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Mercedes’ marathon man - Nico Rosberg Q&A

23 Feb 2016

Mercedes may not have topped the timesheets in Barcelona testing yet, but their mileage and reliability has been little short of astounding - 338 laps in total. No surprise then that Nico Rosberg was in buoyant mood after his first session in the F1 W07 Hybrid on Tuesday. As for pace, he’s confident the world champions have plenty in reserve…

Q: Nico, 800km or 172 laps - those are numbers for your rivals to chew on. How was that marathon for you?

Nico Rosberg: You just stole my word: I wanted to say that today we’ve done the F1 marathon! (laughs) Fact is that right now we have to do whatever mileage we can do, as it is only there that you find the weak spots of the car. At one point the car will give up - and then you know under what circumstances disintegration starts. That is even more crucial now as testing is limited to eight days. Imagine: eight days before you jump into the season. That is pretty slim. I did 172 laps today, Lewis a bit less yesterday - and all without any issue. That is very impressive.

Q: Do you literarily mean to watch your car disintegrate - waiting for parts to give up?

NR: Yes. We have to know with what mileage what part departs. We have to bring our car to the limit in these eight days. Then we can analyse in the factory what we have to do to breathe more life into these parts, or what else we can do to raise the life expectancy. You better know such crucial facts before the season.

Q: Watching you on track, the impression is that you and your car are in perfect unison. Do you feel that it’s a step forward from 2015?

NR: Yes, the car felt super from the very first lap. I feel comfortable and it is great fun to accelerate on the straights and go smoothly in and out of corners.

Q: How much of their true colours have Mercedes been showing during the first two days?

NR: Hard to say. What I know for sure is that we will be quick. Just how quick is something that we will probably see in the course of this and the next week - and that we are something like seven-tenths behind [right now] doesn’t mean anything.

Q: Mercedes had some upgrades on the car today - did they work? Ferrari had some issues - were there still none for you?

NR: We had a new floor on the car with a very futuristic design. Very impressive. That is what I call really innovative. But that is what you have to be if you want to stay one step ahead of the others. We have to be the first to have new ideas - the others copy, and a copy is never as good as the original. Copying always means that you miss the process that got you to that result - and that gives us the edge.

Q: Coming back to your F1 marathon, 172 laps is a big physical challenge…

NR: …that is why I have prepared very intensely, because I knew what would come my way in this test. So no problems at all - aside from one or the other body part that is hurting a bit! (laughs)

Q: Being on such a marathon program, can you still look left and right to watch other cars? Did you see that two teams have already tried the ultrasoft tyres?

NR: I don’t know anything about these things. I was fully concentrating on us - our car. Of course when there is a bit time in the briefing I listen to information about what others are doing. Actually we know pretty well where we are standing and for engineers it is always possible to calculate what others have done - so there is information coming my way.

Q: After two days’ running is there anybody you have already identified as your key rival for the championship?

NR: There are some teams that gave strong impressions, but of course it mainly will boil down to Ferrari and us. There are others we need to watch but who are at the moment no real threat - but having said that, only because our car performed perfectly and our reliability is phenomenal. My guess is that others have already put their cards on the table, whereas we haven’t shown all our aces.