Their battles may be played out on the track, but Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are also waging a war of the minds as their 2014 Formula 1 world title duel goes into high gear.
One silver-clad driver or the other will almost certainly be crowned this year’s Formula 1 world champion, and so far the ultra-dominant Brackley team’s management is giving them a free run to go wheel-to-wheel.
“We are cautiously optimistic,” said team boss Toto Wolff. “Perhaps more optimistic than cautious at the moment!”
Briton Hamilton currently has the upper hand, having won four of the five grands prix so far and having taken the championship lead from Rosberg in Spain. Some believe that this was a major psychological blow for the German.
“Break me down mentally?” Rosberg hit back when asked if Hamilton’s superiority is getting to him. “I think he will struggle with that one.”
Hamilton, six months older than Rosberg, is often credited as perhaps the naturally fastest driver on the Formula 1 grid, while it is said that Rosberg’s speed is more analytically crafted.
“They are different characters,” Wolff told the APA news agency. “Lewis has instinct and merciless speed. Nico’s preparation is meticulous. He has a great understanding of the car and is fascinated by the data.”
But Wolff said that Hamilton also does not neglect the hard work off-track, “He has become an incredibly hard worker. This year even more than last. I think that everything has now taken a higher priority.”
However, Wolff said that Hamilton’s character has another side, “He is incredibly sensitive to criticism, with strong reactions. But this is also why he drives as he does.”
Team Chairman Niki Lauda said after Hamilton’s Barcelona win that the 29-year-old Briton is currently “unbeatable” while 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell hailed Hamilton’s 2014 form as “close to perfection”.
Rosberg replied: “Lewis is just a human, with strengths and weaknesses. And I know what I can do.”
Some predict that Hamilton’s advantage may eventually get to Rosberg, but Wolff is not so sure. He told Speed Week, “[Rosberg] has no problem dealing with the situation.”
“Of course he is disappointed to finish second behind his teammate, but I have no doubt that they will both have their triumphs against one another,” he added. (GMM)
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