Rosberg thought Mercedes’ Melbourne-winning strategy was a ‘gamble’

nico rosberg

Nico Rosberg has admitted the tyre strategy that won him the Australian Grand Prix felt like “a gamble” from his Mercedes Formula 1 team at the time.

The 2016 F1 season-opener swung on the tyre choices teams made when the Melbourne race was red-flagged for 20 minutes following Fernando Alonso’s horrific accident with Esteban Gutierrez.

Race leader Sebastian Vettel continued to use the super-soft compound on his Ferrari, but Mercedes switched Rosberg from the softs onto the medium rubber – ensuring he would not have to pit again.

Rosberg managed to keep Vettel in his sights when the race resumed and claimed the lead when the Ferrari stopped for soft tyres.

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Although overheating brakes and a wearing left-rear tyre almost cost Rosberg the victory, he said: “Definitely we used the red flag perfectly to go to medium.

“The challenge is you don’t know what the others are putting on, and Ferrari didn’t know what I was putting on.

“I could’ve been putting on super-softs and just trying to attack to overtake them, so they needed to defend that on super-softs.

“It was a bit of a gamble, a poker game, and we came out on top.”

Rosberg conceded to initially being “surprised” he was able to hang on to Vettel at the restart given the disparity in the tyres, and the time gains the Ferrari should have enjoyed on the quicker compound.

But with hindsight he realised Vettel was not actually free to charge.

“He needed to get to the end of the race with just one more pitstop with 40-odd laps with a super-soft and a soft. So he was managing his pace,” Rosberg said.

“He wasn’t pushing on the super-soft and I could push on the medium because I knew it could last.

“He needed to do a decent stint length, he couldn’t push flat-out with the super-soft. That’s the explanation for that. But I was surprised at the time.”

Despite claiming the win, ahead of the longest season in F1 history with 21 races, Rosberg was wary of suggesting the victory can be used as a springboard for the title.

“I don’t think about it in that sense.” said Rosberg.

“I’m happy to beat everybody, and I enjoyed the battle with Lewis [Hamilton] and with the Ferraris, and I’m now looking forward to the next races for exactly that battle, which is going to be good I’m sure.”


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