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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee