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Rosberg comes of age, what next for him?
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Rosberg comes of age, what next for him?
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Jul 2009   |  5:47 am GMT  |  35 comments

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.

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35 Comments
  1. Rich C says:

    Nice guy but he’s just never impressed me as a #1.

  2. tomo says:

    Hmmm, i still think his ego is writing cheques that his talent can’t cash.

    Let’s face it, having Kaz as a team mate has flattered him. Would love to see what Buemi could get out of that car.

    1. Chris says:

      If his recent Toro Rosso form is anything to go by, a spanking.

  3. Ted says:

    It’s great to see Nico (and Williams) now getting solid race results. I liked to think the banzai chart-topping practice laps were indicative of some sort of substantive performance and now it seems they have refined the car and driver to deliver in the race proper.
    I enjoyed the F1 Racing interviews with Nico and thought he exhibited uncommon maturity for his years. And I understand your comment:-
    “He has always liked to think that he is the real deal, from the outset” but I suspect you’re being a bit snippy with that comment about his precocious demeanour.
    However I agree with your assertion that he seems to have come of age and that indeed he is now a number one driver.
    I sincerely hope for his sake that he does have the wherewithal to extract the most from any car and team situation. Because I would like to see him challenging for wins and sitting in one of the hot seats at podium press conferences. And not only because I think his thoughtful reflections will make for an interesting and candid interview, but also because he seems like one of the good guys.
    Of course I don’t know him from a bar of soap so I might be right off beam here…

  4. Sam says:

    Wonder how much Ferarri would pay Frank to release him?….

  5. chris says:

    I have thought for a while that Rosberg needs to move up the grid next season. If he is the real deal and wants to be world champion then he is going to have to go head to head with the Hamiltons and Alonsos of this world.

    Mclaren is where he must go!

  6. Duncan says:

    Renault would be a good bet if the Alonso rumours are true and he goes to Ferrari.

    Talking of which James, depending on the extent of Massa’s injuries, could you see Alonso being paired with Kimi and who is your tip to stand if for Massa? Is Schummel Schumi a realistic possibility or will they go with youth?

  7. Arun Srini says:

    Hard to digest Williams is being thought of as a learning or 2nd tier team, rewind 15 years, every driver was trying for a williams berth. Maybe it’s best for Nico to grow with the developing team and see the front of the field together. Symbiosis!!

  8. Dave Walker says:

    Rosberg has matured a lot the last couple of years as a class driver.

    Prior to your blog entry James, I always fancied Rosberg to partner Hamilton at McLaren. Then again, Rosberg and McLaren might look at what happened with Alonso and Hamilton in 2007, despite the close friendship.

    Maybe he could join Ferrari if Raikkonen decides to go and if Massa’s future in F1 is looking grim. However, I hope the latter is not the case.

    At this point, I can’t see him jumping to BMW considering their form, but in Formula 1, you never know!!

  9. Ray.C. says:

    I wonder if Nico thinks Lewis is the stronger driver?
    If either Ferrari or McLaren made an offer, he’d be mad not to take it.
    I’d love to see him in a Ferrari.

    1. Ray.C. says:

      p.s.. I’d also love to see Lewis in a Ferrari.

  10. I agree James. Particularly with the new budget caps coming into force next year.

    Williams seem quite adept at making the most from their money, so as long as they don’t do anything stupid on th aero side I think Nico would be wise to stay put.

    1. David Turnedge says:

      I agree also, Williams is a solid team capable of improving relative to others in a world of budget caps.

  11. Josh says:

    having read a certain schumacher article on the bbc I’m getting very, VERY excited!!!!

  12. Chris says:

    If Rosberg is as confident in his ability as he says he is, then he wouldn’t think twice about going to Mclaren. There aren’t many top drives going free. Brawn might have one, but that could be a gamble as they seem to have no answer to their current problems.

    He could stay at Williams but they look like they have become a solid point scoring team rather than race winning team. If he wants a car capable of winning, then Mclaren is the team to go for.

    You can’t say for definite that Hamilton is the stronger driver, as they haven’t been teammates in F1 or GP2 and Hamilton has had access to a title-winning car, which Rosberg hasn’t. Rosberg is clearly a talented driver, as his recent run of results shows, and he did beat Kovalainen relatively comfortably in GP2 4 years ago. He’s beaten all his teammates since being paired with Webber, and Rosberg is now a much better driver than he was in his debut season.

    If he was to be offered a drive by Mclaren at the end of this season, he’d be more mad NOT to take it. You don’t get chances such as that very often, and given Mclaren’s recent progress, few would bet against them going for the championships in 2010.

    1. Becken says:

      They were teammates in Go-Karts and Lewis beat Nico consistently. This is why they are very good friends and this why Nico don´t want to share a team with Lewis.

  13. CTM says:

    Well Heikki is in his final year at McLaren, McLaren will be be prepared to risk 2 No.1s again, they are not Ferrari, and haven’t shied away in the past have they, Senna/Prost, Hamilton/Alonso? As Lewis and Nico are chums, and when Nico came out to support Lewis over the lying-gate, it was a clear sign, a come and get me.

    With Massa’s problems, it does add an unknown factor, but Alonso’s heading to Ferrari isn’t he? To do a Schumacher and pull the team around him for success, would you rather be second fiddle to him, possibly not the chosen one at McLaren, although Lewis was Ron’s boy, Ron’s not there. Or No.1 in a car that won’t make you world champion. Sorry to say Williams. You wouldn’t go to Renault, their iffy continued involvement, Flav’s hardly a good leader. Brawn? I’d be wanting to see if they can turn this dip around, without Honda’s money to throw at it.

    1. Michael C says:

      As you (and others) have said Nico could do a lot worse than go to McLaren if the other seat is on offer. Given the history of equal treatment it will be a good acid test of his ability (and perhaps his friendship with Lewis)

    2. rfs says:

      Why do you think McLaren will want to go through that again? Both those partnerships ended in tears, and just because Lewis and Nico are friends doesn’t mean they won’t fall out if they’re both going for the championship.

      But as you said, the other teams don’t look like great options if he wants to win a championship.

  14. Peter says:

    “Hamilton is a stronger driver and it is his team.” – yes in a stronger car he is stronger, but he had not been very convincing even against Heikki in a “not-winning” car this year. We don`t know until they sit in the same car. Would have been stronger in a Williams, too? Who knows?

  15. Russian says:

    Nico Rosberg goes to BMW, that’s obvious. And Sutil goes to McLaren, without any doubts

  16. Matthew says:

    Actually, James, Rosberg drove from 15th to 4th (not 5th) in Germany. Moving up 11 places even though handicapped with 15Kg of extra fuel. A great drive by any standards.

    I really hope he stays with Williams, and gets a team mate that can compliment and push him.

    1. Toby Bushby says:

      Agree 100%, Matthew. A great drive in Germany, and many this season, including Australia (until the tyre issues – a team problem in my opinion) and in particular Malaysia.

      If Rosberg had an equal or at least unflattering team-mate (sorry for Nakajima’s bad luck come race day, but it happens too often to be coincidence, as I see it), Williams would have easily overtaken Toyota by now, and be challenging Ferrari for third in the Constructor’s Championship.

      With the current rules set to stay for the foreseeable future, cost cutting and the probable dumping of KERS, Williams may well be amongst the top teams to be with, starting….now.

      This season and last are certainly proof that anything can happen in Formula One, given rule changes and board meetings, human error, weather and sticky wheel-nuts. That’s why I love it, and I’m guessing that others agree.

  17. VonSpeeX says:

    Hi James! Dont we have anymore news on massa ? or of micheal replacing him?what a prospect!!!!

  18. C.M. says:

    I see Nico going to McLaren next season. Heikki has been really disappointing to me speed-wise. I don’t remember seeing so slow Finns in F1 :) Altough McLaren is Hamiltons team and all works around him, that’s not an excuse to be as slow as Heikki is. What bothers me the most, he’s not even angry about it. He is just too happy about finishing in 5th or 6th place and that’s not OK when teammate is winning. He just is too nice of a guy for the track, I don’t see any fighting spirit.

    Also hard to know how quick Rosberg really is when Kazuki is his teammate. Not a good comparison of skills.

    I think Nico Rosberg to McLaren, Nico Hülkenberg to Williams and god knows who will take Kovalainen? Maybe goes back to Renault when Grosjean is not as fast as hoped for. Or BMW, they seem to wanting get rid of Heidfeld.

  19. Cliff says:

    when asked by Martin Brundle, Flav would’nt confirm that Alonso would be at Renault next year. Lets wait till Monza, Ferrari usually make tell us their driver line up for the following season. My bet is that Renault will have a vacant seat for 2010.
    Enter Nico stage left and what a mistake that would be!

  20. Jeff says:

    If Rosberg gets an offer from Mclaren, he should definitely take it. Ferrari wouldn’t be an option with Alonso. I still think Rosberg is a great driver, but maybe not as good as Hamilton. But I can be wrong because Hamilton had a World Championship winning car his first two years, whereas Rosberg has had a dog of a car for most of his F1 career.

    Overall I think, without Ron Dennis, Hamilton and Rosberg at Mclaren could have a relationship similar to Webber and Vettel at Red Bull.

  21. Neil Barr says:

    When considering his options Nico should answer and reflect on this question: How long has it taken for each team to turn a lapped car into a winning car? McLaren: with Hamilton, four months. Williams: years. BMW: years. Renault: with Alonso, 6-8 months. Brawn: with Honda money, years. Toyota: not applicable. Ferrari: hopefully not applicable.

    He has consolidated his skills, his maturity and his confidence. To raise his game further he must endure a faster teammate and a team that expects perfection. At McLaren he will improve in spite of losing to Hamilton. But he won’t be humiliated and his stock will go up. The new Gerhard Berger?

  22. Harveyeight says:

    It is great to see Williams on the up. It has always been the best managed team in the pitlane. Given the budget Frank and Patrick have to work with, Ferrari wouldn’t even make it to the airport.

    If the buget cap is for real (yes, I know, but run with me on this one) then Williams is likely to prosper. The only thing of doubt is whether Frank and Patrick still want to take part.

    How much of it is down to Rosberg? Difficult to say although, as hinted at in the article, I feel Nico’s opinion is easy to guess. Unless he’s changed completely, Frank will be more than willing to sell him on. However, whilst there is talk about him going to Mclaren, I wonder if LH has any paragraphs in his contract which give him no.1 status. If so, then I can’t see Nico going for it.

    With four weeks off I reckon that there will be lots of speculation as to who goes where. Rumour has it that FA doesn’t have a contract with Ferrari until 2011 so, with Renault in a little financial difficulty at the moment, how much would Ferrari offer for him to start in Valencia?

    But isn’t it great to see Williams back near the top.

  23. Tom says:

    I agree about McLaren – you’d think he’d do better than Heikki, but maybe the way it’s built around Lewis, he wouldn’t.

    Williams just need a decent no.2 to push Nico more, and it’s a crying shame in this day and age if it’s true that they had to take Nakajima with the Toyota engines. (Is is true?)

    Either someone with experience and hunger, say Heidfeld (I remember Patrick Head was sorry to see him go before), or Hulkenberg looks promising; or maybe Williams’ F2 connections will unearth a star.

  24. Paul says:

    He has to go to McLaren. It may be Hamilton’s team but Rosberg would give him a run for his money providing he gets equal equipment.

    He wants to win races next year, and I can’t see that he will do that with Williams, and BMW are going nowhere fast

  25. Obster says:

    Nice to see Nico’s talent rise to the surface as the season progresses.
    I think his dad could explain best from experience the pros and cons of moving to McLaren to apir with their favored driver.

  26. VV says:

    Flavio, the “hardly good” leader under whose leadership Benetton won championships in 1994 and 1995 and Renault in 2005 and 2006? Yeah, he’s hopeless.

  27. Jon Wilde says:

    Nico should have signed the on the dotted line with Williams yesterday!!

    With BMW out next year, Manufacturer domination of F1 is over. For the first time in years Williams could turn out to be one of the best teams on the grid!

    They’ll know it too! They could halve any offer they’d already made to Nico and he’d still sign it now.

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