Nico Rosberg turned the tables on Lewis Hamilton in Qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, but 24 hours later he was trumped in the race but not before he gave one of the most spiritied challenges in memory, engaging his teammate in a manner reminiscent of their karting days and although in the ened he had to settle for second, there were signs of triumph in his body language throughout the post race ceremonies. He spoke afterwards.
You got the fastest lap and you helped to make it one of the most exciting grands prix I’ve seen for a couple of seasons, would you agree?
Nico Rosberg: I strongly dislike coming second to Lewis, that’s really not something I enjoy doing but on the other hand it was definitely the most exciting race I’ve ever done in my whole career. I hope we were able to give all of you fantastic racing in front of the TV. Today was a day for the sport. We put on a massive show as team Silver Arrows so I hope you had a lot of fun in front of the TV and I’ll be back next race to take the win.
Your side of the story? Obviously at the start, the outside at Turn Four and then later on you attacked him around Lap 18 and 19, again wheel to wheel for a couple of laps. At the end you had a go at it. Is it going to be like this all year?
NR: Yeah. I didn’t have the best of starts. It was still good but Lewis had a little of a better one and that’s the way it went. And then, yeah, I was quicker today, which I was pleased about and gave it a run…tried to overtake at the end of the first stint, couldn’t make it stick. And then we tried to invert the strategies, just to give me a shot at the end, again to overtake. That was the plan before the race so that worked out well and I tried to keep a good pace on the Prime, knowing that I’ll have a shot again at the end with the Option. It was a good battle again but unfortunately couldn’t make it happen today. Lewis did a good job defending but, y’know, it was a massive fight out there and that’s what I’m here for. For racing like that. I think it was a good day for the sport, which is important, because of recent little bits of criticism. I think they’re all going to be rather quiet tomorrow – which is a very good thing. It’s good that us as Silver Arrows, we made it happen – but of course I am very unhappy with second.
Who took the decision that you stay out two laps longer in the first stint – and when?
NR: The team makes the decision for strategies. We did exactly the plan we discussed before the race. Everything went exactly to plan in order to give me the best opportunity to have a shot at overtaking him at the end of the race. So, it was absolutely…the team played it as fair as they possibly could today, let us race flat out. I don’t think you need more evidence than you saw that we’re here to race this year and there’s no team orders. We want to put on an amazing show for you guys out there, and you at home, and today we managed. Of course that’s the small positive, but as I said I really don’t like coming second.
If you could have changed the strategy during the race, that was set before the race, would you or could you have done it?
NR: As I said, the strategy was exactly as planned and it was also what I wanted. I asked for that on the radio, you can listen to it in the race. I said ‘make sure to put me on Prime tyres for the second stint because that’s the best way for me to have a shot at Lewis at the end of the race.’ So in hindsight, I would do exactly the same again and it was the perfect strategy for that race. It is a slower strategy in terms of race time, yeah, but it is the one that gives me a shot at the end of the race if I have the speed.
At the end of the Safety Car period, Paddy Lowe came on the radio and said to you ‘bring the cars home’. For us, it sounded like ‘don’t attack each other,’ you obviously didn’t do so and then Nico, in the last two or three laps, you didn’t attack any more. Did something happen there?
NR: I was well aware that the whole world was thinking ‘huh, here we go, Silver Arrows team orders, finally they’re there.’ That was clear to me but it wasn’t that at all, it was just ‘guys, make sure that you get these cars to the finish. Don’t break them, don’t crash.’ The message was clear anyway, not really necessary to give such a message because we know that, we drive very hard but in the end with the necessary respect but we’re free to race all the way and in the end, I just got a bit more overheating on the tyres in the last three laps because I was pushing so hard in the slipstream, you know, with less grip, sliding a lot and so the tyres just overheated in the last three laps and I couldn’t get close enough any more. And also with the hybrid, at times you have more then you have less. It’s coming and going and it’s difficult to be there in the right moment when you do have it. It’s not that easy, so there was then a period when I didn’t have enough boost-power either.
You were saying that being able to race hard with Lewis is the respect that you have for each other as drivers but you were able to race very very hard and very close. Do you think that having been teammates in karting gave you more of a sense of where each other was going to put their car?
NR: No. I was just pushing to the limit, going for it and just making sure we don’t crash, but all the way, as hard as possible and it worked out, and at no time did I think ‘we’re going to…’ At no time were we at risk of taking both cars out. There was always the necessary margin, might not have looked like it on TV but there was. It was good racing.
That was wonderful but mainly fair. It would be nice if you could describe to us some moments…for instance, you Nico, said to yourself ‘now I’ve got him, I’ve overtaken’ and you Lewis ‘no, he didn’t get me.’ Can you describe to us more details from inside the battle?
NR: I thought I’d got him about nine times but they didn’t work. He always got the run back on me and he did a good job, that’s it. Lewis is obviously a great driver and made it work and next time I need to do better. Out of turn one and then he chose to go on the outside for once. Because it’s difficult to see, you don’t see him. I don’t see where he is at times, I really don’t know because there’s a big dead angle in the car and so when it’s so close, so many times I didn’t know where he was and that’s where I thought ‘OK, now I’ve got him’ and then all of sudden he reappeared again. That’s it.
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