Nico insists Lewis will push him hard

Nico Rosberg (right) is certain that his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton will make it tough for him to win the F1 title.
Nico Rosberg (right) is certain that his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton will make it tough for him to win the F1 title.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BARCELONA • Lewis Hamilton will recover from his spluttering Formula One campaign and mount a strong bid to win his fourth title this year, starting with this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

That is the view of both his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, who leads him by 43 points after four races, and their champion team who are determined to put the Briton's problem-hit start to the season behind them.

"We feel badly for Lewis because we've let him down, in terms of his competition with Nico," said Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe.

"But I am sure we will get though it and Lewis will get through it too."

The three-time champion is without a win this year and has suffered a string of disappointments with a series of engine problems and first-lap incidents in races.

He is without a victory since winning in the United States last year. In that time, Rosberg has been triumphant and has reeled off four straight wins this season to lift him clear at the top of the title race.

But, even after seven wins in succession, the German believes that Hamilton's ferocious competitive spirit and raw speed are sure to return and make him a winner again.

"Lewis will bounce back, of that I am sure," he said. "All the other drivers who won the first four races - and went to take the title - did not have him as a team-mate. I know what to expect.

"He doesn't have an issue with fighting back. He has always shown that. There will be battles ahead and it is going to be tough."

Rosberg won last year's race at the Circuit de Catalunya from pole position, as Hamilton did the season before, a sequence that is expected to continue for Mercedes on a track that tends to deliver somewhat soporific contests.

For many, though, the chief topic of interest will be to see how Dutch teenager Max Verstappen copes with the pressure of expectation after his sudden promotion from Toro Rosso to replace Russian Daniil Kvyat in the senior Red Bull team.

Ferrari will also be strong contenders, after their president Sergio Marchionne made it clear that he is expecting to see his team start winning again.

Four-time world champion German Sebastian Vettel is 67 points behind Rosberg after reliability problems and accidents in his opening four outings and Marchionne warned: "This Sunday will be an important day for us and I expect us to win shortly, starting with the race in Spain. So far, we have been unlucky. It will change soon."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2016, with the headline 'Nico insists Lewis will push him hard'. Print Edition | Subscribe