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Hungarian GP: Rosberg relaxed even as title lead shrinks

2016-07-22 09:00

STRONG COMPETITORS: Mercedes Formula 1 team drivers Nico Robserg and Lewis Hamilton have had a tumultous season so far. Image: AP / Luca Bruno

Budapest - Nico Rosberg's lead over Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton may be down to a single point midway through the Formula 1 championship but he appeared as relaxed as ever on Thursday.

Rosberg, who has five victories and 168 points this season to four and 167 for Hamilton, said that the Hungarian Grand Prix, which Hamilton has won four times, does not feel different to him than any other race, even if Hamilton may have cost Rosberg a win here in 2014 by ignoring team orders to let Rosberg pass.

Rosberg said: "Until now I've had the best season of all drivers. I don't look at the big picture. The best approach for me to win is to focus on the weekend that's at hand."

Taking on the Hungaroring

Rosberg, who was runner-up behind two-time defending champion Hamilton in 2014 and 2015, said not even the usual team analysis of the 2015 race at the Hungaroring would do much good.

Rosberg said: "The asphalt is new and that will make it very different out there. We almost start from scratch. Also the kerbs are new so that will change a lot of things."

While Mercedes has won nine of 10 races this season and 41 of the last 48, the team has been below par in Hungary lately. Daniel Ricciardo won for Red Bull in 2014 and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was first last year.

Watch: Rosberg on what he has to do at the Hungaoring 

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fourth here in 2015 and is the only non-Mercedes driver to win this year.

Verstappen, the youngest F1 winner ever, said about his previous race: "It was a great weekend, I enjoyed that one a lot. Hopefully this year we are aiming for more than fourth. We can be on the podium."

The Hungaroring's slow, winding track is often compared to the Monaco circuit and Red Bull's chances here were judged to be good by no other than Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, who said the team was a "major threat," especially if it rains on Sunday. Early forecasts say there is a slight chance for showers on race day.

Rosberg was also relaxed about the new radio communication rules between teams and drivers during the race. He was penalized 10 seconds at Silverstone because instructions from Mercedes warning about problems with the gearbox and telling him to avoid seventh gear were judged to contravene rules making drivers perform "alone and unaided."

Although he finished second behind Rosberg, the penalty pushed Rosberg back to third.

New rules

New rules from FIA, motorsport's governing body, say teams will be forced to call the drivers into pit lane for repairs or to withdraw from the race if they warn them of any malfunctions.

Radio rules are "not something I think about," Rosberg said, while acknowledging that all the advice and instructions drivers were getting during the race frustrated fans.

More: Clampdown on controversial F1 radio chat

Rosberg said: "It's come about because fans said we were like puppets out there, just doing what the engineers are saying. Now we're trying this and I think it's ok. It makes it more challenging for us out on the track."


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