In Brief

F1: ‘Sebastian Vettel only needs one good race - it’s just a phase’, says Nico Rosberg

Mercedes are ready for a fight in China and George Russell looks forward to Shanghai debut

Rosberg backs Vettel

Ex-Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg believes that it will only take “one good race” for Ferrari star Sebastian Vettel to get back into a “positive spiral”.

Vettel is without a victory in nearly eight months and is currently fifth in the 2019 standings after finishing fourth in Australia and fifth in Bahrain. He’s also under pressure following the emergence of Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc as a contender at the front of the grid.  

Despite Vettel’s struggles 2016 F1 world champion Rosberg says the four-time title winner has the ability to bounce back - maybe this weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

Former Mercedes driver Rosberg told Press Association Sport: “It is just a phase that Sebastian is going through. It is one that all sportspersons have to deal with where things don’t always go to plan.

“You need to find your way out of that phase, and Sebastian is a four-time world champion, so I am sure he will be able to manage that.

“He needs to get into a positive spiral again, and all it takes in Formula 1 is just one good race, so if he wins in China, then off he’ll go.”

Wolff is up for a fight

Reigning champions Mercedes head to China top of the 2019 constructors’ standings following victories for Valtteri Bottas in Australia and Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain.

Despite their 39-point lead over Ferrari, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff does not think the current standings tell the full story of the season so far.

“Two races into the 2019 season, it may seem like we’re in a strong position,” said Wolff. “We have 87 points, just one below the maximum score. But the constructors’ standings do not tell the full story.

“The truth is that we weren’t as quick as our direct competitors throughout qualifying and the race in Bahrain. The Ferrari was considerably faster on the straights.

“Nevertheless, the saying goes that ‘in order to finish first, first you have to finish’ and the combination of solid performances from the team, reliability of our systems and a strong drive from our drivers secured us the one-two.”

Wolff says that the Mercedes team and drivers Hamilton and Bottas are ready to fight for the points at this weekend’s Chinese GP - F1’s 1,000th race.

“The challenge we are facing doesn’t daunt us - it’s uplifting,” he added. “We’ve seen exciting races so far this season and we’re looking forward to the next fight in Shanghai.”

Russell ready for China debut

F1 may be celebrating a milestone in Shanghai but for George Russell Sunday’s race will be the first time he has driven in the Chinese Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old Williams driver said: “I am really looking forward to China as it is a circuit I have never raced at before. It is always a great experience driving on a new track.

“It is the 1,000th grand prix for Formula 1 so it is great to be one of the 20 drivers that are a part of that. There is so much history in the sport and this will be a historic race, so I am extremely proud to be lining up on the grid in Shanghai.”

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