Nico Rosberg has been busily playing the mind games this weekend as he clings to his world championship chances.
Needing Mercedes teammate and title favourite Lewis Hamilton to finish no higher than third on Sunday, German Rosberg has been firing thinly-veiled barbs at his British rival all weekend at the Abu Dhabi finale.
He then captured pole on Saturday, with a big margin over Hamilton who left the circuit amid his customary body-language of defeat.
“He’s made several mistakes lately, and these signs give me hope,” said Rosberg.
1996 world champion Damon Hill said it is obvious Rosberg is playing mind games, as a championship showdown like the one in Abu Dhabi is “a total psychological game.
“That’s all it is,” he is quoted by the Daily Mail.
Rosberg admitted he has been taking advice from his notoriously tough father Keke, who won the championship in 1982.
“We had a discussion about it,” the German admitted. “He gave me his advice for this weekend and I try and apply that or take whatever I think would help me.”
The objective, Rosberg admitted, is to destabilise Hamilton.
He said after qualifying: “If Lewis feels the pressure and makes a mistake as a result, a bit like today and a bit like Brazil then that’s the sort of opportunities that I’m trying to push for.”
Briton Hamilton, the 2008 title winner for McLaren, said on Saturday that he is unfazed by Rosberg’s tricks.
“I don’t pay much attention to that at all,” he said. “Take today. If I made a mistake today, it would be the same amount as him — Nico had to do an extra lap on the actual race tyres, which hopefully will have an effect.
“My tyres are perfect for the race,” added Hamilton. “Yes, Nico has won the pole position cup, but I’ve won the race win cup.
“Nico is sure trying everything possible in his head to come up with some kind of way of dealing with things — that’s how he deals with it. Me, I just keep to myself and do the talking on the track.” (GMM)