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Rosberg ready to become a leader at Mercedes
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Rosberg ready to become a leader at Mercedes
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Nov 2009   |  3:53 pm GMT  |  52 comments

Nico Rosberg will lead Mercedes’ attack on F1 next season. The 24 year old is a great choice for the iconic Mercedes brand as he is their own three pointed star; he’s fast, he’s marketable and he’s hungry.

Rosberg: Mercedes' three pointed star (Darren Heath)

Rosberg: Mercedes' three pointed star (Darren Heath)


The 24 year old German driver was announced today during a conference call n with Mercedes Benz motorsport vice president Norbert Haug and Mercedes F1 CEO Nick Fry. He is the first driver to be announced by Mercedes since it took over the Brawn GP team and the first German to drive for them since Karl Kling piloted one of the Silver Arrows at the Italian Grand Prix in September 1955.

Both Haug and Fry took the opportunity to refuse to rule out Michael Schumacher driving for the team, which will keep the hype and the rumour going for a little longer. In fact it means that the news about Rosberg is being partially obscured by the smokescreen of rumour about Schumacher, but that is a price worth paying for the attention it is getting Mercedes after last week’s PR watershed with Jenson Button’s move to McLaren, “I fully understand that these speculations are ongoing as long as we do not announce who is driving the other car, but that’s what we have to live with at the moment,” said Haug.

Rosberg does not yet know the identity of his team mate for next year and refused to comment on questions about Schumacher. But he did say that he was keen to be the team leader “quite soon”, by growing into the role, rather than having it foisted on him,

“It’s something that I would really like to grow into, to become a team leader,” he said in this afternoon’s conference call. “That’s what I’ll be pushing to do and you achieve that by working with the team, getting the respect of the team and becoming a team leader in pushing the technical direction and also in terms of results on the track. That’s something that you need to build up and I’m going to try and do that very soon.”

Rosberg could end up being paired with Kimi Raikkonen, or perhaps more likely, Nick Heidfeld.

Ross Brawn worked with Rosberg’s father Keke in the early 1980s when he was at Williams and welcomed the son to his team,

“Nico is a great talent, and with four years of experience in Formula 1, is a driver who will be able to make a valuable contribution to our team right from the outset, ” said Brawn. “I had the pleasure of working with his father Keke during his Formula One career and it is great to see Nico following in his footsteps.”

Rosberg has started 69 Grands Prix in his four seasons of F1 and has scored
a best result of second place at Singapore last year.

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  1. Williams4Ever says:

    Now that another of the Formula One’s Worst case secret is made public, I await to see how the best kept secret pans out.

    By the best kept secret I mean Nico and his ability. No doubt his debut race was real highlight of his 4 year stint with Williams, but I think that was the only highlight of his career. I still remember rest of 2006 while Mark Webber had technical DNFs in promising situations, Nico’s DNF were more self inflicted, I had also named him Crashberg.

    2007 and 2008 were seasons, where his team-mates had him in sights and given than Willliams was not competitive, and 2009 definitely Kaz was off the boil and Williams Pitwall botching three of races must not have helped the confidence of Japanese driver.

    So Nico’s real worth was really not exposed (in both positive and negative manner).
    I hope Brawn is true to his word and the lead time he has spent on developing 2010 car results in good car.

    With Good Car under him and master tactician like Ross Brawn on pitwall (which is another of Williams’s stagnant area)Nico’s best kept secret should be public.

    1. Brace says:

      totally agree. i think he is WAY overrated.

    2. Martin says:

      I’d suggest that some of Ross Brawn’s supposed strategy genius is overrated too. When you have a faster race car but can’t pass on the track then you need to do something different. If you can’t stop later than the car in front then you need to stop so much earlier that the car pace can make up the gap. When there was a tyre war there were tracks where the fastest laps were early in the stint as the wear induced tyre drop-off exceeded the reduced fuel penalty.

      If you look at how Brawn’s strategy evolved this year, at the start when there was a car advantage, the cars were heavier. At the end, when the McLarens and Red Bulls were quicker, the Branws started lighter. It is largely performance based. If you keep doing what you were doing, you end up with the same result.

  2. Hi James, do you think we will now see McLaren ditch the grey paint for more Vodafone red ?

    1. James Allen says:

      Rod Dennis said last week that the livery will stay as it was, silver and red

      1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        This might end up being as confusing as Midland and McLaren in 2006. Legard is going to have his work cut out next year….hopefully on radio.

      2. DNH says:

        Was it my imagination or was Martin Brundle noticeably irritated by Legard at times this season?

      3. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        I’s sure that James knows the real answer, but is too much of a gentleman to let us know!!

    2. Niko says:

      I saw a photoshopped livery with the silver replaced by red which would look absolutely awesome in real life. If only…

  3. Segedunum says:

    It remains to be seen. The jury is still out on Rosberg and we’ll have to see how he goes. Is he really good enough when he gets to the front or has he just been the best of a poor midfield bunch?

  4. Nick F says:

    Hi James,

    I’d like to see Schumacher in a F1 car next year. If Mercedes can’t tempt him with a full years drive then what are the chances that a creative deal can be done?

    I’m assuming Nick Heidfeld is not going to win the world championship next year, so how about Mercedes let Schumacher drive in maybe 4-5 races. This has the advantage that he isn’t hurting his reputation too much by competing in the championship. He would get a chance to test himself against the new breed of driver in a low pressure situation, and if he liked what he found he could do a full season in 2011. It would be a great PR boost for Mercedes and for the grandprixs Schumacher attends. I imagine he might want to do the the good tracks like Monaco and Spa, and then do the German GP and another like Turkey.

    So waddya think? what’s the chance of a deal like that coming off if it is put to Schumacher?

    1. James Allen says:

      I can’t see it myself, but you never know

      1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        Michael Schumacher would have to give up a considerable future income stream at Ferrari to do this. Surely Mercedes would not compensate him for such a short stint.

        If he drove for Mercedes GP I imagine that as an ambassador for the prancing horse, he would not able to return to the Ferrari family. Switching marques for a short term deal would probably also damage his own brand value.

      2. Segedunum says:

        Quite right Mike. Contracts come and contracts go, but really, there is so much water under the bridge with Michael and Ferrari that Fiat simply wouldn’t be happy and would it make Mercedes look good? Would he nip back to Maranello after his Mercedes contract is up? Too many variables.

    2. Michael S says:

      I can see why Mercedes is not saying no to the rumors… any press is good press…. However, if Ross himself says no to then I am taking his word

      1. Antoine says:

        Ross did however say he was 99.9% certain of keeping Jenson….. Look what happened there…..

  5. John says:

    Wait a minute James, you’re jumping to conclusions. No one (but you) said Nico would “lead Mercedes’ attack on F1 next season”. As a matter of fact, he dodges the question and says, “I would really like to grow into, to become a team leader.” That’s a far cry from “leading” Merc’s F1 attack next year.

    1. Med says:

      Yeah, but Rosberg’s hardly going to say “I’m going to lead this team” since a) it could have a negative effect on whomever’s the 2nd driver if they think they’ll be playing 2nd fiddle and b) it sets him up to look an a#se if he gets a stronger team mate.

      Far better to say you want to grow into it and see how things pan out, whilst still giving the air of confidence in your ability

      1. John says:

        I try not to read minds, just words. And Nico’s words say that he will grow into a team leader position.

  6. Chris R says:

    Good luck to Nico! I hope working with Brawn and Mercedes will push him on further. I think it could prove to be a good partnership, as long as this ‘good publicity’ doesnt bring some negative feedback when the driver is finally sorted/announced.

    In some ways, I think the best thing Mercedes could do now is go with the lower risk option and just get their head down for next year. I feel Rosberg has the potential to grow into this leader role he wants himself. But thats just me and I’d want to play it safe.

    It does strike me as ironic, that Barichello would have been a perfect choice for alongside Rosberg (great setup ability, short term cover for the possibility of Vettel joining for 2012, also the most experienced driver in F1).

    But instead of that, all the fuss was over keeping Button while Rubens was left to go somewhere else.

  7. Finn # 1 says:

    There are nudges and winks in there that suggest a Schumi comeback could be a distinct possibility.

    41 is young. He’ll cope. Easily.

    1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      In Michael’s final years there were several that said Michael had the body of someone in their mid-20s. He certainly looks more healthy than some of the current drivers…

      Hopefully he’s kept off the stollen and apfelstrudel over the last couple of years.

      1. Dan says:

        I love stollen and strudel… mmmm reminds me of my days in good old Deutschland…

        I think the whole Schumi-saga is evident that there is still a bit of a vacuum in F1, created when Schumi left, and never really filled by any one driver… Alonso is too grumpy, Lewis is more of a modern sports star, rather than the classic tempered genius that F1 fans seem to crave (except Alonso, who’s just whiny…), and Kimi likes his Magnum’s, rallying and Vodka a bit too much for it to remind us of James Hunt!

        If we can get Schumi in a Benz, then I would be ecstatic, as we all know he is supremely fit, and he is clearly still needed in F1. But he also has his own career to think about, and if he sees better things ahead as a co-creator of Ferrari’s frankly amazing road cars, then we should be happy for him and admire those too… A Merc drive may hamper his chances of that happening, however much he wants to scratch his F1 itch…

        Personally, I think he has spoken to Mercedes (Dr Zetsche is so high up in the company that I imagine any of his time would have to be very worthy) and he is considering the myriad of options available to him. It must be hard to decide what to do when you’ve achieved so much in one field, and have reached an age where his family would be a major priority in his weighing up of his options…

        I say it’s all down to Schumi now, he’s been given offers from both parties and he just has to decide what he really wants…

  8. S2K says:

    Good move for Rosberg, let’s see how he does in a top team.

  9. Silverstoned says:

    Leader? depends on who’s the teammate, obviously.

    If there’s a “surprise” that will “please” us all as Haug promises, then Rosb won’t be leading.

  10. Charlie Rheinberg says:

    I think Rosberg will be out of his depth at Brawn. There is massive pressure on his shoulders to lead a championship fight to Ferrari and Alonso and McLaren with Lewis and Jenson. A driver who is yet to stand on the top step is now expected to jump into a new team and start blowing them outof the water?? He will end up 5th in the drivers championship in my opinion with both red cars and the Brits beating him. The regulations are reasonably stationary compared to last year so Brawn will not have their advantage as they did in the first half of this year and McLaren and Ferrari will rule the roost.

    What do you think James?

  11. Boltonjon says:

    hasn’t he been the ‘teamleader’ at Williams since Webber left in 2006?

    I rate Nico a lot, but this will be his 5th season – he’d best get it sorted this year!

    James – do you know what the odds are for Schumacher winning the WDC next year?

  12. Jodum5 says:

    Good for Nico. It’d be nice to see him fight for some decent results for once.

  13. Jon says:

    I’ve every confidence that Rosberg will be very quick from the get-go. I think he’s got real ability and more often than not punched above his weight when the car was good enough. He’s yet to have the luxury of a true, consistent, race-winning package, and if Mercedes can give him a good car in 2010, he’ll win races.

  14. Érico says:

    The testing ban is a drag and a stupid idea, F1 has shot its own feet again. After such an intense post-season weeks, a few days of winter testing, with drivers at their new teams and all, would be the perfect opportunity to start sizing people up and build momentum for the 2010 season. The promotion of each new contract and subsequent exposition could easily beat the costs of a mere week of testing. Imagine gear and merchandise being sold, Button’s number 1 McLaren clothes, Rosberg in Mercedes colours, Ferrari/Alonso gear, huge TV exposition, inches and columns in the press, Alonso’s first test at Fiorano, Massa’s return to active duty, Button and Hamilton having two or three track days at Silverstone, times being exaustively (spelling?) analyzed all over the internet, etc.

    Talked about a missed opportunity. It’s a pity things in F1 are always either hot or cold and they can’t get their heads together to actually do things the right way.

    1. Leslie says:

      I agree.

      All the hot air about improving the show and now we have NO SHOW. They may all have brains the size of Mars but they really know how to miss an opportunity.

    2. Terryc says:

      It’s a bit difficult to create interest now, considering Button and Alonso are still employees of Brawn and Renault until 31st December.

      So until the new year Alonso can just stand and watch at Fiorano and Button can have a track day at Silverstone in the MercedesGP car. Guess why that isn’t going to happen.

      1. Érico says:

        McLaren managed to get Alonso for a day in 2006 before testing was completely over. I don’t know how much it cost them, but it made enough of an impact back then. And there is always the easy route of having the contract terminated a week after the last race instead of December 31st.

  15. Lady Snowcat says:

    One of the interesting points about Nico Rosberg is that he looks like he should be a marketing dream and his engineering background should be manna from heaven but, whether it just isn’t in his personality or not, so far that doesn’t seem to have translated at all…

    He just doesn’t come across as a key man or major player… and I don’t know why…

    Even in Williams where he clearly was the “team leader” he still seemed to be a guy in short trousers rather than the main man… that could have been due to Frank and Patrick but I don’t think so…

    The fact they didn’t seem to be too disturbed to let him go was also interesting… but I can’t see Ross taking him if he felt he was not half decent…

    (Although, as to the last point, it seems clear that despite Ross’s honeyed comparisons of Jense with a certain MS, he actually believed that the WDC was more about giving Jense the perfect car rather than him being a genius… but I could have read the runes wrongly on that…)

    Nico’s 2010 could well be the make or break year for him regardless of who his team mate is…

    It’s interesting that your comments indicate you really rate him James…

    1. James Allen says:

      You read the whole article?

      1. Steve Mc says:

        Ouch!

  16. Alex_Jay says:

    James, im throwing one in the fire!

    Maybe a Ralf Schumacher comeback is what Norbert Haug is suggesting??

      1. Bjorn Schultheiss says:

        HAHAHA!

    1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      I’m sure that Norbert is smart enough to identify the right Schumacher….unlike Toyota.

      That story reminds me of the American guy who struck a deal to buy London bridge..thinking it was Tower Bridge!

    2. Martin Collyer says:

      Be careful the fire doesn’t throw it straight back at you Alex.

    3. Dan says:

      That would be a surprise… I don’t think Ralf in his deluded world could expect that… Or could he????….

  17. Nick H says:

    Roseberb the team leader who has never won a GP and is likley to be partnered by Heidfeild who hasnt won a GP……….. what a poor driver line up compared to McLarens Hamilton and Button and Ferari’s Alonso and Massa.

    1. M. Fitri says:

      Yeah.. Agree with that!

  18. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    Sorry, James, but I am just not very enthusiastic about Rosberg.

    The fact is that Williams had a significant advantage over 60-70% of the grid in the first few races of the season, being that they were one of the three teams with the double-decker diffuser. Rosberg had an opportunity to really put on some strong performances with such an advantage, and he just didn’t get the job done. He was good and consistent during the summer races in Europe, and his Nurb race is one of the best of the year from a driver.

    He’s got pace and is consistent, but is he really the type of monster talent on the level of Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, and Raikkonen? Those are drivers who have been able to get the absolute most- wins, podiums, etc.- out of cars that weren’t necessarily the best on the grid. Furthermore, they have all put on some simply electrifying performances. Frankly, I haven’t seen anything on the scale of, say, Hamilton’s or Vettel’s dominant performances in the wet from Rosberg.

  19. manatcna says:

    Well, if Haug were to announce Kobayashi, that would be a surprise

    1. Dan says:

      That would be amazing, get the Banzai Wonder in a top car, scare the established drivers a bit… He’s already ruffled the Champ’s feathers in Brazil!

  20. khan says:

    Mercedes F1 will be doomed in its 1st year if it partners Rosberg & Heidfeld. No disrespect to these two guys, a brand like mercedes need a bigger personality to lead their charge. As Haug is promising surprises, i hope he is talking about Raikkonen. He is the only option available at the moment.

    1. Silverstoned says:

      Agreed. The more you think about it the more inevitable/logical Kimi to Brawn seems.
      But after last week, I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high again. No use I’m afraid: trouble with optimists is we never learn from disappointments!

  21. Rich C says:

    Technically speaking, isn’t Nico a dual-national? Finnish & German? So why is he always portrayed as “German?” Just too many darn ‘Finns’ around F1 I guess!

  22. Rich C says:

    I’m telling you, Haug is saying its a secret because NO ONE HAS TOLD *HIM who it’ll be! lol

  23. manatcna says:

    I’m wondering if the BGP002 (or whatever it’s called now) will be as good as this years car was.
    I hope so, because if it isn’t, Mercedes could finish up in the midfield, or worse

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