Nico Rosberg, 2016 Formula One champion, and huge fan of electric vehicles (EVs), has offered to pilot the Tesla Model S that Tesla is sending to the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Elon Musk has accepted the offer. This is a perfect fit for EV publicity and advocacy.
Thanks for offering! Sure, that would be great.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 7, 2019
Elon Musk has vowed to send the Tesla Model S to the Nordschleife next week, to try to set a competitive lap time. Nico Rosberg is a huge fan of EVs, is an investor in Formula E, and has tested Tesla’s EVs several times in the past and sung their praises often.
Rosberg, 34, is also of course a hugely talented driver, having spent over a decade in Formula One and winning the Championship outright in 2016. He has been racing since the age of 6, with a formal career from 2002. He retired from his championship racing career in 2016, immediately after becoming Formula One World Champion. Good to exit at the top.
Whilst his racing career never took him to the Nürburgring Nordschleife for actual championship races (Formula One has not used the track since 1976), he has driven on the circuit many times, including for promotional events with his Formula One Mercedes team. Here’s one of his YouTube videos, documenting his first serious drive on the Nordschleife back in 2011, in the company of racing legends Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard:
Whilst there are certainly other professional drivers who know the Nordschleife better than Nico Rosberg, he has driven the circuit enough times — and is a talented enough driver — to be able to put in a competitive time in the Model S. He also has the advantage of being familiar with Tesla’s EVs on track and has considerable engineering knowledge in his own right. He aced the Williams’ team engineering aptitude test early in his Formula One career.
Having him in the Model S seat for the Nordschleife lap time is a good fit for both Rosberg and Tesla. Tesla gains a hugely talented driver and highly visible ally in the promotion of EVs. Rosberg gets to do what he enjoys, promote EVs, and also boosts his social media presence (particularly his YouTube channel). Rosberg was also one of the first outsiders to drive the Porsche Mission E prototype back in the summer of 2018.
There’s been some negative commentary around Tesla perhaps not having formally booked exclusive track time on the Nürburgring Nordschleife (at least not directly via the track’s management company). Even if true, this may not be an issue, since Tesla can do some basic setup tuning via open tourist sessions, do more serious testing via track-day sessions, and/or potentially pull some strings to join in the industry pool testing sessions (e.g., via its tire supplier, Michelin). Tesla can also potentially use a broker to arrange one or two 15 minute slots of exclusive time for the actual timed lap attempt.
Here’s hoping that this all works out, and Nico Rosberg does indeed end up in the driver’s seat for the upcoming Tesla Model S Nordschleife lap attempt. Please share your thoughts in the comments.