FIA Thursday press conference - Germany 27 Jul 2006
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber), Nico Rosberg (Williams), Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), and Ralf Schumacher (Toyota).
Q: Nick, the performance recently seems to have been a little bit up and down; whats been happening?
Nick Heidfeld: I think, until the last race, it was only going up but unfortunately Magny-Cours didnt suit us too well but in previous races our pace was there. We didnt get the most out of it, but we will see here if we can improve our pace again. The circuit is more similar to Magny-Cours than to the high speed circuits but we have some new development parts on the car and we will see.
Q: How much do you think the fact that youre not going to be allowed to use the twin towers or whatever you like to call them is going to affect you?
NH: Its not going to have a big effect but definitely it would have been better with them on, thats why we introduced them, but unfortunately they are banned now. For me, it was never a problem with the visibility but we have no chance to keep them, unfortunately.
Q: But you can imagine if everybody had them on
NH: Yes. Im sure other teams were already looking into them and probably they would have come up with the same thing.
Q: Obviously, this is one of two races in Germany; what would you feel about the possibility of them alternating the Grand Prix between here and the Nürburgring.
NH: Well, I think we can be happy that we had two races in the past in Germany - I dont know for how many years. Not a lot of other countries have that situation, apart from Italy, so I think the idea of alternating them is the best we can do, actually. I would be quite happy with that. Of course I would prefer two races but for sure, this is the best solution.
Q: Nico, its been announced that Williams will have Toyota engines next year. What difference do you think thats going to make? Is it going to affect you?
Nico Rosberg: I hope it will affect me, that would be great. I think we will find out what they will announce shortly, if they will announce it. I think for the team as a whole its a good step, especially because Toyota has a lot of resources, its a huge company and everything, and also marketing-wise I think its definitely a little step forward for us as a team so its a very positive thing.
Q: Youve had some problems with both aerodynamics and also tyres at the last race as well. Do you think those problems have been solved for this race?
NR: Well, aerodynamically we already made a step forward in Magny-Cours which we were able to show in qualifying where we were one of the top five quickest teams because we qualified ninth and eleventh so were pretty happy with that already. I think and it would have given us a good possibility to score some points, but unfortunately we had a problem in the race with the rear tyres. We managed to solve that pretty quickly in Jerez. It was a small thing, really, which was just a little bit of a set-up change which was required and that was all. So we solved that and we should be looking a lot better for here in the race.
Q: So what are you expecting from what could be termed one of your home races?
NR: Yeah, its always great to race at home. There are a lot of people I know and people speak my language and everything. Hockenheim is actually the track where I started off my single-seater career, more or less, and racing my first races on this track, and also doing my first laps in a single-seater on this track, so I have great memories here and Im looking forward to the race.
Q: So what changes with the improvements made over the last couple of races, the test and Magny-Cours?
NR: Well, after Magny-Cours Ive already said that Im pretty convinced that were going to be able to score points here, because qualifying ninth youre always going to have chances to score some points and I hope we manage to do the same thing here and I think Bridgestone have again brought some good tyres here so I think the possibilities are looking good.
Q: Ralf, Toyota seems to be a team on the up, the performances are getting better, but there always seems to be something going wrong.
Ralf Schumacher: We do what we can. The last few races we had a very good performance and are making a good trend. As you said, we had some technical issues they have been pretty minor, but its stopped us finishing races. Its not one thing either it has always been something different. I guess weve just been a bit unlucky.
Q: Do you think you can carry on here?
RS: Thats what we hope, but well have to wait and see. We think we had a very good tyre in Magny-Cours. It was an advantage.
Q: How do you think Toyota supplying engines to Williams is going to affect Midland next year? Will it be a help or a hindrance?
RS: Im sure it will be a help to have another competitive team alongside us, just as a comparison for us.
Q: So looking to next year, what will you be looking for next year? Hoping for a championship? What would you be hoping for?
RS: Still a few races to go. Lets finish that season first. Would be nice to get a podium, were still waiting for the victory. Well do a lot of laps before we think about next year.
Q: Is your future assured with the team for next year? Is it still to be discussed?
RS: As much as can be assured for one year.
Q: Michael, were just coming into the test ban now. The fact that youve won the last two races, is that a pointer for the future races coming up?
Michael Schumacher: Not really, no. The situation is very high on the competition side and to fall over the edge onto the other side is very easy. We have seen that in other races, we have seen that maybe even in the last race, so we really have to take it one by one so we know who has done enough testing in the meantime then to pre-judge the next races.
Q: And the fact that its very warm, like in France, is that an advantage as well, for you?
MS: No, I dont see any real advantage or disadvantage.
Q: So its still a huge lottery, no matter which way it goes?
MS: Put it this way. Because were talking mainly on the tyre side. It seems for both sides, you may hit it perfectly to the point, or not, and that is more important in deciding the situation of whoever is winning or whoever is not winning, but we definitely have got on top of some of our previous issues, we understand them better and can judge them better and we will try to use that to our advantage.
Q: Ive been asked to ask you about a rumoured approach that has been mentioned in the newspapers from BMW. Can you say anything about that? Have they made an approach?
MS: Not that I know of, no.
Q: So you dont know anything about it?
MS: No. Nothing.
Q: What about Jean Todt maybe staying for another year? How would that affect your future?
MS: Theres no point to getting into that again. I wonder it will be over by Monza.
Q: But still no decision taken in your mind?
MS: Well see in Monza.
Questions from the Floor
Q: (Fredrik Huldt Auto Motor und Sport, Sweden) Since the last race there has been a lot of testing going on. Any improvements to the car, if you disregard the tyres?
MS: On the car side, yes. We have a few upgrades to the car on the aero side. Probably the normal developments, but theres a few bits and pieces.
Q: Anything coming on the aero side?
MS: It will always be coming.
Q: I mean, in the light of BMW playing around a lot. You might be following them.
MS: I dont know what youre hinting at. Aerodynamic development is pretty standard and pretty normal in a season, but some do it more successfully than others.