Despite having had his hands full dealing with Max Verstappen at last weekend's British Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg says that an improving Red Bull team can only be good for his own Mercedes outfit.
The German went wheel-to-wheel with F1 upstart Verstappen for much of the Silverstone race, only regaining second spot in the latter stages, before a radio rules transgression resulted in a penalty that reversed their positions after the chequered flag. Despite the setback, which narrowed his championship lead over Mercedes team-mate – and British GP winner – Lewis Hamilton to a single point, Rosberg insisted that having some opposition at the front of the field would only push Mercedes to redoubling its efforts in pursuit of victory.
“They've done well to catch up,” he noted, “We're still the best but, lately, they've been our closest competitor. Sometimes it's Ferrari, sometimes it's Red Bull, but it definitely helps us and it's good to fight against them.”
With only Verstappen having broken the Mercedes stranglehold on 2016 – winning the Spanish Grand Prix on his RBR debut after Hamilton and Rosberg collided on lap one – Red Bull has been closing in on the faster-starting Ferrari in the constructors' standings. Just six points separate the chasers after Silverstone, but Rosberg knows that the battle will ebb and flow until the reality of next year's new rules package begin to take precedence to finishing second.
“It's going to be interesting to see now how much development happens because, at some point for sure, you are going to be shifting more and more development to next year,” he explained, “That's going to be the key for the upcoming races now, to see who is bringing how much and how many resources to next year. That's a big factor at the moment.”
Until then, however, the German expects to see Verstappen – and RBR team-mate Daniel Ricciardo – as a factor through the summer.
“It was great to have a battle with Max [at Silverstone] and for sure we need to keep an eye on them,” he claimed, “The Red Bull is quick on the inters, we know that. They have always been quick, so unfortunately he got by me there, but then it was a great battle against him. He was on the edge for sure. He has to be on the limit but it's cool and I really enjoyed getting past him again.”