Nico Rosberg has admitted he began feeling the pressure of his looming 2016 Formula 1 title win following the Japanese Grand Prix, his ninth and final win of the season.
A fourth win in five races, coupled to Lewis Hamilton's run to third, in Suzuka would see Rosberg open up a 33 point margin that meant he could afford to finish second behind his Mercedes team-mate in the remaining events and still come away with the title.
Hamilton would indeed go on to win each of the final races from pole position but with Rosberg following him home in second position on each occasion it was enough to seal a first championship title win by five points.
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Though Rosberg has been notable in 2016 for his 'race by race' approach – even up to the final round in Abu Dhabi –, he conceded he started to feel pressure after Suzuka when it emerged he had a clear opportunity to win.
With this in mind, Rosberg says he struggled in the final races to show 'the real Nico' against a team-mate that was racing with 'no pressure, adding that his approach was a means of alleviating media influence.
“The pressure started, when it is in your hands, so that was after Suzuka,” he said. “For sure it has been my best season and I have had my best ever races this year [but] the last couple of races that is not the real Nico because the pressure slows you down but I am happy to come through the way that I did while on the other side Lewis had nothing to lose.
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“I don't change what I said before the weekend, please respect that you [media] are a powerful entity and I need to get through this so. I'm sure you'll understand this.
“In the past few races it is the best Lewis we have ever seen because he had no pressure, super motivated, super concentrated and working as hard as ever before with nothing to lose when I had the pressure as I was the one in front and had something to lose. That definitely made it more difficult so I am glad it worked out.”
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