Although Mercedes is on the cusp of wrapping up the constructors’ title, the battle for the drivers’ crown is still wide open.
Indeed, up and down the pitlane, opinions are divided as to which silver-clad driver – Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton – will take home the trophy.
“I would put my money on Lewis,” former F1 driver turned commentator David Coulthard told Germany’s Sport Bild.
“Nico still has to prove that he can beat Lewis when Lewis is not having problems. In a tough duel, with the same weapons, my impression is that Lewis always wins.”
But F1 legend Sir Jackie Stewart thinks German Rosberg can outsmart his British rival.
“Nico is the best example of how a driver can master his head,” the Scot told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He does a perfect job and I see virtually no errors. But that 8 point lead is not enough and Hamilton just didn’t do well in the last race,” Stewart added.
Another former driver, German-language Sky pundit Marc Surer, also thinks Rosberg is capable of winning.
“I have the impression that he is more confident this year.
“But I believe it will go back and forth now until the end of the season, because Lewis will definitely not give up — he will come back. I see luck playing a major role as well.”
Surer also said the actual race starts, particularly with Mercedes’ tricky clutch, are also crucial.
“The start is the key to victory and therefore the key to the championship,” he said.
“If Hamilton wants to be world champion again, he has to work hard and concentrate more,” added Surer.
Unprecedented attention will therefore be on how the pair handle each of the remaining races, beginning this weekend in Malaysia and then the final five in Japan, Austin, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
Surer said: “Singapore was absolutely a Hamilton track, but he was never in top form all weekend. The setup of the car is extremely important and this seems to be more of a strength of Rosberg’s.”
He therefore thinks the new track surface at Sepang could play into Rosberg’s hands.
“Definitely. Who can better adjust the car to the new conditions will have a great chance to win the race, but one also must reckon with the weather.
“When it rains here, everything goes haywire. And then anything can happen,” said Surer.