Nico Rosberg reveals he encouraged Lewis Hamilton to join McLaren

 

Having got the better of seven times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg is hardly quaking in his racing boots at the prospect of teaming up with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

The two are old friends, teenage team mates in karting where they dreamed of one day driving together in grands prix, and Rosberg even gave the 2008 world champion the benefit of his advice before Hamilton decided to leave McLaren and race for Mercedes next season.

The announcement was last week but Rosberg's message before that was very much 'come and join us'.

"We spoke about it a little before, that the possibility was there. We were laughing about it," Rosberg told reporters at the Japanese Grand Prix.

"Because we spoke about it when we were 14 years old in go-karts. 'Ah, imagine if, one day, we're team-mates in F1, how cool would that be?' Well, now all of a sudden it's happening, which is quite unreal," he added.

"I didn't necessarily talk him into it (coming to Mercedes)," he continued.

"I tried to stay quite objective. Yes, I mentioned the positives and he asked a few things and I gave honest answers. My answers are all positive because I am positive of the team."

The 27-year-old German, who is a few months younger than Hamilton, has been at Mercedes since 2010 and last November signed a new multi-year contract for "the 2013 season and beyond".

The signing of Hamilton, whose arrival triggered Schumacher's retirement, has meant the teen dream will become a reality in 2013. The young German said he was delighted.

"I enjoy these sort of challenges. I am generally very confident that I will do a good job. That was my approach with Michael too," added the man whose first grand prix win in China this year was also the first by a Mercedes works driver since 1955.

"How I compare with my team mate remains to be seen. I'm not worried or anything as such, no," he said.

Every driver sees his team mate as his biggest rival because he provides a true benchmark in the same equipment. Real friendship between those sharing a garage is rare.

Rosberg said they would try and separate the racing and social sides.

"We managed that very well in go-karts already so I don't see any issue or concern there. We were team mates for two years, even shared the hotel room and it all worked fine. Very well, actually."

Hamilton is accompanied at races by Didier Coton, representing the driver's managers XIX Entertainment, who is also an old associate of Rosberg's father - the 1982 world champion Keke.

Both drivers are near-neighbours in Monaco.

Rosberg dismissed a suggestion that next season could be a career-defining one for him if Hamilton regularly beats him.

"I wouldn't say that at all," replied the German. "Every season is important in F1."

Reuters

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