Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has no doubt Nico Rosberg will find his feet and form this season and give teammate Lewis Hamilton a run for his money, in the battle for the Formula 1 world title.
Rosberg has been distinctly second best to the reigning world champion so far this campaign, losing out in all four qualifying sessions and grands prix to the 30-year-old Briton. Ahead of this weekend’s fifth round of the championship in Spain, Hamilton has already built a 27-point cushion over Rosberg, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel a further point adrift.
Rosberg highlighted last season what can be achieved, because after his opening victory in Australia Hamilton reeled off four wins in a row, only for the German to take a stranglehold on the middle part of the year.
Wolff sees no reason why Rosberg cannot stem the currently relentless Hamilton tide, as he told AUTOSPORT: “When you look at their performance in qualifying in China, for example, there were just four hundredths between them. That is not someone who is clearly beaten.
“That is a tiny little edge which was enough for Lewis to make it on pole and control the race. It could have been completely different if Nico had been on pole.
“Nico wouldn’t be in Formula 1 as a multiple race winner and a challenger for the championship if he allowed himself to be destabilized after a few races. I fully expect him to come bouncing back. I don’t know when it will happen, but he’s always going to be there, no doubt.”
As last year, Wolff is also anticipating a battle for the crown through to the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi. The controversial double-points format for the finale of last season has been scrapped, but Wolff sees no reason why Hamilton, Rosberg, and even the Ferraris of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will not be fighting it out to the bitter end.
“I think it could go to the wire with Ferrari,” Wolff added. “Even if we continue to do one and two, and they do three and four, it could go very long into the season, and then it becomes clear as to who stays in contention for the championship.
“Anyway, between Lewis and Nico, I expect it to continue like it’s done, and then Ferrari is not part of the equation.”