Nico Rosberg says Ferrari and Mercedes are evenly matched in pre-season testing – despite the Silver Arrows appearing to boast a half-second advantage.
After only using the medium tyres in the first test at Barcelona last week, Rosberg opened up a vast gap at the top of the timesheets on Tuesday morning with a qualifying simulation run on soft tyres.
Although Sebastian Vettel’s lap of 1:22.810 on ultrasofts remains the fastest of testing so far, Rosberg’s 1:23.022 was seven tenths faster than the best either Vettel or his Scuderia team-mate Kimi Raikkonen have produced on identical soft rubber.
Earlier in the day, Rosberg had also set a new benchmark of 1:24.329 on the mediums – half a second ahead of Ferrari’s best time, with Williams a further three tenths adrift.
Nevertheless, Rosberg is convinced Mercedes will have close company at the front of the field when the new season starts in Australia on March 20.
“It’s very close between Ferrari and us – and another team might be there as well,” Rosberg told
The German rounded off 2015 with three successive victories and has recorded more laps than any other driver in the first test last week. But it’s the laps Rosberg produces on Saturday afternoons in qualifying in 2016 which may well prove the most important of the year as he strives to ward off the threat from Ferrari and beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the world championship.
“It was all the more enjoyable to take the car to the limits,” added Nico. “I have to do well in qualifying and to beat Lewis I have to do well in everything. His level is very, very high and he’s doing a great job.”