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Nico Rosberg Q&A: Radio restrictions will enliven duels

18 Sep 2014

New regulations limiting pit-to-driver radio transmissions have been the major talking point in the Singapore paddock. One man backing the change is current championship leader Nico Rosberg, who believes drivers will have greater freedom - meaning their own instincts, and not those of the pit wall, will determine the outcome of Grands Prix...

Q: Nico, what kind of advantage or disadvantage do you expect from the rule limiting team radio transmissions?

Nico Rosberg: It is a challenge for us drivers because it is new and different. Up until now much a lot of what we do on track is what they tell us to do: drive faster, drive slower, take care of the tyres, look after the fuel – now you can use more fuel and so on. Now we are on our own out there! From now on it will be very different. It's a great challenge and it is definitely the way to go as it is now much more pure racing. For example a few races ago I was second trying to overtake Lewis and his engineers did a great job: whenever I increased my electronic boost power - which I can only do for a couple of corners of laps – his engineers saw it and told him to do the same, so I never was able to create a difference between the two of us and never got the opportunity to have an advantage. Such situations are a thing now the past. From now on the other car will never know what I am doing – if I attack or defend. Now we are on our own! It will be much more exciting. It will be again the man and his machine out there and from the feedback that we've got the fans also like it very much. Of course it will be a big change for the drivers: when I am on the formation lap, my engineer basically doesn't stop talking the whole lap. Now it will be silence – I will be all by myself.

Q: You were in the simulator on Tuesday. Were you able to practice this new kind of driving, with limited pit wall information?

NR: That was the main reason for the simulator 'stopover' - to get used to all the new things without conversation! In such a situation the simulator is very useful. I did a few things wrong at the beginning – but now not any more. (laughs)

Q: Doesn't the new communication rule open the floodgates for encrypted messages?

NR: Ah, the hidden messages! Of course every team is going to try and think what they can do to give a little input. That is very natural, to think of ways around the rules.

Q: At the beginning of the season there was a lot of hype about drivers having to lose weight. Is that as much of an issue now? It is understood that you've been allowed to put on four kilos and do muscle-training again...

NR: No, it is not [as big an issue] any longer. I have gained a little bit, but really I haven't changed. I really felt energised at the beginning of the season, by eating healthily and being slim. The only thing that has changed is that I am going to the gym: I have gained some more muscle again.

Q: Other than being slim what kind of traits do you think makes you a successful race driver?

NR: I think I have been blessed with genes that make me drive a race car fast. The hand-eye coordination gene I suppose. But I think that goes for many other sportsmen at the top level: tennis player, golfer. I think it is quite similar for everybody.

Q: At the last race in Monza, you out-braked yourself at the chicane and had to take the escape road. Here in Singapore there aren't any emergency exits...

NR: Ha, try to make the corner! (laughs) But even in Monza I could have made the corner – but the risk was [causing] pretty big damage to my tyres, and that I would have to pit a second time, so instinctively I took that decision. In hindsight I should have tried to cut the chicane over the grass.

Q: But can you imagine that people might say: he's done it on purpose?

NR: Yes, I can imagine. I know that people do. But then: why should I hand him [team mate Lewis Hamilton] a win? The thing is simple: misjudgements happen. I have apologised to Lewis and moved on. There was no reason to gift him something!

Q: How is your relationship now: you still live basically next door?

NR: It's completely normal. When we see each other it's 'hi, how are doing?' - if we don't see each other, also fine.

Q: What's your idea of how long you will drive alongside Lewis? There is still no signed contract on his side…

NR: Hopefully for many years! This is an awesome battle between the two of us. We had these kinds of battles since our go-kart times and I came here to Singapore knowing that it will again be a big challenge against him. I have to bring my absolute best to beat him – and that is very exciting. So for me, hopefully [to continue] for many more years with him as a team mate – but also, clearly, hopefully not too many difficulties...

Q: So you hope that he extends his contract with Mercedes?

NR: Yes, that would be great.

Q: You have received boos from fans in Spa and Monza. How are you going about that?

NR: I have received comments from colleagues who expressed how unnecessary they found it - but they were colleagues. I do respect the opinion of fans. Of course it is not a nice feeling and it is a new feeling, as I have never experienced something like that before, but I understand and I hope with time it is forgiven and forgotten.