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Heidfeld out to maintain upward trend in home race 18 Jul 2008

Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, Thursday, 17 July 2008 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, Thursday, 17 July 2008 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, Thursday, 17 July 2008

Sebastian Vettel, one of the five home drivers preparing for his home Grand Prix, perhaps had the most to smile about on Thursday when he was confirmed as a Red Bull Racing partner for Mark Webber in 2009, but the Toro Rosso star wasn’t the only German feeling chipper. BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld was upbeat too, following his stronger qualifying performances in Magny-Cours and Silverstone and his second place at the latter venue.

“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 year’s car very well,” he said. “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.”

He said that depressing was not the right word, but added: “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 I’ve 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 I’ve done and we have done as a team started to pay off.”

Adrian Sutil said of an updated Force India VJM01: “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.”

Interestingly, both he and Nico Rosberg have been mentioned in the press in connection with McLaren for 2009, Sutil as a possible second test driver, Rosberg to race alongside Lewis Hamilton.

On a separate note, this race marks the first time that Bridgestone’s current range of Formula One tyres will be raced at the track, since there was no event here last season. The hard and medium compounds have been chosen due to the harsh nature of the circuit layout and to allow for the wide range of weather conditions which could be seen.

Now devoid of its once-famous long straights, the track’s character has changed greatly. There is a wide range of different corners, ranging from the high-speed sweeping Turn Five to the tight hairpin at Turn Six. The first sections are mainly high speed, but the stadium complex at the end of a lap is comprised of a succession of slower corners where graining can occur, especially before the track becomes rubbered in.

David Tremayne