Nico Rosberg may have a rare break from his Formula 1 commitments this weekend, but he is genuinely excited about the prospect of thrilling fans with a run up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in last year's Mercedes GP W01.
Rosberg openly admits that he has a big interest in F1's past, and his appearance this weekend comes at a time of intense speculation over his future – with rival teams keeping a close eye on how things develop for him at Mercedes GP.
AUTOSPORT caught up with Rosberg for an exclusive chat about Goodwood, his feelings for the British GP and just what his current mindset is about the future.
Q. You are doing the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend in last year's Mercedes GP W01. What is the attraction of the event for a driver like you who is more used to battling wheel to wheel at 180mph?
Nico Rosberg: The attraction is because it is a very, very unique event in the world of motorsports in general. For one, the number of people who come to the event every single year is very impressive. It is amazing – and they are all driven by the passion from this one person, Lord March.
The event is known across the world as one of the best motorsport festivals, so it is just an amazing attendance. Everyone there unites under the passion of racing and that makes it very special, even for me. To go there, and see every single car from the past – is great.
But I must say next time I go to Goodwood I would love to drive the old car for once. I still haven't driven the old Mercedes and I would love to experience what that was like – how brave and crazy those guys were!
Q. Are you interested in the history of the sport?
NR: I am very interested in the history, actually. Unlike many of the other drivers, who don't seem to be too interested, I've looked into the history a lot. Maybe it was because of my dad that I've looked a lot over that period, but also I really enjoying looking at pictures and reading about the past from even further back.
In Valencia, we watched a video of Juan Manuel Fangio, and for me that was a special moment. To see a special video like that, which I had never seen before, with those images – and then thinking I am in the seat that Fangio had, right now 50 years later! It is pretty special. And also I love watching what beautiful cars Mercedes-Benz built at the time because they are probably the most beautiful cars ever built.
Q. The week after Goodwood we have the British GP at Silverstone. It's the first of two home races for Mercedes GP. What are your feelings for that event, as it is quite a different track than the last few we have been to?
NR: On the one side, I am excited, of course, because it is a great track with a lot of high-speed corners, which is always nice on an F1 circuit. And then there is the next part that it is one of our home grands prix and a lot of people from the factory with their families are going to be there, so it is just great to bring the sport close to them. And I hope to be able to do well in front of them.
However, that is where the mixed emotions come in because obviously the last couple of races have been a little bit difficult for us, and at the moment it is not foreseen that at Silverstone we will be able to do a big jump. It is going to take a few weeks and months to move up strongly. So it is going to be difficult to repeat the result of last year where I finished strongly on the podium.
Q. Is the main issue tire degradation still or does it ultimately boil down to aerodynamic performance?
NR: There are various issues. If you look in Valencia, even in qualifying, we were just not strong enough. So it is a general lack of performance from the car – in many areas. It is not one specific area that you can pinpoint. It is various areas and a general lack of performance. In the end, it all starts at the factory. That is where Ross [Brawn] is pushing an ongoing process of improving the facilities, the communication, the people, and everything. It is a process that is going to take some time to get absolutely right.
Q. Do you still feel totally committed to the Mercedes GP cause. You are at a stage of your career where you are ready to deliver race wins, yet you need the machinery underneath to do that. Are you getting impatient now to get that car underneath you?
NR: To start off, the answer on that is that I am driving for Mercedes GP as a German, and I am part of the process of building up this team. I have the opportunity to help lead this team – so it is pretty clear that it is a fantastic opportunity. I would never say that I am uncomfortable or something.
Additionally I feel very comfortable in the team because there is a great bunch of people, so all in all it is a nice situation to be in, to be part of this project and part of this challenge. But, of course, I am a racing driver – and above all I would like to win races.
I wouldn't say I am impatient for it, but I hope that it will come soon, and that is why I am pushing hard at the moment. As always.
Q. Ross and Norbert Haug both concede that changes have to come, and the team needs to be strengthened, but it will take time. Are you convinced this team has the capability to deliver?
NR: Yes, 100 percent. And I think everyone can be convinced. Come on: we have Mercedes-Benz, we have Ross Brawn, masses of other clever competent people working together. Mercedes is building the engine. It is a fact that the team will have success, and everyone will agree on that. There is no reason why it won't. But the big question mark is, when? Currently it looks like it is still going to take time, for sure. But Mercedes is very committed.
Q. Ross Brawn said recently in an interview that he wants you to be patient, and give the team time to succeed, rather than be tempted to go somewhere else at the risk of that move not paying off. Are you willing to be patient?
NR: At the moment, yes. In my current situation, of course, but I don't want to now look into the distant future. I am in a pretty strong position at the moment. I really have to see. The fact is that I would like to win races, at the same time that I am feeling very comfortable in this team. I just have to judge for myself how likely that is going to be that this team win races soon.
Q. How do you react when stories link you with other teams – like Ferrari for example?
NR: Obviously there is interest from other top teams, which is a good thing for my career for sure. But that is about it at the moment. There is nothing more than that.
Q. How big a step is the next one in your career then? The move from Williams to Mercedes GP has paid off, but is the next decision an even bigger one for you?
NR: The next step is to be in a car where I can win races in the not too distant future – whatever step that may be.
Q. For everyone other than Sebastian Vettel the championship this year looks to be a pretty lost cause. What would be a good achievement for you this year?
NR: What would make me happy? For one it is difficult to quantify in results at the moment. I will be happy when I know I have done a fantastic performance with what I have. But it is difficult to say what that will be yet. At the moment I am seventh in the World Championship, which justifies my car currently. So I would quite like to attack the last guy from the top bunch, which at the moment is [Felipe] Massa, and give him a run for his money. Maybe with consistency one can annoy him a little bit.
Q. So it is about breaking the stranglehold of the top three teams then?
NR: Yeah, exactly. If I were able to achieve and beat one of the top six guys in the championship. Last year I came close to beating Massa for sixth. This year looks a bit more difficult but you never know, and that is what I am going to have to go for. That would be a step up for me in terms of championship position. Not that it is important, but it is a step in the right direction again, and now I would like to move up.