Nico Rosberg has revealed that he would be interested in moving to either McLaren-Mercedes or BMW-Sauber in F1 in 2010 – but insisted that on present form, his current employer Williams similarly retains a very strong chances of retaining his services into a fifth successive season.
Whilst the Grove-based outfit has frequently flattered only to ultimately deceive in recent campaigns – invariably coming out of the blocks well only to slip down the pecking order as the months pass by and it is unable to keep up with the development pace of its more well-heeled rivals – this time around the team's strong early form shows no signs of fading heading into the second half, and if anything, indeed, the opposite would appear to be the case.
Not only has Rosberg made the top ten on the starting grid on all-bar one occasion from the opening nine outings, but the sole time that he did fail to make the Q3 cut – on home turf at the Nürburgring two weeks ago – he consummately made amends for it on race day with a superb performance to take the chequered flag in fourth place, his best result of the year so far, and well ahead of the best-placed McLaren and BMW.
Though the top flight's established 'grandees' can doubtless be counted upon to fight back in 2010, on current evidence, the inaugural GP2 Series Champion would do well not to dismiss Williams from the equation either – and he acknowledges that for the time being, his options for next year are wide open.
“Obviously from my side, McLaren and BMW would be interesting options for next season,” the 24-year-old confirmed, speaking to news agency DPA
ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix. “For sure Williams is also a very strong option, because they have been doing a strong job for me recently.
“Williams are currently the third-strongest team along with Ferrari. That's a very good position, and as a result Williams is also a possibility for next year.”
McLaren, indeed, tried to prise Rosberg out of his Williams contract at the end of 2007, when double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso abruptly walked away from the Woking-based concern two years early, but the son of 1982 title-winner Keke Rosberg – himself opposed to a move into an environment perceived in some corners of the paddock as 'Team Hamilton' – stayed put and Heikki Kovalainen was signed instead. Affirming that the Finn has done a 'good job' but 'could have done a better job on occasions', team principal Martin Whitmarsh would only add: “I think within the team he is very comfortable, he's publicly stated he wants to stay in the team and that's something that we are talking to his management about.”
Rosberg, for his part, arrived at the Hungaroring off the back of five consecutive points-scoring finishes, and predicting that the tight and twisty nature of the circuit not far from the capital of Budapest should enable the Toyota-powered FW31 to shine. In lapping second-quickest to the defending race-winner Kovalainen in FP1 and third in FP2, he underlined that threat with on-track performance.
“We have made some good progress today in the sessions, but I don't yet feel completely happy in the car and I think we can find some more improvement tomorrow,” he contended. “The tyres will be quite interesting to work out as although they are quite close together, the 'Option' at the end of a run is obviously a bit slower than the 'Prime'. We will have to analyse carefully which way we go in the race, and I think that the answer might not be too obvious. We also spent some time testing the new aero parts we have here.”
“It was a good session today,” added team-mate Kazuki Nakajima, just under three tenths of a second and three spots adrift on the final timesheets in fifth, having followed a similar programme of mechanical set-up work, analysis of new aero components, tyre evaluation and qualifying preparation. “We recorded some good long runs and although our short runs were not quite as good, if we can fix this by working with the data, we will be looking good for tomorrow.”
“It was a good practice today,” concluded the former multiple world champions' softly-spoken technical director Sam Michael. “We managed to get through everything on set-up and testing the new aero parts we have here. Everything went well on both fronts. We then spent the afternoon session evaluating the two different tyres, both of which look quite good for us, so from here we will be concentrating on qualifying and refining the set-up for tomorrow. We had no technical problems today.”