Nico Rosberg needs to relax if he wants to get back into the world championship fight. That is the advice of German countryman Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who at the peak of his career fifteen years ago was the title dark horse in 1999. Now 47, Frentzen told Germany’s Auto Bild he thinks Rosberg – the former runaway championship leader in 2014 – is letting Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton run away with the title as the Briton hits a run of top form. Hamilton, once well behind Rosberg but now 17 points clear with just three races to go, has won the last four grands prix on the trot.
“Nico is making mistakes because he is not free in the head,” said Frentzen. “He needs to pretend that the world championship fight is already over,” the former Williams driver advised. Only by not thinking about it can he begin to relax again.”
Frentzen said it is precisely this kind of calmness that is contributing to Hamilton’s increasing dominance at the pointy end of the intense 2014 battle. “He’s mentally strong and totally relaxed,” he said. “You can see it in the little things — the way he gets into the car, the way he puts on his gloves,” added Frentzen. However, with the unpopular ‘double points’ finale looming next month, it remains highly likely the title will go right down to the wire — even if Hamilton’s run of superiority continues.
With 50 points on offer in Abu Dhabi, it is mathematically possible that Rosberg will be 49 points behind just before the chequer waves but win the title if Hamilton suffers a breakdown. Hamilton said at the DTM finale at Hockenheim last weekend: “There are so many points in the last race — the championship will be decided there.”
But he insists he is not worried. “There is no need to be concerned,” said Hamilton. “You never know what is ahead and we will deal with it as it comes. It is no good thinking, ‘if this happens or if that happens’, or even thinking about what happens if I win. I am just going to enjoy this moment and make sure that in these last three races, I am stronger than Nico,” he added.
Michael Schumacher’s former manager doubts Sebastian Vettel can emulate the F1 legend’s success at rebuilding a beleaguered Ferrari team. Willi Weber, also known as the lucrative ‘Mr 20 per cent’ after brokering Schumacher’s mammoth Ferrari contracts, is worried quadruple world champion Vettel’s personality might not be as suited to the task. Ferrari is expected to confirm German Vettel’s arrival as departing Fernando Alonso’s replacement in the days before the US grand prix. Famously, in 1996, his countryman Schumacher similarly arrived at Maranello as the reigning champion and within five years Ferrari was established as F1’s dominant force. But Weber told Germany’s Auto Bild: “Sebastian is much more sensitive than Michael.
“If something is not working well, the pressure at Ferrari is greater than it is anywhere else. It is not always ‘peace, joy and pancakes’, but a lot of politics. I think if a Fernando Alonso cannot deal with it, then no one can”, Weber said.
Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko, who groomed Vettel from boyhood to F1 stardom but is now losing the 27-year-old to his arch rival, also doubts Vettel can emulate Schumacher’s fabled feats. “Michael benefitted in his time from an unlimited number of test kilometres and close cooperation with the tyre partner Bridgestone,” said Marko. “These are advantages that no longer exist today,” the Austrian added.
Also doubting Vettel’s ability to match even Spaniard Alonso’s feats at the Italian team is the former F1 driver Robert Kubica, who was close to Alonso. “I think Vettel is not as strong as Fernando,” the Pole told Italy’s Sky this week, “as even without a great car, Fernando was still able to win races.”
The latest whispers from Maranello are also not positive. Italy’s specialist Autosprint claims Ferrari engineers were unhappy with the first set of aerodynamic figures after wind tunnel testing the 2015 car, whose project is codenamed ‘666‘. The 2015 car will be the first Ferrari produced under the technical leadership of James Allison.