Nico Rosberg is now odds on to win this year’s Formula One world title but Mercedes boss Toto Wolff expects the championship battle with team-mate Lewis Hamilton to go to the wire.
Rosberg claimed his third victory of the campaign, and sixth in as many races, in the Chinese Grand Prix, while Hamilton recovered to finish seventh following an eventful race.
Hamilton is 36 points adrift of the German after the opening three rounds but with 18 races of the 21-race season still left, Wolff insists world champion Hamilton can still claim his fourth crown.
Rosberg is 3/5 while Hamilton is out to 7/5 but asked if Rosberg was now the favourite, Wolff replied: “No. It is just three out of 21, so statistically there is so much more to come that you can't speak about any favourite. At this stage of the season it's about collecting points without looking at the championship.
“Lewis has every reason to be upset about the result. He wouldn't be a three-time world champion if that didn't upset him, but I have no doubt he will make a quick recovery. The gap is substantial but it is very early days. He is mentally very strong so I have no doubt that it will be close at the end.”
Rosberg opened up a 29-point lead over Hamilton in 2014 before the Briton reeled him in to win the championship.
“It doesn't feel any nicer than it did back then,” said Hamilton. “If anything it probably feels worse because it's just gone one negative after the other. There's a long, long way to go. Lots can happen. It is just I don't have any more jokers available really.”