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Q & A with Nico Rosberg

Mercedes GP rolled out its 2010 challenger this morning and Nico Rosberg was the man in charge of taking the car to the track for the first time.

AUTOSPORT heard from the German driver about his impressions of the W01 right after its maiden test.

Q. People have talked about this as an exciting season. How do you see that after the first taste of the new car?

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP, Valencia testingNico Rosberg: I still can't judge from my perspective if it is going to be exciting. The initial feelings were very good and I think it is going to be an exciting season because of the drivers that are in the top cars. It is going to be great to see and from my point of view, the first impressions of the car were very positive. It felt great - although it is difficult to compare because there are so many things different with the fuel, the tyres and the fuel levels you are running in testing, plus we haven't run on this track for a long time. So it is very difficult to compare.

Q. Are the cars any harder to drive?

NR: Nope.

Q. Did the systems checks all go smoothly?

NR: Yes, everything went smoothly, yes.

Q. Did you notice that the front tyres have less grip?

NR: A little bit, but not much. Again it is difficult to compare because we haven't been on this track for such a long time. But you do feel a little bit less grip, going into the corner, on the front plus braking potential.

Q. How much of an impression can you get of a car from a first test like this?

NR: In recent years you would have had a better impression. But now, since with the fuel level, you don't really know what other people are running either. It used to be in testing that everyone put 50kg or 60kg, but now you don't know what everyone is doing. It is very difficult to get a good initial impression.

Q. How much difference does it make to your own preparations knowing that you are racing against Schumacher?

NR: For me, it is a great thing to have him there. It is fantastic, and it has given me a little bit extra motivation I must say. Just that little touch extra, to have him there, which is a good thing.

Q. Can we read anything into Massa's times today, or is it too early to say?

NR: No, impossible to say.

Q. What about him returning after last year?

NR: I already spoke to him because he had a test in Barcelona two weeks ago, and he said all was fine. So, I am very happy for him and it is nice to have him back.

Q. Normally a longer car is lazier in slow corners, and there are a lot of slow corners here. Did you notice anything?

NR: Not so much, no.

Q. Does that surprise you?

NR: Well, does it surprise me? I don't know. When I go to Jerez then maybe I will have a better impression, because as I say I haven't been here for such a long time that I don't have a comparison. But when I go there I will be able to say better how it handles in slow corners, if it is really much lazier or not.

Q. How heavy a fuel load did you run with?

NR: I can't say. But for sure it was significant.

Q. The last four years you have been driving a Williams car, but now you are in a new car. What kind of feeling did you have?

NR: That is a question that I was asking myself after four years with one car, the same people always building it, you wonder how is it going to be [with a new team]? Do you feel comfortable straight away or not? To be honest, it felt very similar which was a very nice feeling. All the position I am sitting in there, the steering load, the way the steering feels, the power from the engine, everything is different but I really felt at home quickly, which was good. It was very similar to what I am used to, in everything.

Q. When you look back at recent years, how often was it that the very first impression was correct for the whole season?

NR: Yeah, more often than not the first impression is important. But today is difficult. I think is difficult.

Q. Because of the fuel?

NR: Yes, but then again last year we had a complete rule change.

Q. What about the working environment with Mercedes GP?

NR: Well, I have been at the factory a lot. I've gotten to know everybody, and I knew a lot of people from the past also. I knew Jock [Clear] from a few years back, who is my engineer. So it has been actually a really nice integration into the team in recent weeks for me, and quite easy also. That has been nice to see. Everything is falling in place very quickly and going well at the moment.

Q. And how is your relationship with Michael starting to develop?

NR: Very good. I get on well with him for now. He respects me and I respect him, so it is good. I think we can get on very well and be great team-mates, I believe.

Q. In the last few years you have been the team leader at Williams, and now you have a team-mate who has a lot of experience. Will that be a new experience?

NR: I had Alex Wurz also, who has a lot of experience. So, experience wise I have had experience team-mates, but from Michael there are going to be a few things that I am going to be able to pick up from him because he is obviously one of the best who has ever driven. So sure there will be bits and pieces I can pick up from him, which will be great from my career also.

Q. You said that this car felt quite similar to Williams, and you felt at home. Could you get a sense today that this car was built by the team that won both championships last year?

NR: It felt good, yes. But it is impossible today. There are so many new circumstances that I cannot feel, is it a winner or is it not a winner? It generally felt very good but it is impossible to be sure how the performance is now.

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