SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Nico Rosberg denied his early season problems had been all in the head as the Mercedes driver continued a winning run of form in Brazil on Sunday.
“It’s not a head thing,” the German said after leading triple Formula One world champion team mate Lewis Hamilton in a one-two for the second race in a row to win in Brazil for the second year running.
“My head is in the same place as in the middle of the season where Lewis was faster. It’s just things have come together better now and it’s an ongoing development,” said Rosberg, who secured second place in the championship.
“Things change, the car gets faster, we have development parts coming on. It’s a world that changes all the time, you need to adapt. It never stays the same and so now I’ve just managed to adapt much better to the situation.”
It is all too late for the title, with Hamilton wrapping up his third crown in Texas last month, but Rosberg has started the last five races on pole and is unbeaten since Austin.
In Mexico two weeks ago, the German completed his first career hat-trick of pole, fastest lap and victory.
It has been a strong turnaround for a man who was eclipsed in qualifying by Hamilton at the start of the championship, and still only has five wins in 2015 to Hamilton’s 10.
”Suddenly Nico is back,“ Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda told the BBC. ”They have switched around because now he is happy with the car and now he’s two tenths quicker.
“It is a head thing, and to feel happy. If you feel happy, you go quicker.”
Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff agreed the psychological aspect was important, even if other factors played a part.
“I think it’s all more up here, it’s a psychological game and Lewis had the upper hand when it mattered,” said the Austrian, pointing to his head. “He won the championship and maybe the stress has gone a little bit, the adrenalin has gone a little bit.”
Rosberg controlled Sunday’s race, keeping a close eye on the tyre wear while ensuring Hamilton stayed too far behind to threaten in a contest short of real thrills.
“I have been working at it, because I don’t like coming second especially to my dear team mate,” said the German, who had been riled by some of Hamilton’s recent comments.
“I’ve been pushing hard to try and improve, working at everything and it’s paying off. I’m driving quicker now, I’ve got the upper hand at the moment so I’m pleased with that.”
Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Justin Palmer