SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Even in adversity, with Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton romping to five wins in a row and a 24-point lead in the Formula One championship, Nico Rosberg can see the funny side of the situation.
From being strongly against ‘Abu Double’, Formula One’s controversial and unprecedented double points finale that will keep the title battle open all the way to Abu Dhabi on Nov. 23, the German spoke like a convert on Thursday.
“I do (like it) now. It’s really a fantastic idea,” he jokingly exclaimed to reporters at the Brazilian Grand Prix when reminded about how much he disliked it only a few months ago when he was in front.
“For sure it’s great,” added the German. “Great news that for sure this year I have a chance to win the championship the way it is now.
“I’m also happy because it’s good for the fans that it’s going to be exciting until the very end. And, yeah, for sure it keeps me very, very optimistic.”
In July, when he was leading by 14 points, he had declared in a newspaper column: “The concept is really artificial, I don’t like it and that is a pity, but that is the way it is and we have got to accept it.”
In truth, his views have not changed — as he emphasized in a later television interview when he again called double points ‘artificial’ — but like any racing driver Rosberg would take the title whichever way it comes.
The talk of a late surprise may also help to wind up Hamilton.
Sunday’s race could revive Rosberg’s title prospects at one stroke, if Hamilton suffers a retirement, or deal them another bitter blow if the 2008 world champion wins again.
Asked to characterize his season since a “rich run of form” from Monaco in May to Hockenheim in July dried up, Rosberg paused before delivering his verdict: “A less rich run of form.”
The German has not won a race since his home grand prix while Hamilton arrived in Brazil from Texas on the back of five successive victories and 10 wins in 17 races. Rosberg has triumphed in just four.
In a normal year with normal points, the Briton could hope to clinch the title at Interlagos just as he did six years ago but this time he has to wait.
Hamilton told reporters after winning last weekend’s U.S. Grand Prix that a costly collision with Rosberg, which was blamed squarely on the German, in Belgium at the end of August had been his launch pad.
“Spa was like, ‘I’m going to turn this up. I’m going to have to turn this up. This means war’,” said the Briton. “That kind of feeling. Reflecting on it, I took that energy and turned that negative bomb into a positive.”
Rosberg, whose mental toughness has also been acknowledged by Hamilton, declined to join in the fighting talk.
“Did he say we’re at war? I don’t think anything has changed,” he said.
“It was an intense battle before and it still is an intense battle now. So, I don’t know his exact opinion on things but for me nothing has changed since then.”
Rosberg’s Finnish father Keke won the 1982 title with just one win in a season where nobody won more than twice.
Asked how he would answer those who said it would be a hollow championship if he won, Rosberg said he would not respond.
“Everybody can have their opinion and in sport it’s the points that count in the end and of course, then you can debate who deserved it more or less. That’s always going to be the case,” he said.
Editing by Martyn Herman