Q: Nico, did you have any contact with Lewis (Hamilton) in the days after the Bahrain race and when coming to China?
Nico Rosberg: No.
Q: No email, no text messages?
NR: No, nothing.
Q: In some quarters, the ferocity of your battle with Lewis was of particular interest. Was there an extra need to discuss what happened or was it as it is after any race?
NR: That race was far from being normal, so yes, of course we - the team - sat down to discuss, to learn and leave situations like these behind to come out stronger again at the next race.
Q: The fans were delighted…
NR: …of course they were. And a part of me is proud to get such feedback knowing that I have contributed my share to that exciting race.
Q: Was your communication with the pit wall during the race - after you and Lewis came very close to touching - the kind of message that can trigger thoughts of team orders? Perhaps just to avoid bigger issues in the future….
NR: First and foremost: those exaggerations were media-made. Of course it is the interest of some to spice-up situations - for the sake of the print run - and yes, also other teams will jump on it hoping to cause irritation as they might think it is the only way for them to weaken us. That is business as usual. We know that and we definitely will not get distracted by such attempts. We are a tight knit team - so we are acting as a team! Of course there is the ambition - and yes, the egotism of the drivers fighting each other - and the ultimate will to win. But that is the nature of the sport, and the balance between team interests and individual ambitions is in good shape at the Silver Arrows!
Q: When looking at this weekend, the chances of something similar happening on Sunday are quite strong. How will you cope with it then?
NR: Yes, the chance is there…
Q: How will you react then?
NR: You cannot compare one such situation with any other such situation. It’s never the same. But you learn each time something like this happens. I have learned from Bahrain, from the fights there. I have picked out situations and reflected on them, and I will try to make it better the next time.
Q: Would it have made a difference if the fight were not with Lewis but with anybody else - say, a Red Bull or a McLaren?
NR: No, because if (racing) considerations were missing a crash would have been inevitable. So no - no difference.
Q: China has been a good venue for you - you won your first race here in 2012. Should you win on Sunday you would match your dad Keke’s number of wins in Grand Prix racing. What would that mean to you?
NR: Yes, I have good memories of this track - since 2012 to be precise! (laughs) And should I win here again I would be very happy about it - and would not draw anything from the fact that I then would equal my dad. I am of course proud of my dad’s wins, but you simply cannot compare. They were totally different times.
Q: You had your first taste of the new style of in-season testing after the Bahrain Grand Prix. On both days Mercedes came out on top. What did you learn?
NR: It was good that we had those two days because on a race weekend you simply cannot try things that are essential in a season that is still packed with so many new situations.
Q: It’s 2-1 to Lewis in terms of race wins this season. How are you going about this race?
NR: Well, of course I want to win. It is always important to beat your team mate - that will never change. And be assured that I will do my best again this weekend. I am sure it will be a good battle - and this time I want to come out on top.
Q: How then would you sum up your Friday running? Lewis was four tenths of a second faster than you and Fernando Alonso was between you and Lewis. Some have suggested you might have been sandbagging…
NR: It was a good run today. A completely different ball game! In the past we’ve always had issues with the rear tyres and now we have issues with the front tyres. The corners here are so long - you steer, and steer and steer - and suddenly you lose the entire grip of the front tyres. Then the car understeers - meaning that I steer in one direction and the car goes straight. For qualifying I don’t see that as an issue, but it will be in the race. So I have to work to get a good set-up to minimise that over the whole race distance. From the times today we have seen that seven cars are within one second - cars that were running on all kinds of programmes. So we can assume that the competition is getting tighter again - here and not at the start of the European tour. So we have to keep on pushing. Regarding today, I think that Lewis’ time was realistic.
Q: How fierce is the competition with Lewis?
NR: It is pretty tense. It even goes as far as we look at what the other weighs because half a kilo can translate into some hundredths in qualifying! Translated: one kilo more means one second over a race distance. One second! That can make the difference between P1 and P2!
Q: There is rain in the forecast for tomorrow’s qualifying, but dry conditions forecast for the race. How are you going about these uncertainties?
NR: Should it rain then I’ll try to get a fast lap with the least rain and water on the track! I guess that makes sense. My car is fast in all conditions - you just have to pick the right moment for your lap. On Sunday I will do what it takes to make it 2-2 in race wins (with Lewis).