Nico Rosberg on Hamilton, the media and the importance of living in the moment


When your new contract expires in 2018, you will have been with Mercedes for nine years. The only driver who has stayed at one team for more consecutive years is Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, so what is it that’s made you and Mercedes stick together?
I think, going back, it’s because I started from day one [in 2010]. I’ve been part of this process, I went through loads of downs that were pretty deep and then the up parts now as well. I think they appreciate that I make an effort towards my job and I’m really passionate about the whole thing and I always try to be very respectful to all my colleagues. But why does it work? I think it’s because it’s a successful partnership, you know? We have been very successful together, and crucial for me was to beat Michael [Schumacher] at the time for my career going forward, and I managed to do that. From then on it’s been going well.

Do you think your reputation in the paddock took a big step up when you beat Michael Schumacher between 2010 and 2012?
I think it’s gone up every year. It’s never gone down, it’s kept going up.

But was beating Michael the one step that really made a big difference?
Of course — to beat the best of all time.

How much did Lewis Hamilton’s arrival at Mercedes in 2013 change the team dynamic?
I think it raised the game for all of us. Lewis is a great driver, very competitive and one of the best out there. The two of us against each other, we really push each other more and more, and that does raise the bar a good step again.

Did things change again when you started to fight for titles in 2014?
It changed a lot, yeah. Being able to win every race is a totally different situation, but it’s just amazing and awesome — and it is awesome still. It’s been going for so long now, which is pretty unreal. It’s a great experience. But the pressure is always the same, because the pressure is massive when you are driving to 11th and 12th also, because that is not acceptable. OK, there’s a bit more interest and … well, the media changes a lot, because all of a sudden you guys [in the media] are interested, and when you are finishing 11th and 12th there’s just no interest. Funnily enough, you guys do have power, even on us insiders.

Does the media have that big an impact? What’s an example?
What you write affects my engineers who sit next to me. They could just ask me when I’m sitting right next to them, but no, they are affected by what they are reading on their computers and with what you write.

Do you ever think of applying a strategy to your answers to the press to gain an advantage — to start playing the media?
Play the media? I want to drive fast in a race car, that’s what I want to do. But of course, yes, I do need to take you guys seriously and you do have an influence. That is something we discuss internally and prepare for, and we have media briefings to plan for what to expect and things like that.

So what’s the toughest thing about going up against Lewis?
The toughest thing? It’s his speed — that’s it!

Does he have the edge on you in general?
I don’t think about in such a sense. The fact is I can beat him when I have a good weekend, but the fact is also that he’s beaten me the last two years over a championship year, and he is now ahead of me at the moment. That means up to now he has done a better job. But there is still a long way to go and it’s very close, we have done half the season and we are very close on points, so it will keep being a good battle all the way to the end. I just want to beat him in as many races as possible and then we will see where we are.

In the past you’ve said you have a neutral relationship with Lewis, how is it now?
It’s up and down. It’s always going to be difficult, there is always so much going on and always so much at stake. We have the necessary respect and it’s a good battle.

Talking about respect, how did you feel about Lewis going to see race director Charlie Whiting to seek clarification about your pole position lap in Hungary?
I didn’t know about it first of all, and even now I don’t think to myself about such details. I’m easy going about it, I just think it’s interesting to see how he’s become such a safety freak all of a sudden. That right after a double-yellow flag he decides to go to the people in charge and discuss it.

It sounds like there is subtext to what you are saying?
Where’s the subtext?

You’re saying that because it’s a situation where you had pole, he changed the way he usually approaches those things…
No, I just said it was interesting.

What interests you about it then?
Well, he’s not known for being such a safety freak.

Then why do you think he was he in that instance?
You’d have to ask him.

There will be some big regulations changes in 2017, can you see that upsetting Mercedes’ dominance?
We are such an awesome team now, you know? Yes, it could upset our dominance, but we will be there or there abouts at least. Maybe not as dominant now, that’s possible because it’s a huge change, but we’ll do well.

Does it put any extra pressure on this year’s title fight knowing that this could be the last year of dominance?
No. I don’t think about that, that’s so far ahead. Just be in the moment, make the most of it, because next year we could be even more dominant, because we could make the most of the new rules! Who knows?!

You often say you like to live in the moment…
No, that’s what I do. That’s not what I like, that’s what I do.

Okay, but is that the same approach you have in life in general? Is it a philosophy of yours?
It is the best approach, even for life in general. For well-being, that’s the way to go, be in the moment. Don’t think about your hopes, desires or past experiences — but that’s the most difficult thing to do.

Where did you learn that approach from?
I like to read about such stuff — in general stuff about the way we are and the way we think.

Going back many years to the early part of your career, you had a seat to go to university at Imperial College but you decided to race in GP2 instead. Do you remember what was going through your mind when you chose racing over university?
All my friends that I went to school with were going to university — that was the next step in life — but my next step was completely at a T-junction and went in the other direction. That felt a bit weird and I thought that university could be cool anyway, so I wanted to do that. Then I thought maybe I could do that and racing, but it was never realistic and I was a bit of a dreamer. I went, took a gap year, and never went to university of course because it doesn’t work to do both. It was never realistic, but I dreamt I could maybe do it.

Clearly you have a desire to learn, but what can you do in Formula One to learn so that you have an edge over other drivers?
In Formula One you learn so much! At a very young age you are straight into one of the world’s leading companies and you go straight to the top of it, or just below, so you are speaking with the bosses and you are responsible for the motivation of the whole team, respecting everybody and the human interactions that go with that. You have a huge responsibility and you learn so much as a young guy in the sport and I’m really grateful for that because I have made such a lot of progress as human being as a result. It’s very obvious to me.

So when you compare yourself now to how you were when you first entered the sport, how big a change has there been?
It’s huge. Self-confidence, for example, how to interact with other human beings, especially your colleagues, how to push them with it sounding like a positive rather than a negative, and also how to receive pushes yourself — to take them positively rather than negatively. It’s all so difficult to do, because when you get criticised everybody goes straight into a negative state of mind and blocks it off and says ‘no, I’m not having that’. To use it as a positive is a big challenge, but for sure I do that better now than I used to.

To be a world champion is also a psychological challenge, isn’t it?
The mind plays a big role always in sport, for sure.

Do you feel you now have everything you need in that regard to be a world champion now?
Time will tell.


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