Nico Rosberg is heading into this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix determined to keep alive his bid for the drivers’ world title by beating defending two-time champion and Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton on a track that may throw up tyre problems for most teams.
The 30-year-old German, who is 48 points adrift of the Briton after winning three races, to Hamilton’s eight, this season said he feels he has enough positive feelings to draw on to justify his optimism as he prepares for a keenly-anticipated contest.
"Once I got back from Japan, I was able to focus on the positive elements from my weekend in Suzuka," Rosberg explained.
"Pole position, the on-track pass on [Valtteri] Bottas and then having the speed to undercut [Sebastian] Vettel's Ferrari at the second pit-stop
"I'm not backing down in my fight for the championship and gaining those positions back fair and square showed that. We have five races to go and, although the championship gap to Lewis is quite big, in my mind it's definitely not over yet.
"The way the whole team has performed this year - from the factories to the garage - has been just incredible and I have the car I need to get back to the top step."
Rosberg’s bright approach may need to be considered carefully against the possibility, as expressed by Mercedes executive director Paddy Lowe, that unexpected behavior by the team’s tyres could cause problems in Sunday’s second race on the hybrid semi-street circuit built in the Olympic Park created for the 2014 Winter Games.
"This was a tricky weekend last season, with a new circuit to learn and fresh tarmac which produced slightly unusual behaviour from the tyres," said Lowe.
"This year we have moved one step softer on the compounds to bring the soft and supersoft into play - perhaps influenced by Nico running almost the entire racelast year on a single set of tyres.
"One year on, the track surface will have weathered differently, so we must ensure we have all eventualities covered..."
"Lowe and the Mercedes team bounced back to form at the Japanese Grand Prix after a curiously off-target performance in Singapore where Ferrari, and four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel, capitalized on their difficulties.
Vettel secured his third win of his maiden season with Ferrari and now has 218 points, only 11 fewer than Rosberg on 229, while Hamilton leads the way with 277.
And Ferrari’s resurgence could make them a threat again in Russia as they bid to ensure they retain second in the constructors’ championship behind Mercedes, but ahead of Williams.