EXCLUSIVE: Nico Rosberg on Vegas, Verstappen, and Red Bull challengers

EXCLUSIVE: Nico Rosberg tips Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to challenge Red Bull for the F1 title in 2024… as he hails the ‘amazing’ Las Vegas Grand Prix and insists it will be a ‘must-see’ for the next decade

  • Rosberg thinks his former team (and former teammate) could challenge Red Bull 
  • He also believes that Vegas will be ‘one of the great races for the next ten years’
  • DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news 

Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg raved about the excitement of the Las Vegas Grand Prix and even dropped a prediction for next season’s results.

Rosberg, speaking as part of a SIXT promotion from Las Vegas, told DailyMail.com that the Vegas GP is the culmination of America’s newfound fascination with the sport and should remain an exciting staple of the calendar for years to come.

‘It’s amazing how the country of the USA is embracing our sport now, which is not how it used to be in my time,’ Rosberg said on a call. ‘It’s really amazing to watch and what a great success it has been this first inaugural Vegas Grand Prix weekend. 

‘Of course, when you go somewhere for the first time, there’s always going to be some challenges, but all in all, it was one of the most exciting races of the year. 

‘That’s the key to every [successful race], is that it’s really entertaining, unpredictable, because you had no idea who was going to win the race. 

Nico Rosberg sang the praises of the Las Vegas Grand Prix in an interview with DailyMail.com

After some hiccups to start the week, exciting racing led to the GP being deemed a success

‘It was a three way fight, and between Ferrari and Red Bull and then at the back also, so much was going on. The track was great for overtaking, high speed. It had everything so that even the drivers, even the most outspoken critic like [Max] Verstappen, became a super fan of the Las Vegas Grand Prix by the end of it. 

‘So I think it was another great success for the sport. Interesting business case, also for the sport, because it’s the first time that they actually are the promoter themselves and it’s not a local promoter. So they’ve taken a lot of money in the hands to build up the venue, to be the promoter for the next ten years.’

Rosberg also had high praise for the circuit as well – saying that he ran some laps on the track in a simulator and knew, ‘From the get go, it looked like an awesome track.

‘Because it’s all about battles and overtaking – and we saw that. Even the fight for second place, changing positions there with an incredible daring overtake on the last lap, like two corners from the end. 

That’s what we want to see. And that’s quite unique because you don’t have that often. So I think they nailed it with the track layout… I think it’s going to be one of the great races for the next ten years. A must see on the calendar.’

While Rosberg praised the track, he also recognized that some of the drivers were critics of the circuit prior to the full race – including Verstappen, who later did an about face and praised the grand prix after coming from behind to win.

Rosberg applauded Verstappen for being, ‘so open minded that he could change his opinion in such a sense and really be convinced otherwise, that actually it’s an awesome race weekend.’

He also tried explaining why Verstappen might have felt so negative about the race before the five red lights went out.

Max Verstappen initially expressed negative views of the race, but ended up liking it in the end

Rosberg believes the off-track activities that Verstappen was doing could have gotten to him

But Rosberg says that putting on a show in a place like Vegas is all just ‘part of the game’

‘What we like to do is just drive the race car. And of course, in our job at F1, there is so much that we have to do also around the actual driving the race car. 

‘Driving the race car is actually like the smallest part of what we do and especially all the media work and all the work with the sponsors. 

‘In Vegas, there’s so much sponsor work that a driver needs to do, going from one dinner appearance to the next, one activation to the next. 

‘And we drivers, that’s like the part that we least like about our job. We always want to try and minimize that because it also can negatively impact our performance on the racetrack if we get to the actual driving and are tired or something, or not concentrated. 

‘And that’s why very often drivers will be a bit critical when it’s too much sponsor work and activation and entertainment and show. Vegas, of course, was one of the biggest shows of the year for F1. So that’s why some drivers were critical initially. 

‘But it’s part of the game, isn’t it? And we earn a great amount of money as well. And it’s thanks to the sponsors, thanks to the fans. So we just always have to accept that we need to dedicate some time to give back to sponsors and give back to fans because they’re the ones who pay our salaries.’

Rosberg tried his hand at predicting the next season as well – especially since this one has long been over.

While he said that Red Bull and Verstappen have the advantage after this dominant 2023, he pointed out the reduced wind tunnel development time could hurt them – allowing teams like Ferrari, McLaren, and Mercedes to catch up.

Verstappen dominated 2023 and Rosberg admits that he and Red Bull could do it again

But the 2016 driver’s champion likes the chances of his former team, Mercedes

In particular, Rosberg believes his former teammate Lewis Hamilton has the ability to make a run at the World Driver’s Championship in 2024.

‘We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from the Mercedes team just recently. They lack consistency. But look at Austin. They were challenging for the win there and actually had the fastest car over the weekend. So we’ve seen that they’re starting to understand the car, and they just have the problem that you still lack consistency. They still lack in straight line performance, but they are starting to understand all that.

‘I believe in Mercedes ability because I was there. I know how strong they are. It’s always still the same people. So certainly there is a chance that Hamilton could once again fight for the championship next year.’

When asked if he’d be happy if Hamilton won an eighth world title, Rosberg replied, ‘I would be happy if Mercedes won, because that’s kind of my racing family from the past. But then Lewis, I’m neutral there. 

‘I just would like a great fight for the championship, and may the best driver win. But I’m not biased in that sense, obviously.’

In particular, Rosberg believes Lewis Hamilton has what it takes to win an eighth title

Rosberg and Hamilton were teammates – fighting each other for the 2016 title up until the end

In addition to his duties as an F1 commentator, Rosberg is in Vegas to do a brand activation for German high-end rental car company Sixt.

Two lucky fans got the chance to fly out to Vegas to watch the Grand Prix and on Monday, they strapped into one of Sixt’s luxury and high performance rental cars to race Rosberg on a mirrored track.

Rosberg – who will be racing in an all-electric BMW I-Series for the event – called it a dream come true to collaborate with the company. 

‘SIXT is German, just like me. And they’ve always been doing such a great job with their marketing, with their brand, with their service, with their car rental, that it was always a dream of mine, actually, to partner with them. 

‘But I’ve never managed to do it. I’ve been trying since, like seven years, eight years. And so finally it’s worked out. So I’m very happy about that.’

Rosberg added, ‘It’s so nice to do something good for people who are mega fans of the sports who remember my time when I was racing. [It’s] always nice to give something back in that sense.’

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