British media, was notable only for the complete absence of anything exciting. It was full of bland PR platitudes at a time when the media was searching for a rabble-rousing homegrown hero to take the place of Damon Hill.
Perhaps he already knew what a shed the car was and what a tough year he was in for, but he was as insipid as the car he drove.
Over time, however, he’s grown up to be witty and engaging, and if he does leave Formula 1, he’ll have shown pure class in the way he conducted himself during the season.
It’s likely that Hamilton will go through the same growing-up process. Winning two titles with two different teams takes him up a level in terms of greatness. Success breeds success, and if Mercedes holds its advantage in 2015, it’s easy to imagine him being more relaxed about the off-track nonsense and cruising to a third drivers' title.
The references to Hamilton and Rosberg being rivals since karting reminds me of one of their contemporaries who never made it to Formula 1. In 2000 Colin Brown beat both to win the prestigious Formula A world kart title (although Hamilton was in contention when he hit engine trouble).
While both Hamilton and Rosberg were already being supported by Mercedes at that stage of their careers, however, a financially straitened Brown never managed to capitalise. Which just goes to show that this business is about more than winning races and why the new F1 world champion should savour every last minute of his hard-earned success.