Nico Rosberg reckons now is the time for Valtteri Bottas to capitalise on Lewis Hamilton’s “weakness” and pounce in the championship race.
Although Hamilton has been on top for most of this season, the Brit’s head dropped last time out in Russia.
Handed what he felt were two unjust penalties for practicing a start outside the designated area on his way to the grid, he finished the Sochi race a distant third.
Bottas took the victory but it was Hamilton who made the headlines as he accused the stewards of doing their best to stop his charge towards a seventh World title.
He subsequently apologised for his comments, saying he is only human.
Perhaps that part was showing on Saturday in qualifying for the Eifel Grand Prix as Bottas ended the 35-year-old’s run of five consecutive F1 poles.
Asked if Hamilton is still feeling the ‘negativity’ from Russia, his former team-mate Nico Rosberg told Sky F1: “Exactly, and that’s the weakness Lewis has.
“Sometimes he can lose his momentum and he can dip down, and he’ll stay down for a couple of races.
“So if Lewis really is in this period now – which we don’t know yet, we’ll see how tomorrow [the race] goes – then Valtteri needs to be winning and maximise those points because it’s the only opportunity you get and the only chance you have to compete with Lewis.”
The German, who beat Hamilton to the 2016 World title, urged Bottas to capitalise on the moment.
“That lap from Bottas out there was fantastic,” said Rosberg. “I looked it at and it was like, perfect. And under all that pressure!
“That’s exactly the message he needs to send Lewis’ way: ‘This is not over yet, I’m still in the championship fight’.
“If he can continue that [in the race], that would be great.”
Bottas heads into Sunday’s 60-lap race 44 points behind Hamilton in the fight for the World title.
While Hamilton has won six of this year’s 10 grands prix, Bottas has only been triumphant on two occasions, Austria and Russia.