Rosberg Q&A: I want to return Williams to the glory days 25 Nov 2008
For a petrol head like Frank Williams, seeing his team slip down the grid this season must have been painful to watch. And it was equally saddening for driver Nico Rosberg, the much acclaimed German youngster, who has been touted as a possible future world champion. Whenever the FW30 had a good day Rosberg was there to bag the points. However, those occasions were too rare to satisfy his ambitions. But with 2009s wide-ranging regulation changes promising a shake-up, Rosberg hopes have been restored, as he explained exclusively to Formula1.com...
Q: Nico, aside from your podiums in Australia and Singapore there was not much to cheer about for you this year...
Nico Rosberg: Well, I appreciate the very positive start of the interview. It obviously was a very disappointing season for me in general. I had high hopes with the team, especially after 2007. I really thought that we would be able to carry the momentum into 08 and continue to improve, but it wasnt to be. I am thankful still that on occasion my car was okay and I was able to show that I can still drive a race car, which is important as you need to keep your reputation. On these occasions I was able to put some highlights into my overcast season, which was nice, but in general it was quite disappointing. We simply were not fast enough.
Q: How much have those two podium finishes strengthened your conviction that you have what it takes, especially when you were so often struggling to make the top ten?
NR: I am a better driver now than I have ever been. I believe in myself and I am convinced that I have what it takes to get to the very top. It just seems I have to be a bit patient.
Q: Do you regret staying at Williams? A Formula One career has a pretty short expiry date
NR: No, not yet. Anyway, I was to stay with Williams, whatever happened this year - that was done. And next year the cars are going to be completely spread out again because everybody starts from zero - so I will tell you halfway through next year if I regret it or not. It would be fantastic if the team could change their course. All these years you just build on the car that you had the year before, copy other people, and try to improve more than others - but now its a different game because everybody starts from zero, with a completely new concept. And I hope that the people at Williams can take advantage of this situation. That would be great. I am not asking for a world championship-winning car, just a car that gives me the opportunity to finish in the points consistently - and a couple of podiums would be the icing on the cake. The chances are there, for sure. Should 09 not turn out as I hope it will, then naturally I have to re-think my position for 2010.
Q: That sounds very sensible, but you havent given up on winning the world championship one day
NR: Definitely not. And I also havent given up on the team, not at all. I am still very motivated and it would be the greatest for me if I could help this team to some good success. Going back to the glory days will be a bit difficult in the situation nowadays, but still to have some good success would be a very nice thing for me.
Q: You came into Formula One racing having won more or less everything. How annoying is it to see that your career has now come to a bit of a halt?
NR: It is something that you have to get used to. Every time I went out racing I had the chance to win and now its been three years where I go out and know that there is no way I can win or even come close. Its a difficult thing, but thats the way F1 is and I accepted that only four people have the chance to win every race and you just have to do your best and keep on getting stronger - and hopefully one day you become one of those four people.
Q: Out of the usual midfield rivals - Toyota, Red Bull Racing and Williams - you had the toughest year, slipping in the constructors' championship to eighth place from last years fourth. As a driver who wants to succeed, you are looking for answers. Have you found them?
NR: Sure I am looking for answers and Ive tried to help them find answers, but it is difficult. We think we understand pretty well (what went wrong) and so we learned a lot and for sure it will help us for next year. Once it went wrong this year it was very difficult to catch up, even though we started to understand and really get to the bottom of the problem. It was difficult to turn things around - we tried, but we havent been able to pull the big turn around. Once you have taken the wrong path the others are continuing to develop and it was not possible to close the gap, even once we understood the problem. I am sure what we experienced this year will help us for next year.
Q: Is it hard to accept that performance level when you know that the team has won 16 titles and can do better?
NR: You cant really compare the past with the situation in the team today as we have completely new people. But you can compare to recent years. Four or five years ago Montoya was still winning and Williams had the best car on the grid. Last year weve been the fifth best team on the grid, so of course I am a bit disappointed with our 08 performance, especially with the development through the year. We didnt progress as much as we should have. The development went wrong from the beginning, although everybody was pushing so hard to make it a good year. It was not meant to be.
Q: Finding the cause of the poor performance in the past is one thing, ensuring that it doesnt happen again another. How far progressed are the preparations for the '09 car? How much of the new development did you test last week?
NR: I always follow the development of a new car very closely - especially with so many new regulations waiting in the wings. I am very anxious to hear how its going. Actually I saw the car last January, or even December - around about 10 months ago - and it will be interesting to see the changes when I go back to the factory to follow up. At the moment it is looking good. But what does that mean? Absolutely nothing! Because you have no idea what the others are doing, so its not even worth mentioning. In Barcelona we were able to put some mileage on the car. We had quite a few things on the car for next year, and weve tried some general things too, as you can start to learn about the tyres. Although it was this years car and this years aerodynamics, weve been running with such low downforce that it represents what it will be like next year. Its not exact but you can start to try fundamental things like how the tyres work, learning about them step by step, because new tyres are always very complex to understand.
Q: When will the FW31 be ready to hit the track?
NR: In January.
Q: What are your plans for the winter - aside from the occasional test sessions?
NR: Taking it easy.