FIA Thursday press conference - Germany 17 Jul 2008
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers: Timo Glock (Toyota), Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber), Nico Rosberg (Williams), Adrian Sutil (Force India) and Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso).
Q: A question to you all. What are your feelings about your home grand prix and given you tested here last week?
Adrian Sutil: It was quite nice testing. I really like the circuit here. Hopefully we are a bit more competitive here. The testing went well and we found our set-up but again testing is testing and the race is the race, so we will see how we are going to go. I have to stay realistic and I think it is going to be hard to be in the second qualifying. That should be our goal again but it will be difficult.
Q: And its your first German Grand Prix.
AS: Its my first German Grand Prix. I am happy to be here really, Hockenheim is one of my favourite circuits. I have had many races here and nearly all with very good memories. The lay-out is very, very nice and the special atmosphere in the Motodrom as always is a special thing here.
Q: Sebastian, testing and your home grand prix. How do you feel?
Sebastian Vettel: I think for the team and me it is a real home grand prix. We came here in just half-an-hour by car. I am looking forward to it, definitely. It is going to be our first home grand prix and I have lot of friends and family here, so it will be very pleasing to race this weekend. Many people often speak about extra pressure on my shoulders or on our shoulders and so on, but I think if anything, it gives us extra motivation. It is very special. I have driven here for a long time. I know the circuit very well, no matter which weather conditions, so I should be prepared. Now we are just waiting for tomorrow and to get started.
Timo Glock: I think Sebastian said everything about the home grand prix. It is special to be back home. For me it is only about 45 minutes away. It is not extra pressure, just a really good feeling to race in front of a couple of friends and in front of the family. It is just good fun and testing went not too bad. We did our normal programme at the test and that was good. So far it is quite similar to Canada. Every time I am here I have had a couple of good results, so hopefully we will have the same on Sunday again.
Nick Heidfeld: It is great coming back to Germany seeing all the spectators and all the fans here. I think we will see a big crowd. I am looking forward to the race very much although the conditions are a bit unknown at the moment, but thats exactly what we had in testing last week. It was not dry all the time, so it was a bit difficult to get all the new parts on the car as we wanted to, but we did manage to get them on and have a couple of new modifications which did work and should hopefully put us in a good position here.
Nico Rosberg: I am really happy to be driving here too. I was born 40 minutes away from here and my grandma and uncles and friends still live there in Wiesbaden, so I come here quite a few times and it is nice to be racing here. I started my racing career in Germany and have raced here many, many times and won many races here too, so it is a track that I really enjoy and in terms of the car I think it is a track that should be better for us, so I think we can really look forward to a good result here.
Q: And testing went well?
NR: Testing went pretty well. I was second and third on the two days. I am sure we ran less fuel than the top runners but compared to other people we definitely did better here, so I am looking forward to a good weekend.
Q: Adrian, there seems to have been a lot of development on the car over the last two or three tests. How are you feeling about it and particularly also how are you feeling about the fact that Dr Mallya has now said that is the end of the development?
AS: I am always happy to get new parts on the car. We definitely need it and at the moment we need to find some seconds actually. It is not that easy, but we are doing small steps. There is another update for this race now. It is getting better but at the moment I think a little bit too slow, so we have to figure out where is the main thing we have to make progress. But everybody tries really hard and also Mr Mallya is really into it and is trying to get us up in the result sheets but it needs some time. We just have to concentrate on the work, always stay motivated and then for sure the success will come soon.
Q: Sebastian, how are you feeling about your move to Red Bull and how are you feeling about the rest of the season and the way STR has come on?
SV: First of all, as you can imagine, I am very happy and I am very pleased that at this time of year I already know what I will be doing next year. So far I have always done things step-by-step and obviously now the most important thing is to focus on the remainder of this season. Obviously we have only introduced our new car a couple of races ago and we seem to have gone stronger and stronger, so it was a good step forward and a good step in the right direction. Also last week we had a good test, so I am looking forward to the next couple of races. It is hard to give you a number but I have a good feeling and if things go right we should be able to score points for the rest of the season. Thats the target.
Q: Timo, an interesting article has come out about you saying you want the title in 2010. Can you explain your thinking about this?
TG: I mean at the end you have to set some targets. If I say I dont know when I want to win the championship, that is not the target, that doesnt keep you under pressure. For sure 2010 will be hard and will be difficult but next year the rules are changing and the cars change completely. It will be difficult to see where the teams will be next year but you have to set your target and that is my target. If I dont reach it, then I will set a new one and keep working as hard as possible. I saw a lot of people who laughed about it, but I dont care about that as in the end you have to set some target. I set them to keep myself under pressure.
Q: Does that apply to the team as well?
TG: Yeah, definitely. We have to keep the pressure everywhere. The team is focussed on it as well. They want to win the championship as well and we will work together as hard as possible to reach it.
Q: Nick, after Silverstone you said you thought you had your qualifying problems solved. Is that the case and can you tell us how you solved it?
NH: Already in Magny-Cours I made some good progress although I was not quite making it into Q3, I was just a few-hundredths off Robert (Kubica) who obviously gets on with this years car very well. It has been a process over a couple of months looking at the problem and finding the problems I had, working out with the engineers and doing some changes on the set-up, mainly on the mechanical side actually. Doing some changes on tyre preparation and changing my driving style a bit. All that has helped me to improve my qualifying performance over one lap. My race performance already worked quite well. The last races have shown that it is probably going in the right direction, having two second places in the last three races. I hope it continues like that.
Q: It was a fairly exhaustive process with lots of different things having to come together?
NH: Exactly. In the beginning I did hope there would be one big thing I would change and suddenly Boom it would work. Unfortunately that was not the case. It was hard with a lot of small things coming together but I think I have not discovered all of them, so I think there is even more potential to make more progress.
Q: Was it fairly depressing during that time?
NH: It was not depressing, thats the wrong word. But it was very hard knowing that we have a very strong car, even better than last year, probably the strongest car I have ever been in and then struggling the most I ever have in F1. I think normally Ive most of the time been able to maximise the potential of the car, but then this year unfortunately not. It was quite difficult but it was great seeing the team behind me and it was good finding a couple of solutions and seeing that all the work Ive done and we have done as a team started to pay off.
Q: Nico, you were in Moscow last weekend demonstrating the Williams. Can you tell us a little bit about it? What did you have to do?
NR: In general it was a really nice event, especially as I think Russia has great potential for a future F1 race. It would be great if F1 goes there, it is an amazing country. As Frank said it is a very intriguing country. It was nice to go there and really introduce F1 to them and give them an insight to it. Maybe F1 will grow a little bit in the minds of the Russians and also to attract more Russian companies and things. I think that is an important direction to take. It was a great event and a lot of people turned up. I was literally driving around the Kremlin, so it was literally in the absolute heart of Russia. I am not sure but there were a lot of spectators, really big numbers. It was great fun and I enjoyed it. I also took a few friends along and we had a bit of a night out as well which was fun, so I just had a really good time and I think the event went very well.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Heinz Pruller - ORF) Gentlemen, can you tell us when you first raced here in Hockenheim, and your best and worst memories here?
NH: My first race here must have been in 94 with Formula Ford 1600, and I think I won that race. It was on the long track, which I enjoyed a lot more than the new one. I think the new one is good but the long one was spectacular. It was great fun, especially in Formula Ford because we didnt have much horsepower, so slipstreaming took ages but there were a couple of overtakings happening on each straight, so it was great fun. And probably one of my worst memories was in Formula 3000 in 99, I think. I think I already had the chance to clinch the title here I was lying second, trying to overtake the first placed guy and I think it was on the Ost-Schikane and I was too close in the slipstream and went off. That was my worst memory.
NR: My first race here was actually on the small track, just the stadium and round again, and it was Formula BMW. I actually won both races that weekend as a rookie, which was really a great experience and great fun at the time. Worst experience? Im not sure, probably two years ago in F1 when I went off the track on the first lap.
AS: My first race was in Formula Ford in 2002. It was quite funny because on the Saturday I did the Formula Ford race and won it, and on the Sunday I got into a Formula BMW car and I won this race as well, so I have good memories of this weekend. The worst one, I think, was in 2004. It was a good opportunity to get into a Formula Three car in a winning team at the end of the season. I was able to put the car on pole position and I was leading the race for the first time and then I had a technical failure and had to stop, so it was a really disappointing end to the season but one of my main steps in the direction of Formula One.
SV: OK, my first race here was in 2003, so not too long ago, in Formula BMW and it lasted only four laps and then I had a retirement, so very much like this season. I started off with a retirement. The best memory was probably when I won here in F3, so that was quite a good memory. It was already very special at that time with friends and family around, so it was a very unique feeling. The worst memory was probably when I did a qualifying session in F3, I dont remember which year, and it was raining like hell. We were aquaplaning everywhere. You were accelerating down the straight going to the hairpin and even then you started to slow down, even though you were full throttle, because there was so much water. I think everybody got wet during that qualifying, but I dont think it was only water at the end of qualifying which made me wet! It was quite a unique qualifying session.
Q: Too much detail!
SV: You asked for it!
TG: My first race here was in 2000, Formula BMW as well and the best memory, I think, was over two years: 2003 when we had a difficult year in Formula Three and I won the race when I started from 17th. I think there were three guys on slicks, everybody else was on wet tyres and I was the only guy who survived and I won the race on the last lap at the last corner, overtook five guys on the last lap I think and the last guy, Alexander Margeritis, in the last corner. That was a really good race. Also in GP2 in 2006, the Sunday race, which I won on the last lap against Lopez. I think that was the best memory. The worst memory in a race - not really, because I had really good results here but a really bad moment was in 2000 when I had to do the Sunday race in Formula BMW and I was a bit late and I woke up when the engines were already started, so that was quite a tough moment. I think I only woke up when I jumped in the car.
Q: (Jurgen Kemmner - Stuttgarter Nachrichten) Nico, it is said that you could join McLaren-Mercedes next year. What about it?
NR: Im sorry, I dont want to comment on things like that at all.
Q: (Robert Dunker - Die Welt) Sebastian, you said that your move to Red Bull is a step forward, but would it not have been a bigger challenge if you had chosen to move completely to a new team?
SV: You know many people always tend to forget that these two teams work completely independently of each other. We may have the same parents but each team is trying its best and in the end, when we are racing, it doesnt matter if its Toro Rosso or Red Bull Racing, they are independent from each other and every team tries to do its best. So in the end, its like changing to another team. Im very happy to stay in the Red Bull family which Ive been part of for a very, very long time. They have supported me since karting, so Im very, very happy to stay with them. I like the atmosphere, I like the people, so its a very nice working atmosphere and thats why Im very happy to stay. On the other hand, for me the most important thing, my target, is to improve, to progress and I think that if you look at the results from the last couple of years achieved by Red Bull Racing you can see a clear tendency that its going upwards, that its going in the right direction, so there was no doubt about this change.
Q: (Andrea Schneider - Autosport es Formula) A question to all of you: what do you think about the new circuits like Singapore and Valencia?
TG: I think it will be a really good experience for everybody. Street circuits and a night race will be a good experience. I still remember it from ChampCar and Monaco as well. That its a good show every time and good for the fans and good for the drivers as well, a really good experience and a lot of fun. Im looking forward to it, definitely.
SV: Obviously no one here in this room and no driver in the whole field has had the experience to drive on these circuits. Weve seen a couple of pictures, some ideas, so we are all pretty keen to go there and race there. Personally I like to race on street circuits. Its a different kind of challenge, there is not a lot of room for mistakes but you still have to push a hundred percent. One of the races, in Singapore, will be a night race. That will be the first time for all of us, so it will be quite interesting and a completely new challenge. Im looking forward to it but I think we can answer this question better after the races in Valencia and Singapore.
AS: I think its a good idea really. Im a fan of street circuits anyway, so I think its a good move because the atmosphere is special, the people like street circuits very much, you can see that at many races, and as I said, the atmosphere is always very different to a normal circuit. The night race in Singapore should be a great party for all the quests and all the fans. I think it will be a good step for this sport, a little bit into another world. In recent years weve always had normal races. Now we are going in a different area; were doing a night race, we do more street circuits. I think its very positive for the sport.
NR: Yeah, Im looking forward to them a lot, especially because I know that our car is going to be very good there, so its going to give us a great chance to do well, so I think thats the main reason why Im really looking forward to it. Its always a great challenge, obviously, to start on a street circuit which nobody knows. That should be very interesting.
NH: Two great cities, so its going to be fantastic to be there, to enjoy the show. We have street circuits on the calendar now and they are all special, so it will be similar there. As we all said, its always special and spectacular for everybody to drive on a street circuit, especially those two coming new onto the calendar. I hope that we can combine the two things: the thrill of a street circuit, together with the safety standards we have in Formula One nowadays.