Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement last Friday brought an end to a great Formula 1 career. Along the way, he’s put in many strong drives. In the first of a five-part series, we look back at five of his best races in Formula 1. Today, it is Singapore 2008. A race that almost gave Rosberg his first Grand Prix win…
Nico Rosberg won his first race in China, 2012. But, could Singapore 2008 have been his first win? This race was Rosberg’s second podium in Formula 1, his first had been all the way back in Melbourne at the start of the year. An impressive qualifying in a very average Williams saw him line up eighth.
During the first phase of the race, he had battled past the one stopping Jarno Trulli, but this had cost him valuable time – He would soon find himself at the sharp end again. It was prior to his first pitstop that the infamous crash by Renault’s Nelson Piquet Jr took place. The resulting safety car closed the pitlane, and rules then stated anyone pitting during this period would get a penalty. Unfortunately for Rosberg, he had no choice but to pit as he was running out of fuel.
He emerged in-front of eventual race winner Fernando Alonso, and once everyone else had stopped, he lead the race. He was perfectly placed to take his first ever Grand Prix win, as he scampered away at the restart. But soon, the inevitable happened, and he copped a ten second stop/go penalty.
“Well, it is very nice to be up here. Also just for the whole team it is a nice thing to finish and in the last few races to have a podium like this. It gives us a big boost and also for the winter and for next year.”
Three more rapid laps in the lead before the penalty allowed him to emerge in fourth place. After the last pitstops, incredibly, he emerged in second place despite the penalty! A charging Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren tried to wrestle the position from him, but Rosberg held firm and held on for second place at the chequered flag.
It was a fantastic drive and a result that no one had expected. It gave the Williams team a vital boost and underlined Rosberg’s speed and resilience, which Williams had put its faith in back in 2006. It was a gritty underdog performance from young Nico Rosberg. And plenty more brilliant drives were on the way…