BY CHERYL TAY
It was a long evening for Nico Rosberg from the time he woke up at 4.00 pm to the end of his meet-the-fans session at Butter Factory. The Mercedes GP driver flew in to Singapore a few days earlier so he could catch up with some of his friends here, but commercial commitments kicked in on Wednesday as he fulfilled two engagements with PUMA Motorsports. After making an appearance at the PUMA Red Cube housed outside Raffles City Shopping Centre, Rosberg headed over to Butter Factory to strut some catwalk and mingle with the fans.
One of the activities for the night was a time-based challenge to see who could get a tiny loop through a framework in the shape of the PUMA logo without touching the metal. Of all the people who attempted this challenge, Rosberg was the only one who completed it on his first try with steady hands. He also played a simple game of table tennis against a fan and won hands down, citing table tennis as one of the exercises he practises to improve his reflexes.
The next time you party at Butter Factory, look out for a new cocktail called "Nighttime Thunder" — that was the name Rosberg came up with.
Getting some one-on-one time with Rosberg, he shares more about life in racing and his thoughts for the weekend.
Q: How is the Singapore night race?
A: It is very difficult; in fact it is one of the most difficult tracks. It is physically demanding, it is so hot and it is a big, big challenge especially when we sweat so much.
Q: What is the target this year?
A: The target for this year was to win a race and we have already achieved that in China. Now we have to try and close the gap to the fastest. We are not the fastest at the moment but we have some new parts which will make our car faster and that will be good for Singapore.
Q: Do you think you'll win this weekend?
A: A win will be difficult. I finished 2nd in 2008 and that was a good memory, but for this weekend, a top 5 finish is realistic.
Q: What's the greatest challenge?
A: Beating Michael Schumacher — until now I have managed to, so it's good.
Q: What is the best thing about racing?
Q: When you first moved over to Mercedes GP, how was it like?
A: It has been a nice change for me — starting afresh upon changing teams has been a good experience and a nice progression. It is difficult to work with new people initially but it is all good.
Q: Most challenging thing being at the wheel?
A: To go as close as possible to perfection, to be on the limit and not make mistakes.
Q: Were there any points in your career where you felt scared?
A: There are some points where you are scared — for example, once in Formula 3, I was at the end of the straight at 300km/h and I didn't have any brakes. Very very scary moment!
Q: What do you do when you are not racing?
A: I do a lot of training, such as triathlons, so there is a lot of cycling, swimming and running. I also play games and hang out with friends.
Q: Do you have to watch what you eat?
A: No, I don't have to but I like to eat very healthy, biological food, as I also have to watch my weight. I take a lot of interest in nutrition so I understand it very well, knowing what is good and what is not. I still love my food though — hamburgers and French fries especially!
Q: How important is it to start young? Is it ever too late to start racing?
A: It is important to start young but it is not impossible to start later. It's the same for other sports like tennis or golf, where it is better to start young.
Q: What would you tell aspiring drivers?
A: Motor racing is a great sport and if you like it, try to do it. Start with go-karting. It is very expensive to get to the top so you have to be very talented, you hope to be lucky and it will help if you have a wealthy family. If you are really really talented, hopefully you will find sponsors to support you and get you to F1 one day.
Q: What will you do after F1?
A: I'm not sure — real estate is something I'm interested in and my girlfriend's an interior designer so it would be good to work together. Hopefully I will stay in motor racing some way or another.
Passionate about cars and motorsports, Cheryl Tay is a familiar face in prominent local, regional as well as international automotive titles. More of her at www.cheryl-tay.com.