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Nico Rosberg




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2016 - number of wins:
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Nico Rosberg


Wiesbaden, Germany

Official website:


Unlike his father, 1982 Formula One World Champion, Keke Rosberg, who is a Finn, Nico was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, and races under a German licence.

Being the son of a World Champion will have certainly opened doors for Nico, but that doesn't detract from his undoubted talent.

As is so often the case, the youngster started off in Karts, winning the Regional Cote d'Azur mini-kart Championship in 1996, aged 11, and followed this up with the French mini-kart (1997) and North American ICA Junior Karting (1998) titles.

In the years that followed, Nico finished runner-up in the Italian ICA Junior Karting Championship and fourth in the ICA Junior European Karting Championship (1999). He was runner-up in the 2000 Formula A European Karting Championship and in 2001 contested the Super A World Karting Championship, before switching to single-seaters for 2002.

At the very first attempt, the youngster won the Formula BMW ADAC Championship with 9 wins, a victory that secured the bond with BMW and also earned him a test drive with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team.

To prove that his Formula BMW victory was no 'flash in the pan', the youngster followed up with a strong performance in the 2003 F3 Euro-series, finishing runner-up in the 'rookie' class, and then finishing a strong fourth in the 2004 championship with four wins.

Following his maiden F1 test in December 2002, when he declared that he found the car "easy to drive", Nico enjoyed further outings with the WilliamsF1 team in December 2003 and January 2004.

In 2005, having already secured a seat with Nicolas Todt's ART Grand Prix team in the inaugural GP2 Championship, Nico was named as second test driver, alongside Antonio Pizzonia, at WilliamsF1. "We are delighted to have another talented Rosberg in the team," said team boss Sir Frank Williams at the time.

On only his second day with the Grove outfit, during testing at Silverstone, Nico posted the fastest time of the day, out-pacing Pizzonia and posting the second fastest lap of the year at the Northamptonshire track.

Back in GP2, Rosberg took the inaugural title in a series, which, despite some initial hiccups, turned out to be genuinely thrilling. The title fight went all the way to the wire, with Nico holding off Heikki Kovalainen.

Following the break up of the BMW WilliamsF1 partnership, it was thought that Nico might follow fellow-German, Nick Heidfeld, to the new BMW team, but instead the youngster opted to remain with the team that gave his father his title.

In 2006, Nico made his F1 race debut, partnering Mark Webber. We said at the time that it would be "a season of learning not just for the German, but also for his team", how right we were.

Patrick Head best summed up the situation in 2006, when, at the launch of his team's 2007 car, he admitted that both he and Frank Williams were "ashamed" at their team's performance.

The team took all the blame, admitting that it had focussed on the wrong things, opting for an overly complex gearbox and suffering from all round poor reliability. You name it, it went wrong, and usually when one of the drivers looked set to do well.

Depending on your point of view, seventh place and fastest lap in Bahrain - the season opener - and third on the grid in Malaysia, was the worst possible start to Nico's F1 career. For when one considers the appalling season that was to follow, it suggests that the German also suffered a loss of form.

Yes there were a few mishaps, and clouting his teammate from behind in the final race of the year just about summed up Nico's and Williams' season, but for the most part, and considering the equipment at his disposal, Nico did a sterling job. Certainly, Williams didn't hesitate when it came to renewing his contract.

"Nico will be one of the top drivers of the future," said Patrick Head at the launch of the FW29, the Grove outfit's 2007 contender. The fact that ten months later, following Fernando Alonso's departure from McLaren, the Woking team tried to secure Nico as the two-time champion's replacement suggests that Ron Dennis fully agreed with the Williams co-director.

Nico got his season off to the best possible start with a strong seventh in Melbourne. He looked odds on to follow this up with another points finish in Malaysia until succumbing to a water leak.

Though a vast improvement on the FW28, certainly in terms of reliability, the FW29 lacked pace. Furthermore, although reliability was nowhere near as bad as in 2006, the team still suffered its fair share of problems, with a further failure causing Nico to lose out on a certain points finish at Indianapolis and an engine failure in Japan putting the youngster back ten grid spots having originally qualified sixth.

In qualifying, Nico ruled, out-qualifying Alex Wurz fifteen times, and it was these performances that the youngster was able to convert to points finishes as the season progressed. However, it was the Austrian who scored the Grove outfit's only podium finish of the year, in Canada.

From Hungary, Nico enjoyed a run of points finishes, enabling him to finish ninth in the Drivers' Championship. While ninth might not sound that impressive, one has to consider that the 'big four', Ferrari, McLaren, BMW and Renault were always going to take the lion's share of the points. Therefore, ninth in the drivers' standings and eighth in the Autocourse Top Ten seems about right.

Despite interest from McLaren and Toyota, Nico inked a new deal with Williams for 2008 and 2009, clearly feeling the British team has the potential to give him a car capable of battling for podiums if not wins. He was wrong, certainly in 2008.

Despite a strong start to the season, finishing third in Melbourne, it was a mostly disappointing year for the Grove outfit and Nico.

The FW30, though reliable, lacked the pace of its rivals, while it was only competitive on certain circuits. In addition, the team lost focus on 2008 instead opting to look ahead to 2009, when a raft of new rules are due to be introduced.

Having picked up a point in both Bahrain and Turkey, it wasn't until Canada that Nico looked like adding to his tally. Unfortunately however, the German ran into the back of Lewis Hamilton, who had already taken out Kimi Raikkonen, subsequently taking a ten-place grid penalty to France.

The highlight of Nico's season, indeed, Williams season, has to have been Singapore where he finished second in spite of a 10-second drive-through penalty. An excellent drive from the German, combined with a decent strategy and a little bit of luck, saw Nico double his tally in one fell swoop.

Despite being continually linked with other teams, Nico remained with Williams in 2009, even though the team was overshadowed by doubts about its finances, the Grove outfit having taken a major hit as a result of the global financial crisis, with sponsors Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Baugur both particularly badly affected. The situation certainly wasn't helped with the last minute loss of sponsors Petrobras and Lenovo.

Points-wise, 2009 was Nico's best season, the German scoring points in 11 rounds and eventually finishing seventh in the Drivers' Championship. However, four years into his F1 career there was widespread feeling that Nico should be doing more than picking up the 'crumbs' left by his rivals.

While the FW31 wasn't a bad car, it certainly wasn't any great shakes and though the Grove team worked hard throughout the season in an attempt to keep in touch with the front runners the team was to lose ground following late improvements from McLaren, Ferrari, Toyota and BMW which subsequently demoted it to seventh.

That said, superb reliability saw the team complete 92% of the racing laps over the course of the season, and while teammate Nakajima's performances failed to win a single point, instead showing how tight the field was, many feel that Nico could have achieved more.

The German's season got off to a great start in Australia where, having qualified fifth, he finished fourth the following day, posting fastest lap of the race into the bargain. There was another points finish in Malaysia where the race was brought to an early close due to the atrocious conditions.

Between Spain and Belgium Nico enjoyed a run of 8 races in which he scored 27 points, following disappointing outings in China and Bahrain.

A lacklustre performance at Monza was followed by another excellent drive in Singapore - scene of Nico's best result in 2008 - before the German, who seemed destined for second, perhaps his maiden win, ruined it all by crossing the white line at the pit-lane exit and picking up a needless drive through.

Having scored 4 points in Japan, Nico subsequently suffered his first retirement of the year when his Williams encountered gearbox problems in Brazil.

It is said that having learned of Nico's intention to leave, Frank Williams lost interest in the youngster and subsequently pre-empted the situation by telling him that he wouldn't be needed in 2010. It is unlikely we shall ever know the truth. However, what we do know is that on November 2, the day after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Williams announced Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg as its 2010 drivers. It was exactly three more weeks before Nico signed for Mercedes.

While he might have felt peeved at his treatment by Williams, Nico will have felt a whole lot better now that he knew he would be contesting the 2010 season with the Silver Arrows, even if the team was based in the heart of England and had originally started out as British American Racing. However, what wouldn't one give to know the youngster's feelings on learning, on December 23, that his new teammate would be a certain M Schumacher.

Even as Schumacher spoke of his delight at returning to F1 and working with a new team and teammate, there was intense speculation as to how young Nico would handle things. Some predicted that the wily old fox would destroy the young pretender while others opined that it would be Nico who would rule the roost. Despite the pre-season smiles and determined camaraderie, things cannot have been helped when Schumacher claimed the number 3 which had originally been given to Nico, saying it was for reasons of superstition. Schumi superstitious, get out of here!

Initially, the W01 showed a respectable pace, though it was no real match for the McLaren and Red Bull. In the latter half of the season however, the team, having now been surpassed by Ferrari, was now under intense pressure from Renault. In addition to the fact that that the short gearbox - certainly when compared to those on the McLaren, Renault and Ferrari - didn't fully exploit the benefit of the double diffuser, the team was off the ball when it came to the F-duct, the blown diffuser and even its engine cover.

At times, the team appeared lost, witness the decision to introduce a longer wheelbase car at Barcelona, while the blown diffuser, introduced at Valencia, was then scrapped before being reintroduced. Overall, the W01 was good on circuits with slow and medium speed corners but lost out in high speed corners due to its lack of downforce.

First blood went to the youngster, Nico qualifying fifth in Bahrain, two spots ahead of his teammate, and subsequently finishing fifth in the race. In Malaysia, in a rain hit qualifying session, the German put the W01 on the front row, finishing third in the race next day.

There was another podium finish in China, thereby promoting Nico to second in the championship behind Jenson Button and putting further pressure on his illustrious teammate.

As the European phase of the season got underway, the team introduced a longer wheelbase version, whilst introducing a number of aerodynamic upgrades. The longer wheelbase was in reaction to Schumacher's feedback, therefore there was little surprise when in Spain he out-qualified Nico for the first time going on to take a convincing fourth in the race whilst the youngster struggled home in thirteenth.

While there were points finishes in Monaco, Turkey, Canada and Valencia, it wasn't until Silverstone that Nico was back on the podium, despite the best efforts of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button.

In his home race, there was disappointment. Having qualified ninth Nico was unable to improve on the position during the race, while in Hungary a loose wheel nut left him sidelined after just 15 laps.

Nico enjoyed a great scrap with his teammate at Spa, the youngster coming out on top at a circuit that will be forever associated with the seven-time champ, while there were further strong finishes at Monza and Singapore, certainly when one considers how much ground Mercedes was losing to the opposition at this stage.

In Japan, during a great scrap with his teammate, Nico lost a rear wheel in Turn 5, sending his W01 into the tyre barriers at high speed. There was further disappointment in Korea, when, running fourth, Nico was a totally innocent victim of Mark Webber's error on the eighteenth lap. Former F1 star Gerhard Berger was to subsequently claim Webber had taken out the German deliberately, a crass comment from a man who should know better.

Despite three pits stops, Nico was able to finish sixth in Brazil, while in Abu Dhabi clever pit strategy during a Safety Car period saw him take fourth place and thereby secure seventh in the overall championship standings.

Seventh in the Drivers' Championship equalled his previous best season (2009), however, surely most of his satisfaction came from not only keeping his illustrious teammate honest but in regularly dominating him. Funny enough, the youngster was also seventh overall in terms of the 2010 supergrid and in terms of laps completed.

While the MGP W02 proved to be very fast in winter testing, when it really mattered, on Grand Prix weekends, the car was unable to take on the Ferraris and McLarens, far less the Red Bulls.

With the WO2, Ross Brawn and his team opted for a short wheelbase car. However, the Englishman subsequently admitted that this had not proved as advantageous as originally thought. While Mercedes KERS system once again proved to be one of the best out there, the team struggled to get to grips with the new exhaust technologies, it also had problems with the new Pirelli rubber, the German car proving to be extremely hard on its tyres.

Nico showed his speed in Australia until he was forced to retire following a clash with Rubens Barrichello. Two weeks later, in Malaysia, the youngster finished a distant twelfth, meaning that for the first time in his career he failed to score a single point in the opening two races of a season.

Nico finally opened his 2011 points account in China, having qualified fourth he went on to finish fifth, leading the race for fourteen laps. Had he not been forced to conserve fuel in the latter stages of the race, Nico might well have finished higher.

In Turkey he qualified an amazing third, going on to score another fifth place finish the following day. In Spain, he qualified and finished seventh, while Monaco and Canada were to be pointless.

Valencia saw him begin a run of results which saw him score points in eleven of twelve races, the exception being Italy where he was taken out in the opening moments of the race by an out-of-control Tonio Liuzzi.

At Spa, where attention was on his teammate who was celebrating the twentieth anniversary of his first F1 start, Nico, having qualified fifth, made a fantastic start and took the lead, manfully holding off Vettel, Button, Alonso and Hamilton for as long as he could.

Out-qualifying his teammate 16-3, Nico continued to impress, leading to many wondering what might be possible were he at the wheel of a Red Bull or McLaren. On the other hand, some felt there were a couple of instances where he might have achieved more had he shown a bit more self-belief.

Retained for 2012, alongside Schumacher, Nico admitted in early January that he had spent too many seasons with Williams at a time the Grove outfit was clearly in a rut. Ahead of his third season with Mercedes - a team expecting much following the recruitment of Aldo Costa, Geoff Willis and Bob Bell - some said the youngster had already given the Brackley outfit more than enough time.

It's difficult to know how best to describe Mercedes 2012 season. On the one hand Nico gave the German outfit its first win since Monza 1955, however, on the other the team appeared to have taken one step forward and two back.

That it failed to score a single point in five successive races at the end of the season, losing out to Lotus and under pressure from Sauber, just about says it all.

Having seemingly conquered the problem with overheating tyres that first appeared in pre-season testing, the German outfit was completely mystified when the problem reappeared later in the year. Then there was the questionable merit of it much trumpeted double DRS device.

Nico took a well deserved win in China, thereby making him the first German driver to win a Grand Prix driving a German car since Hermann Lang's victory at the 1939 Swiss Grand Prix. However, following the Shanghai victory, other than a podium in Monaco, it was lean pickings for the youngster.

Then again, some might say that China, with its mixed weather conditions was something of a fluke, pointing to a couple of weeks earlier when the German appeared to fall apart in Malaysia. Then, while he claimed a podium finish in Monaco, his performance was somewhat overshadowed by that of his teammate who took a stunning pole.

Schumacher certainly gave Nico a run for his money, out-qualifying him ten times, indeed, for much of the season it was the veteran who appeared to have the fire in his belly, even if he continued to get involved in controversial incidents.

Not affected to the same extent as Schumacher in terms of reliability, many feel that Nico could and should have achieved more, while others say he lacks the killer instinct of the greats, that he simply doesn't have the fight in him.

In late September, after weeks of rumour and denial, it was finally confirmed that Lewis Hamilton was to join the Brackley-based outfit, the Englishman finally leaving the comfort zone of the McLaren family.

Whatever the shortcomings of the WO4 might be, Nico was going to find himself under extreme pressure from his old buddy, the Stevenage Rocket.

As it was, Nico gave a good account of himself, even if the lack of a noticeable performance gap between the two indicated that Michael Schumacher hadn't been as off the pace as some had suggested.

Dutifully obeying when told not to overtake his teammate in Malaysia - unlike some - Nico went on to show his true class in Monaco, leading every lap and taking an emotional victory in the Principality where he has spent much of his life.

His win at Silverstone a few weeks later was a little more fortuitous but it still gave the German two wins at a time his teammate had yet to make it beyond the bottom step of the podium.

While he impressed in India and again in Abu Dhabi, thereby finishing the season sixth overall, his best result since entering F1 in 2006, teammate Hamilton finished the year fourth, eighteen points to the good. On the other hand, coming back from the team orders issue in Malaysia, Nico made it quite clear he was not going to be a doormat, the German taking three consecutive poles and thereby reasserting his position within the team.

From the outset, it was clear Mercedes, certainly in terms of power units, had done the best job in interpreting the sweeping new regulations, the biggest in the sport's history. Indeed, from Melbourne, where the team scored the first of its 16 wins, it was clear that the German outfit was going to be the one to beat.

Once again, Nico's refusal to yield to his teammate demonstrated that Michael Schumacher's performances over those three seasons alongside his countryman were nothing like as woeful as sections of the media would have us believe. Though he might not have ultimately won the title, 2014 clearly demonstrated that Nico is a serious contender.

Whilst Hamilton is widely regarded as one of the fastest men on the grid, Nico's domination on Saturday afternoons clearly demonstrated that the German is no slouch. Unfortunately it is on Sundays when the German's weaknesses, and Hamilton's strengths, became truly apparent.

Whilst Nico ticked many boxes in 2014 year demonstrating that he is a cerebral driver, it was clearly his teammate who has the killer instinct.

Ignoring what may or may not have happened in Monaco, at Spa the German made a complete mess of it and as a result took over from Sebastian Vettel as the sport's pantomime villain, the man they love to boo.

At the end of 2014 we wrote: "Yes, he took the title down to the wire but, hand on heart, few would claim that over the course of the season Nico had been the better driver or deserved the crown. He has improved, he is now a serious contender, but he must do more."

With precious few rule changes for 2015 and both drivers retained we expected another strong showing from the German team, however, if 2014 was a tour-de-force, in 2015 the bar was raised even higher.

With little to worry about in terms of power or speed, the German team focussed on reliability, and the fact that the silver cars completed 96.6% of the season's racing laps, and suffered only two DNFs, is clear proof that the Brackley outfit got that sorted also.

The numerous records established in 2014 were soon broken, not least twelve 1-2s, thirty-one podium finishes and 86% of all laps led.

Whilst he had opened his 2014 account with a win, teammate Hamilton suffering an engine issue, it was the Briton who got 2015 off to a perfect start, taking pole and converting it into a race win.

It was in Spain, five races in, that Nico took his first win of the season, whilst surprisingly, considering his 2014 form, the first pole didn't come until that weekend either.

Not only was he seemingly unable to match his teammate's talent, he appeared overwhelmed by the Briton's aggression. Indeed, there were several times over the course of the season when Nico looked as if he wanted to be anywhere else but on a race track.

Hamilton's domination in qualifying proved costly for the German, and while he won in Spain -having started ahead of Hamilton - he was briskly brushed aside in Japan, Russia and the USA, a race that appeared to be the likeable driver's nadir.

On the Austin podium, the title lost, he looked a broken man, his plight encapsulated in the unnecessary cap throwing incident moments earlier that did neither he nor Hamilton any favours.

A late season renaissance saw Nico take three straight wins - the first time he has managed such a sequence - however, the question was did he suddenly find the wherewithal to raise his game - and if so, why so late - or was Lewis merely easing off having wrapped up the title.

Whilst there was no doubting we had seen a more confident, determined Nico in the final races of the season, one could not help but reflect on the way he was out-classed for much of the year beforehand. Indeed, it was that late surge that prevented him losing out on the runner-up spot to Sebastian Vettel, unthinkable really considering the equipment at his disposal.

With his contract up for renewal in 2016 it was going to be interesting to see what Mercedes would do, for while there was no doubting Nico's talent, nor the fact that he's a nice, well-rounded guy, for the most part, nice guys don't win championships.

As it happens, the winning streak continued, Nico extending that sequence of three at the end of 2015 with another four in 2016 indeed, as the European season got underway the German had a 43 point advantage.

True, Hamilton had suffered a number of technical issues, but there was no mistaking the fact that Nico had a new determination about him.

Unfortunately, despite Mercedes best efforts to keep things under control, the downright hostility between its two drivers resurfaced in Spain as the pair eliminated one another on the opening lap. There is talk that Hamilton came close to quitting and while we will have to wait for 'the book' there is no denying that the German outfit was having difficulty with its warring duo. Of course, the situation wasn't helped by Hamilton's technical issues, the Briton ensuring the media - and thereby the fans - were aware of his suspicions no matter how groundless.

Whether the 'Barcelona incident' did cause Hamilton to re-think his F1 future or not, we do know that over the course of the next seven races the Briton took six wins. Despite that opening sequence, now Nico was on the back foot.

However, the German was clearly determined, and from Belgium put together another winning sequence that included a sublime performance in Singapore where he out-qualified and out-raced Hamilton so that the championship pendulum was now swinging back in his favour.

In 2016 we were clearly seeing a more feisty Nico, one less willing to roll over, witness not only the silly lunge at Hamilton in Austria which resulted in a penalty, but subsequent attacks on Verstappen and Raikkonen which were similarly 'rewarded'.

In Malaysia Hamilton was cruising to victory having dominated all weekend, until a late engine failure meant his second DNF of the year. Though this played into Nico's hands, the German could only manage third as the Red Bulls too advantage of a rare slip-up from Mercedes.

Though Nico took victory in Japan, Hamilton, whose poor start at Suzuka cost him the race, then hit back with another sequence of wins, thereby ensuring that the title fight went all the way to the wire.

While Nico looked confident ahead of the season finale there was no escaping the fact that for the second time he had allowed his teammate to string together a sequence of wins whilst appearing to accept runner-up status. Indeed, only in Singapore had the German really looked as though he truly wanted the title, his mantra of ‘one race at a time’ not exactly inspiring confidence.

Despite Hamilton's best efforts in Abu Dhabi, which included wilfully ignoring team orders, second was enough for Nico to finally take the title.

That doesn't really do the German justice however, for Hamilton, in an effort to retain the title, had deliberately slowed the race down forcing his teammate into the clutches of the Red Bulls and Vettel. In a late move which probably decided the destiny of the title, and much to his concern, Nico had to take on Verstappen... he did and it worked, however, if he had failed...

On any given day, Hamilton is the better driver indeed, the Briton is probably one of the top two or three out there. Yet over the course of the season Nico was the more consistent. Yes, he was luckier in terms of reliability but at the same time he made less mistakes, particularly with his starts.

While some insist that Nico had 'lucked' into the title having benefited from Hamilton's various issues, the fact is that while races might be won by luck championships are not.

Just days after the emotion of Abu Dhabi, as he continued his whirlwind world-wide tour of celebration, and having signed a new contract just five months earlier, Nico shocked the world - and particularly his team - by announcing his retirement.

In the end of season podcast, editor Balfe suggested that one of the reasons for the German's surprise announcement might have been his unwillingness to put himself through another season of Hamilton hostility.

Though Mercedes did its best to maintain the status quo and not have a clear number one, at times this policy, though admirable, appeared to hurt the team like a wound festering beneath the skin, witness Hamilton's late season remark that there was more to the decision to swap key members of crew than met the eye.

Mercedes mighty PR machine denied all this - as it had to - but one could not help feel that ultimately the in-fighting took its toll.

So Nico joined Damon Hill as the only son of a world champion to win the title himself - both doing it exactly 34 years after their respective fathers.

It would have been great to see Nico defend his title, but looking at him sharing the moment with his wife and parents one could understand his decision.

Though not one of the sport's true greats he makes a worthy champion, after all he was paired with one of the greatest talents to grace the sport. While we will never know if he could have done it again, we do know that Nico was one of the good guys, a credit to his country, his sport and his family.

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