Nico Rosberg has admitted that he would like to see Mercedes, the team he won his 2016 World Championship with, struggle this upcoming season.
The German said that although he still has a lot of respect and “love” for his former team, he thinks it would be good for Formula One if Mercedes weren’t fastest initially and had to chase down Red Bull.
“First and foremost I am a fan of our sport and then I love and appreciate my ex-Formula 1 family Mercedes,” Rosberg said.
“But first and foremost I am a lover of our sport and for our sport it would be the best thing ever if Red Bull hit the ground running and we’d have Mercedes, the powerful Mercedes, chasing them down and Lewis on his way to an eighth title.”
However, despite Mercedes struggling in pre-season testing in Bahrain, Rosberg still believes Sir Lewis Hamilton is favourite to win the 2021 World Drivers’ Championship.
“So for the season, who’s my money on? It still has to go on Lewis because nobody can fathom someone actually beating Lewis throughout the entire season on points.
“So, the money would still have to go to Lewis. But Max Verstappen, in particular, is as close as ever before in pre-season in terms of the odds to beat Lewis to the championship.
“I don’t think anyone’s been that close for many, many years,” he added.
Following pre-season testing – which only consisted of three days this year – Red Bull ace Max Verstappen played down Mercedes’ struggles and said they “could see on the data” why they weren’t as quick as expected.
“They drove their first fast lap with less power. Then they drove two quiet laps, followed by a second flying lap,” Verstappen explained.
“In that they won half a second on engine power.”