Rosberg not losing focus despite early points lead

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Nico Rosberg is refusing to lose focus despite surging into a healthy points lead in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship after the opening three races of the 2016 season.

Rosberg scored his sixth successive grand prix victory on Sunday in China to give himself a perfect score of 75 points for this year.

Mercedes teammate and title rival Lewis Hamilton finished a tough weekend in seventh place after battling from the very back of the grid and a first lap crash.

The gap between the two Mercedes drivers now stands at 36 points, while history is also on Rosberg’s side after his emphatic win in Shanghai.

“It’s been a fantastic few days for me here in China,” Rosberg said. “First of all, the fans have been amazing from the moment I arrived. They’re so enthusiastic, which gives us drivers a very special feeling.

“Then, racing wise, it was an almost perfect weekend. Only the start could have been better – but luckily I was able to pass Daniel later on the straight and from then on I could build up a gap. I must say, I’ve never had a better balance in my car than I had today.

“It was really perfect, so a big thanks to everyone who helped me achieve that. I also want to thank all the women in my life – my wife, my daughter and my mother. Their support is unbelievable and that’s really what makes it possible for me to be doing what I’m doing.”

Rosberg is refusing to get ahead of himself in spite of his points lead, instead turning his attention to the Russian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

“I’m a very happy man today and, after three races I can be really pleased about how my season has gone so far,” Rosberg said.

“But it’s a very long year ahead and there’s a lot of points still on the table, so I’m not losing my focus.

“Now I look forward to Russia, where I started my good run of qualifying results last year. Hopefully I can get on a nice run like that again.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).