x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

‘It is a fine line’ for Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg at Canadian Grand Prix

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso clocks fastest time in Friday practice, followed by Mercedes drivers and then Red Bull Racing's Sebastin Vettel.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, left, wants to beat teammate Lewis Hamilton on the track and not in the press as the German was cautious with reporters on Friday ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix. Paul Chiasson / AP Photo
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, left, wants to beat teammate Lewis Hamilton on the track and not in the press as the German was cautious with reporters on Friday ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix. Paul Chiasson / AP Photo

MONTREAL // Nico Rosberg is bidding to win a title battle with his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on the track, not off it, he said Friday ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The 28-year-old German, who leads Hamilton in the drivers’ world championship, said he had avoided being dragged into a war of words through the media during last month’s Monaco Grand Prix.

“I want to win races, so everything I do is focused on that, winning races,” he said at the Circuit Ile Notre-Dame. “At the same time, I understand that you are writing for the fans who are there and that is the most important thing – and that is why we are racing.

“It is a fine line. So, I am here to try to give you some cool stuff, but I want to try to avoid giving things that heat the moment any more unnecessarily.”

He said he prefers not to compare himself to Hamilton. “I can say in general that I tend to err towards the rational side, but it is sometimes very difficult in this sport and, in the heat of the moment, of course.”

Hamilton on Thursday said he and Rosberg had “moved on” following Monte Carlo, where the Briton suggested that Rosberg had deliberately gone off the circuit on his final qualifying run to end his teammate’s hopes of taking pole position from him.

Rosberg was cleared of any wrongdoing following a stewards’ inquiry, but Hamilton continued to fume over the incident.

Rosberg said this week he is finding it difficult to manage his relationship with Hamilton, whom he has known since they were karting teammates as teenagers.

“We’ve always had periods where it was more difficult,” Rosberg said. “As a result, we always discuss things and move on, and that is how it has been this time, too.

“It hasn’t changed in any way. It is still the same as it used to be, so it’s not different, but of course it is more difficult, that is clear.”

On the track, Ferrari’s former world champion Fernando Alonso upstaged the Mercedes team by setting the pace in first practice.

Alonso, a winner in Montreal in 2006 and runner-up to Sebastian Vettel last year, had a best time of one minute, 17.238 seconds on an overcast morning on the banks of the St Lawrence river.

Right behind the Spaniard were Hamilton and Rosberg.

Red Bull continued to improve, with Vettel fourth, ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Australian Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull.

McLaren’s Jenson Button, who claimed victory in a rain-soaked 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, was seventh-best, followed by teammate Kevin Magnussen.

Key statistics

Canadian Grand Prix, race 7 of the season, at Circuit Ile Notre-Dame, Montreal. Start time: 10pm (UAE time).

2013 pole Sebastian Vettel (Germany), Red Bull Racing. Race lap record Rubens Barrichello (Brazil), one minute, 13.622 seconds.

Wins

Mercedes have won all six races this season. McLaren, in 1988, were the last team to start a season with six victories, eventually stretching the streak to 11.

Red Bull’s quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel has 39 career wins, Fernando Alonso 32, Lewis Hamilton 26. Ferrari have won 221 races, McLaren 182, Williams 114 and Red Bull 46.

Pole position

Mercedes, with Hamilton (Australia/Malaysia/China/Spain) and Rosberg (Bahrain/Monaco) have started every race on pole. The last team to start the first seven races of a season on pole was Red Bull in 2011.

Vettel took nine poles last year and has 45 for his F1 career. Ferrari’s last pole position was by Alonso, in Germany in 2012.

Points

Marussia scored their first F1 points with Jules Bianchi’s ninth place in Monaco. That leaves Caterham, who came into the sport in 2010, as the only team on the grid who have yet to score.

Ferrari have finished a record 73 successive races with points.

Canada

Hamilton has won the Canadian Grand Prix three times (2007, 2010, 2012). Alonso, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel are the other previous winners on the grid. Since 2000, the race has been won from pole five times.

Follow our sports coverage on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE