FIA Friday press conference - Germany 23 Jul 2010
Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA
Drivers and team representatives: Norbert Haug (Mercedes), Nico Hulkenberg (Williams), Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber), Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), Adam Parr (Williams), Nico Rosberg (Mercedes).
Q: Adam, you have had a new job since the British Grand Prix. How has that changed things for you? How different is it?
Adam Parr: It doesnt really change anything as it is pretty much reflecting what I have been doing for a little while now. But it is more of a formalization of that.
Q: What does your job entail then?
AP: Well, Frank (Williams) and Patrick (Head) and Toto (Wolff) have given me the responsibility for running the company and the team.
Q: And you just handle the domestic side of things as it were in the factory?
AP: Our chief executive Alex Burns is responsible for the manufacturing side of the business and some other areas but everybody reports to me now.
Q: Given the resources that you have in the team are you surprised how competitive you have been recently? You, obviously, have been very competitive.
AP: Thank you. We are more competitive and I think that is an indication that within the team we have some very capable people who have been able to understand where we were weak and do something about it. But we are by no means near where we need to be yet and I think that even though we dont necessarily have the resources available to some teams I think we can do a lot better than what we are doing now.
Q: Do you think you can keep up the pace of development and get closer to the front?
AP: Yes, I would say we are developing as fast as anyone in the sport mid-season which is a pretty good test of what you have got available to you.
Q: Monisha, the 40th anniversary of Sauber was last weekend. Tell us what that means to the team and tell us how important that is to the team.
Monisha Kaltenborn: Well, it is a very special occasion for the team as we are very proud of this, that we have been around for 40 years continuously in motor sports, out of which 18 years continuously in Formula One. There are not many teams or companies around that have that kind of history and I believe it is just about McLaren, Williams and Ferrari, so we are very proud of being with these kinds of teams. That makes us very proud as the small Sauber team as such.
Q: You had a rotten start to the season. It wasnt exactly what you were expecting after pre-season testing. What has it taken to get to the recent performances and can you continue that progress?
MK: You are absolutely right. We had an unexpected bad start to the season. We had reliability issues which were quite new for our team. We had performance issues and a portion of bad luck as well. But this gradually changed, especially with our new Technical Director coming in. James Key, I think, plays a very significant role in this. He gave a big impetus to the development of the team and the results we have now especially for the last two races show that we have made significant progress. We are on the right way with our development and we will definitely push hard to continue that and achieve our targets.
Q: Norbert, looking at these two races together. Its a home race for Mercedes but in eight days time we are going to be in Hungary. How important are these two races do you feel, given they are so close together and they come just before the break?
Norbert Haug: First of all the lay-out of both race tracks is very, very different. For us back-to-back races are not a big problem but for the guys who really work hard in the garage, who are responsible for the logistics starting with the motorhome, the racing cars, the pits, thats the real challenge and if you have a problem here you are probably not going to sort it out until the next race. But back-to-back races are usual in Formula One and it is the same for everybody and we try to achieve good results in both races. But as you rightly said after that comes the break, so I think you will not find anyone in the paddock who will not say we would like to have two good decent results before the summer break starts.
Q: Also, you have a new rear wing. How did that test this morning, particularly with these conditions?
NH: It was certainly a little bit tricky in the morning for everybody. But I think our first impressions are quite good. Making big predictions is certainly not what we want and we are not in a position to do so as we dont have the complete knowledge after such a Friday. But I think our basic feeling is that we are going in the right direction. Having said that it is very clear that the quickest are quicker than we are. We cannot catch them up over the course of a couple of weeks but we are working on closing the gap and as I said I think it is the right direction. Thats the impression I have got today.
Q: Nico, how encouraged were you? Fifth and sixth for the two drivers this afternoon.
Nico Rosberg: Today was very much to check out how our upgrades are working and getting them sorted out and everything and I think we managed well with those things, so we are looking okay for the weekend. But we still need to wait and see. Today was not too bad I think but a lot of things were a bit different because of the conditions and because you didnt have much running, so we shouldnt put too much importance into the times and I still think we can do better than we did in Silverstone or at least the same type of level. I think we are going to have a good weekend.
Q: This is obviously your home grand prix in many ways. I can remember staying with your father just up the road, so it is very much the family home grand prix as well. How important is that to you? I know you won your first single-seater race here. You have won in virtually every category here.
NR: Yeah, thats true. I have won in every category I have come here, so it wouldnt be too bad to do it in F1 too. But it is very special driving the silver arrow having grown up in racing terms about 20kms away. That was my dads racing team where I did all the racing when I was coming through the ranks. It is a great feeling to race here in front of all the spectators. Hopefully we will see a lot of silver caps in the grandstands cheering us on and it will be awesome to put in a good result for everybody, for the team, for the fans, it would be great.
Q: Kamui, do you regard this as a bit of a home grand prix as well? I believe you live in Germany.
Kamui Kobayashi: I mean this is kind of a home grand prix for me. Definitely Japan is the home but I have had most of my career in Europe. I think I have had more mileage in Hockenheim especially. In my racing career every year I have been racing in Hockenheim, so I am really happy to drive here.
Q: You have been in virtually everything her, havent you?
KK: Yeah, a lot of times. Formula Renault and Formula Three and GP2 as well.
Q: The last couple of races you have been racing hard. What we expected from you after the end of last season. How has it been from your point of view? Do you feel you are finally where you should be and should have been perhaps at the start of the season?
KK: First of all I think I had more mileage. At the beginning of the season I had no mileage at all as I had so many reliability problems with the car and I had some accidents as well. I didnt gain so much mileage and that was for me the biggest problem. I have not so much mileage in my career, so I think it was really hard. But after Turkey I think we had a little bit understanding about the tyres and at the same moment the car has developed really well. The direction, myself and the team, are going in a progressive way and thats why I think I have pretty good results at the moment.
Q: So we can expect to see you racing as hard as this for the rest of the season?
KK: Yes, absolutely.
Q: Nico, obviously a home race for you as well. Your feelings about it?
Nico Kulkenberg: I am looking forward to it as well. I think, for us, we had a positive Friday as well for what it was. I have good memories of Hockenheim. I like the place. It is always a bit more private. I feel a bit more at home and I am looking forward.
Q: Do you see the progress that has been made as from the outside we can see progress?
NH: I can also see progress from the inside definitely. It reflects in the results which are getting better. We have improved the car. I have improved myself. We have got more competitive since a few races back. That is very positive to see for us but we have to keep developing at that rate if we want to stay where we are or get even further up the grid.
Q: How difficult has it been going to all these relatively new circuits and towards the end of the season how difficult is that going to be with probably unknown circuits?
NH: Well, it is always better if you go to a circuit you know well like here at Hockenheim which I know pretty well. A few other circuits as well. But you have to deal with that. Every rookie has the same problem. You have quite a bit of practice. Three hours on Friday, one hour of practice on Saturday, so by the time you get to qualifying you should be prepared. You have to learn the circuit first and you can start your set-up work a bit later than more experienced drivers. We are always a bit behind but that is not an excuse or a reason to be behind.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ralf Bach - R & B) Nico, what happened to your front wing in practice?
NR: The bollard was too big.
Q: (Ralf Bach - R & B) Did you get a new one?
NR: I took Michaels! He went back to the old one!
Q: (Marc Surer - Sky Deutschland) Mrs Kaltenborn, you are supporting a young driver, Esteban Gutierrez. How can you do that without the team having a main sponsor and yet having enough money to support a young driver? What is the reason for it?
MK: Well, we at Sauber have always had a history of looking into young drivers and getting them pretty early, giving them their racing chance. Now supporting the driver doesnt necessarily have anything to do with how many sponsors you have. When Peter Sauber bought the team, he had secured the package for this year which allowed us to continue our programme with Esteban who was actually engaged last year. So we think hes a very promising talent and well continue with him.
Q: (Stefan Skolik - Mannheimer Morgen) Nico, can you explain some of the difficulties in todays practice session?
NR: Well, it was just because the conditions were changing all the time. We started with a very, very wet track, so we had to fit the full wets. We got some good running in there, so we learned a lot if it rains for tomorrow. Im very confident, especially in those conditions. I think we were very quick this morning, or at least, I was very quick this morning, so Im very confident in those conditions. We got a few laps in on the intermediates, it was very difficult with those. Then in the dry, with the track still being a bit wet at the beginning, so it was changing a lot and considering that you also need to do high fuel running for the race, and trying to do everything in the one hour of dry running that we got at the end, its difficult then to do much with set-up work and things like that.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix Special) Adam, the Williams team had a pretty poor start to the year; can you explain why and what was changed to make it better?
AP: Well, I can, but Im not sure I will, actually, because I think understanding where the problems are and being able just to know that gives you a pretty good starting point, doesnt it?
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix Special) Norbert, Michael Schumacher came back to Formula One this year and everyone expected a great deal. He still hasnt delivered. Were waiting to see it, weve heard many times that he will catch up with Nico and overtake him, but he hasnt. Can you talk us through that a bit?
NH: Well, I think that has been done quite a few times. Im happy to do it again. I think Michael is in a good position. Hes had some very good races, for example in Barcelona and Turkey, he came home fourth with a car which was probably not supposed to - compared to the competitors - to be fourth quickest. So that was a good job from the team, from Michael, from the execution of the strategy, from the pit stops and so on. Having said that, remember last weekend at Silverstone, I think its not necessary to defend Michael, but you can look at the figures in Q2. I heard yesterday that Q2 doesnt count. Ive been in the business long enough to know that but I also know that if you are capable of doing the job in Q2 you will not get a present in Q2 because everybody tries to be in the top ten. He did a very respectable lap time in Q2. His best sectors in Q3 would have put him sixth, so I think its basically there and it will come sooner rather than later. I think Nico can probably explain it as well. Hes certainly a very, very quick driver, a very talented driver, a very focused driver but I think Nico wont be the guy to say that its easy to keep Michael behind, so we have a lot of respect I think we all, in Formula One - Hockenheim especially, this event - we should all be proud that he came back. He did a lot for Formula One, and he does what he loves to do and I hope that sooner rather than later Im sitting here in a press conference explaining how it could happen that he has had such a good result. It will come, its up to us to improve the car. We are completely composed in the team, working together. Just give us some time. We are not yet there but in the meantime Ross Brawn, Mercedes Benz, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, these are names that are working together, that know how the business goes. Im not the man to make predictions but believe me we are going to catch up step-by-step and Michael will play an enormous role in that process.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix Special) Monisha, the Sauber team didnt start the year very well and has managed to improve; could you explain how you managed to do it?
MK: Well, I said earlier on, it has a lot to do with the technical director. The team was determined after all it went through and getting the grid slot finally at a very late stage. What was not lacking was the determination of the team, and weve shown in the past that we have the capabilities. And then getting James Key in, who was used to these kinds of surroundings and to work within the certain limitations that we definitely had and in the process, we were becoming the private team again that we were actually, he was the right person at that time, and he brought in a lot of impetus, new ideas, simply fresh thinking, so I think all that together, it took its time but it set in and we hopefully will continue this way.
Q: (Moderator) Nico, as the most experienced driver here can I ask you about the interesting tyre choice this weekend and not the temperatures that Im sure were expected when that tyre choice was made. What are the tyres like?
NR: At the moment, the soft didnt seem to be too much of a problem, it seems to be alright actually. Not one of those Montreal tyres where you can expect it to disintegrate within ten laps or something. They seem to be better, so probably the issue is going to be to get the hard one to work properly, because that one is just looking very hard. I think thats the trend at the moment. But again, difficult to say because they probably didnt do enough laps and the track is not in the condition it will be on Sunday and things like that, but that seems to be the direction.
Q: (Walter Koster - Saarbrücker Zeitung) Mr Haug, what is your impression of the big bosses in Stuttgart concerning the results up until now? Do you have the feeling that they are putting on pressure for better results in the future?
NH: No, I dont think pressure is the right expression. We are completely calm, we are completely focused. I think I expressed it. We have a new team, yes, this is the World Championship-winning team but we made some changes. We have less people than we used to have. There are resource restrictions in place in the future. We all see that in that direction. The team was fighting for a World Championship last year, so to start the season with the new car was not the best thing. But I think we know what were talking about. We are fully integrated. Im the man responsible for motor sport and should somebody have the impression that we cant get the job done, then there would be changes. So its in our hands. There is full trust in Ross (Brawn) as the team principal, in our facilities. If you look back a couple of years, we have had some problems with the engine as well. I think we sorted out the engine in a respectable way and we can achieve that with our team as well. Its probably wrong to speak about pressure all the time. The team - and I think everybody who is here will state the same: you make your own pressure. You want to win, but you need to have a decent approach, you have to have a concentrated approach and I think the combination we have right now is a very good starting base. We are not where we want to be yet but we have all the ingredients to achieve that and I think our management believes in us and thats the situation. Nothing to worry about.
Q: (Marco DegliInnocenti - La Gazetta dello Sport) Mrs Kaltenborn, I think, if Im not mistaken, its the first time that a lady has sat in such a press conference. Whats your feeling now?
MK: Well, Im feeling fine. I hope my colleagues here are as well since they have to get used to it. Im personally very proud about this, and I think it sends out the right signals about Formula One to the world.
NH: I think Bob (Constanduros) should have ordered some flowers for this occasion, and maybe we can do it together.