Returning to the Chinese circuit where he took his first pole and
victory in 2012, Rosberg has been runner-up in the last two races
but still leads the championship by 11 points after his
season-opening success in Australia.
The pair served up a thriller under the floodlights in Bahrain 10
days ago and another wheel-to-wheel duel in China would be a further
boost for a sport fighting back against criticism of its new
Hamilton, the 2008 champion, is ready to do his bit.
"I'm in a really good place at the moment and walking around the
garage too, you can see the positive energy within the team right
now," he said in a team preview.
"I'm getting stronger every time I come to this track and it suits
my driving style quite well. The aim, as always, is to win and if I
could make it three in a row this weekend that would be incredible."
The Briton is one of only two drivers to have won twice in Shanghai — Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is the other — but Hamilton still has
painful memories of throwing away a championship lead when he went
into a gravel trap at the circuit in 2007.
Rosberg will seize on any such slip-ups. The German ended his
teammate's bid for three poles in a row with the quickest lap in
qualifying in Bahrain and then showed just how little separates the
two on track.
"The layout seems to suit my driving style, it's a track I enjoy
racing at and I want to be back on that top step of the podium this
weekend," the German said.
The Mercedes V6 turbo power unit has been the pick of the field, and
the circuit will play to their strengths, but rivals are pulling out
all the stops to catch up.
Remi Taffin, head of track operations for Red Bull's engine partner
Renault, said the manufacturer was feeling more confident after a
troubled start to the season.
"At the test in Bahrain (after the race), we tested several new
software modes that will see us closer to the limits of the power
unit than before," he said.
"Overall we're looking forward to China. While we know it's still an
uphill battle, we feel we have hit our stride now."
That could be good news for champions Red Bull, who lost an appeal
on Monday to have Daniel Ricciardo's second place in Melbourne
reinstated, even though they are expecting another tough weekend.
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"Mercedes are again going to be very difficult to beat... given the
kilometer-long straight," said principal Christian Horner, whose
team took their first F1 win in China with Sebastian Vettel in 2009.
"But then once we get back to Europe we need to start making inroads
McLaren, now third overall behind Force India after a
double-retirement at the Sakhir circuit, are bringing some updates
and looking for solid points.
"Bahrain showed that, the top two cars aside, the racing this year
is fast, fraught and very evenly matched," said Jenson Button. "The
margins are so slim that it'll require us to get everything right.
"But I've always enjoyed racing in China — I won here in 2010, and
I've always had good results here for McLaren. While it's not
necessarily a track that perfectly suits our package, I think we can
pull everything together and have a stronger weekend."
Ferrari won last year with Alonso but Stefano Domenicali quit as
team principal this week with North America president Marco
Mattiacci taking the helm.
Whether anything changes on the track for the glamour team remains
to be seen, with the Spaniard and Finnish teammate Kimi Raikkonen
struggling home ninth and 10th in Bahrain.
"We are ninth and 10th because there were eight people who were
better than us," Alonso, who has urged Ferrari to work day and
night, told reporters in Bahrain.
"We want to change this as soon as possible and that needs to start
(Editing by Alan Baldwin and John O'Brien)
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