Former world Champion Nico Rosberg was scolded by his team principal during his debut Formula 1 season back in 2006.
Rosberg made his full time debut in 2006, joining the Williams F1 team. It wasn’t a particularly strong year for the British team, who finished eighth in the Championship with just 11 points to their name.
For Rosberg on the other hand, it was a huge season as it was in 2006 that he announced himself on the world stage. He was always seen as a very talented driver and his appointment to Williams was a well-received move.
— Nico Rosberg (@NicoRosberg) November 29, 2021
However, it wasn’t all happy and easy for the German. During a podcast session with Daniel Ricciardo, the 36-year old revealed an incident where he was scolded by the Williams boss over a phone call.
Ricciardo and Rosberg were talking about Helmut Marko’s influence within the Red Bull team. The former revealed how the Austrian’s tough love made him a better driver, but also how many people in the team dreaded picking up his call. Rosberg then recalled something similar which he had to go through.
Sam Michael was the Helmut Marko for me, says Nico Rosberg
The 2006 Australian GP was Rosberg’s third ever race in Formula 1. He qualified P15 for the race, but was promoted to P14 after Jacques Villeneuve suffered a 10 place grid penalty.
However, Rosberg’s race ended right on the very first lap. He was part of a three way collision involving himself, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Red Bull’s Christian Klien. He lost his rear wing and had to retire the car that afternoon.
After the race, he recalls receiving a phone call from Sam Michael, who was the technical director of Williams at the time.
“Sam Michaels was the boss of Williams,” Rosberg reveals. “After three races I crashed on the first lap. He calls me after the race and says, ‘Nico, you were totally useless to the team this weekend’. That’s it.”
“Oh my goodness, I was a young guy, just 20 years old, fourth race in F1. And this guy for me was the Helmut Marko, that much respect. I still get the shakes!”
Rosberg ended his debut F1 season in 17th place out of the 27 drivers who took part that year. He had a total of four points, with his best finish coming in the form of two P7 finishes (in Bahrain and Nürburgring).