Nico Rosberg quipped that Sir Frank Williams should wear his 'lucky tartan trousers' more often after mastering the slings and arrows of an 'up-and-down' Singapore Grand Prix to achieve the finest finish of his Formula 1 career to-date – on his team boss' final race appearance of 2008.
Having charged to the maiden rostrum result of his fledgling career in the top flight in the season curtain-raiser Down Under in Melbourne back in March, the young German had scored just three points in the intervening 13 grands prix, all-too-regularly grappling with an uncompetitive car or – when the FW30 was on-form – being let down by either unreliability or ill-fortune.
In the sport's first-ever night outing, though, the former GP2 Series Champion was not to be denied, overcoming not only a tardy getaway from eighth spot on the grid – leaving him stuck in the 'Trulli Train' early on, five seconds a lap off the leading pace before he found a way past the Toyota – but also a stop-go penalty later on for having had to pit under the safety car before the pit-lane had opened.
That he not only battled back from all that, but also withheld supreme pressure from the McLaren-Mercedes of world championship leader Lewis Hamilton following the second safety car period ten laps from home, spoke volumes for arguably the best drive he has ever produced in F1.
“It was a race of so many ups and downs for me,” the 23-year-old reflected afterwards. “It started badly as I ended up behind a heavy Jarno Trulli, and I absolutely had to get by him to allow my strategy to work. It was quite a hairy moment getting past because it is so bumpy to out-brake at turn seven and I couldn't get close at turn one, the only two places where overtaking is possible.
“Anyway, having eventually cleared him, I couldn't believe it when I saw that the safety car had come out just after the team had called me in for my stop, and I thought that was the end of it. Before my stop-go penalty, I just had to push like mad and do qualifying lap after qualifying lap, and I managed to build enough of a gap to complete my second stop and hold on to second place.
“With a handful of laps to go in the most physical race this year and a car in your mirrors, time goes amazingly slowly, but for once everything went our way. I think Frank will have to wear his lucky tartan trousers again!”
Though team-mate Kazuki Nakajima shadowed Rosberg early on, the Japanese rookie lost out during the frantic pit-stop flurry under the first the safety car period, and spent much of his race endeavouring energetically to get past slower cars in front of him before ultimately crossing the finish line to take the final point in eighth.
“It was a great day for the team, returning to form, and of course congratulations to Nico,” the 23-year-old enthused. “As far as my race was concerned, the safety car timing was a little bit unfortunate, but I just had to push my race pace on regardless of what happened and overtake a few cars.