BETTER LUCK NEXT YEAR: Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Nico Rosberg (above) will come back fighting in 2015. Image: AFP / Tom Gandolfini
ABU DHABI, UAE - Mercedes Formula 1 team chief Toto Wolff has forecast that Nico Rosberg will bounce back stronger in 2015 from his 'desert duel' defeat by Lewis Hamilton in Sunday's title-showdown Abu Dhabi GP.
Wolff, speaking after Hamilton had won his second Drivers' title at the Yas Marina circuit, also pointed to the strong and respectful rivalry that underpinned their relationship as team mates.
Rosberg went into the race starting from pole and seeking to overturn Hamilton's 17-point lead in the title race with double points on offer for the first time but he made a poor start he was unable to respond to Hamilton's pace. He gradually fell down the running order after being hit by a succession of car problems and finished 14th, racing to the end despite a call from his pit to retire.
WOUNDS TO LICK
Wolff said: "We know Lewis's talent is enormous - you can see that with 11 race victories - but both of them have grown as personalities and as drivers through 2014. Don't expect Nico to give up - he has to lick his wounds and try to learn for 2015 and bounce back.
"I think both of them are going to be great competitors and fighting each other next year."
Rosberg's success in out-performing Hamilton in qualifying was one reason for his belief in the future: "Lewis's best thing is qualifying and Nico has beaten him so I expect them to race hard and fight each other next year."
Rosberg's fading hope in Sunday's race was due to a loss of power as his energy recovery system failed.
"For the team, it is a bittersweet outcome," added Wolff. "We've worked so hard to make the cars reliable and there was so much diligent work in the background and then we have a problem on a car.
"I don't think it would have changed the outcome as Nico had a really bad start and the odds were against him at that stage anyway. Our cars finishing the race 1-2 would have been better but it is arrogant to say that - we must be happy that we have a worthy champion."
Wolff was especially pleased by the way his drivers behaved after the race. "You could see in that moment in the room, when Nico came up, that the rivalry was so intense, but there is an underlying long-lasting history and a relationship between the two of them - they respect and honour each other.
"It was intense and it is going to be intense in 2015. We are going to have ups and downs, situations which are going to be difficult to manage, but if two drivers are fighting for an F1 championship in the same team you cannot expect harmony all the time.
"It is completely normal."