Where Should Nico Rosberg Go In 2010?

Where Should Nico Rosberg Go In 2010?

Nico Rosberg, prior to the start of the 2009 season, was making suggestions that he is not entirely happy with his situation at the Williams team, and that perhaps when his contract is up at the end of the year, he may look elsewhere for a drive. The young German star who is recognised by many to be a rising talent in the sport quite rightly wants a race winning car. The only questions are, who will be able to give it to him, and would they want to?

The shake-up in the rules for 2009 has seen a shake-up in the usual order of the teams as well, with Brawn rising from the desperate ashes to lead both titles from the start of the year. Likewise, Red Bull have got their act together and are catching up the Brackley team with some pace. Williams however, are still somewhere on the edge of, well, I’m not entirely sure.

In free practices this season, the FW31 has been electric, and while Nico Rosberg has often found himself at the top of the timing sheet, Kazuki Nakajima hasn’t been too far behind, credit to the Japanese pilot. However, in qualifying and races, the Williams’s progress has often stalled, leaving the drivers to recover what they can from a bottom top-ten to mid-field position. On occasion Rosberg has managed to haul the car into the realms of the top four or five, but consistency is not on his nor the team’s side.

Williams currently rest in P6 in the constructors title, recently overtaken by McLaren thanks to Lewis Hamilton winning in Budapest. With the MP4-24 looking genuinely better, it would perhaps be unrealistic to expect the Grove-based squad to retake this position. However, both squad’s might be able to pass Toyota, who like Williams, seem to have their good days and their bad.

This still only puts them in P5 in the championship, and the car still doesn’t look like a winner. Conversely, the driver’s championship looks good for Rosberg at the moment, but after a quick perusal at those drivers around him and the picture suddenly looks a little bleaker. Currently in P5, Rosberg will likely lose out to Lewis Hamilton and even possibly Kimi Raikkonen by the end of the year. And with only a difference of 3 points, Jarno Trulli remains a threat.

Therefore, if Williams cannot substantially better the situation this year for their lead driver, or offer any concrete progress for next year’s FW32, Rosberg may well look elsewhere for a drive. But who might be able to give him that winning motor, and would they want to employ him?

Recently, BMW were rumoured to have Nico on their shopping list, but the news of the team withdrawing at the end of the season has paid an end to any switch from Grove to Hinwil. And after the Swiss-German team’s performance this year, BMW would have been a gamble.

Red Bull Racing are sewn up with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, and Scuderia Toro Rosso would be a poor move for the German. As would Force India, so I think we can rule these teams out. Also, I think any of the three or possibly four new teams would be a dicey move for 2010, so let’s rule those out as well.

That leaves Renault, Toyota, Brawn, McLaren, Ferrari and Nico’s current home, Williams. Renault are a possibility and I have a vague memory of Flavio Briatore offering Rosberg some praise. Renault are in a quandary at the moment with their drivers, and if they aren’t, they really need to be. Nelson Piquet surely needs to be given the elbow, and if Renault cannot dramatically improve, double world champion Fernando Alonso will be hot-stepping over to a rival team as soon as he can. Presuming of course, the contract hasn’t already been signed.

However, I don’t think Renault would be a good fit for Rosberg, they are currently performing worse than his current stable and potentially partnering Alonso could hurt Rosberg’s career. The long-term commitment is also an issue, and it would appear that Nico seems to do well in a family environment like Williams. Although there is no evidence to compare, it is just an impression I get. Toyota too would be similar in my mind. Although they currently are ahead of Williams, the FW31 is arguably a better car at the moment.

So now we’re down to the big two, staying put or the current championship leaders. And I believe this is pretty much the case for Rosberg at the moment. And if I’m totally honest, I think it can be nailed down even further. I think Rosberg is currently weighing up the loyalty issue which means staying with the team that gave him his break (and his father a world championship), or switching allegiances to McLaren.

Ferrari are happy with Felipe Massa, and perhaps to a slightly lesser extent, Kimi Raikkonen as well. And if Kimi were to leave or get elbowed, Fernando Alonso would be in red overalls before you could even blink. As for Brawn, I don’t think they’ve even thought about 2010 yet in terms of drivers. Jenson Button will likely stay on, and Rubens Barrichello will be replaced with a younger model. Certainly, that could be Rosberg, but I just don’t see it.

McLaren cannot be overly happy with Heikki Kovalainen. The Finn has won a race since joining the team, and his performance in Hungary was mildly acceptable considering it took him several races to even complete one lap. But for a team that won the driver’s title last year, they should be expecting more from their pilots. It may not please Lewis Hamilton entirely, but he needs to be pushed, and Kovalainen simply isn’t doing that.

So I believe Rosberg is currently weighing up the decision between remaining loyal, and a potential race-winning car in 2010. It’s a really tough decision as well, because being partnered to Hamilton will not be easy for the German. At Williams, he is the lead driver, but unless Nico can blast Lewis out of the water from the first race onwards, he will end up being the number two. And let’s all be honest, as good as Rosberg is, I don’t think he’s as good as Hamilton.

What would you do if you were Rosberg? Do you disagree with my summation of his options? The comments are open, so please let me know what you think…


  • I reckon he should go to BMW Sauber. Oh hold on…

    If I was him I’d probably have a punt at McLaren, even if it meant I had to play second fiddle to Hamilton. This year is just a blip for them and they’ll come back stronger next year and however misty eyed people get about Williams, I can’t really ever see them leaving the midfield scrap now or in the future. Plus they’re keen to get Nico Hulkenberg in as soon as possible, though the thought of a Nakajima and Hulkenberg combo wouldn’t leave me with oodles of confidence.

  • Just realised I explained why McLaren may want to replace Kovalainen, but not why they may want to choose Rosberg…

    Rosberg was rumoured to be a replacement for Alonso at the tail-end of 2007, but instead they went with Heikki. Also, McLaren (or Ron Dennis) has a penchant for Finnish pilots, and although Rosberg races under a different flag, he is actually a perfect match for the team in this regard.

    Rosberg is sort of Finnish – his father Keke raced under a Finnish flag because he is Finnish, but Nico’s mother is German I believe. Rosberg therefore holds dual nationality, and the FIA go by whatever passport is handed to them at the start of the season. I’m guessing either Nico or the Williams team gave the FIA his German passport. Or the fact that Rosberg speaks better German than Finnish means that when the post-race interviewer says “and now some words in your own language” there is no confusion over what nationality of journalists need to be in the press room.

    Therefore, Nico is sort of Finnish, which bodes well, even if Ron Dennis is no longer an active part of the team. And the German flag comes in handy with Mercedes-Benz, who incidentally may not be as 100% committed to Formula One as they once were, if very recent rumours are to be believed. A German pilot may just swing it for them in McLaren’s favour…

  • Plus theyโ€™re keen to get Nico Hulkenberg in as soon as possible, though the thought of a Nakajima and Hulkenberg combo wouldnโ€™t leave me with oodles of confidence.

    Really!? Blimey! But that would mean either losing their star driver, or losing the driver that helps them along with Toyota engines (which aren’t too shabby).

    If it is the case that Williams want Hulkenberg in the car, then that would likely mean a change of engine (a return to Cosworth, perhaps) in order to keep Rosberg (ie. ditch Nakajima), but a change of engine to the as-of-yet unproven Cosworth would prompt me to say that Rosberg should jump ship. Which would leave Williams with only one driver, a rookie. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Of course, there are other engine (and driver) options, but with manufacturers quitting, the engine options are only diminishing…

  • Hulkenberg for my money is probably the best driver in GP2 at the minute and having Willi Weber as a manager can only mean he’s destined for F1-stardom in the next year or so.

    I believe he has a contract option to drive with Williams if certain criteria are met, so pretty much a foregone conclusion I guess? And is Nakajima worth keeping for the sake of an engine? Hmm…

    Though you do hear rumours that either Barrichello or Beardy Heidfeld could join the Grove-based squad. That would work. Rosberg goes to Williams, Hulkenberg and Barrichello/Heidfeld join Williams, Nakajima goes back to Japan.

  • It would have to be Mclaren, Heikki just cant cut the mustard, He then moves into one of the new teams as a experienced ` how to tweak the car ` driver, sorry pilot ๐Ÿ™‚

  • That would work. Rosberg goes to Williams, Hulkenberg and Barrichello/Heidfeld join Williams, Nakajima goes back to Japan.

    I’m assuming you mean Rosberg to McLaren.

    Heidfeld left Williams on good terms, didn’t he? I sort of ask because I can’t quite remember. And I personally think that Barrichello should now gracefully retire.

    Also, I don’t think Nakajima is all that bad. Okay, not as quick as Rosberg, but at times he looks pretty racey. I think he deserves to stay in Formula One. Although as you say, there are other drivers waiting in the wings. Grosjean and Senna must be itching to get into the sport at the moment.

  • Heikki just cant cut the mustard, He then moves into one of the new teams as a experienced ` how to tweak the car ` driver, sorry pilot ๐Ÿ™‚

    What’s the difference between driver and pilot? I always presumed pilot was used more on continental Europe (a direct translation back to English from many Euro languages results in “pilot”). Or is there another difference?

    And yeah, Kovalainen isn’t really cutting the mustard. Didn’t last year, and isn’t this year. It’s a shame, because I think he is not a bad driver, just not quite getting right at a time when he totally needs to get absolutely perfect. Opportunities like last year and this don’t come around twice in a career that is foundering.

  • Hulkenberg and Barrichello/Heidfeld join Williams

    Assuming Barrichello retires (and your idea is proven correct), that could leave two German pilots in the Williams. Not the best for marketing purposes. Just adding that in because I know it can is important for teams that really need sponsors because they have no manufacturer backing.

    I would like to see Heidfeld stay in Formula One though.

  • Only joking, I like the term as it truly describes what they are, I cant wait to see the look on my friends faces when I use the term during one of my boring them to death about F1 sessions. I think also that playing second fiddle to your team mate can`t do a pilots confedence any good, as driving is a state of mind as well as a test of skills.

  • I like the term as it truly describes what they are

    Ahh, I see. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think also that playing second fiddle to your team mate can`t do a pilots confedence any good, as driving is a state of mind as well as a test of skills.

    Totally. Barrichello gave up in the end, and Kovalainen couldn’t have been happy with some of his much heavier fuel loads last season. But then we all saw what happens when you have two egos vying for the lead role. When the egos concerned are relatively large like Hamilton and Alonso, fireworks happen. Undoubtedly a personality clash came into it as well, but neither driver would accept a second fiddle role.

    It’s interesting that Webber and Vettel are still getting along at the moment, but I do not envy the Red Bull employee who has to make a decision if it came to it in the latter stages of this championship. Nor would I envy the driver who has to accept the supporting role, especially they both remain fairly close for the remainder of the season.

  • Sorry Ollie, complete Tagent but relevent ( as Ive killed this discussion stone dead ), I know people who scoff when I mention F1 as a sport, I try to explain the sportmanship of it etc etc. What would you or others say when F1 is questioned as a sport?.

  • Damn, if only I`d had strached me nose before hitting the return key ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hehe, I explained to Gusto that the conversation hadn’t been killed, I was just unavailable for a little while. Still, good new conversation…

    What would you or others say when F1 is questioned as a sport?

    I had a similar debate a while back, but can’t remember if it was here or elsewhere. But I firstly see F1 as a sport, and secondly as a business. Or rather, I would like to see F1 as a sport first, and a business second.

    Ultimately, I think it comes down to the individual and how/why they watch the sport. I watch F1 to see one driver battle another and one team battle another (or multiple drivers/teams… you know what I mean). I watch it primarily for the sporting interest.

    However, F1 is big business and that cannot be ignored. I am interested in some of the business decisions that go on. For example, I was interested in the story that Williams couldn’t sell their merchandise in Hungary because a Hungarian company called Williams have an injunction* against the squad for using the same name. Therefore, Williams’s merchandise was not shipped to the circuit, I believe.

    The political side, in very very small doses, is interesting (driver moves, for example). But F1 rarely does political in small doses, and so this area of the sport gives me countless headaches.

    So long answer short, I view Formula One primarily as a sport.

    *This may be the wrong word. I’ll try and dig up the article.

    Edit: Article found. Link added to comment.

  • Norbert issues press release stating he wants a German driver which coincides with Rosberg announcing intention to find a new home.. go figure..

  • One of the issues complicating a Nico-to-Mclaren move would be the input of his dad, who knows a thing or two about F1 politics. I’ve hard many suggestions that Nico decided against any move to McLaren at the end of ’07 because his dad remembered the time that he spent with Hamilton in karts, so I would not be suprised to see a similar deal come into play this time.

  • Brawn:- Jenson Button, Bruno Senna

    Red Bull:- Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber

    McLaren:- Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg

    Ferrari:- Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa

    Renault:- Robert Kubica, Heikki Kovalainen

    Toyota:- Kimi Raikkonen, Timo Glock

    Toro Rosso:- Sebastien Buemi, Takuma Sato

    Williams:- Rubens Barrichello, Nico Hulkenberg

    Force India:- Adrian Sutil, Tonio Liuzzi

    Campos:- Pedro De La Rosa, Vitaly Petrov

    Manor:- Anthony Davidson, Adam Carroll

    US F1:- Alexander Wurz, Jacques Villeneuve

    Lotus:- Jarno Trulli, Fairuz Fauzy

    Sauber Piquet:- Nelsinho Piquet, Nick Heidfeld

  • nico rosberg well for me is certainly better then lewis hamilton…i dont think anyone can carry the williams of today the way rosberg did. give him a good car..he will take the formula 1 by storm..he is amazing, i hope he gets a better car next season…i am pritty sure no one not even lewis hamilton or alonso can defeat this hiddin talent!

  • My 2010 prediction;

    Brawn:- Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg

    Red Bull:- Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber

    McLaren:- Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen

    Ferrari:- Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa

    Renault:- Robert Kubica, Timo Glock

    Toro Rosso:- Sebastien Buemi, Takuma Sato

    Williams:- Rubens Barrichello, Nico Hulkenberg

    Force India:- Adrian Sutil, Tonio Liuzzi

    Campos:- Bruno Senna, Jaime Algersuari

    Manor:- Anthony Davidson, Gary Paffett

    US F1:- Paul di Resta, Marco Andretti

    Lotus:- Jarno Trulli, Fairuz Fauzy

    Sauber:- Nick Heidfeld, Heikki Kovalainen

    really hope I’m wrong and that Kobayashi gets a drive though, he showed us that he really really deserves one… Rosberg will go to Brawn though, Kimi has McLaren written all over him if he doesnt take a sabbatical.

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