Pre-Germany analysis - Vettel & Schumacher out for home glory 23 Jul 2010
Nobody ever tries to pretend other than that their home race is something they would love to win.
Michael Schumacher, of course, has done it four times. Sebastian Vettel has not yet managed it once. Of the two, however, the statistics say that he has the better chance of correcting that this weekend at Hockenheim, where he is the bookies favourite to win for Red Bull.
I think it is always nice to be back home, said the 23 year-old, who last week demonstrated an F1 car in his home town of Heppenheim, not too many kilometres to the north. Im very close from this area, so sorry for the weather first of all but it is nice to be here. We all know the circuit very well and driving in front of your home crowd is always something special. We saw it at the last race at Silverstone. The people were cheering a lot for Jenson (Button) and Lewis (Hamilton), so it is a bit of the same for us here. We are enjoying it and we all want to do well. I think apart from Michael none of us has won his home race yet, so that is the target for this weekend.
King and pretender, he and Schumacher represent the fans aspirations. I think it is different to what it has been in the past as we come here as a kind of German national team, the former champion said, referring to his status as a works Mercedes driver. We have our main factory about 100 kilometres from here. We went over there yesterday, so lots of support, lots of expectation in a way. It is good to see that compared to the previous years, ticket sales have gone up and interest has gone up. We naturally hope to have a decent and good race weekend to satisfy our guys.
Both looked fit and well, though Vettel admitted he was nursing a minor leg injury that kept him from playing football on Wednesday.
I fell down when I was running at the beginning of the week, he reported. Nothing special but I had a bit of a hyper-extension of the muscle on the leg, nothing big. I can walk, its not a disaster. But to play soccer or to play football would probably have been a bit too risky, so thats why I had to cancel.
Both have other issues to think about, however. For Vettel there is the ongoing fallout after Silverstone, for Schumacher the need to start performing to his old levels to satisfy expectations and prove that he can still hack it at 41.
I think if you said to Red Bull we are still selling cans, not much has happened in that regard, Vettel said chirpily, alluding to how the situation was in the camp after the controversy of the new front wing at Silverstone. A lot of talk and a lot of press, but the most important thing you need to understand is that it doesnt matter who wins the race. In the end we are a team and Red Bull Racing won the race on the Sunday. Mark did, so it was a great result. For some reason, or unfortunately, we didnt get a lot of positive feedback. We know where the focus is. It is surely on this race and nowhere else. The team is motivated as ever, so the most important is the atmosphere within the team and for us it doesnt get affected by what is being said or written.
Schumacher, meanwhile, insisted he hasnt been affected by negative criticism of his less than stellar performances for Mercedes in relation to team mate Nico Rosberg, but admitted it would be wrong to say that he is perfectly happy with his own performance. But put it this way, yes, there is an expectation out there which I think you have to be realistic that it is impossible to meet. I am away three years and just to come back and start exactly where I finished with maybe a car that doesnt allow me to right now is probably unrealistic. I am not a magician either. It just needs time. I take that time. I enjoy most of all this process. There were some setbacks and moments where you would, obviously, be a little bit angry. But, in general, that is what it is about. There are ups and downs and that is the excitement of motorsport. I know the final target where I want to go and I am very confident I can achieve this. That is what I am working for and what I am focussing on. There is the sportive side and there is the entertainment side of this whole circus. You just have to accept and see it is just part of that situation and do not bother too much about it.
Upbeat words from both, of course, just as you would expect. But if anything is clear thus far, it is that this will not be an easy weekend for either of them.