World Championship leader Nico Rosberg has signed a “multi-year” extension to his Mercedes contract, it was announced this morning.
The 29 year old, who last week got married to his long term partner Viviane Siebold, has won three Grands Prix this season and leads his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton by four points.
The timing, just before the German Grand Prix, will give him a boost going into his home race. His rhetoric in speaking about the deal was heavy with references to Germany and to being German and the significance of that with Mercedes.
“This new contract brings us important stability and continuity for the future and I am delighted to be able to make the announcement in time for the home race of Mercedes-Benz and Nico in Hockenheim,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
“Nico has been part of the Silver Arrows project since day one and he has a big stake in the development of the team since 2010. His speed, commitment and focus have all helped to give clear direction and to drive the team forward. With his performances in 2014, Nico has demonstrated to the outside world what we knew already in the team: that he is one of the very top drivers in Formula One.”
Rosberg is half German on his mother’s side, while his father 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg is Finnish. Rosberg Jr speaks five languages fluently with German his first language and he races on a German licence. He does not speak Finnish. German media colleagues say that while Rosberg is appreciated in Germany, he is not considered embraced by the fan base like Michael Schumacher was, for example. Schumacher, like Nigel Mansell in Great Britain, was able to galvanise blue collar supporters and mobilise them to travel across Europe to support him. That support is noticeably thinner on the ground these days and Hockenheim has struggled this year to sell tickets.
In the pre-war era Mercedes had an international line up of drivers but always with Germans, like Caracciola and Lang as the spine. In the post war era the German drivers like Karl Kling were overshadowed by overseas aces Juan Manuel Fangio and Stiring Moss. Rosberg is an important component of the Mercedes’ play in F1 and as he is able to match their highly paid international star Hamilton, it makes for an intriguing narrative.
One of these two men will be world champion this season.
“I am very proud to drive the Formula One Silver Arrow of the modern era. As a German, the heritage of Mercedes-Benz is very special for me, and I am proud to be able to represent the best car brand around the world,” said Rosberg. “It has been a difficult road to get to where we are now – but everybody kept believing and, thanks to the fantastic support from Mercedes-Benz, we are now leading the way in F1. There has been big progress during the past year, building up our structure, management and capability for the future. We have an awesome team and I am confident that we have the right people in place at every level. I’m looking forward to the next years together, when we will keep pushing to win even more races – and, hopefully, championships.”