Formula 1

Nico Rosberg not giving up on world championship hopes

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Nico Rosberg is refusing to back down in his quest to beat Lewis Hamilton to this season's Formula One world championship.

Rosberg has been cast 48 points adrift of his Mercedes team-mate with only five Grands Prix remaining.

The German started on pole last time out in Japan, but was fourth by the end of lap one after he was out-muscled by Hamilton through turns one and two.

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Rosberg fought back to finish second but after Hamilton turned in an exhibition display to claim his eighth victory of the season, he now faces an uphill task to prevent the Briton from claiming successive titles.

Rosberg, who passed the Williams of Valtteri Bottas at the chicane before leapfrogging Sebastian Vettel at the final round of pit-stops, said: "Once I got back from Japan, I was able to focus on the positive elements from my weekend in Suzuka: pole position, the on-track pass on Bottas and then having the speed to undercut Vettel's Ferrari at the second pit-stop.

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"I'm not backing down in my fight for the championship and gaining those positions back fair and square showed that.

"We have five races to go and, although the championship gap to Lewis is quite big, in my mind it's definitely not over yet."

Hamilton matched Ayrton Senna's tally of 41 career victories in Suzuka after an exemplary drive.

And the 30-year-old, who is bidding to become the first British driver to successfully defend his grand prix crown, is hopeful of securing win number nine of the season in Russia on Sunday.

He said: "Suzuka was a really special weekend for me and another fantastic result for the team. Everyone is doing such an incredible job once again this season and every bit of this success is well deserved.

"The car was unbelievable to drive in Japan, so hopefully it'll be more of the same at the remaining races - starting in Sochi.

"Last year was the first experience I'd had of Russia in my racing career and we had a great race there. The circuit is really well put together - quite long, with some interesting corners and opportunities to overtake.

"Hopefully now fans have seen what a great facility they have there and how beautiful Sochi is, we'll see plenty more people in the stands this year too."

Hamilton, who won in Sochi last year as Mercedes clinched the constructors' championship, added: "It was great to win the first race for Formula One in Russia and a fantastic moment for the team to take the title there last time out.

"Fingers crossed we can add to those great memories again this weekend - I'll be pushing as hard as I can to make that happen."

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