(Read the Q and A – Rosberg with Formula1 Official Website) Friday’s free practice sessions in Melbourne gave the drivers their first chance to sample 2014’s radically different cars in true racing conditions – and as Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg can attest, there was plenty to learn…
Q: Nico, after all that guessing over the winter, how was it out on track today?
Nico Rosberg: It was great! Finally we’re in Melbourne. Today was so interesting – such an unbelievable lesson. If you thought you knew everything about racing, today showed that there is so much more out there! Take the fuel: we are so on the limit here. You have to save, save, save. And I believe that with our engine we are in good shape. I don’t want to know how the others are doing – under what pressure they are under. I could imagine that saving fuel for some others is even a bigger topic than for us. Take this as an example: you can see lap by lap how much fuel you are using – and how much fuel you need to finish the race. I was always running a bit over that – I never reached the target, so it will be a very interesting race on Sunday, believe me. It’s almost like trying to circle the square: saving fuel and going fast at the same time! And on top of that the tyres do degrade quite a lot – something we didn’t expect from our experiences at the tests. So a mega task is waiting for all of us – and an amazing race for the fans.
Q: Looking at the times, the first six cars are within one second of each other. Did you expect to be that close?
NR: I didn’t expect anything to be honest in that respect. Coming here I expected that we would look pretty good – and it still looks that way right now. But it is Friday and other people might be on completely different programs. We’ve run with rather low fuel and I could imagine that others ran on more. So be cautious about reading too much into today’s times. What was very promising was that also in race trim things did work really well…
Q: …Is that what makes your confidence grow?
NR: It is only Friday so nothing is growing! (laughs) But yes, overall I am optimistic. But one thing is for sure: reliability will be an issue – and my teammate spent much time in the pits because of an issue. So we are also on the limit when it comes to reliability – like all the others. Having said that, anything can happen in the race – so it’s better we don’t make waves!
Q: It sounds a like winning a race now requires you to prioritise different parameters than in the past. Is that so?
NR: Yes, looks like it. Take qualifying: that is a whole different matter than in the past. What will make your race is a firm look at your fuel consumption and the hope that your tyres and your car will last. This Melbourne track makes cars very ‘thirsty’!
Q: Speaking about qualifying: you will have one more set of tyres in Q3 than before. Does that make sense?
NR: We haven’t tried it yet. Tomorrow we will know more about how practical that all is. But in reality it is more than ever a huge difference between qualifying and the race. As I explained earlier: to the normal challenges of a race like reliability and tyres add fuel consumption. When you see on your display where you should be and then what the reality is, it sends shivers down your spine. Is that manageable? Yes! We just have to learn it.
Q: You said that it was a promising day. How promising do you expect the rest of the weekend to be?
NR: I don’t know yet. Yes, I am optimistic as things look okay, but let’s be careful about making any predictions.