Defiant Rosberg looking to put heat on Hamilton in Hungary
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) Lewis Hamilton's impressive record at the Hungarian Grand Prix gives Nico Rosberg extra motivation as he tries to close the gap on his Mercedes teammate in the Formula One title race.
After nine races, Rosberg sits 17 points behind Hamilton, the championship leader. With Mercedes dominant in qualifying and ultra-reliable on the track, margins for taking back points are small.
''I've been coming closer lately, Silverstone was a little setback, but 17 points is much less than a single race,'' Rosberg said on Thursday. ''Yes, it is important to get close and turn it around.''
Rosberg gained significant confidence before the British Grand Prix three weeks ago, heading there with three wins from the previous four races, only for defending champion Hamilton to check his momentum with a stirring win in the driving rain of Silverstone.
No rain is likely on Sunday at the Hungaroring, with temperatures expected to exceed 40 degrees (104 F), and where Rosberg must turn up the heat on Hamilton - who has won four times on this track.
But Rosberg, who has never been on the podium here and finished fourth last year despite starting from pole position, does not consider it his unlucky track.
''I've shown in the last two years that on any track, if I get my weekend right, I can be on pole and win,'' Rosberg said. ''It doesn't matter which track. If I remember correctly, there was Bahrain where (Hamilton has) never been beaten by a teammate, there was Montreal. I don't think about it that way.''
Pole is crucial in Hungary, almost as much as it is for the Monaco and Spanish GPs. Given that Hamilton has not retired in his past 16 races, and with overtaking difficult on the tight and twisty track, the pressure is on Rosberg to secure pole position.
Rosberg continues to fret about his brakes - the only glitch on an otherwise faultless car.
''It's something I don't like, and I would prefer if it were different,'' said Rosberg, who has tried different brake materials to stop the problem. ''It's such a complex matter. It takes six months to bake a new pair of discs, and if they're the right ones, then six months again to bake a whole set of them.''
Hamilton sees things differently.
''(Rosberg) said he felt perfectly fine on the brakes in the last race, just letting you know,'' Hamilton said. ''And he knows you are going to ask me that (about the brakes), so we don't have any problems with the brakes.''
The sweltering heat of late July is a different matter.
''It's ridiculous. In a (race) suit it's almost unbearable,'' Hamilton said. ''In your suit with the balaclava and the gloves on; it's like a workout in a sauna.''
Before turning his sights to Sunday's race, Hamilton paid tribute to French driver Jules Bianchi, who died last Friday from head injuries last October at the Japanese GP. Hamilton and Rosberg attended his funeral in France on Tuesday.
''It's really difficult to grasp just the sheer magnitude of it. It's painful to see people unhappy when you go the funeral,'' Hamilton said. ''It feels awkward to talk about it today, because we are here and healthy, and a great, gifted, young talented individual is not with us.''