Lewis Hamilton’s former team-mate Nico Rosberg has offered Red Bull’s Max Verstappen advice on how to beat the seven-time world champion as the championship battle continues to rage on at the United States Grand Prix this weekend.
Hamilton and Rosberg had a fiery four years alongside each other at Mercedes in one of the most intense rivalries of recent times.
Yet, after beating Hamilton to the title at the fourth time of asking in 2016, Rosberg promptly quit Formula One, with Valtteri Bottas coming in alongside the seven-time world champion to steady the ship.
However, Rosberg remains the only driver to have beaten Hamilton in the current turbo-hybrid era which has seen the seven-time world champion dominate at the British-based German team.
This season Hamilton has had his work cut out with someone other than his team-mate applying the pressure in Verstappen, who has given the Briton as tough a time as Rosberg used to.
Hamilton makes Mercedes remark that will be music to Verstappen’s ear
And with such a tight and ferocious battle heading into the final six races, Rosberg offered some advice to the Red Bull driver.
“To win a Formula One World Championship, first of all you need to look at your rival,” Rosberg said, speaking to Square Mile. “In this case it was Lewis, he was the only real rival, and he’s now proven to be the best of all time, so the level is unbelievably high.
“But, as is the case with any human, there’s also some weaknesses.
“First of all, it’s important to be at your absolute 110 per cent for the whole season, because anything less you’re just not going to have a chance against him.
“And it’s also important to be consistent over the whole season, to really not have any big, bad races, and deliver at every moment.
“And then Lewis also has these periods where he loses a bit of motivation – he has these dips in form – and there it’s important to maximise those moments, to keep him down for a bit longer.
Williams drop Mick Schumacher hint despite already confirming line-up
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali hails Ferrari and McLaren role
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen criticised for title battle actions
“If all these ingredients come together you stand a chance, and that’s what happened in 2016.”
Rosberg promptly quit as soon as he beat Hamilton at the end of 2016 in Abu Dhabi, however the German explained where he felt the turning point was for him in the season.
He added: “The pivotal moment was in Suzuka where I got pole position by two-hundredths of a second. Lewis was on provisional pole, and then I came round and I beat him by the smallest of margins. Two hundredths, for me, was my leg muscles that I dropped in the summer break by stopping cycling.
“One kilo is three-hundredths of a second per lap, so I was looking for an extra bit of performance, anything that could give me the slightest edge.
“I was already super thin, so I couldn’t lose weight, but I still had these leg muscles to get rid of, so I got rid of those across a two-month period, and that proved enough to get me pole position in Suzuka.
“I think Lewis was really put off by that pole position and then he lost his way a bit that weekend – he messed up the start on Sunday and went back to eighth place, and only finished third – while I had quite an easy win. That really gave me the championship lead, and ultimately that proved decisive.”
Verstappen leads the way by six points heading to the Circuit of the Americas with qualifying at 10pm on Saturday and the race getting underway at 8pm on Sunday.