Nico Rosberg delivers verdict as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen wrestle for world title

Lewis Hamilton goes undercover to inspire school children (SHORT VERSION)

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Lewis Hamilton’s former team-mate Nico Rosberg believes the seven-time world champion still has the edge this season, despite currently trailing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by 12 points in the driver standings. Rosberg has experience fighting Hamilton for a world championship title and to this day remains the only driver to have beaten Hamilton in the turbo-hybrid era during his time at Mercedes.

After a few turbulent years as his team-mate, Rosberg eventually snatched the world title in 2016 in a memorable and heated clash between the pair, before the German promptly retired days after winning the crown.

Valtteri Bottas came in the steady the ship at the British-based German team, and since then hasn’t been able to bring the fight to Hamilton over his five years at Mercedes.

This season, however, Red Bull and Max Verstappen came out of all guns blazing and have since applied intense pressure on the seven-time world champions, who lead the Constructors’ Championship.

With five races remaining and 133 points still up for grabs, Rosberg reckons it is still game on for Hamilton.

“Somehow I would still tend lean towards to Lewis,” Rosberg told Sky Germany. “Through experience, and because he normally always wins in the end. It’s so difficult to beat him. Somehow I think he is can still do it.

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“But,” he added, “Max is a giant right now.”

The fight between Hamilton and Verstappen has swung throughout the whole season, with both drivers wrestling over the lead of the standings.

But a win at the United States Grand Prix for Verstappen sent a clear warning to Mercedes and Hamilton, and Rosberg remains captivated by the battle.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “The cars are exactly the same, the drivers are on the same level and are in a league of their own.

“Nobody can keep up with them.”

He added: “It’s going to be so close in the last few races, so much is going to happen,. It just can’t be topped.

“I can’t predict how it’s going to turn out after Austin.

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“Of course I can assess from the outside what kind of performance they are doing.

“It’s such a high level between the two drivers – the highest level that Formula One has ever seen. Phenomenal, huge respect.”

Despite Mercedes coming out strong in first practice for the United States, Red Bull eeked out an advantage across the weekend with Verstappen taking pole on Saturday.

The Stevenage-born driver did fight back during the race, taking the lead of the race into Turn 1, however, after a clever strategy call from Red Bull, Verstappen was able to undercut the Mercedes in the pit stop to take victory at the Circuit of the Americas.

Speaking after the race, Verstappen was asked how much of a confidence boost was, with just five races remaining.

“This doesn’t really change a lot because it’s all about the details – I always say it – so a win doesn’t give me more confidence or whatever,” said Verstappen.

“We are all confident within the team that we can do a really good job – but we need to nail the details and we have to start over again in Mexico, to try to get the best out of our whole package.

“First of all, I think the turnaround from Friday to Saturday with the car, I think we found a better set-up.

“But then again also to the race. We, of course, start on pole, we lose the [lead] and we went aggressive on strategy and it paid out.

“But it can also very easily swing, if you go too early or if you’re not reacting in time so it’s really tough out there when it’s so close between two teams.”

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