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Exclusive Nico Rosberg Q&A: podium is within reach 25 Apr 2009

Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 25 April 2009 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 25 April 2009 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 24 April 2009 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 24 April 2009 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday, 23 April 2009

Given his recent practice form, it would have come as a surprise not to find Williams’ Nico Rosberg at the top of the time sheets at some point over the Bahrain weekend. While it may be morale boosting, when it comes to qualifying and the race, things are slightly different. But the young German is convinced that if the team keeps up with their pace of development, more points and even podiums will follow…

Q: Nico, how did qualifying go?
Nico Rosberg:
Qualifying was very difficult. I didn’t find my way in qualifying today. I struggled. I tried to get the best out of it, but the wind changed and I made some changes on the car so that made it very difficult for me. And in general I struggled with grip today - a lot of oversteer, a lot of understeer, lots of everything. With this background we have to be happy with ninth place. We had a lot of fuel and in fact it was all about damage limitation today because it could have gone a lot worse.

Q: So far you are the king of the practice sessions. Why hasn’t it been possible to transform your great practice performances into great race results?
NR:
Well, I don’t know if we are doing ourselves any favours. We should ignore what people say and do the best possible preparation for the weekend. We are always running with very low fuel so we artificially bring ourselves to the front of the grid in free practice. It is artificial because we are not that fast. It’s just the way we prepare for the weekend because we think that is the best way to prepare. And then in qualifying our true performance comes out which is the fourth or fifth best team. And it will be that way for the rest of the year I guess.

Q: You are in great shape, the car seems perfect, and then something goes wrong in qualifying and race. How frustrating is that?
NR:
The first three races have been quite frustrating as we didn’t get the best out of it, but there have also been very difficult conditions and that made myself and the team make some decisions that could have gone better - but that’s the way it is. We still were able to score some points and the season is still long so we have to make the best out of the next couple of races. Something that we have to be alarmed about is the rate of development this year. We really need to be on top of things to have a chance throughout the year and stay where we are, as the development rate will be massive. But I am confident that we can keep up with that.

Q: Coming back to last week’s race in China, you must be fuming - you had the wrong tyres, the wrong strategy, and the wrong weather. Can you recap that road to perdition?
NR:
In China we really struggled with warming up the tyres. Performance-wise we weren’t looking good the whole weekend because we never got the tyres to work. But that was also true for some other teams, and I was on the grid with a little bit less fuel than we should have had, so we were just outside the points in real terms. Actually three main things went wrong: firstly we made a mistake with the strategy, taking me in at the very beginning and putting me right to the back, the second thing was that I struggled so much with the visibility. I had a really poor visor throughout the race. The third thing was that we took on the wrong tyres, but that was a decision we purposely did because the conditions at the time allowed it. It just started raining more again and that ruined my race completely. And on top of all this the radio dropped out during the race so I had no chance to communicate any more. It was a race to forget.

Q: KERS was a big issue before the season started, but in China only three cars had it on board. Williams haven’t bothered with it yet, but have instead concentrated on other development strings. Was this a wise decision?
NR:
No, no, we are pushing very hard and the system is running in the factory and we are trying to get it on the car as soon as possible because we feel that it is an advantage at some tracks. When that will happen I don’t know.

Q: The good news is that the double diffuser is legal. So it looks as if it is just a matter of time before you will see the podium. Could it happen in Bahrain?
NR:
We need to be careful as he haven’t been that quick here in Bahrain, but if we do the job right and avoid mistakes then it seems within reach to be on the podium soon. But as I said - development is everything.

Q: For the first time in a long time you sit in a competitive car. Despite the hiccups of the first three races, where do you place Williams in the pecking order at the moment?
NR:
We were the fourth best team, but here I am not sure anymore if we’re still there. Other teams have progressed strongly, including Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, McLaren and Renault. I still think we are quite okay for the moment, but we also need to push on!

Q: Speaking about the pecking order, are you surprised by how last year’s frontrunners have lost momentum?
NR:
There are new rules, and new rules are always very challenging. It surprises me a little bit but you can also understand it. It’s a new ball game and everybody has to find his way.

Q: And could ’09 be the season for you to make it big?
NR:
It is possible. And I hope it is. If not then it will be 2010!