FIA Thursday press conference - Germany 09 Jul 2009
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 (Red Bull).
Q: It has been three weeks since the last grand prix. I would like to ask all drivers what have you done and what your team has done to make you faster for this race?
Nick Heidfeld: The team obviously did quite a lot at the factory. We will have a couple of new parts here. We have a new floor or diffuser on the car. We have a new front wing and a new rear suspension. I used the three weeks quite intensively to keep up with my physical training. I visited the team once or twice and hope that we will see another step forward.
Timo Glock: Yeah, quite similar. I was quite busy. A lot of PR stuff to do. I burned some tyres at Goodwood which was quite a nice three days at Goodwood. Overall, just tried to keep my fitness level consistent for the year and hopefully we have a nice little package, an aero package, for here to fight back again for the top five.
Adrian Sutil: I have been in the UK quite a few times with my team. It is looking really well at the moment, so they are doing good steps. It is important to push them and say well done guys and more of this. I spent a lot of time there and had a weekend off last weekend which was really good. Just at home doing nothing really and trying to save my energy for this weekend. Now I am fit and feeling happy. I am feeling good.
Nico Rosberg: For me my team has really been doing a fantastic job with development. Of course we are still not there where we want to be. We want to be even further up. But still at the moment, in the last two races, we have been the third best team in general, so that is a very nice position to be in and allows us to fight for even maybe podiums very soon. I am very pleased with that at the moment. Over the break they have pushed on again like all the way through the season and we have new bits coming all the time and it is really nice to see the speed by which they bring parts and develop the car. It is great and I follow what they have been doing at the factory and give my thoughts on everything and we have some new bits again here, various new bits on the car. They should bring us another good step forward, so I am looking forward to again being third best team and maybe challenge for the podium, maybe even this weekend. We need to wait and see but we need a bit of luck obviously as the two teams ahead, which are Red Bull and Brawn, which is four cars. But with a bit of luck we could have a shot and thats it. From my part I have been in Ibiza and the South of France. A bit of training and a bit of having a good time and relaxing.
Q: So you are going to be fast?
Sebastian Vettel: We do have some small bits but nothing major. I think we had a very big update at Silverstone which worked perfectly fine, so we should have a very competitive car here again. Always the Nürburgring is very famous for its conditions, so no matter how good is the prediction you never know what is going to happen. The best thing in the morning is to wake up and have a look, so we will see. There are possibly some showers this weekend but I think we do have a competitive car in dry and wet conditions, so it will be very exciting. Obviously for all of us it is our home grand prix, so we are all very excited. The time between Silverstone and here I was mainly at home preparing. It is quite nice. On the one hand you miss the testing because the part you enjoy the most is the driving but on the other hand it is also good to come back down and use the time to train a little bit more intensively as when you are always busy, always on the road, it is hard to really follow a programme. It is more or less about stabilizing where you are. But if you have a bit of time off you can use it. Other than that I turned 22 last week. Thats it.
Q: Was that a big celebration?
SV: Not big. I dont know if you celebrate when you turn 22. It was very quiet. We had some little BBQ with the family but nothing special.
Q: Nick, obviously you have had a difficult start to the season. But do you feel the team is still making progress and pushing hard and will continue to push hard all the way until the end of the season?
NH: Well, I would not say still. I think in the first couple of races we were going downwards unfortunately but since then we started to move up slowly. It has never been as extreme as this year in Formula One that you really see when somebody brings an update. Whenever we brought an update to the car we did move forward and were able to score points in Barcelona and Istanbul. But then as soon as we had nothing on the car we tended to fall back. Thats why I have hopes for here and that we will be able to score points again. I know that there is a lot more in the pipeline for the upcoming races. Of course, it is very unlikely to move us where Red Bull and Brawn are, thats for sure, thats clear. But at least it would be great if we can fight for points on a regular basis.
Q: Timo, last weekend at Goodwood I think you also had a go in a rally car? Tell us about that.
TG: Yeah, it was quite a nice moment. The first time for me in a WRC car. I think the car was around 10 years old but still a proper one and a proper rally stage through the forest. I just was really impressed the first time when I had a taxi ride to see it and then I was just pushing as hard as possible to get a ride on my own. I did four laps which was quite nice and a lot of fun. I enjoyed it and it was a nice weekend. I think at the end I was only nine seconds slower than Sebastian Loeb, so it didnt look too bad.
Q: And your hopes for this weekend?
TG: Hopefully we will be back again fighting for the top five and for the podium. But it is quite close. Everybody is really close together and it will be a hard fight. It is quite interesting to see again which teams are bringing big updates and which teams are bringing small updates. I hope we are on the bigger side and just fight for points strongly and for the podium.
Q: Adrian, you had the big update at Silverstone. You got close, not you personally, with Giancarlo (Fisichella) in 10th place. Do you think points are a possibility? Vijay (Mallya) certainly does.
AS: Yeah, always a possibility. Difficult but it should have been possible in Silverstone already. We were a bit unlucky with both cars in qualifying after my crash, so we had to start from the back. But here we have not really something new on the car, just small things, but still an update from Silverstone should bring us quite a good performance here. Our hopes are to reach the second qualifying again and go close to the top 10. Hopefully in the race we can go into the points but it is a really hard goal to reach but I see a chance and I will go for it.
Q: Nico, talk about the progress being made by the team. It really is a development race, isnt it, and do you think they can sustain this? They are a privateer team taking on those manufacturer teams.
NR: Definitely. The past few years have been a bit of a negative for us, the developments through the season and we always seemed to lose out. But this year we are just really going up. We are really progressing a lot this year, so I am really enjoying it and I am really confident that we can continue. I think the main point is we learnt a lot about the mistakes, especially from last year. We are doing a lot better on that this year and changed a few things, characteristics in terms of development, so it is helping us a lot.
Q: Sebastian, winner of the last race and the only other winner this year apart from Jenson (Button). Adrian Newey thinks it will ebb and flow. Sometimes it will be them and sometimes it will be you. What are your feelings about that?
SV: I hope that in the future that it will be only us. But I think it will be a hard fight. As Nick said in the beginning of this question round it is very unique this year to see that as soon as someone brings an update, whoever it is, is able to make quite a big step. We brought quite a big update at the last race and it seemed to work. I think on top of that we had a perfect weekend. Maybe Brawn GP was struggling a little bit here and there. In the end it is all about getting your things and getting the job done. I think you have to focus for every single race. Each circuit is different in a way, so in general I think the most important thing is to have a good, fast car which we do, but they also have (one), so it will be a close fight to the end of the season. But as I said you have to keep working, bringing the bits even if it is just a couple of bits you put on the car. They are helping. Everyone is developing like crazy and trying to improve. Both teams are in a very strong position. We have a good car but in the end little things can make the difference.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret LEquipe) Sebastian, how do you feel this year coming to Germany as a star?
SV: I dont consider myself as a star. It is always nice to come here. It is very special for all five of us to take part in the German Grand Prix being German you know, it is our home grand prix. It is similar for an Englishman to drive around Silverstone, I think as it is special. I have had a lot of races here at the Nürburgring in all different categories, Formula BMW, Formula Three and Formula Renault World Series. I like the circuit and it will be my first time around here in an F1 car, so I am definitely looking forward.
Q: (Luis Fernando Ramos Racing Magazine) Question to you all: theres this big legend about the Nordschleife here. I want to know your experience driving around it with any car and if you have a wish to one day have a Formula One race here, even if the safety standards would be a little bit different?
NH: Yeah, I think I have quite a lot of experience around there. I said earlier, when they opened the new park that the first lap I did here was together with my father, not being able to reach the pedals but just steering a bit. And I would say it ended two years ago when I had the chance to drive around the Nordschleife in an F1 car which was one of the best experiences Ive ever had here. I have to say I was surprised how well the track suited the F1 car. Of course its too dangerous, the run-off areas are not big enough but the corners themselves are great and it was fantastic doing those three laps. Unfortunately, on each of those laps, I had to follow a camera car, so I couldnt go at full speed but I would love to do it any time again.
TG: Yeah, so far I didnt have the chance to go around in a race car or in a Formula One car. It would be a dream to do it in a Formula One car, definitely, but I did a couple of laps, privately, with my road car when I was here the first time in 2000/2001 and I have to say it took quite a bit of time to learn the track. Its not an easy one and still now I have no idea about the corners, only when Im on the track do I know what I have to do. If you talked about a corner, right now, here: no chance. And this makes it the best track in the world and its just unbelievable and so far Ive only done it in a road car with a couple of journalists. I think they had quite a lot of fun. Im looking forward to doing it in a proper race car.
AS: Yeah, a fantastic circuit. I would say its my favourite, the best in the world. I think its the biggest circuit, theres so much history here but once you go on it, it doesnt matter which car youre in: a slow car, a road car or whatever, its thrilling and its incredible to drive these corners, up and down, so many corners. It doesnt matter which car, as I said. Ive come here quite a few times, just to do the Nordschleife, sometimes with my road car with some friends. I was here last weekend. I drove down in my own car, did some laps, met up with a friend, another race driver and he was taking me around in his touring car. It was a good experience because he knew the track really well. I know it well but I have never done a race here, so its a different area. I try to go on it all the time and every race that Ive done here Ive normally gone for a couple of laps on the Nordschleife on the Wednesday.
NR: For me, there was just one really nice experience with my dad in 1995 when he was doing DTM. He took us round in an Opel Calibra Turbo, which at the time was the car he was racing and he drove a road car but it was still a very, very fast car and I remember his best friend was sitting in the back seat and my dad knows the track like the back of his hand, he knows every jump, every corner, in his mind, he knows it exactly. So we were going absolutely flat out and I just remember that the guy in the back was shouting so loudly. I think he would have preferred to open the door and jump out at 250kph rather than stay in the car. So it was quite a fun experience.
SV: As soon as I got my licence, I used the opportunity (to come here) and I did a lap with a road car. I was completely lost but followed a friend and around half a lap I completely lost the brakes and I was lucky not to crash, so I had totally underestimated the performance of normal road car brakes. Then a couple of years later I had another opportunity with a friend who lives just down the road here close to Nürburgring and the Nordschleife. He has an old BMW 3-series, not very powerful but modified, so proper tyres and the chassis tuned a little bit. When there were normal tourists around the track, then it was quite big fun to chase them in this little car and even though you have no power on the straights, you were much faster in the corners. It was fun. I think I had five or six laps. First of all you are surprised how many corners there are and how long one lap really is but I think then you quite quickly get into the rhythm and you kind of recognise the corners more and more, so after five laps you roughly know where you are but it has been a few days and I think I have forgotten most of it but it would be nice to come back and do a couple of laps.
Q: (Asen Stoyanov Monitor Daily, Bulgaria) I would like to ask everybody what is your opinion about the possibility of having a Bulgarian Grand Prix in the next two or three years because tomorrow there will be negotiations with Mr Ecclestone?
TG: I think you will get the same answer five times over but in the end, I think we all welcome a new track, a new race and I think last year we already had a couple of really good events. I think we welcome new tracks every time, new countries to visit, and I look forward to it.
NH: Its very hard to judge because I dont know where it would take place, how it would be, but as Timo said, its always great to go to new tracks, but not only that, but also to new countries, new cities but very hard to judge from where we sit, not spending a lot of time focussing on that.
SV: I think its all been said. As long as the circuit is nice, this is what we all enjoy most and if the spectators are great, if the atmosphere is great, so if there are plenty of Bulgarian race fans, it would be nice to go there.
Q: (MC) What would you want from a new circuit like this? Changes in elevation? Overtaking places?
NH: Nordschleife with more run-off. It would be nice to have overtaking opportunities but normally if you try to build those in, that doesnt make the track very exciting. What I found is that, as you just said, that elevation changes normally make it quite exciting. I think there are some or a lot of old tracks that have their own nature and are good fun but there are also some new tracks that are good fun. I dont think its an easy job to build a track that is exciting to drive but I think the guys who are doing it have so much experience now that they should come up with a pretty good solution.
Q: (Peter Lausmann Rhein-Zeitung) Question to Nick: you mention physical fitness and you worked very hard before the beginning of the season, you even lost weight which is quite easy for a chubby guy like me but very hard for an athlete like you. You did all this stuff and now the car isnt that competitive. How frustrating is it and would you subject yourself to this torture again before a season?
NH: Yeah, of course I would do it again. I assumed that we would be in a good position to really fight at the front but now, as we have cancelled KERS, I will go back to being fat!
Q: (Sarah Holt BBC) Question for you, Sebastian: I guess that a third win this season might make a nice birthday present for you and if it continues to be quite cold that could make life more difficult for Jenson. What are your feelings on those two things?
SV: First of all, I think Germany is usually hotter than in the UK. I think this place is quite special, so we should be used to the heat, much more than an Englishman! No, as I said, it will be a very, very close fight until the end of the season and obviously they are in a better position than we are if you look at the championship placings. We will try everything we can. We will try at every single race, our target is to win, thats why we are here, to beat not just the Brawns but to beat everyone, because in the end, if you want to win, you have to beat every single person. A lot of things can happen quickly in sports. You never know what is going to happen, basically. Maybe they didnt have such a good race in Silverstone, we had a great race and all of a sudden people are talking more about a closer fight and so on. If it is the other way around here again, then people will have a different opinion and if it continues to go in our direction it will be closer. There is still a long, long way. Right now we are more of less at half time, halfway through the season. Every single race is important. We didnt always do the best job possible in the first couple of races but we are still in a very strong position and theres a long way to go. We are here to fight.
Q: (Joris Fioriti AFP) A quarter of the grid is German; dont you think that sometimes there are too many German drivers? And, especially for those at the back, is it good to have people talking about Sebastian right now? Nick and Adrian, you must suffer from that a little bit, or not?
NH: I guess youre not German, asking this question! I think if you look at the last twenty, thirty, forty years of Formula One there have not always been five Germans. There were times when there was nobody and maybe a third or quarter of the field was Italian or French. Thats just the way it goes. I think most of us sitting here were lucky that Michael had such a strong impact in the world of motor sport, in the world of F1, which maybe made it a bit easier for us to come here. Nobody knows how it will go in the future but I think the teams always try to get the quickest driver and their nationality is not that important. Your remark about there being more attention on Sebastian at the moment than on most of us sitting here is just very natural, I think. Hes had a very good season, hes still in a position to fight for the championship with Jenson. Who would expect anything else?
Q: (Mario Bauer Berliner Zeitung) Nick, youve been in Formula One as long as Jenson has been. Does seeing him win now, having a car to do so, while youve both had ups and downs in your careers over all these years, does it make you a bit frustrated to see that you still dont have a car to win or does that give you confidence that you could do it as well, as long as you get the car?
NH: I like to see him winning, it rather gives me confidence, although its not only because of that. I believe in myself anyway but I think all the people I speak to and know are happy for him to win because he was fighting with not a good car and now hes able to show what he can do and it probably shows people that are not so much into Formula One how important the car is, but thats just the way it goes.
Q: (Frederic Ferret LEquipe) Sebastian, as it is your home Grand Prix, do you feel that it is an advantage, do you have more things to do as Jenson lost his home Grand Prix last race?
SV: I dont see this as a disadvantage. I think its always nice to come here, as I said, for all of us. Its nice to see a lot of people mainly cheering for us. If anything it gives you more power and maybe that extra little you need but in the end, of course there are more people and maybe more attention but the thing that matters most is the racing, so you have to sometimes forget everyone and everything around you and just focus on what really matters. It might be a bit more difficult to keep the focus but thats the most important thing, the key I think, to focus on racing. In the end, you can get ten points, you can get ten points in England, Silverstone, or you could get ten points in Australia. It doesnt give you more points if you win here than anywhere else. Of course its nicer to win your home Grand Prix but its a long, long way and the race is on Sunday. First of all there is Friday, tomorrow, to prepare and then the qualifying. Its always a long way.
Q: (Carole Capitaine LEquipe) A question for all of you: what about your future? Do you know where you will be next year, in which team and are you already working on that?
SV: I know.
NH: As you probably know, at BMW we dont speak about our contracts, so theres not much I can say.
TG: Quite similar for me. These questions are sometimes quite difficult to answer but lets say the future doesnt look too bad.
AS: Same for me. Its too early to talk about it, half the season is over and so many things can happen. Things still havent been solved, the talking about where Formula One is going and I think that as soon as it is decided what happens with Formula One, then we can concentrate on the drivers. I cant say anything about my position anyway.
NR: Im looking at my options at the moment and thats it. Theres not much more to say than that, other than Im very, very happy with where I am at the moment. Im very pleased with my team and its working really well, working together with them, so thats the most important thing for now.
SV: Ive said it already. Ive said I know. I can also now say . whatever you want to hear. I think everybody knows about my situation next year. Im very happy. We are very, very strong this year which may be a surprise for some people but I think maybe the last couple of years werent the best for the team but Im very pleased that at the moment that I arrived we had the right car to finally be where I think we deserved to be.