The 2016 Formula 1 World Champion gives us his thoughts on one of his drivers picking up the World Karting championship and how nurturing talent at this stage is very different to F1
Nico Rosberg was there to witness one of his two Rosberg Racing Academy drivers become a karting world champion in Kristianstadt, Sweden last weekend. The driver, Lorenzo Travisanutto, started the 25-lap race from pole position but lost the lead early on, forcing him to pull off a big overtake to reclaim the lead with two laps to go.
The Rosberg Racing Academy only started in April, and Nico Rosberg told WTF1 that this flying start has made him hungry for more success in this area.
“Of course that [Travisanutto’s win] is huge. It is the biggest karting prize of the year and we won it on our first attempt! I look forward to taking further talents onboard now to become the leading force of international karting.”
All Formula 1 drivers have a foundation of karting at their cores, but in terms of working with young drivers and developing them, Rosberg emphasised that his approach to bringing talent through isn’t aligned with the heavy regimentation and clinical approach that we associate with the higher echelons of motorsport.
“We are not in Formula 1 here. There is still a relaxed, familiar environment to slowly teach the kids about the importance of focus and dedication. The main thing is really to make sure that they enjoy themselves and that we don’t start to build too much pressure so early on in their career. With all the F1 teams signing contracts with 12-year-olds, that danger is there.”
The media landscape is different now too. When Rosberg was karting in the late nineties, there was no social media and the instant gratification/judgement that this brings. But he believes that this can actually help prepare junior drivers for the extremes of high-exposure championships like F1.
“They get into it at an earlier age, so for those who get to F1, it will help them cope with the extreme media attention later on.”
Not only this, but drivers are getting into F1 much earlier too. Recent drivers such as Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Lance Stroll keep the age of entry into F1 very low. This can create the misconception that a 22-year-old driving in a lower single-seater championship is by default, past it. Rosberg acknowledges the sense of urgency this can create for a junior driver wanting to crack on, but he also believes that,
“It is dangerous as younger and younger drivers already think only about their path to F1 rather than concentrating on the moment and getting the best out of it.”
There’s definitely a lesson here about savouring the achievements you do manage, and for the Rosberg Karting Academy, this is clearly one of those moments. Rosberg is yet to decide whether to support his drivers further up the ladder, or set out to primarily conquer the karting scene. What can’t be denied is the great start the academy has made as it looks to grow.