F1 preview: Rosberg bullish as Hamilton remains relaxed ahead of Austrian GP

World Championship leader Nico Rosberg
World Championship leader Nico Rosberg

The FIA F1 World Championship continues this weekend when round nine of the 2016 season takes place at Spielberg’s A1 Ring in Austria.

The track is a popular venue for the Grand Prix circus, with its undulating nature set against a backdrop of the picturesque Austrian mountains.

With seven wins from eight races, the Brackley-based Mercedes AMG Petronas team can understandably feel confident ahead of the weekend, but since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku two weeks ago, both Ferrari and Red Bull have been working hard to close the gap to the dominant Silver Arrows.

Speaking at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, World Championship leader Nico Rosberg was in bullish mood, saying: “I don’t feel any pressure on my shoulders at all.

“I started the season in a perfect fashion, but after Spain lost my way slightly with a couple of poor races. Having won in Baku I feel I have my season on-track again and I am relaxed. I like racing in Austria and then we travel to Silverstone. There is lots to look forward to right now.”

His Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton is also relaxed despite a poor points return last time out in Azerbaijan.

He said this week: “I am not worrying about the championship. The season is long and we have plenty of races left. Nico has an advantage right now, but that doesn’t faze me.”

Rosberg currently has 141 points atop the standings, 24 more than Hamilton.

After securing two highly impressive podiums in the last three races, Mexican racer Sergio Perez is keen for more success in his Silverstone-based Force India, and he feels this weekend could deliver another strong result.

He said: “Both Nico (Hulkenberg) and I are keen to perform well for the team in Austria. The track is great to fun to drive, and we have a good run of form going right now.”

Placed eighth and 12th in the Drivers’ Standings, the Force India drivers are more than capable of scoring strong finishes on a track that should suit their Mercedes-Benz powerplants.

Daniil Kvyat, 10th in the points table, added: “This is an important race for the Toro Rosso team. We are owned by Red Bull and this would be a great race to score good results in.

“I like this track and everyone in the team would like to see Carlos (Sainz) and I score points here if at all possible.

“Sometimes weather can play an important part here, and so we will have to watch what that does and if it may cause issues throughout the weekend. I hope not, as mountains in the sunshine are beautiful!”