2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg has revealed that his former Mercedes team-mate and fierce rival Lewis Hamilton "walked all over him" during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, maintaining the psychological upper hand until the German was finally able to topple the Brit in Abu Dhabi in November, claiming the title mere days before unexpectedly announcing his retirement.
Rosberg attributes his success partially to changing his mental approach to race weekends as well as Hamilton. At many 2016 races, he insisted to the media that he was taking it one race at a time, rather than thinking immediately of the title and allowing pressure to mount.
He told the British Daily Mail newspaper that their closeness had made the defeats even tougher to take. "The anger is bigger if that person you know so well does something that crosses the line," he admitted.
Throughout his long battle against Hamilton, Rosberg also had to deal with criticism regarding his ability to match and defeat him in a straight fight during races. Rosberg himself openly acknowledges Hamilton's supreme intelligence at the wheel.
"Lewis is very good at going to the edge without going outside the grey area, thanks to his skills in the car. He is smart, very, very smart. I found it harder to go wheel to wheel. For him, it comes naturally.
"For me it is more rational. I have to work at standing my ground. I got more aggressive because too often in the past he had walked all over me. I had to watch the videos and make improvements," he revealed.