Reigning Formula One world champion Nico Rosberg believes Mercedes will pull clear of Ferrari in the 2017 title battle due to its superior development ability.
Ferrari made the most of F1’s aerodynamic regulation overhaul to significantly close the gap to rivals Mercedes over the winter. The Italian outfit’s resurgence in the sport has seen it claim four wins in 2017, just two victories shy of the total Mercedes has achieved.
Sebastian Vettel led home the team’s second one-two finish of the year at the Hungarian Grand Prix, enabling him to take a 14-point advantage over Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship into the summer break. However, Ferrari heads into the second half of the campaign 39-points adrift of the Silver Arrows in the constructors’ standings.
Despite the Scuderia’s impressive performance in Hungary last time out, Rosberg reckons the majority of the circuits in the final nine races of the season — barring Singapore, where Mercedes particularly struggled for pace in 2015 — should favour Mercedes. The German insists his former team has both the stronger resources and ability to develop its current car, the W08, alongside shifting some of its focus onto its 2018 challenger.
“Ferrari have really done a great job over the winter,” Rosberg told SPORTBILD. “But now it will be a development race. I find it hard to believe that Ferrari can keep up. After Silverstone I had already thought: That’s it now. I was surprised that Ferrari in Hungary hadn’t fallen back again. Spa would have to be a full-on the Mercedes-track. Ferrari is unlikely to have a chance.”
Rosberg also waded in on the fallout from Baku following the controversial clash between Vettel and Hamilton under the Safety Car earlier this year. While he was surprised by the extremity of Vettel’s actions, Rosberg says his fellow countryman’s character and determination to win is a strength that could play into his hands.
“You know that he does not control his emotions,” he explained. “Last year he rapped over the radio in Mexico. This thick skin, the consequences of such action to bear, is also a strength of Sebastian. In the short term and at the moment this may seem weak – but over a whole season, this depravity can make the difference. The basic character, in spite of all oppositions, is poised for victory — that cannot hurt. “