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Mercedes' only Formula One rival lies within

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 12, 2014 at 8:05 am •  Published: May 12, 2014

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — After cruising to a fourth straight 1-2 finish at the Spanish Grand Prix, it appears the only obstacle to Mercedes winning its first constructors title would be a feud between drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

The rest of the Formula One field sure isn't putting up much of a fight.

Before coming to Spain, teams had three weeks to improve their cars after Rosberg won the season opener in Australia and finished second behind Hamilton as the British driver earned a hat trick of wins in Malaysia, Bahrain and China.

No matter. Hamilton and Rosberg breezed through qualifying to start from the front of the grid, and then took in Sunday's race and never looked back.

The German team based in Britain has handled the switch to V6 turbo hybrid engines and a rule book overhaul better than any other car builder. Mercedes has 197 points in the constructors' championship, while four-time defending champion Red Bull trails in second with 84.

"We're becoming the best team in F1," Rosberg said. "I would still say Red Bull is the benchmark at the moment but we're definitely shaking their chair ... and I think there's the possibility that soon we will be the absolute best team. In terms of team organization, capabilities, we're getting there and hopefully it will be a long domination."

So far, Mercedes is letting the duo battle it out, and provided each with a different pit stop and tire strategy on Sunday. IN Bahrain, the twosome dueled down to the wire and had several close calls.

Hamilton's fourth victory in a row moved him ahead of Rosberg in the driver's championship with 100 points to Rosberg's 97.

"We have two incredible drivers who are capable of fighting until the last corner of the last lap," Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said. "They were incredibly closely matched in spite of running different strategies in the race.

"Their battle is so intense and so close that I am sure it will carry on all the way to the final race."

Teams will have two more days of testing at the Barcelona-Catalunya track. Then it is off to Monaco, where — in theory — Mercedes' challengers can hope the serpentine urban circuit will limit their full potential.

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