Nico Rosberg believes the status quo of the Formula 1 drivers' world championship will remain as is in 2018 after he backed former Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to win his fifth title ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.
The German was the last person to beat Hamilton when he won the 2016 drivers' championship title ahead of the Briton before hanging up his helmet. Rosberg and Hamilton endured a bitter rivalry during their time together at the Silver Arrows team as they were only two competing for the title with Ferrari and Red Bull unable to match them consistently during the course of the season.
Despite the rivalry, he believes it will be Hamilton winning the title yet again, but he has pegged Vettel to provide better competition and lose his chance of a fifth title by just a point. In 2017, it was close until the summer break after which the British driver won five races to wrap up the title with two races to spare.
Rosberg believes Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas will have to again settle for third place ahead of the two Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. The 2016 world champion failed to mention Ferrari's second driver Kimi Raikkonen, who finished fourth last season.
"My prediction corresponds to what happened last year," Rosberg told German television channel RTL, as quoted by the Express.
"So Lewis Hamilton wins, this time just one point ahead of Sebastian Vettel. After that is Lewis' team-mate Valtteri Bottas and the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo," he added.
However, Bottas does not seem to agree with Rosberg's view as he is confident that he can challenge and beat Hamilton for the title in 2018. The Finn was a late addition to the Mercedes team in 2017 following the German's shock decision to retire and despite his late entry into the team, he did impress in flashes during the season.
Bottas secured the first of his three F1 race wins at the Russian Grand Prix and then followed it up with triumphs at Austria and Abu Dhabi. However, he was not consistent with his performances and struggled at certain tracks unable to keep up with his more illustrious teammate.
The former Williams driver though is confident going into the 2018 season and believes that if he is more consistent in all the tracks, he will have a chance to beat his teammate, who will start the year as the title favourite.
"No," Bottas told ESPN when asked if the data studied over the winter showed any indication that Hamilton will again be favourite amongst the two Mercedes drivers going into the 2018 season.
"For sure he is one of the best drivers ever in Formula One, a four-time world champion who's always on it, but I proved to myself a few times last year that I can do it and I can beat him.
"It's up to me to be performing well consistently all through the year, not having those kinds of race weekends when I'm a couple of tenths off or something. I need to be in all conditions -- no matter what track, which temperature and which tarmac -- I need to be there," the Finn added.