Rosberg: Valtteri can be champion, Lewis has his weak moments

Nico Rosberg, the man who interrupted Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 title collection, believes that his Valtteri Bottas has it in him to beat Britain’s five-time World Champion.

After a season devoid of victories in 2018, Bottas appears to have reinvented himself as he powered to a commanding victory, perhaps his best ever, at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, with it sending a loud and clear signal of his intentions to Mercedes and his teammate.

Rosberg, who also had to reinvent himself to beat Hamilton to the title in 2016, believes history can repeat itself when he told Bild, “I think Bottas can be world champion.”

“He’s in attack mode this year. You can’t underestimate the mental part in Formula 1. That’s what we saw last year with Sebastian Vettel.”

“The problem for Valtteri is that Lewis is always so strong in qualifying but the chance is there that we will see a real battle. I think if Valtteri can maintain that positive mentality, he can become World Champion because Lewis has his weak moments.”

When they were teammates, Rosberg was resigned to being second fastest to Hamilton on Saturdays but worked overtime on his reaction skills to be quick off the line. Ditto Bottas in Melbourne, when the lights went out the #77 car launched well, while #44 did not – the Finn was first into Turn 1 at Albert Park and it was game over.

Rosberg said of the start last Sunday, “Statistically, I think it was the fastest time it took for the lights to go out in many years. I’m sure many like Lewis were surprised.”

“Valtteri, as I did, practiced all weekend with his clutch: over and over again, hundreds of times. Lewis would do it five times at the most,” explained the 2016 F1 World Champion.

In Bahrain, we will find out if Bottas Reloaded was a one-off anomaly and, if not, how Hamilton reacts to the defeat Down Under. History shows that the Briton can dig deeper than most when the chips are down and it is still very early days in what is a long campaign.

Big Question: Can Valtteri be champion?