Lewis Hamilton signals 'fresh start' in Nico Rosberg title fight heading to German GP
Newly-married Rosberg targets first home win, however, as Mercedes bring gearbox fix and W05 upgrades to carmarker's home event
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 15/07/14 12:01pm
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
Lewis Hamilton believes the events of Silverstone mean his battle for the 2014 Drivers’ Championship with Nico Rosberg has effectively been reset as the half-way mark of the season is reached in Germany this weekend.
Rosberg’s gearbox-induced DNF coupled with Hamilton’s victory in Britain means the German’s championship advantage is down to just four points ahead of his and the Mercedes team’s home race at Hockenheim this weekend.
The mid-point of the 19-race season is reached half-way through Sunday’s 67-lap race and Hamilton now hopes he and Rosberg’s duel for the crown can run uninterrupted to the end of the year.
“Winning at Silverstone was just an incredible feeling - for myself, the team and the fans, I couldn't have asked for more,” said Hamilton, who will feature in a 'Mercedes Special' edition of The F1 Show live on Sky Sports F1 on Friday at Hockenheim.
“I feel like I've been on the back foot all year, only briefly leading the Championship despite taking the wins I've had, so to have got myself just about level was exactly what I needed.
“It's almost a fresh start heading into the second half of the season and it's going to be a really close battle between us. Of course, you never want to see your team-mate fall away, but hopefully we can now strike a line under the retirements and push each other all the way on track.”
Hamilton will replace Rosberg at the head of the standings for just the second time this year if he triumphs at the German’s own event, while a sixth win of the season would also represent a career-high for the 29-year-old.
“I've won twice before in Germany, but not at Hockenheim since way back in 2008,” Hamilton added. “The aim is to change that this weekend.”
A lesson from history? In his 2008 title-winning year, Lewis Hamilton claimed back-to-back wins at Silverstone and Hockenheim
For Rosberg, though, Sunday’s race represents by far his best chance ever to win in Germany in F1 – his best result to date is a fourth place at the Nurburgring in 2009 – and the 29-year-old, who married his long-time girlfriend Vivian last week, is determined to seize the opportunity.
“I lost a lot of points and the Championship battle is very close, but I'm feeling good,” he said.
“From the test last week we're straight into the next race and another chance to regain the momentum, which is of course my target. Hockenheim is a crucial race for all of us. It's the home Grand Prix for Mercedes-Benz and a second home race for me after Monaco, so I'm really focused on getting a top result this weekend.
“It's actually the circuit I've won the most races at during my career through all the junior categories, so I know it suits my driving style. Of course, I would love to add Formula 1 to that list sometime soon!”
Meanwhile, although Silverstone demonstrated that Mercedes retain a large pace advantage over the field, the team say they have been working on both the W05’s reliability and performance in the fortnight since the last grand prix.
“The main priority of the days since has been to understand the gearbox problem we saw with Nico's car and to make sure there is no recurrence moving forwards,” joint team boss Paddy Lowe said.
“As with any such scenario, a lot of work has been put into rectifying the issue and we head to Hockenheim with a remedy in place. We will also be bringing a number of other upgrades evaluated during the Silverstone test last week, so we look forward to the next race in the hopes of both improved performance and a more robust package from a reliability perspective."
Mercedes are yet to officially comment on the likely ban of FRIC at this week's event following a letter, which was sent to all the teams, from FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting warned that the system could be illegal. It's believed that Hamilton's W05 ran without FRIC on the second and final day of the Silverstone test last week, with some paddock observers suggesting that Mercedes will be hit hardest by the ban.
Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will feature in Friday's 'Mercedes Special' edition of The F1 Show live from Hockenheim. The programme airs at 5pm with a repeat at 8pm and forms part of Sky Sports F1's exclusive - and extensive - live coverage of the 2014 German GP.