Nico Rosberg has expressed a mixture of frustration and disappointment at the F1 Strategy Group's decision not to mandate the use of the Halo cockpit safety device next season.
Despite not having run with the Ferrari-inspired system on his Mercedes, Rosberg says that he sees no reason to delay its introduction, even though other drivers, if not all members of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, appear at ease with the twelve-month stay of execution which means that the 2018 season will be the first to feature the Halo as part of the full F1 regulations.
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“It's all ready to go, it just needs to be put on the car,” Rosberg insisted, “We all want it to be on the car as soon as possible, [so] I am disappointed, and we're going to look into that.
“The large majority of the drivers agree that we need to get it on the car as soon as possible - it just makes sense. It's just such a huge step in safety, so it's disappointing to hear that it's not going to get put on the car for next year. I don't understand [the reason being lack of testing] because then we can just test it this weekend or we could do it at Spa or whatever. We can do it in the same period of time.”
Rosberg, who paced both free practice sessions at Hockenheim ahead of this weekend's German Grand Prix, admitted that the Halo debate actually took a backstage role when it came to this week's rule tweaks, with the freeing up of radio conversations a lot more germane to his championship challenge, which took a hit in Hungary as Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton snatched the points lead for the first time in 2016.
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“To be honest, I haven't thought too much about these rule changes because there's a lot happening and I just trust the team to tell me what to do in different instances when it comes to that,” he revealed, “At the moment, I've just got to get my head down and focus on the task in hand, which is trying to get the most out of practice today.
“The change, the most obvious one today, was [about] telling me stuff on the radio. Now they can actually tell me to do something on the track which, before, I always had to remember myself or write down on notes in my cockpit or whatever.
“That was the most significant change today but, to be honest, I didn't like it out there now because Tony could start talking to me again! After the session, I was like 'just keep it as it and let me get on with it'. Let's see, it's a halfway house and the most important stuff [to communicate] will be over the next couple of days.”
Rosberg was happier, meanwhile, with his performance on day one of his real 'home' race. Despite his claim to Monaco being more of a homecoming, the German enjoyed a three-tenth gap over team-mate Hamilton in both 90-minute sessions at Hockenheim, but refused to count the world champion out.
“It's been a good session, a good start to the weekend,” he confirmed, “I like to drive here. I like the track as it's a particular challenge because the asphalt is really old here – Hungary, for example, had a brand new asphalt and it's just a different world….
“Even though the tyres are the same, here there are things happening, the car's bouncing and moving - it just suddenly slips away from you, so it's quite difficult out there, but it's a good feeling and it's been a good day. However, it's early days and, as we saw in Hungary, everybody was just much closer on Sunday. We've seen [Ferrari and Red Bull trailing significantly] so many times on Friday and, then, on Saturday, they're right there with us. So let's just be careful.
“[Hamilton] hasn't shown everything today either so, from that point of view, I don't take his time too seriously. Lewis will be a tough rival tomorrow when he starts to push.”
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