Nico the fast-rising son proves a real racer

Rosberg the younger is a quick learner

When your father is Keke Rosberg, the 1982 world champion, the mountain is always going to be steep if you want to race in Formula One.

But in his first grand prix, in Bahrain in March, and at the tender age of 20, Nico Rosberg came from the back of the field at the start to score points and set the fastest lap.

A very different character to his ebullient father (who is known affectionately as "Alcopop" in the paddock), Nico is a product of his time. Keke was one of the most spectacular drivers of his era, a searingly honest hard charger with a heavy right foot and a ribald sense of humour. Nico, in contrast, is quiet, smooth-driving and technically minded.

But he is also fast and determined, possessing the same inner confidence, and victory in the inaugural GP2 championship last year made his doubters sit up and take notice. Sir Frank Williams was at the head of the queue, and signed him to partner Mark Webber.

Curiously, Rosberg Jnr actually sounds more like Jacques Villeneuve, another son of a famous father, with his rapid-fire manner of speech. As Damon Hill, Michael Andretti and the Brabham brothers all discovered, growing up in the shadow of a famous father can be a double-edged sword, but this intelligent and well educated young man of Finnish-German parentage seems notably well-adjusted to it.

He races under a German licence, and says: "We speak German at home, but my English is also very good. We watch TV in German and I feel more German that I feel Finnish, because I never lived in Finland and I don't speak the language. I don't think of myself as being Finnish, but I don't really think of myself as being a German either. It is not like the Brazilians, who have this big patriotic thing. I don't have that."

Of the constant references to his father's achieve-ments, he simply says: "Generally it is just annoying. I know that I am very lucky to have a father like that and it has helped my career, but in the end you are the one who is racing and the results are yours. I don't remember anything of his racing, at least not in F1. He retired from that at the end of 1986 when I was 18 months old.

"I don't really remember deciding that I wanted to be a racing driver, but probably it was always there in the back of my head."

A straight-shooter like his father, Rosberg does not try to minimalise the challenge he has faced this year. "Probably the biggest surprise has been that it's difficult to get used to how everything works, how the day goes at the racetrack. There's so much to do that you don't enjoy as much as driving the car: the media work, the sponsor work.

"You are here to drive a race car, but there's so much to do other than that. You don't get that in any other category. It's a surprise how extreme all that is. GP2 doesn't prepare you for it. In GP2 I had one interview per weekend and no sponsor work.

"As a whole, I'm happy with my season so far. I think until now I've done well considering everything, but I want to push on and improve all the time. There is no target for entering F1, because you don't know what's going to happen, but there is a general perception: 'That was OK, that was good'. But now I need to do better."

The strong start in Bahrain was both good and bad news, however. "It helped a lot in one way, and didn't help in another. It helped a lot for me personally, because you don't know where you are, then you go into your first race and you can see where you really are in racing and in qualifying, so that helped me relax a bit. On the other hand, the media interest was so big in the first two races. Then when I got used to it, fewer people came over to see me. So it was a bit up and down, and that was very difficult in the beginning."

Rosberg Jnr's smooth style is very different to his father's. "I think my style is aggressive, actually," he says, then smiles: "but for sure not as aggressive as his was. But do you see anyone now driving the way he did? That doesn't work with these cars, you have to be so smooth with them. I use the head a lot..."

The good-natured implication is that his father drove with his heart. But the will to win is in the DNA.

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?