Motor Sport News - - Gp Extra - Photos: LAT

Early-sea­son For­mula 1 cham­pi­onship leader Nico Rosberg has said that his 36-point ad­van­tage at the top of the stand­ings counts for noth­ing, es­pe­cially with Lewis Hamil­ton as his team-mate.

The Ger­man ex­tended his lead with a third con­sec­u­tive win in China last week­end but he is sure Hamil­ton will still pro­vide a stern chal­lenge.

When asked if he was feel­ing com­fort­able at the mo­ment, Rosberg replied: “Quite the con­trary. My team-mate is Lewis Hamil­ton, and he has been the bench­mark for the last two years.

“The points gap is like noth­ing, if you con­sider all the points still up for grabs this year it’s a cou­ple of races’ dif­fer­ence.

“It will al­ways be a tough bat­tle against him. He’s as fo­cused and mo­ti­vated as ever; he will never give up.

“It’s three races now and they’ve gone re­ally well for me, but it’s the long­est sea­son in F1 his­tory with 21 races so that’s 18 to go.

“It would not make sense to make any pre­ma­ture con­clu­sions. Of course I’m happy with the way it’s gone and I’m feel­ing good and the car’s there, but I don’t want to say more than that.”

Hamil­ton’s Chi­nese Grand Prix was com­pro­mised be­fore it even started with a grid penalty for a change of gear­box. He then started last af­ter an ERS prob­lem dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing.

At the start of the race he was hit by Felipe Nasr’s Sauber as the Brazil­ian was try­ing to avoid the col­lid­ing Fer­raris. This left Hamil­ton with sig­nif­i­cant dam­age for the rest of the race as he fin­ished seventh de­spite mak­ing five stops.

“The car was flex­ing like crazy, like a four-poster bed to­day,” said Hamil­ton. “I just tried to bat­tle through, but ev­ery time I stopped I had to come through again, I wasn’t gain­ing ground, and at the end there weren’t enough tyres.”

Rosberg in­sists that Hamil­ton is a threat

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