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Rosberg thrills dad with sensational debut
March 13, 2006 11:11 IST
Nico Rosberg won the praise of champions on Sunday after a sensational start to his Formula One career in Bahrain.
The 20-year-old Williams driver recovered from a first corner tangle to roar back to seventh place and set the fastest lap in the process.
His father, Finland's 1982 champion Keke, led the plaudits.
"It was unbelievable, to have a fastest race lap under normal conditions in your first ever Grand Prix I don't think anybody has ever had that. Phenomenal," he said.
"I think it's the best performance of any young driver that I've seen for a very long time," enthused three times champion Jackie Stewart.
"I can't remember a performance in a first Grand Prix that was so impressive," he said. "I had a sixth place in my first Grand Prix but he came from the back and I certainly didn't get fastest lap.
"His judgement, the manner in which he went about it...it's a rare commodity today but as a racing driver he knows how to pass and carries it out."
Germany's Rosberg seemed nonplussed by what he had achieved.
"It's great that I was able to add some excitement to the race," he told reporters. "It's very special for me on my debut and it was fun also to drive. The car felt great and the overtaking was a lot of fun.
"I always heard that it was impossible to overtake in F1 but it worked out fine for me."
The youngster made a mistake at the first corner - he said he had expected Nick Heidfeld in the BMW Sauber to leave him more room, and lost 45 seconds on a slow lap back to the pits.
He rejoined at the back of the field, a position that would have disheartened most newcomers.
Instead, Rosberg showed all the fighting qualities that brought him the GP2 title at the same desert circuit last year, overtaking Red Bull's Austrian Christian Klien on the last lap.
"Nico's race was stunning after the early error," said Williams co-owner Patrick Head.
"We could tell he was pretty good from the testing last year and whatever, but that sort of fighting quality you only actually see in the race.
"Nico obviously has massive potential. We've made very certain that our contract is good and safe," he added, alluding to the contract battle last year between Williams and BAR, now Honda, over Briton Jenson Button.
Rosberg said he was sure his watching father would have packed up and gone back to his hotel after the early incident.
Keke, renowned as a real fighter in his heyday, said he is made of sterner stuff.
"He always thinks I'm so negative. I'm not, I'm pragmatic - those first corner incidents are the ones you do not want to have," the former champion said.
"But he had a fantastic day after that and I'll buy him dinner tonight.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage