March 31, 2009 / 10:40 AM / 11 years ago

INTERVIEW-Motor racing-Twilight races dangerous, says Rosberg

* Rosberg opposes twilight racing

* Malaysian race could become lottery

* Sees Brawn as title contenders

By Alan Baldwin

SINGAPORE, March 31 (Reuters) - Twilight racing is too dangerous and there is a risk that Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix may have to be stopped for safety reasons, Williams driver Nico Rosberg said on Tuesday.

The first two races of the Formula One season in Australia and Malaysia are starting later than this year, at 1700 local time, to catch a bigger television audience in the European morning hours.

Drivers complained about the light conditions as the sun set in Melbourne last weekend and Malaysia could have the added complication of tropical downpours in the late afternoon.

“If the monsoon comes down, the race is going to have to be stopped because we can’t race and drive with that amount of water,” the German told Reuters in an interview during a Singapore stopover for sponsors RBS.

“I think twilight racing is not the way to go,” added Rosberg, who finished second in the first night race in Singapore last year.

“In Melbourne it was obvious that it just increases the danger so much.

“The visibility is so difficult, you can’t even see the edges of the track in some corners. I was driving into the sun and that’s not what racing is about. So I really hope they reconsider that.

“Even moving it forward by one hour or something will help us massively. It was just the last part of the race that was the really problematic time.”

BRAWN FAVOURITES

The season-opening race saw a one-two finish by the new Brawn GP team with former Williams driver Jenson Button leading the field from pole to finish ahead of Rubens Barrichello.

Rosberg, who topped the timesheets in every practice and set the quickest lap of that race, said Williams could claim to be the best of the rest and saw no reason why Brawn could not go on to take the title.

“Brawn have done a great job and have been massively quick in winter testing and also in Melbourne and I think they will sustain it,” said Rosberg, the son of Finland’s 1982 world champion Keke.

“It’s going to be very difficult for anybody to catch up that advantage. They are seven-tenths down the road more or less per lap.

“We will be doing the best of our capability to catch up but they will be developing also so I think they are going to have a great chance for the championship.”

Brawn, Williams and Toyota are using controversial rear diffusers that differ from those of other teams. Race stewards rejected a protest against them in Melbourne but the matter will go to appeal in Paris next month.

Rosberg said the new regulations had clearly altered the pecking order in Formula One, with champions Ferrari failing to score a point in Melbourne while McLaren’s world champion Lewis Hamilton is struggling with a poor-performing car.

“I’m a great fan of the regulations. It gives everyone an even chance and improves the racing and improves the excitement, overtaking is possible. Fantastic.” he said.

Williams, unlike some teams, are not using in the opening races the new KERS energy recovery system that gives cars an extra boost of power at the push of a button.

Rosberg said he wanted it as soon as possible.

“It was clear in Melbourne that, especially for racing, its a very beneficial thing to have. I was really struggling to hold behind me people with KERS and also to overtake people with KERS was difficult for me.

“It’s definitely something we need to push hard to get on the car. I’m not sure when it’s going to happen but hopefully soon.

“But also that makes it interesting for the racing, some teams have it and some teams don’t. It’s just a big mess and that’s what the spectators need.” (Editing by Peter Rutherford; to query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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