Nico Rosberg was on F1’s Beyond the Grid Podcast today, touching upon important phases during his illustrious yet short F1 career, where he managed to beat his arch rival Lewis Hamilton to a memorable 2016 world title.
But in the build up to that success with Mercedes, there was a long story about how Rosberg dealt with the pressure of coming up against legendary teammate Michael Schumacher in 2012.
Schumacher had made a comeback to the sport, but wasn’t at his best, as Rosberg managed to outscore him in 2012, 93 points to 49.
That according to Rosberg was one of the pivotal points in his career, one which helped him stay on as Mercedes driver and probably prevent them world from seeing a Hamilton-Schumacher dream team.
The deal according to Rosberg was simple. One out of Schumacher and himself would have stayed.
Hamilton had been convinced by Niki Lauda to move to Mercedes from McLaren and he accepted the offer, thus if Rosberg would have failed to outscore Schumacher, we could very well have been witness to a Schumacher-Hamilton team for at least the 2013 season.
That didn’t quite happen though, as Rosberg drove brilliantly well in 2012 and managed to cling onto his spot.
Rosberg disclosed all of this in the Beyond the Grid podcast that was released today.
“Very important that I beat him [Schumacher in 2012],” Rosberg said.
“It was massively decisive for my career, because that meant that he retired and I stayed on the team.
“Surely he would have stayed and I would have been out [if Schumacher had beaten Rosberg].” he added.
Rosberg had to conquer his demons while racing with and against Schumacher because of his presence. Schumacher was Rosberg’s idol and there he was racing alongside him in the same team.
Rosberg admitted that Schumacher wasn’t quite at his best, as he lacked consistency.
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“I had not even won a race at the time,” he added.
“He was the best of all time and therefore it’s like… first, it’s really questioning: ‘How am I going to fare against him? He’s so damn amazingly good, am I going to be able to be close to him? Am I going to be able to beat him?’
“Sometimes that’s really the thinking that was going on. It’s difficult to judge, he’s my childhood guy, where I’m watching, and just larger than life – he’s phenomenal.
“He was a little bit beyond his peak, of course. So he had very strong peak performances, even did pole position in Monaco, we need to remember that, in 2012 in the last year.
“So he had very strong moments, but where it showed that he wasn’t at his best anymore was a little bit in the consistency, which was just a little bit off to where it used to be.” he concluded.
A Hamilton-Schumacher team would have been insane, right?