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Nico Rosberg Q&A: Mercedes pace not overwhelming

01 Mar 2016

The opening day of the final pre-season test had all the hallmarks of a resounding success for Mercedes: massive mileage, the first runs on the softs, and the fastest time overall for Nico Rosberg. The German says he wasn't blown away however, and insists there is still a lot of work to do for the Silver Arrows - particularly if they want to stay ahead of the likes of Ferrari in three weeks' time in Australia...

Q: Nico, once again you completed more than a full race distance this morning, and the car seemed flawless. But you also tried the soft tyres for the first time. What was the main thing you concentrated on?

Nico Rosberg: As I said last week our main focus is to put as much mileage on the car to see where the limits are. Today in particular we tried qualifying [simulations], to see where the one-lap limit is. It was riding on full attack on low fuel - and that felt super. To look for the limit with a light car - I haven't felt that sensation since qualifying in Abu Dhabi last year! Even if I have to say that there is still room for improvement. 

Q: You say room for improvement - how did the car feel then?

NR: To be frank: not that overwhelming. There is still work to do and room for improvement. The good thing is that I will be in the car every day for half a day so I have time to analyse, to look at the data and look at things that I can probably do better the next day. 

Q: Can you compare your 2015 car to what you have now? Where is the biggest difference?

NR: That is very difficult to explain because I do not have a reference. Abu Dhabi was three months ago and racing in Barcelona, where it would be more possible to compare, was almost ten months ago. I simply cannot remember any more. All I can say is that it feels super.

 Q: Everybody wants to see a fight between Mercedes and Ferrari this season. If you see their times – and knowing that you haven't even tried the ultra softs and your car is quick and reliable – what is your impression of where both teams stand?

NR: Of course it is a great feeling to know that our level is exceptionally high right now and the team is working sensationally. But we have to acknowledge that Ferrari is pretty close, which means we have to keep our heads down and do our homework for the start of the season. We do not want any bad surprises. 

Q: You know the timesheets, so you are aware that Mercedes is still something like four tenths of a second ahead of Ferrari...

NR: No, I cannot confirm that in this absoluteness. We can guess where they are compared to us – but you cannot be sure so you better concentrate on doing your homework. Hubris would be the absolute wrong state of mind right now. 

Q: What sort of benefit do the new shark nose and shark grills produce?

NR: I am not exactly sure how much you gain from it – but it is another example of how innovative the team is. We have to invent things to stay at the front. Staying conventional will not get you anywhere these days – not in this shark pool! All the others will copy us – and you never end up first in the footprints of somebody else.

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