MONSTER ENERGY GRABS THE INSIDE LINE ON NICO ROSBERG
At 27, Nico Rosberg has already carved out quite a name for himself. Busting through the cut-throat junior single seater ranks at an impressive rate, the young German won GP2’s first ever championship in 2005, and reached the dizzying heights of F1 just five years after leaving Karting. Now he is seven seasons into F1, and practically a vet of the sport. Monster Energy headed out to the legendary Hungaroring Circuit, just a stone’s throw outside Budapest, to grab 15 minutes of his super-busy schedule and find out how he thinks 2012 has gone so far, what makes him tick, and what he is going to do over the F1 summer break. It’s Thursday afternoon, and while the pit crews are busily working away through the sweltering heat setting up the pit garages and cars, we hooked up with Nico just as he was diving into the super slick Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team hospitality suite, to catch a break from the packs of reporters and TV crews tracking his every move.
(Interview conducted by John Close)
Monster Energy: Hi Nico, It’s great to see you – how are you doing?
Nico: I’m doing really good thanks – I’m looking forward to this weekend, it could be quite interesting. [Nico glances out of the window just as it starts to randomly spot with rain…]
Monster Energy: In your own words how have you found the season so far?
Nico: The season has been good until now, because as a team what we really wanted to do was improve from where we were last year, and we’ve managed to do that. So that’s a really positive thing. But of course now we want more.
Monster Energy: It’s great to see you fighting up at the front, and the win in China was awesome. How did that feel?
Nico: Definitely, the win in China was very special – it was very emotional for me and for the team – to have achieved it. And then of course you have got the history behind it – for Mercedes as well. Not having achieved a win in 57 years, and now we have. It’s very special.
Monster Energy: How did your Dad (F1 legend & 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg) react seeing you take your first F1 win?
Nico: It was very emotional for sure. My dad was really proud of me, and it was great to share the success with him. We both just want to see more of the same now.
Monster Energy: You have a good working relationship with your team mate (Michael Schumacher) did you find yourself unexpectedly helping him when he came back to F1? Was that a little surreal?
Nico: Michael is a great guy, and for sure I think he’s improved from last year, but I think we push each other, and help each other, sometimes indirectly more than directly to be honest. It’s been great to work with him and a great experience so far. I’ve got enough to stay in front at the moment though.
Monster Energy: What motivates you?
Nico: To win, of course!
Monster Energy: If you could go back and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
Nico: [Smiling] Always listen to your parents!
Monster Energy: Who’s your all time racing hero?
Nico: I wouldn’t really say I have racing heroes in that respect, but I always really enjoyed watching my Dad race, and also Mikka Hakkinen, so I guess you could say those two.
Monster Energy: You’ve travelled all over the world to compete in a range of different categories, where is your favourite place to race?
Nico: Hmm – that’s a tough one to decide – I think I’d have to go with the three M’s. That’s Monaco, Melbourne and Montreal. I really enjoy racing at those three street circuits.
Monster Energy: From your career to date, who have you most enjoyed racing against?
Nico: You mean drivers specifically?
Monster Energy: Yeah…
Nico: I don’t think there has been a driver specifically that I could pick out. For sure there have been lots of great races and battles I’ve enjoyed, but I’ve always just been as focused as possible to try and win, so it’s not so much about the other person I’m racing against.
Monster Energy: The current line-up of F1 drivers is pretty strong too…
Nico: Yes, definitely. I mean seven winners out of the first seven rounds was pretty impressive.
Monster Energy: Speaking of seven – you’ve had seven seasons in F1 now and you’ve carved out a pretty strong name for yourself – what’s the weirdest experience you’ve had as a famous F1 driver?
Nico: Haha – probably doing ‘Rock-e-oke’ in front of the team and Mercedes bosses while I was dressed up in a 70’s disco style.
Monster Energy: Haha – tell me more…
Nico: [Laughs] Yeah, it’s like regular karaoke but you do it live with a rock band behind you. It actually gave me a little insight into what it would be like to be a rock star! It was at our team Christmas party. I was told it was a disco themed night, and I dressed up in the full 70’s outfit with white flared jeans, a gold shirt and an afro-wig. I don’t think people recognised me when I walked in. The thing was that Ross [Brawn] and the other guys were just dressed smartly and normally – so when we were up on stage together giving speeches I was standing out quite a bit…
Monster Energy: Awesome, any pictures of that?
Nico: Probably, but I wouldn’t want them to get out.
Monster Energy: Have you got a favourite song you like to do?
Nico: Either ‘When the streets have no name’ or ‘Beautiful day’ by U2.
Monster Energy: What was your first car?
Nico: I had a black Audi RS6. It was actually my Dad’s car, and he gave it to me. He said it would be better to start out with a safe one rather than something else smaller and not so good. It was a cool car.
Monster Energy: Would you like to try your hand at Drifting or a different action sport?
Nico: At the moment, my main goals are in F1, because that’s what I’ve worked towards. But you never know. I follow what Ken Block does online – with Gymkhana – and I think that’s very cool.
Monster Energy: What’s the first thing you do when you get back home after a weekend away racing?
Nico: Eat fast food! [Laughs] I have such a strict diet regime during a race weekend, so I just eat whatever… and that usually ends up being fast food. I love pasta too. I like to just try and relax and do some things that are not disciplined, you know?
Monster Energy: Definitely, rumour has it; you play a mean hand of Poker – what’s the most you’ve ever won?
Nico: Yes, I do like to play poker, and sometimes do that when I get back from races. I’m not allowed to tell you how much I’ve won though because of sponsor arrangements. Sorry. [Smiling like he’s clearly enjoyed some decent success at the poker table]
Monster Energy: What did you buy with your first F1 pay-cheque?
Nico: You know, I didn’t really buy anything specifically. It wasn’t a house or anything like that because in Monaco – where I live – I actually still rent.
Monster Energy: You had a pretty cool childhood jetting between Monaco and Ibiza, what was that like?
Nico: Well for me it felt rather normal, believe it or not. But of course I can understand that it was very privileged – growing up in a wealthy environment. But in a sense my parents always tried to keep it as normal as possible for me. Especially when it came to school and friends. They made sure that there was enough time for these things and whatever else came with it.
Monster Energy: It must have been tough balancing all of that and trying to get your driving career of the ground?
Nico: Yeah, in a way, but it worked out pretty well. I was just as determined to do well in school as I was in racing. School was very important, as I needed that to fall back on, if the racing didn’t work out.
Monster Energy: It must have paid off as you were going to study for a degree in aeronautical engineering – in fact you had a place at a university in London – but turned it down to try for a career in motorsport. Do you still have an urge to pick it up again?
Nico: It’s something I really enjoyed doing, but I don’t think I’m ever really going to go back into. There is plenty for me to focus on in F1 right now.
Monster Energy: What keeps you awake at night?
Nico: I actually have a re-occurring nightmare which is arriving late to the start of a race. Not good.
Monster Energy: You speak five languages (German, Italian, French English, Spanish) what language do you dream in?
Nico: I switch a lot. Go all over the place. Probably English mostly though.
Monster Energy: You’ve worked really hard to get where you are, but do you ever have to pinch yourself that you are an F1 driver?
Nico: Yes, it does happen once in a while, I mean – Silver Arrows, F1 driver. It’s pretty big.
Monster Energy: What will you do to relax over the summer break?
Nico: I just want to hang out with friends and family really. You spend a lot of time away racing during the season, so it’s a good chance to spend some time with the people close to you that you don’t get to see.
Monster Energy: Looks like our time is up already [prompted by Nico’s PR team], it’s been really cool talking to you, thanks for taking the time. Good luck for the race this weekend and the rest of the season. We will look forward to seeing more repeats of your victory in China very soon.
Nico: No problem at all.
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