Q & A with Nico Rosberg

Willimas's new FW30 has looked like one of the strongest cars during pre-season testing

Q & A with Nico Rosberg

The British squad, however, have been playing down their chances of fighting near the front, and Nico Rosberg is doing the same.

Autosport.com caught up with the German driver during testing at Barcelona to talk about his hopes for the 2008 season.

Q. You set some good times in testing at Barcelona on Tuesday...

Nico Rosberg: Yes, it was okay, because you can see how much fuel different people were using and if you compare us to Ferrari and McLaren we can be happy with that.

I am talking about the absolute times, not the one we see on the timing monitors. Still I think it is going to be close with Renault and Red Bull. I don't know what BMW did today so...

Q. So you see Williams somewhere around third place?

NR: That would be a bit too optimistic I think. I see us fighting with Renault and Red Bull. BMW is the only one I don't really know about. For sure it's going to be tight with Renault and Red Bull and I hope that from one track to another specifically we can get a bit of an edge over them. So our target is probably fourth in the constructors' championship at the moment.

Q. How was the long run yesterday?

NR: Yes I think it was positive. It was quite strong. But again it was very close with the others when we compared it afterwards.

Q. The Williams looked okay in the hairpin, how do you feel it behaves in the slow corners?

NR: Today I struggled in slow corners with the car. In the morning I was running lower fuel than many other people so it is difficult to compare.

Q. How is the FW30's reliability so far?

NR: To be honest we haven't had any problems. The last time I stopped on the track was in November, so I think we have made progress. Whether we can get to where we want, which is a 100% reliability, I don't know.

That will be difficult but we have made progress. But then again when it comes to the sort of temperatures that we have in Malaysia, when we have never run before in those, new problems can happen so it is difficult to say. But the basis seems good. Especially if you compare what it was like when I came to Williams there is quite a big difference.

Q. Patrick Head says that the FW30 is faster than last year's but still not fast enough. What do you think?

NR: I definitely agree. We didn't make the most of it. But I am sure every team says that.

Q. What in your opinion would be 'making the most of it'?

NR: There are a few bits and pieces that are going to take a bit more time to get on the car through the season, which will definitely help us. I think we have a lot of potential to develop through the season, which on one side is good but on the other it would be nice to have them now. I think that's what Patrick meant.

Q. Any specific parts?

NR: That's always difficult to say. But I am looking forward to tomorrow (Wednesday) when we have our new aero package. That's going to be another good step. We have been working on it for two months or so.

Q. Are you still struggling to get the front tyres up to temperature?

NR: No, not any more. It really depends on track temperature, and I am sure everybody was to start with. But now the track temperatures are up to 25/27 degrees C it is the first time that we have had a chance to test properly really.

Q. After your first run in Valencia you said that the car seemed to be quick but not necessarily easy to drive. How is it now?

NR: That is definitely still the case. It is difficult to push and get the lap out of it, but if you do push it is quick. So you need to try and find the limit. But we have the tool to make it less difficult so that's something that we have found through the testing.

Q. Do you think Kimi is your favourite for the championship?

NR: Probably yes. But I am not sure. Looking at the times today I am not so sure it is so obvious anymore. I don't know what he was doing today, he definitely had low fuel, but I don't know whether he had new tyres or not.

Q. There will another son of an F1 driver on the grid this year, what advice can you give him about how to cope with that?

NR: I think it is fantastic for Formula One in general. Especially people who followed the sport in the '80s, to see those drivers' children race against each other. Also I think we will be pretty close a lot of the time because our cars are very similar so that will be quite exciting. Also Kazuki Nakajima is a very good driver so I don't think there is much I need to tell him.

Q. So all those questions will go to him and not you anymore...

NR: Well, yes that is one positive thing. 'How is it to be the son of...' You can get it from him.

Q. How did it feel to run with a car that had your father's signature on?

NR: That was cool, I even took a picture so that I could remember it. It's special when you see all these world champions like Alain Prost, Alan Jones and my father on my racing car, it is quite a funny feeling. It was nice.

Q. What is your goal this year?

NR: Fourth in the constructors' championship. And with that there is going to be some nice finishes. Fourth places, fifth places, maybe with some nice luck a podium. That's very optimistic but who knows.

Q. Do you put the team's ambitions before your own situation then?

NR: Yes, because with that a lot of other things fall into place.

Q. When you say the car is difficult to drive, do you mean the window in which it performs is quite narrow?

NR: No. Driving the car on the limit and not going over is difficult. If you go over it is game over.

Q. Is it because of the way it is designed or is it because of the removal of traction control?

NR: I am sure traction control definitely has an influence because before it was not possible to go over the limit on the exits of corners but now you can. That is definitely one thing but also the way they have gone with the design and everything.

Q. How driveable is the Toyota engine?

NR: I think it is strong. I think one advantage we might have with the Toyota engine is driveability. Because performance-wise I think we are somewhere in the middle, we are not the best and not the worst, but the driveability is a positive and that will really help us this year. It is something they have done very well over the years.

Q. What do you expect from Renault and Fernando Alonso?

NR: His arrival just boosts every single person working there to do extra hours and extra work. That's going to be a help to the team, but then I have to say that the drivers who were driving there last year weren't idiots and he is not going to revolutionise the team to win the world championship, there is no way. But I am sure he will bring the team forward a bit. How much I don't know.

Q. Are you surprised Kazuki is that competitive?

NR: Not really. I knew that he was very talented for sure. He is very quick. We just need to see him in race weekends. It is always a very different situation.

Q. Is fighting closely with Kazuki going to give you a boost?

NR: I am sure it will, yes. Also the closer the teammate is the more you can pick out things. When you have a teammate that is close you can improve yourself more by looking at him. It's only positive and it gives you an extra kick sometimes.

Q. How about the development work? Now that you are teaming up with Kazuki, does it fall on your shoulders more?

NR: I have become very strong over the years in that area. I really like it and I understand that it's important so I'm happy to take on more responsibility. I think it has been working well and together with the team we have had some good ideas and had some good progress lately.

And Kazuki of course is fantastic, even with his limited experience. He makes very good comments about the car which is the most important thing. Maybe he doesn't have the experience to know the big changes that you can do but as long as the base - which is understanding the car well - is there then that's already a big help.

Q. What is the biggest hurdle you have had to overcome with the 2008 package?

NR: Probably starts. It is completely different. Driver control is back in the game now. You learn to live without traction control after seven laps - that's no problem at all any more in the dry. [Unassisted] braking takes eight laps. Maybe as the tyres get very warn towards the end of a stint that might be more difficult, particularly at the hot races, that could be crucial. But getting the perfect start is the hardest thing.

Q. How happy have you been with your practice of starts?

NR: Very happy. We are massively strong on starts. I am very happy with the way we have been doing them. Today we have been doing quite a few starts and it has been very good. But it's harder than with TC.

Q. You belong to a new generation of Formula One drivers. What do you bring to the sport yourself?

NR: Youth is always good for sports in general. I don't know. I don't think it is any different than it was in the past. There has always been a new generation of drivers coming through. It was Michael Schumacher 15 years ago and now it is the same with others.

Q. Do you think that the new breed of drivers can attract a new younger audience to the sport?

NR: Possibly yes. We have seen through Lewis Hamilton for instance a much wider audience, which is good for the sport.

Q. How do you see Heikki Kovalainen's chances against Lewis Hamilton?

NR: It's going to be difficult isn't it? For sure. Lewis has the boost from the first year, he has all the experience with the car, no rule changes except for traction control which doesn't make a difference. That's going to be difficult.

Q. Having tested at Barcelona, Valencia and Jerez, which track is the FW30 most suited to or is it good all over?

NR: Mostly Barcelona has not been our great strong track, but lately Williams has really been stepping up the game with aerodynamics. They have really put effort into it and recruited some strong people so at the moment it's looking much better.

Q. You say Heikki is going to find it difficult against Lewis but would you still like to be in his position?

NR: I am very happy where I am, that's for sure, but of course there is a small part of me that wants to be in a race-winning car. But I will just have to wait a few more years. That's what I want to do, I want to win races. It's difficult, you come into F1 and you have won everything coming through.

I always had the chance to win in every single race I have ever done before F1, and now it is just not there. It is strange. So there is that small part of me that wants a race-winning car under me.

Q. What kind of feeling does it give you not to have a winning chance?

NR: It's strange. You wake up and you know you can drive as well as you want but you can't be first.

Q. Does it make you angry?

NR: No. As I said I am very, very happy where I am. And I accept that you need to be patient in this sport, that's the way it is. You can do a fantastic job with where we are. If you are fifth on the grid it is like a pole position so that's what I need to look at.

Q. In the future you will obviously want to be winning races and championships...

NR: Definitely. That's what I am driving for.

Q. Is it possible to achieve this with Williams?

NR: I hope so. That would be the dream to make it with Williams. We need to make a step this year and then another big step next year. We will have our chance next year, there is such a big rule change that everybody has a chance. It's going to completely mix it up again. That's the big chance that we need to take as Team Williams.

Q. So you see 2009 as a blank sheet of paper for everybody?

NR: Yes. The problem is that everybody is thinking the same. You see teams like Honda thinking that too.

Q. Do you like the media attention away from the track?

NR: I live in Monaco, and in Monaco there is nothing. Which is a very nice thing about it. There is no photographers allowed in Monaco so you have a private life. And that's my home - it always has been and always will be. In fact I even enjoy the press attention when I go somewhere else. It doesn't annoy me because I don't have it normally so it's okay once in a while.

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