Exclusive Nico Rosberg Q&A: My time to win will come 14 Feb 2011
After finding himself driving alongside seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher but then comprehensively outperforming his illustrious team mate, Mercedes GPs Nico Rosberg emerged from the 2010 season with more confidence and a greater sense of purpose. Now a lot depends on his 2011 car, and with the MGP W02 giving off mixed signals at the two recent pre-season tests, Rosbergs hopes remain uncertain. The young German, however, is in decidedly positive spirits
Q: Nico, 2010 will hardly go down as a highlight for you. You were hired by the reigning world champions and ended seventh in the drivers standings. You must have hoped for more, but on the other hand you must have learnt a lot. Does that compensate a bit?
Nico Rosberg: It does, because looking at the 2010 season from a personal angle I have to say it was a good season. I was able to beat Michael and delivered the best possible results with the car I was given. For my career that meant a pretty good leap forward and in the end that is all that matters. Sure, on the other hand it was a bit disappointing because naturally you want to walk away with better results overall.
Q: You have gone some way to demystifying the Michael Schumacher myth. What does that do to you?
NR: I dont think that I bruised the Schumacher myth. He is a seven-time world champion and that will always remain in the history books. But sure it felt good to beat him, as he is not viewed as one of the best F1 drivers ever for nothing!
Q: How was your first year driving alongside him?
NR: It was very interesting. That would sum it up. It was fascinating to watch how he acts, in every aspect, because being F1 champion is one thing, but to achieve what hes achieved you have to go beyond the track. There arent many people around who have had the chance to have such a close-up insight into the inner workings of Michael.
Q: You collected the most points for the team last year. Without a substantial contribution from both drivers a better position in the constructors standings is pretty impossible. Do you hope for a better season for both of you in 2011?
NR: Ha, from my point of view he can repeat his performance of last year! But I am sure that will not be the case. I expect that there will be a fierce competition between the two of us, but of course I hope that I will wind up on top.
Q: At the first 2011 test in Valencia Mercedes looked a bit pallid when compared to the Red Bulls and the Ferraris. However Jerez, at least for Schumacher, looked like something of a turning point
NR: Yes, we werent too fast in Valencia but with Michaels two days of running in Jerez we are obviously heading in the right direction. Despite what people believe we werent running in qualifying spec when he did his times - we still had a buffer. My running obviously was not so blessed. I only ran for 45 laps on the last day of the Jerez test because of a precautionary engine change. Unfortunately I havent been able to do as many laps as I would have liked, but overall I see a development for the better and to get better every single lap counts.
Q: What are the main issues on the car?
NR: One thing that should be made very clear is that this car that weve been running so far is not our Bahrain car. This car is here to improve reliability and do the maximum mileage possible. A big step will be introduced later in the test season.
Q: What will be the big step? In what areas?
NR: I am sure many would like to know that answer. Let me put it this way - it will be in all areas of the car.
Q: The forecast is that the Pirelli tyres will make for exciting races. Is this your view too?
NR: Yes, absolutely. The degradation over a longer distance will produce very exciting races. Weve seen many times in the past that if tyres do degrade it gives us the most suspense-filled races. I think that we will head into such a season again. That should be thrilling for the fans.
Q: You are heading into your sixth season at the tender age of 25. Last year Sebastian Vettel bagged the title in only his third season, aged just 23. Are you envious?
NR: Wow, you are right - its going to be my sixth season and I will be 26 in the middle of the season. Coming back to your question, there is clearly not any envy. Hats off to what hes achieved. I dont have any problem with it whatsoever, but I am also looking forward to my time arriving.
Q: To achieve Vettels success depends on making the right decisions and, of course, luck. Do you feel that on occasions you didnt make the right choices and that youve been haunted by bad luck?
NR: One thing is obvious - I havent won a race yet so obviously some of my decisions havent been so great. Having said that, I admit that I am happy now with where I am - with the Mercedes team. Thats a dream. Its true I havent a win under my belt, but that is something that could be just around the next corner. Taking all that into consideration I have to say that overall I can live quite happily with the decisions I have taken so far. And regarding luck, I consider myself lucky that in the perfect moment for me the Mercedes team was formed and I was considered based on my performances.
Q: Are you surprised that you are entering your sixth season without winning a race, but your market value is still very high? Many drivers with such a record are history
NR: I think that the important decision makers in Formula One can clearly see what I am capable of - and what Ive already achieved. Take last season - that was clear for everyone to see. So far I didnt have the car and we all know that this is a very important factor for a Formula One career.
Q: What would be your best possible goal for this season? What would be the bare minimum you hope to achieve?
NR: I definitely want to win a race. First one and then building on that win. Isnt it crazy? Ive won all my life and then five years in Formula One and no win. That is spooky. But I dont see this as a flaw. Take my two P3 finishes last season - they were like victories for me and for my team. But for sure P1 is still the goal.
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