Michael Schumacher's presence at Mercedes GP this season has been a key factor in helping Nico Rosberg deliver the step forward in pace that has helped him impress so much.
That is the view of Mercedes Benz motorsport boss Norbert Haug, who reckons that Rosberg's strong showings this season – including his first podium finish for the team in Malaysia on Sunday – have been helped by going up against one of the sport's best ever.
"When the first rumors about Michael came up, Nico called me and said, 'Is it true? Try and get him, try and get him!'," Haug told AUTOSPORT about the impact that Schumacher has had on Rosberg. "What would you do if you are convinced that you could get the job done? If I could make a choice, I always want to work alongside the best. I want to work with the best possible team boss, like Ross Brawn. We are not challenging each other, but we come together and it lets you know where you are.
"For journalists, it is the same approach. I would always like to have the guy next to me doing a slightly better job than I did, so then I can get my act together. If you easily have this guy under control, then you will not get better. You just want to know how good you are. It's the same for Nico."
Haug says he is also not surprised about the way that Nico Rosberg has impressed so much this season – and thinks he is simply showing the potential that was so evident in his junior career.
"From the outside maybe it is a surprise, but I have known Nico for a very long time," Haug said about Rosberg's form this year. "We talked to him when we were at McLaren – we tried to arrange something. He was a guy in our karting program with Lewis [Hamilton], but he did not use our engine in F3.
"I know [his father] Keke obviously very well, and Nico was always one to watch. It is not a surprise for me that he is delivering and doing a good job, he is spot on."