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Exclusive Nico Rosberg Q&A: Tough times make you stronger

03 Feb 2015

Last year saw Mercedes dominate Formula One racing, as team mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton battled it out for title supremacy. This season, however, their rivals are ready to fight back. Speaking exclusively to Formula1.com, Rosberg explains why he is ready to take on all-comers - world champion Hamilton included - in the fight for the 2015 drivers’ crown...

Q: Nico, you had an impressive first outing on Sunday, doing 157 laps. Red Bull's Christian Horner joked that Mercedes were just showing off. Have you been showing off?
Nico Rosberg:
Ha, that's good. I am sure everybody envies that 'showing off'. It is a simple fact: more laps equals more learning!

Q: So right now at Mercedes it is all about doing laps - forget about the times...
NR:
Totally, yes, just laps. Because with laps the car starts to break at some point - things start to break from fatigue. We need to get there. We need to see when and on what parts of the car it starts.

Q: Both you and Lewis said that last year's Mercedes was the best car you ever drove. You've now had a taste of the 2015 racer - is it even better?
NR:
This car is even better than last year's car. That's development. But, of course, the important thing is its relation to the other cars. But on its own it feels fantastic. I am really happy.

Q: If it is better than last year's, then this means bad news for the other teams...
NR:
 There is no news yet. At the moment we are surprised about Ferrari's times.

Q: So are Ferrari showing off? Going low on fuel to look good, like one might do in Friday practice?
NR:
 We hope so. But we can't know that.

Q: So have you already 'sharpened your knives' for the new season?
NR:
I started to sharpen them after the Abu Dhabi race!

Q: Who is the main target?
NR:
For now it is Lewis - and whoever else wants to have a go at the knife! (laughs)

Q: So in terms of the man who stands between you and the title, your first thought is Lewis?
NR:
Irrelevant of the car's pace he is going to be a big challenge to me, yes. And then we need to see the car's pace in general to see who else.

Q: You are an analytical person. No doubt you have analysed 2014 so as not to make the same mistakes again. Where did it go wrong? Bad luck, too many reliability issues, not enough focus when it really counted?
NR:
There is not one specific point. Lewis just did it a little bit better - that's it. He drove better all in all. Small bits here and there - and I need to find smalls steps to beat him. And I am going for it.

Q: The relationship between the two of you has been strained at times - that tension level was occasionally pretty high...
NR:
Tension - why do you say that?

Q: You cannot expect us to believe that you were best buddies at the end of last season?
NR:
We have a relationship that goes up and down - and it will continue to go up and down. It is an intense battle between us - and that will not change any time soon.

Q: Lewis has already announced his ambitions for a third title. And, of course, you want your first. Is the scene already set for another psychological showdown? And how difficult is it knowing that your nemesis sits in the garage next to you?
NR:
Last year's experience helps. It's that 'been there, done that' kind of thing. All the difficult times have made me stronger. It is the difficult moments where I learn the most. 

Q: Did you develop a thicker skin over the course of 2014?
NR:
Of course with time - and the situation - the skin grows thicker. Yes, there have been challenging times, but from my point of view I always felt comfortable, and it continues like that.

Q: Lewis and you are very different personalities. You are always portrayed as having a permanent place on the sunny side of life: affluent upbringing, dream job, beautiful wife, millionaire lifestyle etc. Perhaps the only cloud is not having won the title. But have there been darker clouds along the way?
NR:
Of course there have been clouds. Everybody has his own relative worries. I was treated pretty badly by the other kids in my early school years. I was travelling a lot with my parents, so I never belonged to a gang - I was always the outsider. Later in life I discovered the beauty of travelling, but as a small kid I hated it - I wanted to be part [of things]. This might sound like small fry, but a seven-year-old takes that very seriously. But also my racing career was cloudy at times: my two Formula Three years when I didn't go anywhere and my Formula One dream almost became illusive. And even in Formula One I had tough periods. I wanted to win and had been driving so many years behind, seeing the others having these awesome cars - Lewis in the early days at McLaren and Vettel at Red Bull - and I was just driving behind. Sure it was not suffering in any way, but for me individually I want to win - and if I don't win it sucks. But I am not dwelling on the past. One day after Abu Dhabi my life was back to normal.

Q: Can you really just click your fingers and it's gone?
NR:
 In sport success is so short-lived - it has no impact on the overall wellbeing of life.

Q: Has defeat made you a 'better' person? A smarter, sharper person?
NR:
 Tough moments always make me better. The defeat in that moment was tough.

Q: If you look at the other teams there have been two significant changes: Fernando Alonso to McLaren and Sebastian Vettel to Ferrari. What do you make of these switches?
NR:
 Even I find these switches interesting, so you can imagine how great this is for the fans. It is great for the sport. And it will be challenging for the two of them.

Q: Every top driver aspires to drive once in his career for Ferrari - or so they say. Is that also on your agenda? Is the 'red myth' irresistible?
NR:
 At the moment I am totally falling for the 'silver myth'! There is no room for anything red. I love the history of the 'silver myth' - looking at Fangio's car, Stirling Moss's car winning the Mille Miglia. That is our history - and I am very proud of it.

Q: Are you surprised that Lewis has not yet signed a new contract with Mercedes? That right now you are the only Mercedes driver for 2016?
NR:
 I am not really that interested in that right now. Once we get to the middle of the season then I'll take an interest in who could possibly be my team mate in 2016 - but not now. It would be great if he stays onboard. Great challenge - great battle.

Q: Could you think of any better team mate?
NR:
 No. It is the challenge that I relish.

Q: Dream up your 2015 season...
NR: 
Great start into the season - then a tough part by mid-season when I lose touch - and then an awesome comeback in the end, winning all the races to total dominance!

Q: Why do you need that scenario of losing touch?
NR:
 I think it's the thrill of a setback followed by a dramatic bounce back.