“I mean, I was useless, I spun off on my own in last place,” Rosberg smiles. “But I was a young driver with a couple of grands prix under my belt. It’s because they are all hard-asses and they sometimes have a little bit of empathy difficulty to realise I was really sensitive as a driver and needed to feel their love.”
Clearly, you don’t forget such moments, and Rosberg has carried them into team ownership. He knows first-hand how delicate a racing driver’s confidence can be, and how crucial it is not to be crushed. “I don’t like it when a team manager puts the blame on you internally, making it clear to the whole team that you are to blame, that it’s your fault,” he says. “Because I’m very sensitive and most race drivers would be to that. You have to be so careful because driver confidence is so essential. You want to do everything you can at all times to try and keep that high. It’s the most important thing.
He pulls on a relevant and current example to support his point. “Look at Sebastian Vettel, one of the greatest drivers in our sport. The only way to possibly explain something like [what he’s going through] is that he has a mental negative spiral which he needs to find his way out of.”
So does he think the Aston Martin driver can pull himself out of his nosedive? “I have no idea,” he says. “Before the season I would say yes, but then watching the Bahrain GP… it’s strange. I don’t understand it. Anyway, the most important thing for drivers is to keep that mental confidence up. I’m trying to pick out the best of what I’ve seen and not do a Patrick Head! That was painful.”
In Kristoffersson, considered by some as the greatest rallycross driver ever and a man whose unflinching self-belief shines through in and out of the car and out of it, Rosberg has a driver you wouldn’t really describe as delicate. Rosberg knows they are not all like he was.
“If you take someone like Max Verstappen he would not be described as sensitive,” he says. “To cope with the amount of criticism he had in that one year  when he made mistake after mistake, yet still remained so committed and then said ‘I’m going to headbutt you if you say that one more time’… I mean, I would have been in my cave by then!
“A Schumacher could deal with it best and was on the resilient side. It depends. And it’s not clear whether it’s a strength or weakness because a sensitive driver will question himself the most and the people who are more self-confident will see the blame in other people who work on the car. For me sensitivity was a great force in the end. I was always questioning myself, trying to find the next step, to make myself better.”