Nico Rosberg was left gushing after Lewis Hamilton’s masterful victory at the Portuguese Grand Prix on Sunday, a wake-up call for Max Verstappen and Red Bull
Adding value and good energy to the superb Sky F1 commentary team in Portimao this weekend, Rosberg enthused after the race: “What a phenomenal race by Lewis!
“I’m a bit amused because Max Verstappen is starting to understand better and better how good Lewis Hamilton really is. He needs to do everything perfectly to beat him in the championship and at the moment it’s two-one to Lewis.
“The fight is in full, on and off the track. On the track, we are getting exactly what fans have been looking forward to – a thrilling wheel-to-wheel duel. For instance, Verstappen relentlessly pushed Hamilton aside in Imola, and Lewis won’t forget that for the whole season!” warned Rosberg.
“You also have to think long-term and regularly reap a large number of points. We also see Lewis constantly trying to push Max into the favourite role to create that exact pressure by saying Red Bull Racing has the best car. Verstappen, on the other hand, does exactly the same,” explained, the 2016 Formula 1 World Champion.
The Lewis vs Max battle has been brewing for some years, but without a Red Bull capable of taking Verstappen to the fight with a winning chance every weekend it’s been a David versus Goliath scenario.
On the evidence of what was seen in Portimao, Mercedes appear to have closed the slightest of gaps Red Bull had over them in the first two races.
There was nothing to separate them for most of the weekend, although in the race it became clear that Mercedes did have the advantage.
Rosberg believes Red Bull collectively, including Honda and AlphaTauri, will not be too content with the weekend in the Algarve hills, “Red Bull will have wanted to win here because they had the fastest car.
“The driver made the difference. Max had the faster car, which we also saw Saturday in qualifying. Max just made more mistakes. You can’t afford that if you want to be world champion against Lewis.
“Everything has to be right, otherwise you don’t stand a chance. They are small mistakes, but they add up. Max still has to find something and avoid these mistakes.
“There is so much pressure and we know Red Bull and Mercedes are not the best of friends. It starts with the team bosses. Toto and Helmut don’t like each other at all. And it’s the same with the drivers.
“We’re going to have a lot of fun with that,” predicted Rosberg, who had the blueprint to beat Hamilton for the 2016 title before the German retired from F1, a few hours after his greatest achievement.