Nico Rosberg admits the decline of interest in Germany is "strange". Mercedes is dominating, German Rosberg is a winning frontrunner and fabled Ferrari is led from the cockpit by the quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel.
And yet German race promoters are struggling to fill grandstands and pay the fees to Bernie Ecclestone, with the country having to sit out the 2015 calendar altogether. "It was disappointing to lose the grand prix this year, but next year it will be back," Rosberg told the Spanish sports daily Marca.
"A championship without Germany was a bit strange as we need it," he added. "We lost it because Bernie wants money. Then there is the problem of there being a little less interest than before. We saw in Mexico all the people and the excitement and emotion was amazing, but it's not like that in Germany," said Rosberg. "It has changed since (Michael) Schumacher's time," he continued. "We also saw it with tennis, when Boris Becker competed but after that it went downhill."
Told, however, that himself, Mercedes and Vettel are now flying the flag for Germany, Rosberg answered: "Yes, but we are not Schumacher. It's important to understand what is happening to try to improve the situation."
He admitted that a MotoGP-style rivalry like the Rossi versus Marquez controversy might help, while others think F1 desperately needs Ferrari to push Mercedes hard in 2016. What about Renault and Honda? Can they catch up in 2016? "Let's see," Rosberg answered. "I think they're quite far away and we can also improve. They can be closer to each other, but I doubt they will reach our level."
Fernando Alonso has claimed McLaren-Honda can find a whopping 2.5 seconds per lap over the forthcoming winter, but Rosberg said: "It's possible but I think very difficult. Two and a half seconds is a lot." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing
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