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Formula 1

Rosberg does not believe Vettel’s problems are terminal

Nico Rosberg with Sebastian Vettel in 2016

Nico Rosberg has backed Sebastian Vettel to recover from his recent slump by taking the championship fight to Lewis Hamilton this season.

Vettel will contend Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix having failed to win a race in nearly eight months.

The German faces questions over his number one status at Ferrari following Charles Leclerc’s impressive display in Bahrain. Vettel also spun, his fourth such incident from his last 10 outings, while duelling for position with Hamilton

at the last round.

However, Rosberg – the only man in the least five seasons to prevent Hamilton winning the title – is confident the Ferrari driver can bounce back.

“It is just a phase that Sebastian is going through,” Rosberg told Press Association Sport. “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 One is just one good race, so if he wins in China, then off he’ll go.”

Vettel last tasted victory in Belgium – a losing streak which will extend to 11 grands prix if he fails to take the chequered flag in Shanghai – while team-mate Leclerc will be looking to avenge the late engine failure which cost him a richly-deserved maiden success in Bahrain.

Hamilton took advantage of Leclerc’s troubles to win, and despite Ferrari’s impressive speed, Rosberg believes his old foe – who arrived in China on Wednesday morning – must be considered as the driver to beat in 2019.

“Mercedes have had the better start to the season in terms of points, but it looks as though Ferrari have got the better car,” added Rosberg, who was speaking as a Formula E investor ahead of the Berlin E-Prix, which forms part of his GREENTECH Festival next month.

“In Bahrain, Ferrari allowed Sebastian and Charles to race freely, but they have two competitive drivers so that will be so hard to manage.

“Lewis, however, is as usual; he is always on it, so I still see him as the favourite for the championship.”

The Rome E-Prix is live on March 13 from 2.30pm on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and Eurosport 1.

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