May 13, 2016

    Seven up, Rosberg aims for famous five in Spain


    NICO Rosberg will have Formula One history in his sights in Spain this weekend, even if Dutch teenager Max Verstappen seizes his share of the limelight.

    The championship leader has won seven races in a row, including the last three of 2015, and can join fellow German Michael Schumacher (2004) and Britain's Nigel Mansell (1992) as the only drivers to start a season with five successive victories.

    The chances of that happening looked remote this time last year, when Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton had won three of the first four and was heading for a third title but Rosberg is now 43 points clear of the Briton.

    "I'm just enjoying the moment and the form I'm in, doing my best to keep it going and hoping I can carry it through to the end of the season," said Rosberg, 11/10 at bookmakers William Hill, and with Hamilton at 5/4.

    Another triumph for Mercedes would equal McLaren's run of 11 in a row from 1988, and that looks more than likely given that the champions have won 36 of the last 42 races.

    Rosberg will pick up plenty of good vibes at a circuit where he won from pole last year, his first victory of that season, but he has plenty of rivals for attention.

    Hamilton, who went from 10th to second at Sochi after his second successive power unit failure pushed him down the grid, will be even more determined to turn the tide while McLaren's Fernando Alonso can count on strong home support.

    "I'm confident they'll get to the bottom of the problems we've been having. I know I'm still quick," said Hamilton.

    "I've known that since day one in testing and, when I've had clean air and a damage-free car this season, I've shown it on track."

    Barcelona marks the real start of the European season, the sport's historic heartland, even if Russia preceded Spain this year for the first time.

    A good result in Spain bodes well for the rest of the year.

    Said Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, whose team are hoping for a fuss-free weekend to show their real potential after a nightmarish string of mishaps and failures: "Barcelona is a very good indication of where you are with the car."