A family man and a fans' favourite

One would have imagined Nico Rosberg having a quiet afternoon before yesterday's qualifying session for the Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, sitting in his hotel room gathering his thoughts and remaining focused on what lies ahead.

After all, the German is famous for being a family person and he even described his ideal holiday as spending time at home in Monaco doing things normal people do on a regular basis, like walking on the promenade pushing his new-born daughter in a stroller.

But, for all the fame and fortune being a Formula 1 driver brings, there are some things about the industry - in this day and age - that they cannot escape from.

Which is why, just hours before he took to the track at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, Rosberg found himself gracing one of the now-customary sponsor events, meeting and greeting fans at The Westin Singapore.

Excited fans were afforded the chance to get to know the 30-year-old better as he spoke about his life during a short Q&A segment during the one-hour reception.

For 10 lucky people, however, the highlight was when they met him in a private session through Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide's loyalty programme Starwood Preferred Guest, which has a partnership agreement with Rosberg's Mercedes team.

The German was in his element and did not hesitate to share more about his personal life, which explains why as much as his fans like "Nico Rosberg the F1 driver", they like him as much as a person.

He immediately broke into a wide grin when asked about his daughter, who was just born last month, saying: "It was a great experience. Very emotional, and it makes leaving home each time a lot tougher now."

The Mercedes driver also talked about how magical it was winning the Monaco Grand Prix for the last three years.

He said: "Monaco is home… it's where I grew up and it's a special place where I first started watching Formula 1.

"I remember watching my hero Ayrton Senna in his yellow helmet.

"Winning the Monaco Grand Prix was already an incredible feeling, but winning it three times was just amazing."

The Bayern Munich fan, who reveals his warm-up routine includes kicking a football with his physiotherapist behind the paddock before each race, will start this evening's Singapore GP sixth on the grid following last night's qualifying.

Rosberg will be cheered on by Chris and Michele Gentrie, an American couple from Laguna Beach, who were among the privileged fans who met him yesterday.

"We're big fans of the Mercedes team so we support both Nico and Lewis (Hamilton)," said Chris.

Michele added with a laugh: "But now that we've got to meet Nico, maybe we'll be supporting him a little more.

"Their appeal comes from the fact that they're such completely different people… Lewis is like Hollywood and dates famous celebrities, while Nico is more of a family guy.

"The fact that there's a bit of friction between them also makes it fun."

Another fan who was rewarded with a meeting with Rosberg after travelling all the way from the US for the Singapore GP was Jim Wilking, a Minnesota native.

"For me, the appealing thing about Nico is probably his lineage," Wilking explained.

"With his father also being a former F1 driver, he has that whole history thing going for him and it was definitely very cool meeting him."

This article was first published on Sept 20, 2015.
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