Formula One: Mercedes' Rosberg congratulates swimmer Schooling but dreads Singapore track

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg speaking to fans and UBS staff on Sept 14, 2016.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg speaking to fans and UBS staff on Sept 14, 2016. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Cool and calm on the track, Nico Rosberg showed the warm side of his personality when he met lucky Straits Times readers and staff from financial services company UBS at the latter's office at Raffles Quay on Wednesday (Sept 14) evening.

The Mercedes Formula One ace, currently second in the drivers' championship on 248 points, met 10 readers, who had won a contest jointly organised by ST and UBS, and 10 staff members for a meet and greet session.

And the 31-year-old drew cheers and applause when he gave special mention to Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling, whose 100m butterfly gold medal in Rio de Janeiro was the Republic's first ever.

"Singapore... awesome result, that was incredible, beating the legend!" he said with a wide smile, referring to Schooling pipping Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian, to first place in the American's final individual race at the Olympics.

"That was wow... you must be very proud. That's really an incredible story. What an amazing job he did and he destroyed them, he was on his own. It was really impressive and I was watching that."

But the German, who has never won the Singapore Grand Prix, is keen not to put his name forward as one of the race favourites here.

Citing the Marina Bay Street Circuit' 61 punishing laps as the main reason why the powerful Silver Arrows struggle in the twisting streets, he said: "Singapore is very unusual, last year we got destroyed by Red Bull and Ferrari. They were 1.5secs quicker during qualifying and it's huge. You just can't change like that overnight.

"It's not the easiest weekend but it is an amazing event. I don't like the circuit because it is one of the toughest races of the year. I feel horrible from all the sweating... losing up to 4kg in two hours."