• Mercedes

Rosberg relishing Hamilton duel in Sepang

ESPN Staff
March 27, 2014 « Hamilton determined not to waste Mercedes advantage | Alonso still has faith Ferrari can build a world-beating car »
Nico Rosberg will equal his father's career tally with another win © Sutton Images

Nico Rosberg insists he is relishing the chance of a close battle with Lewis Hamilton in Malaysia after being told to back off his team-mate in the closing stages of last year's race.

While the 2013 edition was dominated by Sebastian Vettel's decision to ignore Red Bull's 'Multi-21' order and pass Mark Webber, Rosberg obeyed Mercedes' request to hold station behind Hamilton in third. Rosberg drove almost unopposed to his win in Melbourne two weeks ago after Hamilton's early retirement but he admits he is not daunted by having to challenge his team-mate for a win in Sepang.

"That would be a great thing," Rosberg said, when asked if he expected another close in-house battle. "The chances are, yes, that we will be right at the front because it seems that we have a bit of an advantage over the other people. Of course Melbourne is not a benchmark as a race, so we need to be a bit cautious with that but I think we're looking good, so it will be possible to do a great result again here."

Though it is clear Mercedes has the edge on the rest of the field at the moment Rosberg is refusing to dwell on its position at the top of the pile.

"I think we look to be the quickest at the moment which is fantastic but we need to be careful with that and the opposition is not asleep, they're pushing like crazy. I think the whole team has done a great job with these new regulations, with the car and engine and powertrain that they've built and it's been great to win the first race."

Another win would see Rosberg go level on career victories with father Keke, who won the 1982 world championship, on five, but he insists he does not dwell on those achievements.

"I understand that it's interesting to make comparisons and that, and even I find it interesting. After Australia, I read that he also won the first time, at the first Australian GP, 29 years ago. It's fun to read those things but I really don't think about that. I don't compare. I'm proud of what my father achieved but I'm just focused on my job and getting the most out of it and definitely, yes, I'm optimistic for the weekend and there is a possibility to win."