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Nico: No ecstasy without Lewis

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 2/05/2016

Morpheus Bulletin © Provided by BSkyB Morpheus Bulletin Nico Rosberg admits he cannot feel ecstatic about winning races when team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton has been handicapped by unreliability.

After securing his seventh consecutive win with a straightforward victory in Russia, Rosberg has opened up a 43-point lead at the top of the world championship. But while Rosberg has enjoyed a trouble-free start to the new campaign, reigning champion Hamilton, who has previously beaten Rosberg in every season of their three-year partnership, has been waylaid by two engine failures and three separate first-corner collisions.

With the critics claiming that Rosberg's title lead will lack credibility unless the German prospers in a head-to-head fight with Hamilton, even Rosberg himself admitted that his joy at opening up such a large lead in the title race has been diluted. 

"I can't say l miss it [fighting with Hamilton] because it is awesome to win races and in the end it doesn't matter how," Rosberg told Sky Sports F1. "Winning is great and what I'm here for. But the ecstatic feeling isn't there, it's there when l win a battle with Lewis, that's what gives the ultimate thrill."

Except for beating Hamilton off the line in Bahrain, Rosberg is yet to make a single overtaking move on track this season. While his victory in Sochi represented his first F1 'grand slam' - pole position, fastest lap, and victory after leading every lap - Rosberg acknowledged that it was bereft of the special ingredient that only a wheel-to-wheel contest with Hamilton could provide.

"A straight fight with Lewis is what l am here for because he's the benchmark and I look forward to it when it comes," he added. "It's always going to be a tough battle against him because he's as motivated and as quick as ever."

Hamilton, meanwhile, has defended his Mercedes team but admitted he doesn't understand why the world champions swapped personnel from one side of their garage to the other during the winter in an apparent bid to improve team harmony.

"From my side of the garage the mechanics are having a hard time," Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. "But I have absolutely every bit of confidence and faith in them.

"The majority were on Nico's car last year and Nico's guys were with me for the last three years since I joined. The team all of a sudden swapped for no apparent reason."

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