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Nico Rosberg Q&A: Letting Vettel by was never an option

26 Oct 2015

Nico Rosberg suffered heartbreak in Austin on Sunday when a late-race error from the Mercedes star handed victory - and the 2015 title - to team mate Lewis Hamilton. Here the German discusses the pair’s first-corner clash, explains why the loss is actually far less painful than last year’s Abu Dhabi showdown, and insists he never considered letting Sebastian Vettel past in the dying laps - a move that would have at least made Hamilton wait for his third drivers’ crown…

Q: Nico, you’ve had a little time to digest what happened in the race…

Nico Rosberg: It is tough to lose a race with a mistake like that, which I don’t even understand as it had never happened to me before - ever! Too much wheel spin - and it continued - and it was catching me out. I got it wrong and it is a tough moment for me.

Q: When you look at the ups and down of your career, would it be fair to say that this is the lowest point?

NR: The lowest? No. A tough day, yes, but Abu Dhabi last year was tougher because when a mechanical issue robs you of your chance, that is more difficult to digest. Here there is an explanation for what happened - a human error. And in the end the championship was already pretty far away, so my mind was completely on winning the race - and that did not happen.

Q: You are always so calm about things - but there has to be an outlet for emotions in moments like this. What do you do?

NR: As I said, it is tough to digest, yes - and it helps a lot to speak with my family and try to move on to some other thoughts. There is no magic cure to a low.

Q: What does losing the championship again mean for next year?

NR: I don’t want to look that far ahead at this very moment. I want to get over the disappointment of Sunday.

Q: But from everything that happened, starting from pole position after a difficult weekend with so many uncertainties - you must have had some hopes and dreams…

NR: Yes, you saw it out there - the belief that I can turn things around. But it went wrong with nine laps to go. But up to there it was going really strongly. I had a huge comeback, was the quickest guy out there - but all in vain!

Q: You always seem to be portrayed as the good guy in scenarios like the first corner, when Lewis went in very heavy and it could have had a very different ending if you had been more stubborn…

NR: The thing in the first corner was very clear. I was ahead in mid corner and so I have the right to a piece of track - and he is driving me off the road, banging into me. There was a quite heavy contact for me on the steering wheel when we banged wheels - so that was definitely one step too far.

Q: If you are the ‘good guy’ and Lewis the ‘bad guy’, does that mean you have to be the bad guy to win? To not back down when others try to push you off the track?

NR: I don’t know. And in the end it had nothing to do with my 2015 season…

Q: But it made all the difference to this race…

NR: In corner one, yes - but he exaggerated.

Q: But you just said that you have the right to your piece of track. Why didn’t you defend?

NR: I did - that’s why we made contact. And the collision made me go off the track.

Q: Were you surprised that the stewards did not investigate Lewis’s actions?

NR: That they didn’t look into it? Yes, I was.

Q: Wasn’t that first corner a bit symptomatic of your season: Lewis a bit of the bad guy and you a bit too soft…

NR: What should I have done differently?

Q: But wasn’t it you who said a few days ago that now that the team has bagged the constructors’ championship, you have nothing to lose and you’d rather see the both of you go out than Lewis winning?

NR: I don’t want to get into these kinds of discussions. I think it was a fantastic race with cool battles for positions - and mine was good aside from the first corner and my mistake. But it is also true that overall luck was not really on my side.

Q: Would it have been wise earlier in the season to show Lewis that he’d better not try such moves on you? As a driver you get a feeling for what you can do with each driver…

NR: No idea.

Q: What was your first thought when there was the contact and you suddenly realized that Lewis was not backing down?

NR: Now I have to be cautious with my answer as that could lead to a juicy headline! So I will keep my first thought to myself.

Q: Have you congratulated him?

NR: Did I congratulate him? Yes, I did.

Q: Looking at both your statistics with Mercedes, there are two titles and 21 race wins on Lewis’s side and zero titles and eight race wins on yours. How do you explain that?

NR: He was driving better - that’s the biggest chunk. And then probably that luck was not really on my side - and that plays a role in our sport.

Q: Coming back to Sunday’s race: your gap to Sebastian Vettel was getting smaller and smaller towards the end…

NR: …the tyre degradation was pretty bad…

Q: …but you never thought about letting Sebastian pass in order to postpone the title party?

NR: Of course not. Never.