Hockenheim: Nico Rosberg hopes history will repeat itself as he seeks a much-needed win on home soil at the German Grand Prix to put him back on top of the drivers’ world championship.
The 31-year-old German, who won the last race at the Hockenheimring in 2014, fell six points behind his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the championship following the defending champion’s victory at last Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
It was the first time this season that Rosberg had left a race weekend in any position other than that of world championship leader and he is determined to turn the tables on his rival in front of Mercedes’ home crowd.
“It’s simple for me now,” he said. “Lewis has done the best job so far this season –- by six points. That’s it. It’s the only change, but it doesn’t change much for me.
“It’s so close. I’m out there at every race with the opportunity to win and it is always very close between us. It takes just one small thing to switch it around.
“I’m happy to have the chance to get back in the car again so soon and especially happy that it’s at my second home race.
“I had a fantastic day at Hockenheim a few weeks ago driving Mika Hakkinen’s championship-winning car. It really gave me a massive buzz to be back racing in Germany.
“Driving in through the circuit gates brought back so many great memories from my childhood days at the DTM, with my Dad, right through to winning the Grand Prix for myself in 2014.
“Hopefully I can repeat that this year for the fans and for everybody at Mercedes.
“After this race, it’s a well-earned break for the team, too. I’ll be pushing flat out to give them the result they deserve before they get some time to recharge their batteries.”
Rosberg signed a new two-year contract with Mercedes in Hungary and was then engulfed in a controversy about his pole position lap, delivered under waved double yellow flags, during an extended rain-hit qualifying session.
He is adamant that he can put that behind him and take the fight back to Hamilton whose recent streak of five wins in six races has taken him from holding a deficit of 43 points in the title race to a six-point lead.
Like Rosberg, Hamilton has won before at the famous former high-speed track in the forests of Baden-Wurttembeg, somewhat reduced in speed and grandeur in 2002 when it was cut from more than four to around 2.3 miles in length.
The defending three-time champion was victorious in 2008 and also won the German race when it was held at the Nurburgring in 2011, during a spell when it was alternating between the two venues.
He said he is feeling confident again.
“Getting that win in Hungary after a less than straightforward weekend was a great feeling,” he said. “If I can come out on top when things aren’t quite perfect, that can only be a good thing.”
Unfortunately, there was no German race last year due to financial difficulties, meaning that Rosberg was the event’s last winner.
If that gives him confidence, it has not persuaded outsiders to back him for a ‘bounce-back’ in the title race with two-time champion Fernando Alonso suggesting after last Sunday’s Hamilton victory that he now has the momentum.
“He is in a good position,” the McLaren man told a Spanish radio station. “He has come from behind and in this sport that gives you something extra.
“It’s the opposite for the driver who was leading, and had a big advantage… They catch you, they overtake you and you go into a mini crisis.”
Alonso added that last weekend’s qualifying row reminded him of his experience with Hamilton, when they were team-mates at McLaren, in 2007.
Then, Alonso was penalised for blocking Hamilton in the pits, forcing the Briton to miss his final flying lap. As a result, Alonso lost pole position, which went to Hamilton.
“Yes, it reminds me of things,” said a laughing Alonso. “Let’s say, Rosberg doesn’t have an easy team-mate! Lewis is very strong on track — very fast, he never makes a mistake.
“And off the track he has significant influence. Good luck to Rosberg with that”
Ferrari are sure to be pushing to topple Mercedes if they have the power to mount a serious challenge and overhaul rivals Red Bull.
The Italian team has struggled without a win this year and will arrive in Germany without technical director James Allison who left the team on Wednesday by mutual consent after a troubled period.
The Briton was mid-way through a three-year contract.
He suffered a personal tragedy earlier this year with the death of his wife Rebecca shortly after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in March.
As he returns to Britain to spend more time with his children, Ferrari have promoted Mattia Binotto, from their engine department, to take over as chief technical officer.
At the other end of the grid, tail-enders Manor Racing have confirmed that Indonesian Rio Haryanto is to retain his seat for this weekend despite the end of his 11-races agreement with the team.