Nico Rosberg Q&A: 2013 will put a smile on Mercedes face 14 Mar 2013
After three years partnering - and usually beating - the greatest driver in F1 history, Nico Rosberg faces a new team mate and a new challenge for 2013, in the form of old friend and karting rival Lewis Hamilton. Its a prospect Rosberg is relishing, as Mercedes go into this weekends season opener in Australia on the back of some very impressive winter testing form
Q: Mercedes come here having received much praise from the winter tests. Will you be living up to that praise?
Nico Rosberg: This winter has gone very well for us, and I think we are better prepared than ever. At the end of last year we were almost one second down from the top runners, so we had to close quite a big gap. How close we really are we still have to find out, but I am very optimistic that we have made quite some progress. Last year our biggest issue was the consistency, as we had quite good races at some places, but were not able to repeat this at other tracks. My impression is that this year we will see the same teams heading the grid again - the usual suspects like Red Bull and Ferrari - but I am very optimistic that we will also be up there and be able to show a much better performance than we did in 2012. Our two main problems from last season have been the rear tyre degradation, which we understand now and have managed to get under control. Our consistency was not good enough in the middle of the season and we had a very flat development curve, but my strong belief is that this is all water under the bridge and that we will have a season that will put smiles on our faces.
Q: You have now had two and a half months of Lewis Hamilton as your F1 team mate, after growing up with him in karting. How has that experience been - after having raced for three years alongside the legendary Michael Schumacher?
NR: It is definitely very different. With Michael it was great for me to challenge him - the legend - and to have won the internal competition in all three seasons that we were together. With Lewis it is nice to have a change. We were team mates in go-karts for two years - when it was the Mercedes-Benz-McLaren team. At that time we fantasized a lot, saying to each other how incredible it would be to be team mates in one of the best teams in Formula One. And now exactly this has happened with the Mercedes F1 team, which is really almost a fairy tale story. (laughs) Sure, this pairing will also be very challenging, as Lewis is one of the best drivers out there. We both are extremely competitive, but on the other hand we also get along privately very well. We can split the two sides of our lives quite well!
Q: The temperature here in Melbourne has dropped quite significantly over the past few days after everybody had been anticipating a very hot race. What is your preference?
NR: In Formula One we are almost dressed as if we were going skiing. We have many layers of clothes, wearing helmets which dont get any fresh air inside, plus all the heat that comes from the engine behind us, so it is getting very hot in the car. That is truly demanding for the body. Having said all that, it is totally fine with me if it is not too hot. As we have not had any real warm days during the tests, my guess is that it is also better for the car. So with the conditions over the weekend we - car and driver - should be in good shape.
Q: The tyre compounds for this season seem to be quite different from last year. What is your opinion on the tyres based on your winter experiences, and what do you think of the new DRS rules for practice and qualifying?
NR: During the winter testing the tyres had a lot of drop-off - meaning that they almost fell apart into pieces quite often - which maybe makes it more exciting for the race, but very challenging technically for the teams to set up the car in the right way. About the new DRS rules for qualifying, we will see how this works. Last year we could use DRS on the entire track during qualifying, and now we can use it in the DRS zones that have been set for the race day only. I am not yet sure if this is any better.
Q: Do you think that the 25 percent of the teams development capacity that is apparently going into the 2014 car could be a handicap for you this year?
NR: I dont think that our team is doing anything dramatically different from our competitors. Fact is that the racing team is focusing on this season, as we have to show performance from this weekend onwards.
Q: So what would put a smile on your face on Sunday?
NR: Points - the more the better! (laughs)
For tickets and travel to 2013 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 and F1 team merchandise, click here.