Q&A with Mercedes Norbert Haug 16 Apr 2012
Sunday in China saw Nico Rosberg become the member of a very select club: drivers to have won a Grand Prix at the wheel of a works Mercedes. In fact, only eight men have achieved the feat and only three - Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss and now Rosberg - since the world championship began in 1950. Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, Norbert Haug, reflects on a very special day for the German marque
Q: Yesterdays victory was an historic moment, and the first for a works Silver Arrow in 57 years. What does it mean?
Norbert Haug: Its a reward for all our colleagues who have put in so much work and who never let themselves be distracted from their dream of winning races in Formula One. Its also the perfect example that you can achieve what you want to when the right conditions are put in place and you are totally committed to the direction you are heading in. Nico showed great class yesterday: it was a composed win, with an advantage of more than 20 seconds.
Q: What were your emotions during the race and when Nico crossed the line?
NH: I was actually pretty calm - I had a good feeling and after a few laps, I was already thinking that we could get the job done. It was unfortunate that Michael retired because of an incorrectly attached wheel nut after his pit-stop - he had been running second and we could maybe even have scored a one-two. It was a great feeling as Nico took the flag - just pure joy for all the people who have worked so hard for this win.
Q: And it wasnt just Nico - there were three Mercedes-powered drivers on the podium
NH: Three out of three was like the cherry on top of the cake - you cant get any better than that. We have worked long enough with McLaren and also played our part in helping McLaren-Mercedes become what it is today. We raced and beat them fair and square - and they were the very first people to come and congratulate us.
Q: Nico joined a very select club of drivers who have won a Grand Prix with a Silver Arrow. What can we expect from him now?
NH: Nico will be as good as we allow him to be. He showed as much yesterday. And Michael is driving to that level too, when his car allows him to.
Q: And what thoughts did you have for Michael as he watched the race from the garage?
NH: It was a real shame for Michael - he had earned his place on the podium. But it will come, and now everybody who at some point criticised the decision can see how important, and how right, it is to have Michael Schumacher in our team. Michael has out-qualified Nico at two of three races this year, and Nico won yesterday. Whats more, theres a nice trend to his grid positions so far in 2012: fourth in Australia, third in Malaysia, second in China.
Q: You are a pure racer, Norbert. What do you make of the season far, with three winners from three races, and 17 drivers having already scored points?
NH: I think this could be one of the best Formula One seasons of all time and harder fought than ever - and that makes our win even more special. The reigning world champion was little more than three tenths slower than the fastest car in second qualifying - and he had to start 11th. Rosberg started from pole with Vettel outside the top ten - it just goes to show F1s power to surprise.
Q: Does the result change the team's objectives for this year?
NH: We want to continue improving, keep our feet on the ground and avoid making any unnecessary waves - there are already more than enough of those in Formula One. What I particularly liked was that the whole world joined us in celebrating the first win for our young team. Daimler spends less than half the sum on Formula One than it did five years ago and we have nevertheless managed to build a winning team. The victory on Sunday will only push us to get even better.
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