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Nico Rosberg 30 years old. Mercedes GP Petronas #6
2º in WDC. 322 points.
Best '15 position: 1º
Nico's results

Feb 2, 2011

Q & A: Rosberg on new Mercedes

Source: Autosport.com
Nico Rosberg bolstered his reputation by overshadowing legendary team-mate Michael Schumacher at Mercedes last year, and hopes to maintain that advantage in 2011.

Despite some early teething troubles, he was in a very positive mood when he stepped out of the new W02 after his first test this morning, and AUTOSPORT was there to hear his thoughts about the new car, Schumacher, and the 2011 rules.

Q. How was your first time out in the new car?

Nico Rosberg: It was good, the positive thing was I just felt at home straight away - felt at one with the car. It didn't feel like a different car that I don't know, it feels very nice. That's a very important thing straight away, to feel comfortable.

Then the initial impression, it's difficult to compare obviously because with the Pirelli tyres I just did one test back in November, so it's a different track and difficult [to compare]. But the general impression was very good.

Q. Why did you stop on the straight?

NR: They weren't sure. It went out of gear. So they've made a few changes and now [they know] it was the hydraulics.

Q. What do you like most about the new car?

NR: I think it's just a better car in general. The company has become much stronger. Ross [Brawn] has reorganised the company, put different people in different positions, he's improved the communication between the car and the engine group, so the whole car is a big step forward for us, and it all starts with the way the company is working. It's going to be a big step forward.

There's going to be a lot more to come with the aerodynamics in the next few weeks, and then we'll make quite a lot of progress, like many other teams too, I guess.

Q. Did you have chance to test the new adjustable rear wing and KERS?

NR: Yeah, I tried the moveable rear wing. That takes some getting used to because you push the button, you feel a little bit that the car gets lighter, then you release the button before braking and think 'Jeez, what if this thing hasn't gone back to its old position?' Then you're off in a big way. It takes some adjustment. That's going to take some time. It's not that different to the KERS, but still the rear wing moves and you don't really know how quick it gets back into its normal working area once you release the button again.

With the KERS we could release very late before the braking, so now that feels a natural way of doing it. Now you don't know if it's going to be properly attached... That's a bit of a concern.

Q. There was a lot of focus on Michael Schumacher at the start of last season, but after last year's result, do you feel you've come into your own? Do you feel more confident?

NR: Well I was confident even last season. But for sure the past season helped me gain even more confidence and I feel comfortable in the team. Last year it was a new team and it's a process to really integrate yourself into the team, and that's been going really well, so I go into this season and really look forward to it because I think I'll be able to perform really well - better than last year. Which, with a decent car, should give us some very strong results.

Q. Do you think there are different perceptions and expectations of you now?

NR: From what I see, I think so. Because the fact that I beat my team-mate last year is something that has worked well for me in terms of the perception from other people. But I know it's going to be difficult against him this year. It's going to be a tough battle between us and hopefully I can be ahead again.

Q. Does the adjustable wing give drivers too many variables, and do you feel like it's telling you where you can overtake?

NR: I think the idea behind it is good, because it definitely should make overtaking easier, and in the end, nobody is going to ask why overtaking was easier. If the racing is more exciting and more spectacular then that's it, full stop - F1 has become more exciting.

So I think the idea is good, but it's not simple. For sure you still need to think about it a little bit - if it really is the right thing to do. Because there's a lot going on now, with the rear wing, with KERS and this and that. KERS is also something that you need to hold for a specific amount of time, so you need to think about that too.

All of it takes a lot of getting used to, for sure. It doesn't come naturally to start off with. When you've got the hang of it, you need to judge - does it distract you too much when you're in a race situation with all those things going on? We need to keep an open mind on that. But the FIA has said anyway that they will keep an open mind.

Q. You said the rear wing might work in the race, what about in qualifying?

NR: Not really, but it doesn't matter if they allow it or don't allow it, it comes down to the same thing. In qualifying you're not so much in the middle of things so it's not such a problem to have that distraction on the straights as in a race situation. Okay, you increase the speeds, and I don't know if it's necessary to increase the speeds so much in qualifying. That's the only thing that one should think about.

Q. You said it might be tougher against Schumacher this year - is that because you're expecting him to be more like the 'old Michael' again?

NR: Who's saying that it wasn't the old Michael last year...? Michael is driving a Silver Arrow, and the combination of that and a seven times world champion, you always have to reckon with that, even though, yes he had a bit more of a difficult season last year. But it's one year further down the road and I go into it expecting that it's going to be tough to beat him again.

Q. How big an issue is the change to Pirelli? Will it affect your driving style?

NR: The change to Pirelli is significant, yes. Driving-wise not so much because in the end the handling is quite similar. It understeers, which is similar to last year and not something that I like - that characteristic is similar now with the Pirellis, it has a bit of a weaker front relative to the rear. But that's what driving is about, we need to adapt to various circumstances, so it should be fine for me.

The thing is also with set-up you don't have so much experience. With the Bridgestones you knew exactly what was going to happen. Now with the Pirellis, you start a little bit from zero. Going from one track to another, you lack that experience on set-up and that's going to make it a lot more difficult.

For racing and things like that, we just have to wait and see. We'll test now how the degradation on the tyres is. We know that if there's more degradation that can definitely make racing more exciting.

Q. With the adjustable wing, are you expecting chaotic first laps with people brake-testing each other to try and stop rivals getting close? Won't it be like a Formula Ford race?

NR: Isn't that what you'd like to see? I think for sure things could get a lot more interesting, especially in the first laps when everyone is within a second anyway. It's going to be all over the place, maybe. But that would only be good, I guess. It's also with KERS - how much do you use at the start? All of that. Then you have none left for the back straight. You have a lot of new challenges.

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