Nico Rosberg has been doing an excellent job lately in the much improved Williams car.
After some muttered comments from the team about ‘inconsistency’ a couple of months ago, he has put together a strong run of form, with four consecutive top six finishes in the run up to Budapest, including a battling drive to fifth from 15th on the grid in Germany.
That Germany qualifying result aside, he has also qualified pretty solidly in the top ten all season.
“I’m pleased the team is progressing really well and we are right up there performance wise, ” he said to a group of us last weekend. “Obviously McLaren has made a big jump and are on the same level as us now. We are fighting for the second best team, Red Bull is clearly quickest but then it’s us and McLaren. We bring new parts every single time and it’s working.”
Rosberg also believes that he is working well with the team, knowing what to push for,
“I have strong opinions about set up and development directions and I’ve been pushing them on. They have really followed my direction this year and that has helped a lot also. It’s just good working together.”
This prompts me to ask him whether he feels he has come of age as a Grand Prix driver this year. It’s his fourth season, he has a relatively competitive car, probably the best he’s had so far in his career and he seems now to know how to extract the most from the situation, which is what being a top F1 driver is all about. Rosberg is quite sensitive to this kind of question. He has always liked to think that he is the real deal, from the outset,
“Come of age? I think I was a pretty good GP driver last year too but I didn’t have the car to show it. Now I have the car that allows me to be a bit further up.
But it’s about having the maturity when the opportunity occurs, to know how to make the most of it, make things happen for yourself. You weren’t really able to do that before, you can now.
“Yes, of course,” says Rosberg quietly.
The question then is where next for Rosberg? Will he stay at Williams or move on. It’s tempting to feel he needs to move on to gain greater respect and to move onto the next phase of his career, but the main option on the table is BMW Sauber and they do not appear to be in great shape at the moment. Another massive upgrade this weekend did nothing for them. Rarely can so much work have yielded so little gain.
I think he’d be mad to go to McLaren, despite his friendship with Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton is a stronger driver and it is his team. Nico is a number one driver and needs a number one berth somewhere.
Judging from his comments about the working relationship with Williams, if they are able to see him in a new light and not as the driver who grew up in F1 with them, he could do worse than to stay put.