Rosberg: No explanation for late-season upturn in form

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Nico Rosberg has no explanation for his upturn in form towards the end of the 2015 Formula 1 season, but was delighted to pick up his fifth win in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Rosberg failed to put up much of a fight to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton for this year’s drivers’ championship as the Briton wrapped up the title with three races to spare in Austin last month.

However, Rosberg has enjoyed a rapid improvement in fortunes since then, taking the last five pole positions heading into the race at Interlagos.

Rosberg controlled proceedings from start to finish, only losing the lead for three laps through the pit stops before crossing the line 7.7 seconds clear of Hamilton in second place.

The result secured back-to-back victories for Rosberg following his success in Mexico, and also marked his second straight win in Brazil.

Speaking on the podium, Rosberg was delighted to have dominated the race in such fashion, but spared a thought for the victims of the Paris terrorist attack on Friday.

“It’s been a great weekend for me here,” Rosberg said. “Of course everything is relative with what happened back in Paris, but still yeah, very, very happy.

“It went perfectly. Lewis put up a good challenge but I was able to control it and never give him a chance.”

Rosberg saw his lead drop to as little as 0.3 seconds in the early stages of the race, but the German insisted that he was always in control and only eased off at points to save his tires.

“No, no issues, just controlling the pace, never over-doing it, to not risk making a mistake and to not risk having too much degradation,” he said.

“We saw Lewis dropping off a lot with degradation in the second stint. Back in front, it was important to take care of the tires.”

When told by ex-F1 driver and podium interviewer Martin Brundle that he needed to produce this form earlier in the season, Rosberg wryly responded: “Thank you very much for that piece of advice…

“I’m pushing now as I was pushing at the beginning of the season. I don’t have an exact explanation for why it’s going so strongly now, but I’ll just keep it going.”

Victory in Brazil also secured Rosberg second place in the drivers’ championship for 2015, pulling him 31 points clear of Sebastian Vettel with 25 remaining in Abu Dhabi.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”