SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Nico Rosberg has spent hours in Mercedes’ futuristic Formula One simulator preparing for Singapore’s tricky street circuit but he still found it hard on Wednesday to adjust his body clock to simple things like lunch.
The German, like everyone else in the paddock, has no choice but to stay on European time and become a night owl ahead of the weekend’s grand prix under the floodlights in the southeast Asian city state.
Taking a quick break to get some food before facing another onslaught of media interviews, Rosberg told Reuters he was still getting used to a routine dictated by a race that starts at 2000 local time (1200 GMT) on Sunday.
”That was lunch. Lunch at 8pm,“ he said after his plates were collected from the table. ”I woke up at four this afternoon, I go to sleep at five in the morning. That’s the rhythm, it’s the European rhythm.
“I was in the gym at four in the morning before going to sleep. It’s so weird.”
While Lewis Hamilton’s contract situation continues to dominate headlines and speculation mounts that he could be ready to leave McLaren for Mercedes, Rosberg said he was not fazed by all the talk about a former team mate from his racing days before Formula One.
“Not at all. I follow the rumours of course, but what concerns me is the time to come,” he said.
“I‘m proud to be driving the Silver Arrow and I‘m looking forward to winning many more races with them,” he said, adding that he hoped seven-times world champion team mate Michael Schumacher, now 43, would remain with Mercedes.
“With Michael it works well, so I’ll be glad if he stays on next year. We also push the team together very well.”
While he has had just one victory this season, in China, and sits seventh in the drivers’ championship almost 100 points behind leader Fernando Alonso, Rosberg did not think the season had been a disappointment.
The win in Shanghai was the first for Mercedes, who took over Brawn GP three years ago, as a constructor since 1955.
“Our target for this year was to do better than last year, and I think we can say we managed to achieve that. Winning in China and finishing second in Monaco were great results,” Rosberg said.
“So it’s got to be seen as a positive year. But now we’ve ticked that box and we have to progress further, so now our challenge is to win several races.”
Rosberg, who finished seventh in last year’s championship without getting on the podium, is confident Mercedes are moving in the right direction.
”I think we’re on the right path. When you see at the factory now, there’s so many new people that have been recruited. Top people, really the best in the sport and they’re all starting to work together.
“So it’s only a matter of time before we build the best racing car.”
Rosberg was second in the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix in 2008 and targeted a top-five finish this time around.
“I quite enjoy street circuits in general, and the car this year has been good on street circuits. We finished second in Monaco and I think that’s why we can possibly have a good weekend here,” he said.
“Singapore is maybe the toughest race of the year physically. I’ve made sure my fitness level is at its best for this race,” he said, adding that he arrived early to get used to Singapore’s sultry weather.
Rosberg hoped his car would handle the testing conditions and he would get through the entire race. The German has yet to have a retirement this season.
“The consistency has been good, but we’ve had a few technical issues we’ve been working on because if the day comes when we’re fighting for the championship we have to make sure that the car is flawless, 100 percent reliable.”
While Rosberg has been a model of consistency, team mate Schumacher has found life difficult. The winner of a record 91 races in his career has failed to finish six times this season and made the podium only once.
“His car is the same, he’s been a bit more unfortunate,” Rosberg said. “Or maybe I‘m the car whisperer”.
Editing by Alan Baldwin