Nico Rosberg’s lead over Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton may be down to a single point midway through the Formula One championship, but the German driver appeared as relaxed as ever.
Rosberg, who has five victories and 168 points this season to four and 167 for Hamilton, said that the Hungarian Grand Prix, which Hamilton has won four times, does not feel different to him than any other race, even if Hamilton may have cost Rosberg a win here in 2014 by ignoring team orders to let Rosberg pass.
Rosberg, who was runner-up behind two-time defending champion Hamilton in 2014 and 2015, said not even the usual team analysis of last year’s race at the Hungaroring would do much good.
While Mercedes has won nine of 10 races this season and 41 of the last 48, the team has been below par in Hungary lately.
Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo won for Red Bull in 2014 and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was first last year.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fourth here in 2015 and is the only non-Mercedes driver to win this year.
The slow, winding track is often compared to the Monaco circuit and Red Bull’s chances here were judged to be good by no other than Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, who said the team was a “major threat”, especially if it rains on Sunday. Early forecasts say there is a slight chance for showers on race day.
Rosberg was also relaxed about the new radio communication rules between teams and drivers during the race.
He was penalised 10 seconds at Silverstone because instructions from Mercedes warning about problems with the gearbox and telling him to avoid seventh gear were judged to contravene rules making drivers perform “alone and unaided”.
Although he finished second behind Rosberg, the penalty pushed Rosberg back to third.
New rules from FIA, motorsport’s governing body, say teams will be forced to call the drivers into pit lane for repairs – or to withdraw from the race – if they warn them of any malfunctions, motorsport.com reported.
Radio rules are “not something I think about”, Rosberg said, while acknowledging that all the advice and instructions drivers were getting during the race frustrated fans.