Q and A with Nico Rosberg
News has been doing the rounds recently that Nico Rosberg, who was already confirmed with the Toyota powered Williams team for the 2008 Formula One season, had actually lengthened his contract even further and as such will be remaining with the Grove based squad through to the end of 2009.
Speaking to the team’s official website, Nico talks about this recent development and his aims for the new season…
Nico, congratulations on your new contract with the team!
Thank you. I am really pleased to be staying with Williams for the next two years. I have taken this step because I believe in the team's capabilities to move forward and I get on well with everyone in the team. Naturally my salary was also adapted and being in such a central role as the lead development driver also motivates me. I first tested for Williams when I was 17, so our relationship is now five years old, and I'm happy to maintain this relationship and have the chance to help push the team further towards the front of the grid.
Why is playing a role to push the team on important to you?
My relationship with Williams started with an extremely difficult year in 2006. 2007 was a big improvement, we have been growing together and improving and it's motivating that I'm playing a central role in this progression. Williams aren't at the front right now, but are steadily getting there. I want to contribute to this process, especially now I have another season's experience to draw on. It is right that as I develop as a driver that step by step I should take more responsibility.
So how will you do this?
Kazuki comes into the team as a rookie next season, so I will have the job of leading the development of the car from a driver perspective. Ok, I am still lacking a bit of experience but I believe that my technical understanding is becoming one of my strong points. That said, it's a team game – I need to do my bit and of course the factory also needs to push ahead as the pace of the car is so reliant on aspects such as aerodynamics, but as we have shown in the past twelve months, we have moved from 8th to 4th, so the team is definitely going in the right direction.
Does this responsibility make you a number 1 driver?
Formally, no, as Williams has, and will always, give their drivers equal opportunities and there is no case of favoring one or other driver out on the track, but in practical terms, I am the driver with the most experience and so I would expect to test new parts first etc... So in certain ways I will be responsible as the lead driver.
There's been plenty of speculation associating you with other teams in recent months, has there been any substance to these stories?
I have been very flattered that the press regarded me as the natural candidate for a range of teams next year. But the fact that selling me to another team did not cross Frank's mind really proved to me that the team is financially sound and is prepared to invest in me and wants me to be a full part of the goal to move forwards.
So what was the recent news about your contract status?
Well, I was already confirmed for 2008, but Frank and I had a conversation about 2009 and agreed terms for this period too.
So there was no temptation to be a German driver behind the wheel of a German-backed team like McLaren Mercedes?
As I say, the speculation was flattering and they had a great season last year. I'm racing to win and achieve success, so of course it would be appealing to race for a team that can win races here and now. Nonetheless, I believe that patience is important and a driver's approach to his career needs to be measured. I believe we can have success at Williams in the near future and so that is my most preferred career route for the next couple of years.
Turning to 2008, what is realistic to expect with Williams?
Well, in some quarters it is said it just isn't possible to succeed without big budgets and other people say that Williams' best form is behind them. I believe Renault demonstrated in 2005 and 2006 that it is possible to win Championships and not to mention race for podiums without big budgets. And considering the team's healthy sponsorship situation with AT&T, RBS, Philips etc, I am not concerned with this.
Last year there were some major new additions to the technical team and a strong group of people have now been working together for a year. They are going into their second season working together, so this will make the team even stronger. We improved our reliability significantly last year, now it is time to build real performance on top of these solid foundations.
Despite being an independent organization, Williams also has one of the best technical infrastructures of any team and of course the partnership with Toyota will also strengthen the whole program going into their second year. The aims are to move up in the Constructors' and get the occasional podium. That would be great, not easy to achieve but my hopes are high.