Nico Rosberg has admitted that he was honoured to have been considered as replacement for Fernando Alonso next season, but insists that his immediate future will be spent attempting to get Williams back on a par with McLaren.

Speaking in the wake of a contract extension that ties him to the Grove team until the end of 2009, the German revealed that he had been cheered by his listing among those in contention for the McLaren seat alongside Lewis Hamilton next season, but explained that he never had any intention of fulfilling the prophecy that he would again line up with his former karting team-mate.

"I have been very flattered that the press regarded me as the natural candidate for a range of teams next year, but the fact that selling me to another team did not cross Frank's mind really proved to me that the team is financially sound, is prepared to invest in me and wants me to be a full part of the goal to move forwards," he confirmed, "I was already confirmed for 2008, but Frank and I had a conversation about 2009 and agreed terms for this period too."

As much as Rosberg and McLaren seemed the most obvious move of the off-season, there has been equal speculation that the German would not be 'allowed' to go up against Hamilton, at least until later in his career.

"I'm racing to win and achieve success so, of course, it would be appealing to race for a team that can win races here and now," he admitted, "Nonetheless, I believe that patience is important and a driver's approach to his career needs to be measured. I believe we can have success at Williams in the near future, and that is my most preferred career route for the next couple of years."

Alex Wurz's retirement from the F1 front-line has left Williams with a relatively inexperienced line-up next season, following the team's decision to take rookie Kazuki Nakajima in place of the likes of Giancarlo Fisichella and Tonio Liuzzi. However, despite having two years of racing in the top flight under his belt, Rosberg knows that he cannot expect preferential treatment in 2008.

"Formally, no," he said when asked if he would be de facto number one next season, "Williams has, and always will, give their drivers equal opportunities and there is no case of favouring one or other driver out on the track. But, in practical terms, I am the driver with the most experience and so I would expect to test new parts first, etc... In certain ways, I will be responsible as the lead driver.

"Kazuki comes into the team as a rookie next season, so I will have the job of leading the development of the car from a driver perspective. Okay, I am still lacking a bit of experience, but I believe that my technical understanding is becoming one of my strong points. That said, it's a team game - I need to do my bit and, of course, the factory also needs to push ahead as the pace of the car is so reliant on aspects such as aerodynamics but, as we have shown in the past twelve months, we have moved from eighth to fourth, so the team is definitely going in the right direction."

Asked what he expects to be able to achieve in his third season, the German admitted to hoping to cause a surprise or two.

"In some quarters, it is said it just isn't possible to succeed without big budgets, and other people say that Williams' best form is behind them," he explained, "I believe Renault demonstrated in 2005 and 2006 that it is possible to win championships, not to mention race for podiums, without big budgets. And, considering the team's healthy sponsorship situation with AT&T, RBS, Philips, etc, I am not concerned with this.

"Last year, there were some major new additions to the technical team and a strong group of people have now been working together for a year. They are going into their second season working together, so this will make the team even stronger. We improved our reliability significantly last year, now it is time to build real performance on top of these solid foundations. Despite being an independent organisation, Williams also has one of the best technical infrastructures of any team and, of course, the partnership with Toyota will also strengthen the whole programme going into their second year. The aims are to move up in the constructors' and get the occasional podium. That would be great, not easy to achieve, but my hopes are high."

 

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