Seven up, Rosberg aims for a famous five

Wed May 11, 2016 7:14am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Nico Rosberg will have Formula One history in his sights in Spain this weekend, even if Dutch teenager Max Verstappen seizes his share of the limelight.

The championship leader has won seven races in a row, including the last three of 2015, and can join fellow-German Michael Schumacher (2004) and Britain's Nigel Mansell (1992) as the only drivers to start a season with five successive victories.

The chances of that happening looked remote this time last year, when Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton had won three of the first four and was heading for a third title, but Rosberg is now 43 points clear of the Briton.

As 18-year-old Verstappen would agree, after his rapid promotion from Toro Rosso in a swap with demoted Russian Daniil Kvyat, Formula One moves fast off the track as well as on it.

"I'm just enjoying the moment and the form I'm in, doing my best to keep it going and hoping I can carry it through to the end of the season," said Rosberg, 11/10 at bookmakers' William Hill with Hamilton at 5/4.

Another triumph for Mercedes would equal McLaren's run of 11 in a row from 1988, and that looks more than likely given that the champions have won 36 of the last 42 races.

Rosberg will pick up plenty of good vibes at a circuit where he won from pole last year, his first victory of that season, but he has plenty of rivals for attention.

Hamilton, who went from 10th to second at Sochi after his second successive power unit failure pushed him down the grid, will be even more determined to turn the tide while McLaren's Fernando Alonso can count on strong home support.   Continued...

Mercedes F1 driver Nico Rosberg of Germany (C) jumps on the podium as he celebrates victory during the Russian Grand Prix.   REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov