Six years ago, Nico Rosberg won the 2016 Formula 1 world championship before performing the ultimate mic drop and walking away while at the peak of his powers. He hasn’t left motorsport entirely though, transitioning over to Extreme E where he’s taken on the role of team boss.
We’re almost at the end of the second season of the all-electric off-road series, and throughout those two years, Rosberg X Racing has been the undisputed class of the field, winning five events out of nine so far. As well as having three of the strongest drivers in the series – Johan Kristoffersson being partnered by Australian rally ace Molly Taylor last year and rising star Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky this year – the team has had an impeccable reliability record.
That was until the most recent round in Chile.
“I think you make your own luck, most of the time. And there’s a reason why we haven’t broken down at all so far,” Rosberg told RACER. “It’s because we’ve really introduced the F1 procedures into the organization, being ahead of problems as a result, because we list all the possible problems that have been happening and try to find procedures to avoid them before they actually happen, learning from other teams etc.
“We’ve just done an excellent job and this will now go over as kind of unavoidable because it was water in the steering pump system electronics which is a closed box and where no water should go in, and unfortunately for some reason water got in. So that’s something that was really unavoidable and unlucky.
“It was painful to watch on TV,” added Rosberg, who watched the Copper X Prix from his home in Monaco.
“My team… the slot on the grid is somehow empty as the start was happening and I’m like ‘oh my goodness, what’s going on?'”
The rare technical issue meant that RXR missed a final for the first time in Extreme E’s short history, and opened the door for the Vida Carbon X44 team, owned by Lewis Hamilton, to snatch its first win of the year. (McLaren won on on the road, but was later dropped back by a post-race penalty.)
It’s been a much more competitive season in Extreme E this year with everyone having had two years of campaigning the uniform Odyssey 21 car to work out its kinks and how to get the best out of it, but Rosberg points to series newbies McLaren as a perfect example of how the level has risen across the board.
“Well I think the level is rising, certainly,” he said. “We saw McLaren do an incredible performance at the last race in Chile, they were fast, really fast, and both drivers drove so well. Emma [Gilmour] drove really well, Tanner [Foust] had an epic overtake on [Sebastien] Loeb, it was phenomenally cool, so I think the level is rising.
“But we’re rising as well in terms of our level so we hope to avoid anybody catching us. That’s the usual challenge in sports. When you’re ahead, you start to lose a bit of focus, motivation, that’s the usual threat you have to your performance, which is why at some point all sports teams get caught up.
“But yeah, our championship and our team are still young so we’re not really in that complacency mode yet. I think we’re still firing and gunning for this second championship. We’re not in that yet so far, it’s still early days.”
RXR heads to the final round of the season, the Energy X Prix in Punta del Este, Uruguay, next month with a 17 point lead and a maximum of 30 on offer. Second is the same team that ran it to the wire last year.
“We’re still in a great place now to fight for the championship in the last race – and how funny again that it’s Rosberg against Hamilton’s team for the championship, just as it was last year when we finished on the same points.”
That Hamilton fella, he can’t get away from him, can he?
“No, exactly!” Rosberg says. “But as long as he’s second, I’m okay.”