Though a tough one to call, Nico Rosberg is still backing his former team-mate Lewis Hamilton to claim the 2021 title.
The battle craved for years finally arrived in 2021 – a season when Hamilton and Max Verstappen have fought back and forth in pursuit of the Drivers’ Championship.
Now only two rounds remain and it is Verstappen with the advantage, eight points clear of Hamilton at the top of the Drivers’ standings.
But while Verstappen is ahead on points, Hamilton has the momentum after consecutive dominant wins at the Sao Paulo and Qatar Grands Prix.
And so Rosberg is still backing seven-time World Champion Hamilton to bag a record eighth once the chequered flag falls in Abu Dhabi.
Speaking to SPORTBUZZER, Rosberg said: “It’s a sensationally close fight! Emotionally, I say Lewis. His experience speaks for him. But the championship is totally open.”
Verstappen has, though, been impressive both in his driving and mentality, remaining remarkably calm considering this is his first experience of contending for the title.
“Max is really super-strong. Mental strength is essential in a duel like this,” Rosberg continued.
“It’s certainly not easy for Max because it’s the first time he’s been in such a situation. And then against the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time. In that respect, he already deserves the greatest recognition.”
Rosberg is, of course, the only driver to have toppled Hamilton since the V6 turbo-hybrid era began in 2014, beating the Briton to the 2016 title on the final day of the season in Abu Dhabi and then retiring a few days afterwards.
So if Verstappen wants to follow suit, Rosberg says it is vital he capitalises fully on any slip-up from Hamilton.
“You have to take advantage when Lewis has his weak phases, when he loses his motivation, his head,” Rosberg explained.
“Then it’s full attack! In other words, you have to score the maximum number of points possible because you should never write Lewis off. He always comes back.”
And so Rosberg admitted he “very often” looks back on his 2016 duel with Hamilton, feeling a greater sense of satisfaction over his achievement every time Hamilton adds another victory to his extensive list of accomplishments.
“Every time I see Lewis win, it becomes clearer why it wasn’t quite so easy for me to beat him,” Rosberg added.
Is Rosberg's advise to Max on Hamilton that helpful
Rosberg is the last person to beat Hamiton to the WDC, but that was five years ago.