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FIA Thursday press conference - Germany 27 Jul 2006

The FIA Press Conference (L to R): Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota; Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari; Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1; Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, 27 July 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; what’s been happening?
Nick Heidfeld:
I think, until the last race, it was only going up but unfortunately Magny-Cours didn’t suit us too well but in previous races our pace was there. We didn’t 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 you’re not going to be allowed to use the twin towers – or whatever you like to call them – is going to affect you?
NH:
It’s not going to have a big effect but definitely it would have been better with them on, that’s 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. I’m 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 don’t 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, it’s been announced that Williams will have Toyota engines next year. What difference do you think that’s 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 it’s a good step, especially because Toyota has a lot of resources, it’s a huge company and everything, and also marketing-wise I think it’s definitely a little step forward for us as a team so it’s a very positive thing.

Q: You’ve 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 we’re 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, it’s 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 I’m 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 I’ve already said that I’m pretty convinced that we’re going to be able to score points here, because qualifying ninth you’re 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 it’s stopped us finishing races. It’s not one thing either – it has always been something different. I guess we’ve just been a bit unlucky.

Q: Do you think you can carry on here?
RS:
That’s what we hope, but we’ll 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:
I’m 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. Let’s finish that season first. Would be nice to get a podium, we’re still waiting for the victory. We’ll 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, we’re just coming into the test ban now. The fact that you’ve 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 it’s very warm, like in France, is that an advantage as well, for you?
MS:
No, I don’t see any real advantage or disadvantage.

Q: So it’s still a huge lottery, no matter which way it goes?
MS:
Put it this way. Because we’re 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: I’ve 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 don’t know anything about it?
MS:
No. Nothing.

Q: What about Jean Todt maybe staying for another year? How would that affect your future?
MS:
There’s 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:
We’ll 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 there’s 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 don’t know what you’re hinting at. Aerodynamic development is pretty standard and pretty normal in a season, but some do it more successfully than others.