Rosberg, Hamilton renew F1 title battle
can clinch a third straight Formula One constructors’ title on Sunday at the Malaysian Grand Prix while their pair of resurgent Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton continue a fierce drivers’ trophy fight.
Mercedes hold a massive lead of 222 points over Red Bull and will clinch first place with five races to spare if Red Bull don’t garner eights more than them on the 5.543k Sepang International Circuit.
Team boss Toto Wolff is more than happy with the season but has also warned that “we must remain on our toes to get the ball over the line.”
Resurgent Rosberg meanwhile returned to the top of the drivers’ list eight points ahead of Hamilton with victory in Singapore a fortnight ago.
The German has won the last three races in Belgium, Italy and Singapore, all a first for Rosberg on the respective course, and he aims to continue this trend in sweltering Malaysia where is also yet to triumph.
The race was in the past years held early in the season but has now been moved back in the calendar, gaining in importance through the fierce title race which according to both drivers is far from over.
Rosberg clearly has the momentum on his side but is firmly keeping his feet on the ground despite a lot of confidence.
“It’s an incredible position to be in as a driver, knowing you have a shot at winning every weekend,” he said.
“I won’t take it for granted. I’ve had a good run lately and I’m enjoying the moment. But as far as the next race goes, or the next one after that and so on ... it’s anyone’s game.”
Hamilton, who won six of seven races during the summer to go top temporarily, said that several factors will determine the outcome of the title race which could go down to the wire until the November 27 season-ender in Abu Dhabi.
“We’re both fiercely competitive. Some weekends he does great, some weekends I do great. It’s a combination of things that all come together to make a strong weekend and every one is different,” Hamilton said.
“I have no idea if the momentum will swing back to me or when it might. But we still have six races left, so I just have to keep giving it my all and hope for the best. That’s all you can do as a sportsman.
“It’s going to take some good results to get back in front and stay there – but I’ve had plenty of those in the past, so there’s no reason to think they won’t come back to me again.”
But Mercedes must be on their guard in what Wolff named “a gruelling phase” of the season in which “the physical and mental challenge of a championship reaches its absolute peak.”
Rosberg survived a big challenge from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in Singapore while in Malaysia last year Sebastian Vettel got his first victory for Ferrari and fourth overall there by beating Hamilton and Rosberg.
The German driver and his Italian team would love nothing more than a repeat on Sunday in a so far winless season.
“We did very well last year, so we’ll try to repeat what we did. For sure the first win with Ferrari was very emotional and very special ... I have good memories and I am looking forward to going back to Malaysia and hit the track,” Vettel said. – dpa