Nico Rosberg has acknowledged that in remaining at Williams he is risking his 'market value' in Formula 1 falling and his career losing momentum should the team endure another low-key season in 2009 – as he confesses the multiple former world champions have 'probably just done a bad job' this year.
The young German's podium finish in the Australian Grand Prix curtain-raiser in Melbourne back in March sadly turned out to be a false dawn, as Williams slipped ever-further off the pace from thereon in, and his opportunistic but no-less deserved Singapore runner-up spot aside, Rosberg's best subsequent results in the intervening 16 outings have been a trio of lowly eighth places, leaving him just 13th in the drivers' standings one race from the end of the campaign.
Despite having significantly outperformed the capabilities of his car to qualify superbly at times – inside the top ten on the grid on seven occasions – the former GP2 Series Champion has ultimately come away with little to show for it, and in an atmosphere where memories are famously short, he knows he cannot afford another year in the same vein.
“A certain danger exists,” the 23-year-old admitted to German newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeinen
, “because the quality of the driver, in the eyes of others, is closely connected with the achievement of the car.
“Jenson Button is a good example. For me, he is still a really, really good driver, but his market value has gone down hugely since 2004, when he was third in the championship behind the Ferraris.”
Revealing to having been 'very disappointed' with his and Williams' 2008 season in the top flight – especially for a driver who was highly coveted by McLaren-Mercedes at the end of last year – Rosberg suggested the blame lay with the Grove-based concern having 'not kept up' with its rivals in terms of development as the campaign has progressed, a charge similarly levelled at the squad by other drivers in years gone-by but one difficult to rectify given its limited resources.
“At the beginning of the year it looked very good,” the son of 1982 F1 World Champion Keke Rosberg underlined. “I was third in Australia and expectations for a good season were high – we were better than Renault.
“We have probably just done a bad job; particularly with the development of the aerodynamics we have not kept up. For some years now Williams has had problems with the development of the car during the season, but it is excusable because we have learned so much.”
Rosberg's one real hope now is that the drastically new technical and aerodynamic regulations being brought into play in 2009 will level out the playing field somewhat and allow Williams to do what it does best – engineer – without finding itself held back by being unable to afford to.