Rosberg can take title without any race wins
NICO Rosberg is refusing to get carried away by thoughts of celebrating a maiden Formula One title triumph at the end of the season, despite getting one hand on the championship crown with victory in the Japanese Grand Prix.
The German eased to a maiden win from pole position at the Suzuka circuit on Sunday, chalking up his ninth win of the year, to lift himself 33 points clear of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the overall standings.
Such is Rosberg's margin that, with just four races to go, the 31-year-old can take the title without needing to win another race.
"I don't feel relief," said Rosberg, only the fifth driver to win nine races in a season.
"I'm just happy to win the Suzuka race."
Rosberg's comments are in keeping with the approach the German has adopted this year, focusing on each race as it comes, rather than the campaign as a whole.
Runner-up to Hamilton in the overall standings in the last two years, he is not planning to change it now that the title is within reach.
"The best reasoning is that it's actually working quite well," said Rosberg.
"The approach that I have at the moment is just coming here, focusing on the weekend and trying to get that win."
Never has a driver who has won eight or more races in a season gone on to lose the title.
Rosberg also currently appears to have the psychological edge over Hamilton, who cut a distracted and withdrawn figure in Suzuka.
But Rosberg also knows that, in Hamilton, he faces a formidable competitor, who earlier this season converted a 43-point deficit to the German into a 19-point advantage with a streak of six wins from seven races.
Said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff: "You can see how quick it goes in Malaysia, you're in the lead and if the other guy wins, it's 25 points lost and then the gap is down to eight.
"Remember when Nico won eight races in a row and then Lewis had that winning streak?
"I think it's going to go down to the end."