Nico Rosberg has been runner-up to Lewis Hamilton in four successive races, including the Spanish Grand Prix today, but it is fair to say that in Barcelona the German came very close to snatching victory in the final moments of the race. Rosberg spoke afterwards.
What a fantastic fight, just like Bahrain, right up there at the end. How many more laps do you think you needed to pass him?
Nico Rosberg: I think one more to be honest, one more I could have given it a good go. I wasn’t close enough to give it a go there but next lap I would have. But unfortunately that was it. So, a bit gutted but still, second place, still close to the championship and many more races to go anyway.
I needn’t remind you or anybody else, but you’ve been on this podium every race of this season so far. Going now to your home race, Monaco, where you won last year, surely you can make a massive effort for there?
NR: Definitely. I’ll be going there to do it one better and try to come first there and repeat the win from last year. That’s the aim and we’ll see if it works out.
The start didn’t give you the platform or opportunity that maybe you’d hoped for. From there, like Bahrain, you tried something different on the strategy. Like Bahrain, Lewis said you were quicker today – but unlike Bahrain you didn’t really have a chance to attack, particularly at the end. Why was that? Why did it work out the way it did?
NR: The start unfortunately was poor. It’s a bit of a weakness that we have at the moment, just inconsistent and now I’ve had a couple of bad starts in a row – actually three bad starts in the races. And that’s costly, you know? Because, always losing out at the start, that’s not good, [we] need to work on that. Other than that, the race, yeah, I felt comfortable, race pace was good. Best thing to do was to switch strategies. That was planned before the race. Worked out well, worked out perfectly – but this is a really, really difficult track to get close to the guy in front. I still got close, y’know Turn 10, the last lap. Could have got gone for a kamikaze move but it wouldn’t have worked. Lewis did a great job the whole weekend and just that little bit ahead. But there’s a lot of positives for me to take out of it. I’m fully motivated to just try to get that little bit extra and to edge him out next time – and it’s doable.
Just looking ahead to the next couple of races that are coming up, Monaco is a track that’s been strong in the past for both of you and strong in the past for Mercedes, and then we go on to Montreal which has always been one of Lewis’s favourites. How do you go there, Nico? And your thoughts, both of you, on those two upcoming races.
NR: Monaco: fantastic. It’s my favourite race of the year. Great memories there from last year. Looking forward to it, with the car that we have also this year, it’s going to be great. For sure the opposition is going to be closer. Especially I expect Red Bull to be a lot closer, so it’s going to be tougher for us but still, we have a strong package, engine and car. So, should go fine around Monaco and going to try and make the most of it, repeat the win from last year.
What was the main difficulty during the race: managing the hard tyre or doing quick laps at the end to fight to get Lewis with the medium?
NR: No, the big challenge was tyre degradation. Very, very big tyre degradation. That was really difficult to manage that. But I found my way and was quite comfortable with it, and then graining on the Hard tyre which is the opposite of what we expected. We expected to have graining on the Soft tyre. So it was very strange. Graining on the Hard tyre and no graining on the Soft tyre, it was really weird and unexpected.
Mercedes have won every race this year. What secret did you find and where?
NR: It’s been five years, it’s been since 2010 this process started and so much has changed, it’s been such a long long way, the personnel restructuring, everything. Big big changes and now we’ve come to a point where, thanks to all the work from the past, we’re really just able… we’re becoming the best team in F1. That’s the way it is. I would still say Red Bull is the benchmark at the moment but we’re definitely shaking their chair at the moment and I think there’s the possibility that soon we will be the absolute best team, in terms of team organisation, capabilities, we’re getting there and hopefully it will be a long domination.
Just before the first stops, on the radio we heard the team say ‘primes planned for the next stint’ and you said ‘the options are fine.’ Did that mean you wanted another set of options for the second stint or were you happy with the way it went?
NR: There was a misunderstanding from my side because we were going to go prime second stint – there were two variables. There was one where we go prime second stint if we have graining in the first stint or I go prime second stint to try and beat Lewis, if I feel that pace-wise I can be quicker and have a shot at it. I thought they were going prime because they thought I had graining but I didn’t have graining so that’s why I was confused but then I understood: it was to offset my strategy so that I would have a chance to fight Lewis at the end so it was fine – and just what I wanted.
Does that help, Nico, that you’ve been racing together for a long time?
NR: Definitely yes, because we’ve been through this before. It’s not a first time and even back then we had discussions, debate but always… life goes on, discuss it and life goes on so that helps, yeah.
You are second in the championship now. Will you change your approach for the weekend, make strategies with more risks; even during the race, do you think you will change what you have been doing until now?
NR: There’s not much to change. The race was really lost in qualifying and at the start. Those were the two opportunities I had. Qualifying was very very close, I even had a bit of a problem which we found in hindsight, where I was a little bit down on power on the straight, but the difference was not enough to get pole, but still it was actually even closer than it looked. And then just had a poor start, so those were the two shots that I had at it and it didn’t work out. And then in the race, I nearly got another opportunity at the very end but again, just not enough. One more lap and I could have given it a go, I think, but I would have done everything the same again at the start of the weekend. Of course, I also missed FP1 which doesn’t help either. Many small thing which add up and there are only very small gaps so next time.