Nico Rosberg backed former teammate Lewis Hamilton to beat Max Verstappen to the 2021 Formula 1 world title and secure a record-breaking eighth crown.
Hamilton is eight points behind Red Bull’s Verstappen in one of the most intense and high-quality title races the sport has ever seen.
Back-to-back wins in Brazil and Qatar have allowed the momentum to fully turn to Hamilton’s Mercedes, but the battle is set to go on in the final two races of the season.
Hamilton has almost completely dominated the turbo-hybrid era with Mercedes since its debut in 2014, winning six of seven possible championships to tie Michael Schumacher’s record.
That stain, however, came in 2016, when Hamilton was beaten to the crown by teammate Nico Rosberg, who now backs his fiercest rival.
“It’s a sensational tight situation,” Rosberg explained. “My guess based on feelings is Lewis because of his experience. But the championship is totally open.
“Max is super strong. The state of mind in such a duel is essential. It is certainly not easy for Max as this situation is so new for him.
“And he even faces the most successful F1 driver of all time. It therefore already deserves enormous recognition.
Rosberg won Hamilton’s 2016 title in a similar fashion, snatching his only five-point crown in the final race of the season, before retiring from the sport the next day.
The two world champions grew up together and were best friends throughout their careers, until 2016 saw a painful break in their relationship with multiple accidents on the track.
Things have remained almost impeccably cordial between Hamilton and new opponent Verstappen, despite a number of wheel-to-wheel incidents this season.
And Rosberg has revealed that the key to beating Hamilton is not by strength, but by jumping on his weaknesses.
“We have to take advantage of Lewis’s weak phases,” he said.
“When he loses his motivation a little, his head, then it’s the attack full! This means that you have to take as many points as possible, you can never write off Lewis. He will always come back.
The pair face off in Jeddah when Saudi Arabia first host a Grand Prix on December 5, and Verstappen can claim his first world title if he wins the race and Hamilton finishes sixth or less.
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