Nico Rosberg believes that Mercedes can challenge dominant Red Bull in Formula One next season, although he didn't seem overly fussed about former teammate Lewis Hamilton winning a record eighth title.
The 2016 world champion was in Las Vegas at the weekend to witness the first Grand Prix held in Sin City since 1982. Reigning champion Max Verstappen proved his class once more to overcome a five-second penalty and front ring damage to win his 18th race of the season.
But Rosberg has seen enough in recent races to suggest that Mercedes can put the all-conquering Red Bulls under real pressure next season, especially with some tweaks to car regulations including reduced wind tunnel development time.
Speaking as part of a SIXT promotion in Las Vegas, Rosberg told the Mail: "We've seen flashes of brilliance from the Mercedes team just recently. They lack consistency. But look at Austin.
"They were challenging for the win there and actually had the fastest car over the weekend. So we've seen that they're starting to understand the car, and they just have the problem that you still lack consistency. They still lack in straight line performance, but they are starting to understand all that.
"I believe in Mercedes ability because I was there. I know how strong they are. It's always still the same people. So certainly there is a chance that Hamilton could once again fight for the championship next year."
When the German was asked if he would be happy to see Hamilton clinch an all-time record eighth title, he added: "I would be happy if Mercedes won, because that's kind of my racing family from the past. But then Lewis, I'm neutral there.
"I just would like a great fight for the championship, and may the best driver win. But I'm not biased in that sense, obviously."
Rosberg and Hamilton were teammates at Mercedes from 2013 until 2016 and had an uneasy working relationship with both drivers gunning for the world title. Whilst at Mercedes together, Hamilton won the Drivers' Championship in 2014 and 2015 before Rosberg clinched his solitary championship in 2016.
Rosberg would announce his retirement from Formula One just five days after winning the 2016 title. He was the first reigning world champion to retire from the sport since Alain Prost in 1993.
On making his announcement, the German revealed that he wished to spend more time with his family after reaching the "pinnacle" of his career. Hamilton is still racing for Mercedes but is now partnered by young British driver George Russell.2023-11-21T13:38:05Z dg43tfdfdgfd