• Interview with Nico Rosberg.

    Nico Rosberg: “Pure happiness.”

    Nico Rosberg drove his first kart race at eleven years of age. In 2016, he ended his career after winning the Formula 1 World Championship. After Damon Hill, he is the second son of a World Champion to be able to follow in the successful footsteps of his father.

    Interview: Jochen Fischer | Photo: Paul Ripke

“All teary-eyed.”

Nico Rosberg, after your retirement from Formula 1, are you done with motorsport now?

As an active driver, yes. At least that’s how things look at the moment. I don’t have any other plans in that domain. But I’m only human and I never say never – who knows what the future will hold? I still want to keep up my sport in some way. But only time will tell what role that might be.

You’re only 32 years of age, but can already look back on a motorsport career of more than 20 years. With a year’s worth of hindsight, what takes precedence: the pain of separating yourself from such a long part of your life – or the relief of no longer having the pressure to keep on winning?

Mostly pure happiness. And a good deal of race victories, three of which were in Monaco. At the end, winning the World Championship title against Lewis within the team. I had a really great career; I achieved the same as my father did and at the same time stayed healthy. That’s a very nice feeling. There are sure to be some moments I’ll tell my grandchildren about, all teary-eyed.

Nico Rosberg at the Mercedes-Benz Museum
Nico Rosberg at the Mercedes-Benz Museum

“The Mercedes history has always fascinated me.”

During your active years, did you ever looked a little further back at motorsport history before your time?

Oh yes, a lot. I’ve received lots of lovely books and enjoyed reading them. Particularly the Mercedes history has always fascinated me – the brand has such a grandiose tradition. What makes me particularly proud is that I now stand among a line of big names like Juan Manuel Fangio.

As a works driver for Mercedes-Benz, you also had the chance to drive the history-laden Silver Arrows. Which one of them left you with the most powerful

Without a doubt, Fangio’s World Championship car from 1954. I had the privilege of driving it on the Hockenheimring and the Nürburgring Nordschleife with Michael Schumacher.
That was really, truly impressive. The drivers of that era risked their lives every weekend. That’s definitely true passion.

“The drivers then were crazy – in a positive way.”

Let’s say you had the opportunity to go back in time in motorsport history. Which decade and which location would you go back to – and with or against whom would you most like to race?

I think I’d go for the 80s. Against Prost and Senna. These drivers are both true legends for me.

Are the physical and mental demands of a Formula 1 driver from 2016 comparable in any way with those of the Silver Arrows eras of the 1930s and 1950s?

I don’t think so. I’ve read lots and also seen plenty of videos. As I say, the drivers then were crazy – in a positive way, that is. Like the time during the German Grand Prix in 1938 when the fuel caught fire during refuelling and Manfred von Brauchitsch suffered nasty burns. But no one was bothered; the show had to go on. Pumped with adrenaline, he didn’t even feel the pain. Incredible. To be quite honest, I’m not sure I’d have managed that.

Nico Rosberg at the Mercedes-Benz Museum
Nico Rosberg at the Mercedes-Benz Museum

“Caracciola is another legend who inspires me greatly.”

Could you imagine stepping into the shoes of Rudolf Caracciola, for example at the 1937 German Grand Prix,
and then driving the W 125 over a race distance of more than 500 kilometres in a winning time of around four hours?

Caracciola is another legend who inspires me greatly. Incredible performances! A nephew of his once visited me at a race in Spa and we spoke about stories from times gone by. As I say, I find the characters from those days extremely interesting.

When you were a lad, did you have any sporting heroes while you were karting or when you were an upcoming driver in the Formula 3 series?

It was always Mika Häkkinen. My father managed him, hence there was a certain sense of proximity. I was always very excited when he raced against Michael Schumacher

“You can’t get much better than that.”

Looking back, were there any personalities in Mercedes-Benz motorsport history that stick out for you?

The legendary racing director Alfred Neubauer. In terms of drivers, it would have to be Fangio, Caracciola, Moss, Häkkinen – and the Rosberg/Hamilton duo. They also put up a great fight (laughing), if my sources are to believed...

Among other things, you own a Pagoda SL. Is driving a classic car something of a welcome change from motorsport for you – is your Pagoda a machine for slowing things down a bit?

It gives me a great driving sensation. This car genuinely gives me a different perspective on the world – it all looks so different. My wife and I dress up appropriately whenever we head out on our tours in the Pagoda and then drive at weekends to a beautiful restaurant on the coast of southern France. You can’t get much better than that.