Nico Rosberg says Mercedes has to continue its good form at the Bahrain Grand Prix because its “rivals are breathing down our necks”.
After victory in Melbourne and second place in Malaysia last weekend, Rosberg heads to Bahrain with an 18-point lead in the drivers' championship standings over team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel was third in Malaysia after a close fight with Rosberg as Red Bull continues its recovery from a poor pre-season, and the championship leader wants to continue to get points on the board before another team can match Mercedes for pace.
“The first two races have been a great start to my season and I'm already looking forward to being back in the car and carrying on that momentum in Bahrain,” Bahrain said. “It's a great track and I really enjoy driving it. I've never had much luck on race weekends here, but it's definitely the one I'm best prepared for this year.
“I came to Bahrain for the Pirelli tyre test back in December and during winter testing a few weeks ago. Of course, it's the same situation for most teams and drivers so we could see some close battles throughout the weekend. We may be leading both Championships at the moment but our rivals are breathing down our necks, so we need to stay focused and keep doing our job calmly and professionally.”
Executive director (technical) Paddy Lowe says he is most interested to gauge how quickly other teams are developing their cars, being able to use the last test as a yardstick.
“With every team having run at the circuit during the winter, Bahrain can be seen as a benchmark in terms of competitiveness at this early stage of the season,” Lowe said. “The combination of heavy traction demands and variable grip levels are a challenge for both car and driver, while the long straights reward strong performance from the Power Unit.
“We expect a tight battle throughout the field this weekend and it will be interesting to see how far the cars have come over the past few weeks since our last visit.”