Australian Grand Prix: Rosberg focused for bumper 2016 season


The eyes of the world's Formula One community will descend on Melbourne this weekend for the Australian Grand Prix. Drivers Nico Rosberg, Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer will be vying for line honours in the season-opening race.

Nico Rosberg floats into a high-end boutique.

Cameras flash and desperate fans hang back anxiously wanting to ask for a selfie, but they are too star struck to muster the courage.

The German doesn't break stride as he walks into the store, because this has been his daily bidding for the past 10 years.

The face of watch company IWC Rosberg mingles with fans - some who have travelled hours to get a fleeting glimpse at the second-fastest man in world motorsport.

While he is effusively friendly, his mind is clearly elsewhere - likely focused on the race track where he will clock speeds beyond 300km/h in a desperate quest to seal pole position.

Last year the German scored six race wins, but finished runner-up in the World Championship for the second time in as many years, to his teammate Lewis Hamilton.

"The best age in racing is where I am at," Rosberg said.

"Experience plays such a role to help you be faster and to help you do a better job. This is the best age and I want to make the most of it."

The son of former world champion Keke Rosberg, the Mercedes maestro knows his mum, Sina Rosberg, has played just as big a role as his famous dad.

"It's very nice that you ask about her," he said.

"She's the one that spent the most time with me.. loving me and I am very thankful. I have a very happy life and a lot of that is thanks to my mum and my dad."

The crackdown on team orders during races in 2016 should suit the German and it should also suit Western Australia's Red Bull racer Daniel Ricciardo.

Rosberg doesn't think Ricciardo will always be in his rear vision mirror.

"You Australians should count yourselves very lucky you have a big hope for F1 in the future," Rosberg said

"Daniel will be able to achieve great things in the sport."

The Roskilde Rocket

Two years ago, Kevin Magnussen was standing on the podium at Albert Park after finishing second.

A year later he didn't have a team in Formula One.

This Saturday the Dane will end 12 months of self doubt and disappointment when he resumes his career in the pinnacle of motorsport with Renault, and pressure is on

"I would say the seat is sometime fifty degrees, maybe more," he said.

"I have actually had burns on my back just from the seat being so hot."

It's this blistering pace that first caught the eye of F1 powerhouse McLaren.

At the age of 21, Magnussen had it all, 12 months later it vanished.

The Dane discarded from the driver lineup.

"It has been tough the last two years. You learn a lot in tough times. You grow up and I am just a more grown personal really," Magnussen said.

In February Magnussen was still without a seat and contemplating professionally changing gear.

Then on the eve of the season start in Melbourne Renault came to the rescue - his emotions not far behind.

"I wasn't crying when I left McLaren," he said.

"I was more crying when I  got this chance at Renault but that was out of happiness." 

Magnussen has the pedigree to succeed second time around.

He podiumed at his first Australian Grand Prix, and that's just the beginning.

"It wasn't a win. I was third on the podium," he said.

"It wasn't a winning feeling. It is quite surreal to be on the podium throughout the ceremony."

Joyous Jolyon Ready for GP Debut

Formula One is jet-set, full-throttle and fabulous - but Jolyon Palmer knows he is a rookie, not a rockstar.

"I cant get ahead of myself yet," he said.

"I haven't done a Grand Prix. The private jets and the Monaco pad had got a long way to go."

The Renault driver certainly has the support network to bring him back to speed, should his emotions get the best of him.

"My family and friends are pretty good and bringing me down if I am getting a bit cocky," he said.

Friends, or perhaps more accurately, family, have smoothed Palmer's path.

Like fellow F1 pilots Nico Rosberg, Max Verstappen and Kevin Magnussen, Palmer's father was an F1 driver.

"If my parents were quick drivers then that;s just genetics," he said.

"Some things were passed on. Although the other good drivers have good racing genes or they wouldn't be here."

But bloodlines and dreams will be little use when the ruby red lights go out in Melbourne on Sunday.

"I really hope I have a clear head. I think even now it feels surreal. It is something I have been dreaming of since I was a young boy," Palmer said.

After 90 minutes of racing at Albert Park, Palmer will surely be a boy no longer. 

Source: SBS News

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