Nico Rosberg says he remains wary of the threat posed by Lewis Hamilton in the fight for the Formula 1 World Championship, despite his three wins in the opening three rounds of the season extending his winning streak to six races.
Having concluded the 2015 season with three comprehensive wins, Rosberg has kicked off his 2016 campaign in similar style, enjoying relatively comfortable wins in Australia, Bahrain and China, aided by repeated misfortune for Mercedes team-mate Hamilton.
Opening up a 36 point advantage at the head of the standings as the series heads to the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, Rosberg is refusing to become complacent despite his impressive run of form, saying he remains very aware of Hamilton as the 'benchmark'.
“It's great to see that we still have the quickest car out there and, of course, it's always the plan to win every race. But I would never have expected the first three weekends to go the way they have. I've made the most of my opportunities and I have a bit of an advantage in the points right now - but we are only three races down and it would just take one bad weekend for that gap to disappear.
“Lewis is still the benchmark for me as he is the current Champion, Ferrari haven't shown what they can do yet and Red Bull also look like they're getting stronger, so it's going to be a good battle and I'm looking forward to that. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Though he hasn't enjoyed the best of fortune in Sochi after retiring from the lead in 2015, Rosberg is determined to maintain his approach of keeping his head down.
“For now, I'm just taking things race by race, focusing on doing my own thing and getting the job done to the best of my ability. That approach has worked out well for me so far. Now, I can't wait to get to Sochi. I was looking good all weekend last year until a technical problem put me out of the race and I had great fun fighting from the back the year before, so I know I'm competitive at this track.
“It holds great memories of celebrating the two Championship wins with the team too, so I'm excited to be heading back and seeing how we perform.”