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Published: 12:19 | 2/5/16

Hamilton still in title race - Rosberg

Championship leader expecting tough fight

Nico Rosberg believes his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton is not out of the 2016 Drivers' Championship despite leading him by 43 points.

The German won the Russia Grand Prix at Sochi on Sunday, his fourth win out of four this season, and a winning run that stretches to seven now.

Only three other drivers have ever won seven races in-a-row - Alberto Ascari, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel - and all three went on to lift the Drivers' title that season but Rosberg is not taking anything for granted.

"I am well aware Lewis is going to bounce back when he has a clean weekend and it will be the usual tough battle against him," he said. "Sport is all about ups and downs. I just need to mentally prepare.

"The other people [Ascari, Schumacher and Vettel] did not have Lewis Hamilton as their team-mate.

"Yes, I have a good points lead but there are 425 points to go and I have only a 43-point lead. It is completely not worth talking about.

"Lewis is driving as strong as ever. For sure he will bounce back massively. He doesn't have an issue with fighting back either with his head.

"I am sure we will see a lot more of the battle between us and it is always going to be a tough battle."

Hamilton was forced to start 10th on the grid on Sochi due to engine failure in qualifying and his second place finish was a good performance in the circumstances. Two weeks ago in China Hamilton was forced to start from the back of the grid after suffering similar issues.

"He has a buffer knowing even if he has two bad weekends he is still in the fight, which is a huge confidence boost, and generally he has been starting at the front with no-one to really bother him, so it has been a nice Sunday drive for him," Hamilton said. "But there are still 17 races to go and still 17 races I can give him hell.

"I don't sit here all happy, because nothing has gone particularly well. I got myself back up there and wasn't able to fight for the win.

"I believe I had a chance to win. That is the only thing in my mind.

"Also I am running out of engines as the races go by. It is not hurting, it is just not great.

"I am aware there is likely to be one more 10-place penalty because I have one more reprimand to go. The last one was just ridiculous."

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