ROSBERG TO CONQUER? Mercedes team mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton are wrestling for the 2016 F1 championship. Image: AFP / Saaed Khan
France - Formula 1 legend Alain Prost thinks Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg is now in a prime position to charge for his first drivers' title.
The quadruple world champion told French broadcaster Canal Plus: "A 33-point lead starts to be important. It's much better to have that lead with four races to go than the four wins he had at the start of the season.
"He will have to manage this lead now, and get into a psychological state that is not always easy."
Rosberg in prime position
Indeed, it is a fascinating situation for Rosberg, having been beaten by Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton in both 2014 and 2015.
But according to the British press, Hamilton is now in a state of 'meltdown' amid a set of bizarre behaviour at Suzuka, with six wins in 2016 compared to Rosberg's nine.
More: 2016 Japanese GP - Rosberg cruises to victory at Suzuka
France's L'Equipe said: "How can you not be champion if you've won nine races? That is the question Nico Rosberg hopes he does not have to answer at the end of the season. But the German is doing everything he has to for his first world title."
Hamilton still focused and motivated
And Rosberg denies the interpretation that he is only now in pole to win because Hamilton is cracking.
Rosberg, according to Marca, insisted: "It was a long time since I saw Lewis as focused and motivated actually."
More: Mercedes boss tips Hamilton to fight 'to the end'
Prost agrees that Rosberg's battle isn't over yet, saying: "It's never easy to manage such a big lead, especially against Lewis Hamilton, who thinks the whole world is against him now."
As for the charge that Rosberg would be a 'lucky' world champion, Prost doesn't agree but he says that every season winner needs at least some luck.
The Frenchman warned: "But it could still turn. One retirement and Lewis is right back in the race."