Nico Rosberg has revealed how he feared everyone within Mercedes would turn against him following the arrival of the ‘God-like’ Michael Schumacher.
Following Mercedes’ purchase of 2009 title-winners Brawn GP, the team initially signed Rosberg from Williams before luring seven-time champion Schumacher out of retirement.
Rosberg, who partnered Schumacher for three years prior to the latter’s second and final retirement, was appreciably apprehensive of going up against such a legend as his German compatriot.
Speaking in a light-hearted conversation with David Coulthard on Formula1.com about learning of Schumacher’s appointment, the 2016 F1 champion said: “That was not a good moment.
“I was all excited that I could be leading this Mercedes team, and the name Schumacher was not even on the horizon. Nobody was even talking about that.
“And then suddenly [team principal] Ross [Brawn] calls me and he says that my team-mate was not going to be Jenson Button or Nick Heidfeld. It’s going to be Michael Schumacher.
“I was like ‘Oh my God!’ The craziest thoughts that I would have no chance, that the whole team would go against me, that Michael would manipulate his way through.
“And also, like, I don’t even know. Can I keep up with him? He’s the greatest of all time, do I have a chance? That was a pretty crazy moment.”
Rosberg has disclosed how he effectively played second fiddle to Schumacher initially before finding his voice, adding: “When Michael came along he was like God in the team.
“When we had some strategy meetings, even my strategy was only being discussed with Michael and not with me, even though I was sitting there.
“I then addressed that to the strategist that was holding those meetings, we reflected on that together, and it really had a big impact.
“From then on strategy meetings were much better for me, I felt much more comfortable, and I did get that attention from him [Schumacher] just by showing him my ability in the end, and expressing my feelings.”
Rosberg has also divulged the psychological mind games Schumacher would indulge in to try to get the upper hand, including one incident involving a toilet in Monaco!
“Michael is a psychological warrior,” confirmed Rosberg.
“It was incredible learning for me over those three years, and he doesn’t even have to make an effort. It comes naturally to him, to psychologically get into the heads of his competition, and I was his team-mate, so I was his greatest competition, and it would be from the morning to the evening.
“There are so many examples. The Monaco bathroom was one example, five minutes before qualifying, and only one bathroom in the garage, and he knows I’m standing outside because I’m knocking like crazy, telling whoever is in there to please get out. I’m panicking. I need to pee before qualifying.
“Michael is in there looking at his watch, just chilling because he knows he is going to create more and more stress in my mind, and then with one minute to go he walks out, all chilled out, and he’s like ‘Oh sorry! I didn’t know you were there.’ So by this time I was in full panic mode, and it just went on and on.”
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