Since winning the final three races last season, has Nico Rosberg become a more ruthless driver? (2:10)
Nico Rosberg thinks he would be foolish to write off Lewis Hamilton and insists the world champion is as strong as he was in 2014 and 2015.
Rosberg arrives in Spain with a 43 point lead over his Mercedes teammate after just four races of 2016 and seven consecutive wins to his name. His form has seen him become the bookies’ favourite for the title Hamilton has beaten him to in the last two seasons. .
The last time Rosberg led the championship was in late 2014, which was eventually overhauled by Hamilton, who then eased to a second straight title last season.
Asked if that experience was helping keep his feet on the ground, Rosberg replied: “Not really, no, I don’t really thing about the past so much, I’m just in the now. It’s not hard to keep your feet on the ground, you just need to look at reality, Lewis is still the same Lewis as last two years, so just as quick and just as difficult to beat. There’s still a long, long way to go and it’s 41 points or whatever it is — there you go.”
Rosberg also disagrees with the suggestion Hamilton has lost some of the focus he had in his title-winning 2014 and 2015 campaigns.
“That’s very easy, because I’m the one that sees it internally. He’s as focused and as determined as ever so he will of course bounce back as he’s always done.”
When it was suggested this is the opportunity of a lifetime to win a championship, he said: “But you said that three years ago already! This is the third year in a row that I hear this. You are thinking of a life, you are asking me to think seven years down the road. I’m 30 now, still a young F1 age I would like to think. I don’t think that way.
“I’m in a great situation which I’m enjoying. I have an opportunity to win the races, winning is a massive thrill that I race for. And up against some awesome drivers; up against Lewis, up against the red guys Kimi [Raikkonen] and [Sebastian] Vettel. It makes it all the more fun when I win races, especially in a straight battle.”
Though many of Rosberg’s questions on Thursday in Barcelona were centred around the championship the German driver insisted he is focusing on one race at a time.
“It wouldn’t be good for me to be thinking seven months down the road.. The best way for me to win Barcelona is to think about Barcelona. So I’ve been focusing on that — it’s come quite naturally because that’s the way I like to approach it, it’s the best approach for me and that’s what I’m doing.”