Friday March 1, 2013
Rosberg relishes driving with Hamilton but wary of his pranks
MERCEDES AMG Petronas Formula One driver Nico Rosberg has had to live in the shadows of far more illustrious names but, as far as he is concerned, nothing fazes him.
His father is 1982 F1 world champion Keke Rosberg, his former team-mate was seven-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher and now he has 2008 F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton for company.
Does that bother him?
“No, there is no extra pressure being a Rosberg,” he said in an interview with StarSport during a break at the pre-season testing for Formula One cars at the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona, Spain, last week.
“I’m proud of the name, proud of what my father has achieved and there’s no extra pressure ... no. I don’t think about it.”
Rosberg is also proud to have worked with Schumacher.
“It was very interesting working with Schuey,” he said.
“He’s one of the best of all time and you can see why. He’s very, very disciplined and very, very professional.
“It was very good to work with him and we pushed each other. For sure, we learnt from each other also.
“And for me, it was a very good experience.
“He never gave me any advice though ... because he wanted to beat me!” he laughed.
What about Hamilton then?
Rosberg feels like he’s known Hamilton all his life. And so he should!
The two practically started their motor-racing career at the same time, beginning with go-karting.
“It’s cool ... it’s great to be team-mates again. Back in those days, we were always saying ‘imagine if one day we become team-mates ... that would be incredible, you know’. And we were like 14 years old when we said that,” Rosberg recalled. “So, yeah, it’s great.”
And he also remembers the pranks they used to pull on each other.
“For example, he put Tiger Balm in my underwear, you know. And I was driving that day, so it was burning a little bit afterwards,” he said with a hearty laugh.
I’ve done a lot of things back to him but I don’t think you can write about them!”
So, how would he describe their relationship – on and off the track?
“Friends outside ... and on the track, of course, big competition,” he replied. “Do I see Hamilton as a challenger? Well, he’s one of the best drivers, so of course it is a very big challenge.
“I don’t know if I can beat him. But I’m convinced I can do a very,very good job this year.”
Rosberg also feels that having one world champion replacing another in the team “doesn’t affect me at all”.
“What is of concern to me is about the team, really. To push and get the best out of it and help the team as much as possible,” he said.
“We’re in the team and we’ll do that together. Other than that, it doesn’t change much.
“When before your team-mate was a seven-time champion – and the best of all time – it’s not going to change much now,” added Rosberg, who has one tiny bit of superstition.
“I always get in the car from the same side every time – on the right.
“I also get out on the same side ... but that’s not a ritual.
“I think that if I get in from the other side, I’m not going to go so fast ... and I’ve been doing it since I came into F1.”
Rosberg also believes that Mercedes will be among the top six teams this year.
“Top five even, yeah,” said Rosberg, an ardent Bayern Munich fan. “We’re going to have a good year ... thanks to the support of Petronas.
“They have a big influence on our engine power and technically they’re really very involved ... and they’re doing a fantastic job.
“At the Malaysian GP last year, we visited the facilities there, especially the oil they make. Very impressive the job they’re doing…really, really high level.”
Unlike Hamilton, who is into extreme sport as a form of de-stressing, Rosberg prefers more mundane activities like playing the guitar, cycling and running.
“I have an electric guitar ... but I have a problem because my fingers are hurting because I play it too much. So, I have to stop for a while,” said Rosberg.
Has he ever thought about what he would do when he quits one day?
“When I retire, I would love to be involved in the sport for sure. My father became a driver manager ... I like that,” he said.
“I also earn well in this sport and even that is a challenge – managing my earnings or savings. So, once I retire, I’ll need to keep going and do clever things ... investment is something else that I enjoy.
“My girlfriend (Vivian Sibold) is an interior designer ... what we do is we buy a place, she does it up and we rent it out. That’s worked out really, really well. She’s very talented.”
Looks like Rosberg has his future all mapped out.
All he’s got to do now is go out and win the championship and be a legend like the three great men.