Nico Rosberg is hoping history will repeat itself this weekend to bring him a much-needed home win at the German Grand Prix and a chance to leapfrog back to the top of the drivers’ world championship.
The 31-year-old German, who won the last race at the Hockenheimring in 2014, fell six points behind his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship following the defending champion’s victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix last Sunday.
It was the first time this season that he had left a race weekend in any position other than that of world champion leader – and he is determined to turn the tables on his rival on home soil and in front of Mercedes home crowd.
“It’s simple for me now,” he said. “Lewis has done the best job so far this season – by six points. That’s it. It’s the only change, but it doesn’t change much for me…
“It’s so close. I’m out there at every race with the opportunity to win and it is always very close between us. It takes just one small thing to switch it around.
“So, I am really super-motivated to win again and I want to turn it around in Hockenheim. I know it would be great for me and I have the chance.
“I have said all along that it is going to be a tough battle against Lewis. It ebbs and flows. I am taking one race at a time, but I have great memories from 2014 for this race and I am feeling good.”
Rosberg signed a new two-year contract with Mercedes in Hungary before the race and was then engulfed in a controversy about his pole position lap, delivered under waved double yellow flags, during an extended rain-hit qualifying session.
He is adamant that he can put that behind him and take the fight back to Hamilton whose recent streak of five wins in six races has taken him from holding a deficit of 43 points in the title race to a six-point lead.
Like Rosberg, Hamilton has won before at the famous former high-speed track in the forests of Baden-Wurttembeg, somewhat reduced in speed and grandeur in 2002 when it was cut from more than four to around 2.3 miles in length.
The defending three-time champion was victorious in 2008 and also won the German race when it was held at the Nurburgring in 2011, during a spell when it was alternating between the two venues.
Unfortunately, there was no German race last year due to financial difficulties, meaning that Rosberg was the event’s last winner.
If that gives him confidence, it has not persuaded outsiders to back him for a ‘bounce-back’ in the title race with two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso suggesting after last Sunday’s Hamilton victory that he now has the momentum.
“He is in a good position,” the McLaren man told a Spanish radio station. “He has come from behind and in this sport that gives you something extra.
“It's the opposite for the driver who was leading, and had a big advantage… They catch you, they overtake you and you go into a mini crisis.
“So even though they are close on points, Hamilton looks stronger and a better contender."
Alonso added that last weekend’s qualifying row reminded him of his experience with Hamilton, when they were team-mates at McLaren, in 2007.
Then, Alonso was penalised for blocking Hamilton in the pits, forcing the Briton to miss his final flying lap. As a result, Alonso lost pole position, which went to Hamilton.
"Yes, it reminds me of things," said a laughing Alonso. "Let's say, Rosberg doesn't have an easy teammate! In that sense, he's very strong on track, very fast, he never makes a mistake.
"And off the track he has significant influence. Good luck to Rosberg with that…”
While the duelling duo continue their intra-team scrap at Mercedes, team chief Toto Wolff has made clear he expects everyone involved to stay focussed in the final race before Formula One’s traditional European summer break.
“If you have the wrong attitude, you will be beaten," he said. "You need to see the threat and you need to be conscious that at any track somebody may do a better job.”
Like Hamilton, Australian Daniel Ricciardo is looking to continue in Germany where he left off in Hungary, having finished a strong third for Red Bull to claim his second podium of the season.
"It was an important race for Daniel just to re-establish his confidence," said team boss Christian Horner. "He was on it all weekend and I'm very happy for him.
“It was a confidence-booster after some bad luck earlier in the year and he worked for it.”
His Red Bull team-mate Dutch teenager Max Verstappen finished fifth as the team closed the gap behind second-placed Ferrari to just one point.
"Both drivers are pushing each other hard and that's what you want," said Horner. “They're pushing to other levels now and from a team perspective that's extremely healthy."