Rosberg: I had to beat the best Hamilton

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Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg felt he had to beat "the best Lewis Hamilton" to win the Formula One drivers' title in 2016.

Rosberg won the first four races of the campaign but then slipped behind Hamilton, who enjoyed a run of six victories out of seven before the mid-season break.

The German fought back to open up a 33-point lead by winning at Suzuka, but finishing second to Hamilton in the following three races significantly reduced his advantage ahead of the finale in Abu Dhabi.

Rosberg deposed his team-mate with a podium finish at the Yas Marina Circuit, but Hamilton's exceptional form added to the pressure he felt.

"It was the most intense experience I've ever had in a race car, even in qualifying. For sure it [the title pressure] has an impact on performance, it's not possible you do the same performance as if you're in Lewis' position who has nothing to lose," Rosberg said in an interview with Mercedes' official YouTube channel.

"It became clear as well, that's why he got all the pole positions and I was second in the last couple of races. It's because he's free, has no weight [on his shoulders], nothing to lose.

"I think it was the best Lewis I've ever seen in those last few races as well. He was not only completely free, but the most determined and motivated ever, working as hard as ever. [It's] difficult to beat him in those circumstances."

Rosberg said he took a race-by-race approach throughout the season in order to limit the impact talk of winning the title had on him.

He added: "The mind is a huge part of the sport. It's a lot about the mind. I found my way during the season, in the early part actually, to just really remain in the moment and not think of the big picture, what if.

"The childhood dream is massive and that can weigh if you think about it because the desire to achieve that when you get closer and closer, wow, it's huge.

"So it's better to keep away from that and that worked very well for me."