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Nico Rosberg Q&A: Hamilton’s advantage a mystery to me

25 Jul 2015

At this stage of 2014, Nico Rosberg led team mate Lewis Hamilton 6-4 in their qualifying head-to-head. Fast forward 12 months and he trails 9-1 - a turnaround he admits he is at a loss to explain. But despite the statistics, and the crushing nature of Hamilton's pole this weekend, Rosberg says he will be in attack mode on Sunday, when the understeer he has been struggling with could actually be an advantage...

Q: Nico, given the extreme heat here - and at other races like Bahrain, Singapore or Abu Dhabi - would it ever make sense to have a cooling system for the driver in the car?

Nico Rosberg: That would cost engine power - and would add weight. And you can't underestimate the performance factor - my guess is that you couldn't really put a value to what you would lose. So it won't happen. We drivers just have to cope, although of course it would be nice...

Q: Tomorrow it will be significantly cooler. What effect will that have on the tyres? Will it be easier?

NR: The tyres are fine today - and will be fine tomorrow. The change in temperature will probably have a bit of an effect on the balance, and probably not in the right direction. My car understeered today and that will intensify tomorrow. That's far from ideal, but we can cope.

Q: When did the understeer start? Was it present in Q1?

NR: Yes, right when I went out in Q1. It was really massive. That was surprising because the track stayed the same from FP3, or even got hotter - which normally would translate into oversteer.

Q: Are you at all surprised by the big gap between Lewis and you today?

NR: Yes - and no. I know deep down that I could have done better if things had fallen into place a bit nicer - so no big surprise.

Q: Last night Mercedes were fixing a few things on your car...

NR: But that had nothing to do with my not-so-great qualifying. No impact at all.

Q: Will it be possible to attack Lewis in the race with your understeering car?

NR: Understeering in the race will be good as it means that you are taking care for your rear tyres which will be the main problem tomorrow. So not necessarily a bad thing if the balance is right. For sure I will attack!

Q: You will start on the dirty side of the track. How much of a disadvantage is that, knowing that overtaking is rather difficult here?

NR: It is a bit of a disadvantage. But thinking of how the starts have gone lately - the grid dissolved and drivers a bit all over the place - there is a chance from the dirty side.

Q: Last year at the same time you were leading the qualifying stats over Lewis - now things are pretty different. Has he raised his level? Is yours slightly worse than last year?

NR: The truth is that I've been working on my racing - and that has become better. That has probably slightly compromised qualifying, but in reality that whole matter is not really explainable for me. I don't understand why there is such a big difference to last year at the moment.

Q: Did you set the car up in race trim - is that an explanation?

NR: On the contrary! I have set up the car in qualifying trim because that is what you need to win here. It didn't work out - and it does not explain the six-tenths gap... 

Q: How distracting is it to look at that gap. Has it been burned into how you approach tomorrow mentally?

NR: After I spoke with my engineers I am almost over it again. I will have a good dinner with friends and tomorrow I will be firing on all cylinders again and will be ready to attack. It is not something that pulls me down in any way. As long as my racing is good I can turn things around. 

Q: Last year you were very unfortunate in the race, with the safety car putting you behind Lewis. Is there anything you have learned from that?

NR: Last year's race was a lot of battling - and that is always good - but there was not much I can use from last year, no.

Q: Michelin have said that if they become the tyre supplier for 2017 they want one-stop races - that they want the tyres to last longer. What is your preference?

NR: Did they say so? I think for the show it is best if there is some variability in the tyres, that unexpected things can happen - that is best for the show.

Q: The next race will be Spa where some rules changes come into effect concerning the start. Have you practiced a ‘Spa-start' this weekend?

NR: Yes, we did. The procedure is still the same but as a driver you have to be much more reactive. The clutch will not be in the perfect position. It is set in one position - and then it's the driver who has to deal with it. It will get a bit more complicated, as we've seen today.