Nico Rosberg’s downwards spiral has only worsened in Bahrain.
With teammate Lewis Hamilton riding a wave of form and confidence, German Rosberg headed to the desert Kingdom determined to bounce back.
But it backfired spectacularly in qualifying, as the 29-year-old slumped to third place, behind not only Hamilton but also Sebastian Vettel’s resurgent Ferrari.
“The starting point for Lewis is perfect as always,” Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
“But the six tenths gap between Rosberg and Hamilton is worrisome,” he added.
On German television RTL, however, Lauda insisted Rosberg cannot be written off.
But “from the first race in Melbourne, Lewis has simply done everything better. Nico needs to turn this around now.
“He needs to think about the counter-strategy he can do. It’s not just about going faster, but thinking about something new to try to beat him,” Lauda added.
The F1 legend said Rosberg is also psychologically weaker at present, having erred in complaining about Hamilton’s race tactics in China a week ago.
“Basically, Nico has realised that complaining after the race was not good for him,” he said. “On the other hand, Lewis’ answer was correct when he said ‘I’m here to win the race’.”
So for now, F1 2015 appears headed for a two-horse title race, with the protagonists – silver-clad Hamilton and Vettel in the red corner – on the front row on Sunday.
“Ferrari is fast now because they started with the development of their car much earlier than us last year,” said Wolff. “Because we were fighting for the title!
“What is clear is that the era of the easy one-two victories is over,” he admitted. (GMM)