Nico Rosberg has singled out former Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to scoop a sixth Formula One world title this year – although he believes some subtle regulation changes could lead to a few surprises in the 2019 title race.
Hamilton captured eight of the final 11 races as he collected his fifth world crown last year, matching Juan Manuel Fangio’s haul and moving to within two of Michael Schumacher‘s record.
But speaking ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards, the German suspects his old rival, who begins pre-season testing at Barcelona on Monday, will reign supreme once more.
“Lewis is the absolute favourite again because he’s driving incredibly lately and his team does an incredible job,” Rosberg said.
“He’s one of the most successful F1 drivers of all time, one of the most successful sportsmen of all time.
“I think the odds are in his favour then Sebastian is the obvious challenger. But I would also, if I was a betting man, say Leclerc or Verstappen because I think both of them can be a big, big surprise this year.”
Rosberg thinks the pressure may be on compatriot Vettel this season after finishing runner-up to Hamilton for a second successive year.
By Olukayode Oniwinde