The Man Behind the Wheel

When he isn’t on the racetrack, Nico Rosberg likes to spend time in Monaco with his nine-month-old daughter Alaïa and his wife Vivian. They indulge in relaxation on the beach and family brunch by the waterfront, where a blueberry pancake is the daily ritual.

By Braydon Holmyard

Being in peak physical condition is imperative for an F1 driver, who can be hit with up to 5G’s of force behind the wheel. With every turn, acceleration, and brake, an unimaginable force pushes every inch of a driver’s body. But Rosberg, who listens to dance music and kicks around a soccer ball to get himself relaxed and focused before a race, notes that the toll on drivers can be as mental as it is physical.

“For me, my mind is the most tired after a race,” Rosberg explains, “because the weekend of a race is very intense. From Thursday on, I’m pretty focused, and with all the engineering stuff, there’s no time off. Body wise, it’s not that bad. Yes, the neck is hurting and the back is hurting, but by Wednesday I am already fully in the gym again. After a race, it’s really the mind that needs recover”

Both physical and mental discipline combined are what it takes to fend off challenges like those from teammate and rival Lewis Hamilton. Both Mercedes drivers, they have gone head-to-head for the Formula 1 Championships in three consecutive seasons, and the competition between the two is at an all-time high.

“I feel very lucky and privileged to drive such a car. I have to pinch myself sometimes and make sure it doesn’t become normal and routine. I have to keep remembering how special this is.” Rosberg made his Formula 1 debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and won the GP2 circuit on that same track in 2005 – a win that gave him the keys to Formula 1. On Apr. 3, 2016, Rosberg’s storybook career came full circle when he won his first Bahrain Grand Prix as an F1 driver.

“I’ve been close the last three years, it was nice to finally get it,” Rosberg said. “It’s pretty amazing. Bahrain has always treated me well – It’s a special place for me and it’s awesome to win there.”

The win in Bahrain marked his second consecutive victory on the F1 circuit, having won the Australian Grand Prix during the previous weeks. He was victorious again two weeks later at the Chinese Grand Prix, giving him an early lead in the world championship standings (in which drivers accumulate points based on their final positioning across the season’s 21 races).

Since the end of 2015, the German native has won six Grand Prix titles in a row, but the celebration for a winner is short lived: The next race is only two weeks away, and with it comes another complicated racetrack in a different country, and a slew of competitors fighting for the top position.

“It’s such a fast-moving world that you celebrate for an hour and then that’s it. You go home, on to the next race,” Rosberg said a few days after his victory in Bahrain.

The relentless schedule is something Rosberg has become accustomed to. He knows what it takes to be a Formula 1 world winner, having seen it firsthand in his father, Keke, who was one himself in 1982. He followed in his father’s footsteps when he won the Grand Prix in Monaco, 30 years after Nico took the same title.

“It’s in my genes,” Rosberg says. But he is quick to point out that’s only part of what he brings to the sport. “Focus is important. Being able to focus on something and process quickly. We need to react if we want to drive as close to perfection as possible.”

He also appreciates all the work that has gone into his car, allowing him to drive at speeds exceeding 300 kilometres per hour— speeds the average driver could not even fathom. Even more remarkable when you consider this is done with 19 other drivers thrown onto the same track. “It’s exciting to move with this technologically advanced machine and this prototype. It’s like a rocket ship. To drive it on the edge, it’s just an amazing feeling; it’s an adrenaline rush.”

Rosberg finished in second place in the F1 standings the last two years. Last season he won six races and came up 55 points short of Hamilton. This year he is leaving no stone unturned in his quest for a Formula 1 title of his own. “It’s all about discipline in the end. It takes a lot of discipline to do this sport. You have to eat well, sleep, relax, recover, but at the same time still keep working with the team.”

Rosberg’s versatility behind the wheel is as important to him as his adaptability off the track.

He speaks five languages – German, English, Italian, Spanish, and French. The German flag associated with his nametag is from his mother’s side, but beyond that, his multilingual abilities come from growing up in the diverse culture on the circuit.

With 21 races in different countries across the world on the schedule, a few favourite events come to mind for the 30-year-old driver: “Monaco is my home. It’s one of the toughest races in the world, so it’s a great track and I always enjoy racing there in front of my friends and family. It’s a great challenge,” Rosberg began. “Montreal is one of the highlights because the fans are awesome, the track is great, the whole country embraces the race, and it’s a fun city for us, we really like it.”

As his success has grown, Rosberg has learned to embrace the public eye and the lavish lifestyle that comes with it – including fashion. While a pair of Chucks to go with a casual polo and some chinos is his preferred attire, he can certainly up his fashion game when he needs to – often with the help of his wife: “She’s the best. I can [pick out my own outfits] pretty well, but I’ll always ask her what she thinks.”

His style stands in contrast to that of Lewis Hamilton (“I am more casual, he is more dapper”) but through a relationship with HUGO BOSS, he can happily up his game with a suit or tuxedo.

“It’s awesome. We started the partnership beginning of 2015. I love the BOSS Made to Measure suits, where I can select the different elements like fabric, lining and button according to my personal taste.”

Style aside, as good as he can look off the track, he is intent on showing how dominant he can be on the grid this season. The eight-month test will determine whether or not his name will coincide with the only title that matters to him – world champion.