Formula 1 06 Nov 2005 12:01 pm

WilliamsF1 signs Nico Rosberg for 2006 and beyond

The mighty (if slightly fallen) WiliamsF1 Formula 1 team has signed GP2 champ Nico Rosberg (son of former F1 World Champ and also Williams driver, Keke Rosberg) to partner ‘our Mark’ Webber in 2006.

This is probably a clever move by WilliamsF1. Nico has shown great form in the GP2 series, winning many races, and appears to be ready to make the move up to F1. Since Williams will be in something of a ‘gap year’ in 2006 (using customer Cosworth engines before, it is expected, moving to Lexus-branded Toyota donks in 2007), Nico will have a year of lesser pressure to come up to speed for a full-on assault. And as an unproven commodity in F1, he’ll be cheap (always high on the Williams list of ‘good qualities for a driver’).

And, of course. WilliamsF1 has twice before taken sons of former F1 greats to World Championships:
* Damon Hill (champion in 1996) is son of Graham Hill (champion in 1962 and 1968; killed in a plane crash in 1975)
* Jacques Villeneuve (champion in 1997) is son of Gilles Villeneuve (killed in 1982 during practice for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder).

Will Nico Rosberg be the third?

I have fond memories of Keke Rosberg — who drove in a simpler era!

Keke was never noted for his fitness, and was known to have a smoke (or three). He took the 1982 World Championship with a cosistent (but not dominant) performance, after scoring only 44 points, and with only one race win (French GP at Dijon-Prenois)! His rivals for the championship were:
* Didier Pironi (Ferrari) 39 points
* John Watson (McLaren) 39 points
* Alain Prost (Renault) 34 points.

Other World Champions racing that year included:
* Niki Lauda (Mclaren) 30 points
* Nelson Piquet (Brabham) 20 points
* Nigel (wide-boy) Mansell (Lotus) 7 points.

Watson, Lauda, Pironi and Prost all scored two wins in the 16-race season. One race (San Marino GP at Imola) was boycotted by most teams as part of a dispute between the old FISA and FOCA bodies.

It’s interesting to contrast Keke’s performance with that of 2005 champion, Fernando Alonso. In winning the 2005 title, Fernando:
* won 7 races
* scored 133 points (the system is different now, awarding points to the top 8 finishers like this: 10 – 8 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1; in Keke’s day the top 6 finishers were received 9 – 6 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1)
* raced in 19 events.

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