Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton proved his prowess as a Formula 1 driver from the very first year he entered the sport, finishing just a point behind eventual winner Kimi Raikkonen. For the large part of his career, though, Hamilton has proved to be better than his teammates regardless of whichever team he has competed for.
A big part of his dominance has come at Mercedes, with the 39-year-old winning six world titles during the turbo-hybrid era (2014-21). However, while Hamilton tasted great success during this period, he was outshone by Nico Rosberg in 2016.
Rosberg employed an ‘unconventional method’ to get the better of Hamilton and he has provided a clue to youngster George Russell in his quest to get a similar result against the Stevenage-born driver.
Speaking on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast, Rosberg discussed his mentality and how he ‘got into Hamilton’s head’.
“I couldn’t afford to go on a diet,” Rosberg said.
“And so the only solution was, I thought of it myself, just let’s lose some leg muscles.
“So I did stop cycling.”
What mind games does Rosberg want Russell to play on Hamilton?
Rosberg explained just how important it was to lose each kilogram in his quest to get the better of Hamilton. By losing a kg from his leg, he was able to gain three-hundredths of a second per lap. This strategic move helped him “mess with Lewis’ head”.
Rosberg urged Russell, or any future competitor of Hamilton, to seek strategic moves as the only differentiator between success and failure.
While Rosberg and Hamilton had been friends since their karting days, their relationship turned toxic over the course of the 2016 season. But, it is a price Rosberg was happy to pay since it helped him lift his maiden world championship.
Shortly after achieving this, the German driver announced a shock retirement.
Speaking much later about the reasons behind this decision, Rosberg said: “In the end, though, my life and my mental health were on the line. So I calmly accepted the shouts that came from my phone.”