BERLIN • Nico Rosberg has warned Lewis Hamilton that he will not be bullied out of Formula One's world championship.
Their relationship over three years at Mercedes has been explosive at times, but Hamilton has turned that to his advantage with two world titles, while Rosberg - hired when the German car manufacturer started its new team in 2010 - has been the disappointed bystander.
If it comes to verbal fisticuffs, then the German-born Monegasque says that he is ready to step into the ring with his British team-mate, who has lifted the psychological fight to new levels even in this pre-season period.
"We need to keep discussing (our relationship) because it is a fine line," Rosberg said yesterday. "If Lewis does something wrong, I will say it. I won't downplay it. I look forward to this battle with the world champion.
"He has beaten me for the past two years and he is the benchmark. That is what I am going for and, trust me, I will be fighting all the way."
Rosberg intends to draw on the experience of races in which he managed to dominate Hamilton. Three victories on the trot at the end of last season - after Hamilton secured his third championship - were a crumb of comfort to take into the new season.
"There is the evidence that I can beat him on a string of occasions," Rosberg said. "In 2014, it went to the last race and I led the way for a long time that season and it was very close. I need to hope that he doesn't have an awesome season like last year and that, for me, everything falls into place and I get everything out of it. But there is no magic bullet.
"We are starting from scratch again with a new season and a new car. I have a positive mindset and I think he will be less confident because of what happened at the end of last season. How much will that help? I don't know but it definitely doesn't hinder me."
THE TIMES, LONDON