Nico Rosberg has given an insight into how to get the better of Lewis Hamilton in a World Championship battle – just as Max Verstappen is trying to do.
Following two failed attempts in which he was runner-up to his Mercedes team-mate by 67 and 59 points respectively, Rosberg finally turned the tables in 2016 when he triumphed by five points – and then promptly retired, having fulfilled his “goal”.
After three years in which neither Sebastian Vettel, initially, or Valtteri Bottas has been able to sustain a challenge, in 2021 Hamilton has found another formidable adversary in Verstappen, who leads the Drivers’ standings by six points with six races remaining.
The difference between the Dutchman and Rosberg, of course, is that the current pretender to the crown is racing for a rival team, Red Bull, rather than Mercedes, so the title battle could be decided by which car proves to have the edge in the closing weeks of the campaign.
But from a psychological perspective, the German has described what is required to conquer the seven-time World Champion.
“To win a Formula 1 World Championship, first of all you need to look at your rival,” said Rosberg during an interview with SquareMile.com.
“In my case it was Lewis, he was the only real rival, and he’s now proven to be the best of all time, so the level is unbelievably high.
“But as is the case with any human, there’s also some weaknesses.
“First of all, it’s important to be at your absolute 110% for the whole season because anything less, you just won’t have a chance against him.
“And it’s also important to be consistent over the whole season, to really not have any big, bad races, and deliver at every moment.
“Then Lewis also has these periods when he loses a bit of motivation, he has these dips in form, and then it’s important to maximise those moments, to keep him down for a bit longer.
“If all these ingredients come together, you stand a chance and that’s what happened in 2016.”
Rosberg said he had also learned from his previous Mercedes team-mate, Michael Schumacher, about how to get his colleagues firmly onside.
“From Michael, I learned the whole teambuilding thing,” he said. “Knowing everyone’s names and birthday, and really getting the team behind you by genuinely caring for people.
“Michael always organised evenings, trips, drinks for the mechanics, and I really thought that was wonderful so I took that on board.
“And then the sports mentality as well. Like, he was a warrior in everything he did. He really tried to get into his opponent’s head and put them down mentally, and that was a big learning curve to witness that…because he was doing it to me!
“I think also using the media to his advantage. The media is such a powerful tool that you can use to win.”
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