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Rosberg maintains race-by-race mantra for Mexico

28 Oct 2016

Nico Rosberg comes to Mexico leading the world championship by 26 points from Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton. He can actually clinch the title this weekend, if things go his way, emulating father Keke’s achievement with Williams in 1982. If he wins Sunday’s race and Hamilton fails to finish, he’ll have 51 points advantage with only 50 left on the table in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

Yet, as ever, Rosberg insists he is taking it just one race at a time. Just like he always has.

“I’m well aware of that,” he says of his chance to tuck things up here, “and, yeah, it’s been a great season so far, which has put me into this position. It’s exciting to be in this championship battle now with Lewis towards the end of the season. We’ve been there before but anyways, it’s very cool. And that’s it. As I’ve said before, that for me, my way at the moment of achieving the best possible performance is really just to focus on the things that are within my control - and that’s, here in Mexico, try and win the race, and that’s it.”

So what’s with that specific mindset? Is it something that he figured out some time ago, something that just works for him?

“It just feels right,” he insists, “it feels right to focus on the things I can influence to keep it simple, be in the moment and it’s been working, so just stick with it.”

He and Hamilton may not hang out together, but Rosberg is adamant that the atmosphere within Mercedes is cordial.

“It’s really, really good. As an example we had a great party on Sunday night after Austin. All the mechanics, engineers together, it’s great. The team has come a long way and, in every area, we’re just so strong now. Even just this team feeling. Pulling in one direction, having a good time together. Everything. The atmosphere is awesome. I think everybody is thrilled by this battle which we’re finding ourselves in.”

And the dynamic between him and Hamilton?

“It’s not something I think about too much, really. I try and do my thing and get the best possible result. That’s it. Of course it’s intense - but at the same time there’s an easy-going side lately.”

He insists that the situation between them is normal.

“Everything is open, everything is shared, and that’s it. So nothing has changed.”

Last year he won here easily, in one section of what turned out to be a seven-race winning streak.

“I have great memories from here last year,” he said. “Winning here was awesome, and also to get so much support from the Mexican people, even after that, through the whole year, social media, it’s really nice to see, so I look forward to meeting everyone again this weekend. The podium is one of the best in the year, in the baseball stadium, it was absolutely phenomenal.

“In terms of the championship, it’s not within my control if I get it this weekend, so for me it’s all about just winning the race and then we see what happens.”

This year everyone starts at the same level, and last year’s result no longer matters.

“We’ve seen this year that the results from last year don’t really make a difference, except for a positive memory, so we’re all starting from zero and the keys are, I think, to have a good rhythm through the weekend, starting from FP1, building it up and then the usual things: good qualifying, good start, race pace, those things.”

Everyone expects the track to be gripper now that it’s ageing.

“Normally the track surface gets a bit rougher,” he agreed, “and that will make it a bit different on the tyres, so that’s the main thing we need to learn and discover and see how that’s gone.”

Asked how he felt if some people say he’s only leading the championship due to Hamilton’s mechanical problems, he added: “Well, you’re talking a lot about what others think and their opinions. I’m here to win races and not to please everybody that’s out there. There’s always going to be people that have opinions that will be going against me in some way or other. That’s the nature of the business, it’s always going to be like that, so I like to focus on the people who really support me. And that’s it.”

In Austin it was said that Bernie Ecclestone voiced the opinion that if he wins the championship it would be bad for the sport because nobody can think of anything to write about him.

“I spoke to him personally,” he replied, “and he said that’s not exactly the way he said it. And anyways, for me it’s not something that’s important to me. For me, I focus on my thing and that’s it.”

So what will a world championship crown mean to him, after he’s raced all his life? And especially after losing for the last two seasons to Hamilton?

“It’s a childhood dream. But that’s where it ends for me. As I said, what’s important for me this weekend is winning the Mexican Grand Prix.”

Even with the title within reach, he sticks to the one race at a time philosophy… But, if things go his way this weekend, that could be the last time for a while that he needs to follow that mantra.