Nico Rosberg has shrugged off a team order debate as he enters the weekend Chinese Formula One Grand Prix, where he claimed his lone race win to date 12 months ago.
Rosberg’s 2012 success was the first for Mercedes as a works team since 1955, and he told DPA in an interview that it has made him hungry for more.
“Those were great moments. It was unique to share it with the team, the friends and the family. You never forget it and it makes you hungry for more. That’s why you are a racing driver,” Rosberg said.
“I hope we can all restore this soon. We have really gained ground on the fastest (teams). We were close to Red Bull in Malaysia and must keep going.” The 2012 success offered a glimmer of hope but eventually Mercedes fared below expectations again in its third season since going independent in 2010. The result was a managerial shake-up and no contract extension for record world champion Michael Schumacher, who was replaced by Lewis Hamilton.
The British 2008 world champion Hamilton delivered three weeks ago in Malaysia by coming third behind world champion Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.
Rosberg was fourth, but probably only because he obeyed a team order to stay behind Hamilton in the closing stages, although he had the faster car. Rosberg was not amused but did not act like Vettel, who violated team order by overtaking Webber.
“Malaysia was a sobering experience for me in every respect. But that is behind me. We discussed it internally and sorted it out,” Rosberg said.
“I have also learnt over the years to get over setbacks quickly. That helps in sport where there are always setbacks.”
Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff said the team made “a conservative decision” to bring back both cars safely in third and fourth place. He said he didn’t expect to issue to linger on and also insisted that Mercedes have no pecking order.
“There is no number one and number two (driver) with us. Our drivers have equal rights,” Wolff said.
But Rosberg is ready for the challenge, for himself and the team.
“I am in a fighting spirit ahead of the China race. I can feel a special spirit in the team,” he said.
“The competition is huge; we have a much better car than in 2012. That’s why we don’t want to the fastest to drive away from us and we rather want to reduce the gap,” he said.