Rosberg: 'It's a mess. Where the hell are we going?'
Nico Rosberg tells David Tremayne about his father's rivalry and his fears for F1's future
Saturday 06 June 2009
Sixty grands prix into his F1 career this weekend, Nico Rosberg is a long way from emulating the success of his illustrious parent Keke, Finland's first world champion.
The balance sheet shows only two podiums, a second place in Singapore and a third in Australia, both last year. But "Britney", as he is known by his mechanics, insists that he is not yet getting impatient. "I didn't know how many races I've done," he muses. "It's quite amazing, really, to already have sixty grands prix. But no, I am not at all feeling frustrated. I think this year we've really made a big jump forward, big progress with respect to last year. I'm just living in the moment.
"We have a car to score points every race, not a lot of teams can say that. I'm just trying to get the best out of it. When you score points, generally there's a positive feeling in the team that we are up there." He further insists – and it sounds genuine no matter how unlikely it might seem – that he is content with a car capable of finishing only sixth or seventh.
"Yeah, I'm happy. Of course in the future I'd like to be up there fighting for victories, podiums. The time will come, you just have to be patient."
It's a mature attitude for a young driver, though some might think it smacks of a lack of "tiger", that burning desire to win whatever.
The way things are, with Williams currently the only FOTA team to enter the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship under the exact terms laid down by dictatorial FIA president Max Mosley, Rosberg might even find himself in the pound seats if he stays there next year. But current speculation connects him with the second seat at McLaren, alongside his old karting and Formula Three sparring partner Lewis Hamilton.
"One mustn't forget I'm 23 years-old, so I still have a long way to go, I'm very young. I just need to keep on performing well, which I'm doing. Jenson is a very good example. It's a great sport to be in, but you've got to be patient; a lot of people deserve a good car but not everybody can have one." He says he would have no qualms about teaming up with Hamilton. "McLaren are a great team and Lewis and I have known each other for a long time, so I guess, yeah. I know how I compared to him and it's good to see what he is able to do. I'm not worried about going up against Lewis. It's one of the things in my head, but right now it's such a big mess out there, where the hell are we going? Unbelievable! But Williams are also a big option for me and we are in discussions."
It's clear that the politics do not affect his outlook. "I notice the situation and follow it with interest, but not much more than that. I hope that we will come out on the other side and everyone will agree and we'll go racing again next year. That would be nice. It has nothing to do with me – well, it will have eventually – but I'm very optimistic."
The other guy he has always rated is his father. "I love watching the old races and reading the old stuff, but I'm not aware of it day to day that I'm sitting in the same team as my dad." But he has driven a car from Keke's turbo era. "Most amazing! I'd love to take it to the limit, but that would be too dangerous. I always knew my dad was a hero so it didn't make a difference to my feelings on that when I drove it."
Rosberg Snr, affectionately known as "Alcopop" in the paddock, was the master of sideways motoring. "I bet he wouldn't have lit up a Malboro on the grid if he'd had to go through Turn Eight," somebody suggests, referring to Istanbul Park's infamous corner, but Rosberg Jnr laughs. "I bet he would have! But that wouldn't work today with all the sponsors."
Father and son have not really competed with each other, but Nico says he'd like to race his father on ice. "I'd really love to do it before he gets too old," he smirks. "He's done it for 10 years on the Arctic Rally in Lapland, so I'd really like to give it a go against him."
Then he remembers that they drove together in karts, when he was 12. "He was my hero. I thought, you know, he was going to be a second quicker or something. I was so disappointed!" He bursts into laughter. "I've never seen someone so hopeless on a go-kart! It was an absolute disaster."
It's far too good a tale not to run by Rosberg Snr. The famous moustache bristles as he chortles an immediate response. "Yes, that's true, but did he tell you that he cried because his illusions of his father were shattered?"
My other life
"My passions at the moment are soccer [I support Bayern Munich], photography and poker. Those are my three big passions at the moment. Without being arrogant, I'm actually very good at poker. I've won two out of two of the televised drivers' championships, but I don't like playing for big money. Hundreds are no problem, but as soon as it goes to thousands, it's not for me any more."
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