Nico Rosberg Q&A: New Mercedes immediately felt right 04 Feb 2013
It may have only been a filming run on promo tyres, but Nico Rosberg at least got his first taste of his 2013 car on Monday, as the new Mercedes was launched ahead of testing at the Jerez circuit in Spain. And his first impressions? Not bad at all. Rosberg discusses the F1 W04, his new (and former karting) team mate Lewis Hamilton, the recent management changes at Mercedes, and more
Q: Nico, you had the honour of doing the first 50 kilometres in the F1 W04. Simply put, what was your impression?
Nico Rosberg: It was a great start at exactly 10:21am. I took the car out of the garage and, wow, it immediately felt right - no problems at all. I have a new seat and what shall I say - it fits like a glove. Very comfortable! (laughs) I even managed to get the height right as you need to sit as low as possible. As it is very difficult to judge when you make adjustments in the factory - in a room where all dimensions are quite different - I was very lucky to get everything right, right from the start - and that with a cockpit that is tighter than that of the F1 W03. So with a comfy feeling I was able to push right away when I was out there doing my stuff. It was very enjoyable. Well balanced and well seated - in a word, a very good start. I am really excited about driving tomorrow for a full test day.
Q: Looking back at 2012, Mercedes had a very good first half of the season, only to let things slip in the second half. Will it be the same this year?
NR: Last year at the start of the season we had one of the fastest car - and, of course, that is our aim again. Unfortunately the gap to the frontrunners was quite big at the end of last year - and we definitely dont want to repeat that. So our main target now is to close the gap that we had last November and get much closer again to the guys in the front. I am very confident that we will achieve that. We have made a big step forward over the winter. The factory is running smoother and smoother - and a number of great people have joined. Everything feels better: better communication, better organization - and the result is a much better car. Our goal at the beginning of the season is to be a lot closer - and then increase the development rate. Last year we probably nosedived a bit in that respect, but that is history and now our goal is to develop faster than the rest and eventually be fighting for a few wins.
Q: Its now your fourth year with the team and Lewis Hamilton has just arrived. How do you expect that cooperation to unfold?
NR: First of all, I think this change is good. It is a big change - and big changes always hold significant opportunities. Of course it is a natural procedure that we will push each other - and together we will push the team. I am sure it will work very well. Remember, it worked very well in go-karting. Sure thats quite some time ago for both of us, but there is no logical reason why it shouldnt work again in F1. Or lets put it a bit more dramatically - it must work again, definitely. We want to be the best Formula One team so the route is clear for both of us.
Q: Mechanically the car seems pretty different to what you had last season. What differences have you experienced right away and how much influence did you have on your new machine?
NR: Sure, there is input from my side, but to be fair it is limited to a certain extent. In the wind tunnel the guys were looking for the best aerodynamic design possible and there a driver has very little say. Regarding the mechanical side, yes, there is input possible from experiences in the simulator - suspension and that - and Ive experienced the result today: it felt right today. But never forget that today weve been running promotional tyres for the launch and they are very different to the race tyres. I dont think that I have to point out that it is the tyre that connects the car to the track, so they are very crucial and todays rubber is nothing to compare to the real thing.
Q: Staying with the tyres, last season you had difficulties with the rear tyres. Will that again be something of a problem with the new Pirellis?
NR: I think the new Pirelli is not such a big change to the situation and the general tyre degradation. What is important is to have good grip and look that you dont have that rare tyre degradation. We have focused on this issue a lot - but you also have to understand that it has something to do with the whole downforce of the car. If you have a lot of grip and a lot of downforce - and have a fast car - then you struggle a lot less with results.
Q: For a driver, stability in the team is very important. Now we all know that there has been a huge change in the management department. Is that irritating?
NR: It should not really have an effect as the main people - those building the car - stay the same. Their responsibilities havent changed. So there is stability. And regarding the big changes in 2014, I would imagine that changes are coming - and I consider that a good thing. What we need is stability in the short term and bringing in new ideas in the long term.
Q: Coming back to your new team mate, you just mentioned that you knew Lewis from your karting days, but that is quite a different game. Formula One racing is a very competitive environment. Will your relationship suffer?
NR: We definitely had a fantastic time back then. We were team mates for two years - travelling together, doing boyish tricks - but being tough competitors on the track. We were battling for the podiums and wins and it didnt harm our friendship. So I dont see any logical reason why it cannot be again like it was. We still get on very well off-track and in our sport competition is the spice that we are all here for - so lets find the right balance and then everything is possible.
Q: You mentioned the tighter cockpit compared to last year? Does that mean there was unnecessary space on the 2012 car?
NR: No, it was not so - but what we did was we optimized the space with probably a bit less space for the guy behind the steering wheel.
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