Nico Rosberg Q&A: Lewis has everything to lose

nico rosberg on pole abu dhabi grand prix

Nico Rosberg knows that despite taking pole position in Abu Dhabi, he will need a major slice of good fortune on Sunday if he is to prevent Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton becoming world champion. Hence, Rosberg’s strategy is simple: put as much pressure as possible on his rival – and hope that he cracks…

Q: Nico, whatever happens tomorrow, what do you take from the 2014 season, considering that it’s your first time fighting for the championship?
Nico Rosberg:
Ah, it’s been a great season. I can say that already now. Yes, tomorrow is a great chance, a great opportunity, and I will try to grab it with both hands.

Q: The saying is that winning is a mind game. How is your mind on the eve of tomorrow’s decisive race? How do you try to read the mind of your rival?
The situation is intense, yes, but it’s a great moment at the same time. I try to focus on that great moment and enjoy it, to have that opportunity. That is very special. I look at it this way: Lewis has everything to lose and I have everything to gain. So, for sure, the pressure is on him. That is part of my opportunity. My opportunity is to put as much pressure on him as possible – and maybe he makes a mistake. We did see that in Brazil. In Brazil I tried to keep the level of pressure as high as possible and forced him to push beyond the limit.

Q: How nerve racking is the situation for yourself?
As I just said, it is very intense but it is not nerve racking. Not much more than at other times.

Q: Lewis seemed to have made some mistakes in qualifying. Is that the strategy of intensifying the pressure?
I can’t answer if that was the case this afternoon, but yes, it is in my hands to put as much pressure on him as possible. He’s made several mistakes lately – and these signs give me hope. I keep learning from that.

Q: You made a mistake in Austin. Have you learned from that?
Yes, it was the racing that I needed to work on in the later part of the season – the area I had to work on most. But that is not something that you can transport overnight from one situation to the other. That takes time – and analysing. Brazil was a step in the right direction – and there is more to come. Maybe we’ll see tomorrow. I am sure it will be a great battle again.

Q: Was anything surprising or special for you in this qualifying?
Maybe that the gap was bigger than I had expected in Q3. In Q2 I pushed the wrong two buttons in the wrong order – and had to pay the price in Turn 8 after the straight. Simply the wrong button! These are such small details – and thankfully I got them right when it really counted!

Q: You said that you would need help tomorrow. What kind of scenarios do you have in mind?
First, if someone has a good start then it is almost impossible to overtake him. So overtaking I rather dismiss. For example, you cannot overtake a Williams on track – only in the pit lane. That is a chance. In free practice I tried to play out an overtaking scenario: I was behind a Ferrari – a car significantly slower than the Williams – and it was impossible for me to pass. Maybe he’ll make a mistake? That could be a chance as well – who knows?

Q: But would it be within ‘team rules’ to try and slow down Lewis to give one of the Williams the chance to pass?
That is a question that touches internal agreements, so no answer to that one.

Q: How was the debriefing today? Frayed nerves?
It was intense. But we never miss out on cheers for having the front row. That is standard. That is what we do every time we occupy the front row – and we want to keep that procedure.

Q: On Thursday you were talking about out-psyching Lewis…
…out-psyching is not what I’ve used. I simply want to raise the pressure on him – and keep the pressure level high. In Brazil it partly worked – and something like that is what I have in mind.

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