On Sunday, Nico Rosberg will be looking to take a major step towards becoming the third German to win the Formula One title. He will also be looking to erase an unpleasant memory from last year's race.
After 11 years on the Formula One circuit, 31-year-old Nico Rosberg has never been closer to realizing his goal of winning the driver's championship. The Wiesbaden native goes into Sunday's race in Austin, Texas with a 33-point lead over his British teammate and bitter rival, Lewis Hamilton. If he wins both in Austin and in Mexico one week later and Hamilton finishes fails to finish second in either one, the title will be his.
Hamilton though, will like his chances of beating Rosberg in Austin. It is one of his favorite circuits, having taken the checkered flag in three of the four races held at the circuit.
"America has always been a good hunting ground for me. I've been out here for a week already, so I'm looking forward to fighting again," the Briton told reporters at a press conference in the Lone Star state.
Last year's contest saw him nudge Rosberg off on the first turn. The German then ran wide while leading late in the race, allowing the Briton to overtake him and win the race. The race is possibly best remembered for an incident shortly bore the two teammates headed to the winner's podium, when Rosberg angrily threw his second-place cap back at Hamilton.
Rosberg's frustration may have been what sparked an increase in his performance, though. He won the final three races of 2015 and the first four of 2016, before a midseason dip allowed Hamilton to temporarily seize the lead in the drivers' standings. Rosberg though, soon returned to form, putting himself in the comfortable position he finds himself now.
Ahead of the 2016 US Grand Prix the son of Finland's 1982 drivers' champion, Keke Rosberg, is determined not to let his teammate get the better of him this time.
"Last year this race obviously didn't work out so great for me," he said. "So I'm looking forward to getting back out there and doing my best to get it right this time."
'Starting from scratch'
He also said Hamilton's dominant record in Austin was no cause for concern.
"With the car that I have, I can win on any track against Lewis. This weekend, for me, we're just starting from scratch," he said. "He's going to be fully motivated as always, of course. He's going to be at his best. It'll be exciting and that's it," added Rosberg.
Looking to 'make the most' of his chance
For his part, Hamilton, who has been hampered by mechanical problems this season, said he had by no means given up on winning another title.
"We've got four races left to make the most of it and that's exactly what I plan to do," he said. "It's just about hitting every race weekend as hard as I can, going all out for every win and seeing what happens from there."
Should Rosberg prevail in the end, he will become the third German drivers' champion after Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, and just the second son of a title-holder (after Damon Hill) to win F1's top honor.
pfd/jh (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)