Rosberg not writing off Lewis or Ferrari

Nico Rosberg says Ferrari looks “very close” in Spain and is refusing to take his early advantage over Lewis Hamilton for granted.

Rosberg topped FP2 at the Circuit de Catalunya, two tenths up on Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, while Mercedes teammate Hamilton finished seven tenths adrift. Hamilton looked to have been on a quick lap before encountering traffic in sector three and Rosberg is expecting a tight fight on Saturday afternoon.

“The car is looking good, Ferrari seems to be very close, I think Kimi was only 0.2s away or something so we definitely need to make sure we get everything out of it,” he said. “Lewis as well was quick, he just ended up with traffic so the lap time is not relevant, but I’m optimistic.”

Rosberg brushed off the gap to Hamilton and is fully expecting the world champion to bring the fight on Saturday and Sunday.

“There’s no cushion, he had traffic. So on the data it’s a different picture. It’s very close as always and it needs to be a perfect weekend to try and beat him.”

Barcelona is where Mercedes racked up over 19 race distances over the eight days of winter testing earlier this year but Rosberg says the circuit feels completely different in the higher temperatures.

“A good start to the weekend. Of course it has been difficult because in winter testing we do thousands of laps here but it’s 20C on the tarmac and now it’s 40C on the tarmac and it’s just a different world.

“I remember this track from the winter so I had some expectations coming here. In the winter it just feels awesome, it’s cold, there’s so much grip. You come here now and it’s hot, the car is just sliding everywhere, you have less grip and it just doesn’t feel good but it’s surely the same for everybody.”