Despite persistent speculation to the contrary, Nico Rosberg has asserted that he 'would gladly remain' with Williams in Formula 1 in 2010, despite the former multiple world champions admitting to having made a succession of costly errors this year that have cost the young German valuable points.
Rosberg has thus far endured a season of two halves over the opening five races of 2009, topping the timing screens in eight of the 15 free practice sessions, never qualifying lower than ninth and on two occasions beginning from the first three rows – yet on race day he has invariably either slipped down the order or been out of luck, to the extent that the 23-year-old has a mere 4.5 points to his name heading to his 'home' grand prix in Monaco this weekend, with sixth place in the Melbourne curtain-raiser the 'highlight' to-date.
That has re-ignited talk within the paddock that the son of 1982 F1 World Champion Keke Rosberg will likely see through his threat to leave Williams – the team that gave him his debut in the top flight three years ago, but one that currently languishes a lowly eighth in the constructors' standings – should performances not live up to expectations this year.
Rosberg was linked with a move to McLaren-Mercedes when he featured right at the top of the Woking-based outfit's shopping list to replace Fernando Alonso at the end of 2007, but he has remained fiercely loyal to privateers Williams throughout and, despite the early frustrations this year, insists that he is presently happy where he is.
“At the moment I would gladly remain with Williams,” the inaugural GP2 Series Champion told Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell
. “If they continue to give me car like that (the Toyota-powered FW31), and maybe even a little bit better, then I would be happy if I could stay with Williams.
“It helps to have more money; however, it is not the decisive factor. With Williams, if the co-operation fits, we can win with our budget.”
The Grove-based concern's esteemed director of engineering Patrick Head, meanwhile, has acknowledged that the 16-time world champions have on occasion been 'not clever' this season, but sought to brush off accusations that the team is deliberately showboating by running on low fuel in practice in order to grab attention when it knows it cannot do likewise in qualifying or the grand prix itself.
Though the practice performances have raised expectations beyond a level where they can reasonably be met, Head is adamant that the approach is the right one.
“We run two levels of fuel and we do our homework,” the Englishman explained of Williams' Friday tactics, quoted on racer.com
. “Usually, and particularly with Kazuki [Nakajima] because for him qualifying is very important, we'll run a new set of tyres on a lesser level of fuel – but we never run qualifying levels of fuel.