Exclusive interview - Williams Nico Rosberg 21 Apr 2008
Celebrating their 30th anniversary of Formula One competition seems to have boosted Williams motivation to return to the forefront of the sport this season. BMW Sauber, Ferrari and McLaren may lead the constructors race at present, but the British team are in the charging pack.
So far they have built up an impressive tally of points, thanks in part to Nico Rosbergs podium finish at Melbourne. But while his challenge faltered in Malaysia and Bahrain, Rosberg is convinced theyll return to flying form in Spain this weekend...
Q: Nico, the start of the season in Melbourne must have been to your liking. How did that third place feel?
Nico Rosberg: I have to say it was amazing to stand on the podium for the first time in F1. Last time I was up there was almost three years ago in GP2, but I still wasn't expecting a podium at all in the first race, as I thought we would end up in seventh or eighth position and get a couple of points. It was a big step up for me personally.
Q: Then you slipped 11 places to finish 14th in Malaysia and bounced back to eighth place in Bahrain. It has been quite a rollercoaster ride. What happened?
NR: In Malaysia we struggled a bit with the new asphalt of the circuit and we couldn't get the car to work properly all weekend, even though we went there thinking we could do well. In Bahrain, things went better, as we had trouble-free running all weekend and I scored a further point.
Q: You said that Williams can do much better, so how crucial was last weeks test in Barcelona? What upgrades have been made to the FW30?
NR: We had a good number of new releases coming to the car for the start of the European season, which we tested in Barcelona. The outcome was positive, even though we lost some track time on the last day due to bad weather conditions. We are now looking forward to going back there for the race.
Q: What is your impression - can those changes immediately translate into race performance at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix? Is your clear objective to finish in the points?
NR: There are three teams quite clearly quicker than us at the moment, which means that if everything goes smoothly and they have no problems, we can be seventh. There is little room left in the points for everyone else and the battle is tight. Most of the teams will bring improvements on their cars to the first European race. We'll see on Saturday in Barcelona where everyone is.
Q: Williams are currently the 'fourth power' behind BMW Sauber, Ferrari and McLaren, or in other words, the leader of the second group. Do you see a chance to defend that position and close the gap to the three frontrunners?
NR: The battle is very tight out there and it won't be easy at all to hold onto the fourth position in the constructors championship. However, this is our target for this year and we'll do anything we can to achieve it. With some luck, we might end up on the podium again.
Q: Now that the podium is not a foreign place to you and the paddock has cast you in the role of a serious driver, has your view of Formula One racing as your chosen profession changed?
NR: I consider the podium place to be one of the many steps which one takes during a career. And to achieve it shows that things are progressing and therefore it is a nice motivation boost. It also came a bit earlier than I expected, although I felt it would be possible during this season. I'm here to win so there is more to achieve.
Q: Your father, Keke, was invaluable to you at the start of your Formula One career. Lately, he hasn't been present at the races as much. How important a role does he still play in your professional life?
NR: My father and I decided some time ago that, when the time was right, he would step back, so this parting is really not as drastic as it maybe looks. We worked together on the contract extension with Williams at the end of last year and, after I signed, my father took the planned step back and reduced his involvement in the daily management. Of course, he is always there whenever I need any advice. He is a wise man and knows this business well so I can't see a better advisor.
Q: You are a young and good-looking guy and some have said you have star quality. In spite of this, you've managed to avoid scandal and press speculation about your private life. Do you consciously avoid the playboy image?
NR: I consider myself to be a discreet person and not very materialistic - I have a car and a motorhome that's all. That's probably the reason why people see me in a different way. F1 takes up the majority of my time and I want to focus on it in the best possible way, while balancing it with my private life.