Team heading in the right direction, says German star
With BMW Sauber just three Grands Prix into their Formula One career, the team have already scored ten world championship points. Driver Nick Heidfeld gives his views on how things are shaping up both on and off the track...
Q: How do you feel the BMW Sauber team's first few races have gone?
Nick Heidfeld: Before the season started I said that we shouldn't put too much pressure on ourselves, but at the same time we needed to be sure that we were heading in the right direction and could maintain a consistent rate of improvement. And that's certainly been the case in the first three races of the season. The team collected its first points in Malaysia and in Australia we finished fourth and sixth. On both occasions we showed good race pace.
Q: What was going through your mind when you were running second in the Australian Grand Prix?
NH: I realised that most of the drivers, myself included, were not scheduled to pit again. And that gave me hope that I might be able to defend second place. However, Kimi Raikkonen was right behind me in a significantly quicker car and I was also having trouble getting the front tyres back up to temperature. That forced me to take risks - too many as it turned out - and another car also managed to slip past. However, as a new team we can be really happy with the way things turned out and the result has boosted our motivation even further.
Q: What do you think the team can achieve in 2006?
NH: We will keep on working hard and making further improvements. The outstanding performance in Australia has put an even greater spring in our step. However, our success in terms of race results will also depend on how other teams fare in the remaining races, so I wouldn't like to commit myself.
Q: What kind of changes can we expect in the BMW Sauber F1.06 for the next race at Imola?
NH: We'll be lining up with a modified rear section and a new front wing.
Indeed, we had already introduced new aerodynamic elements for the race in
Australia and the improvement was noticeable straightaway. Our aim is to make aerodynamic modifications of varying degrees before each GP. We can expect many teams to arrive for the start of the European season with revised cars, which might well bring about another shift in the balance of power.
Q: How would you sum up the current situation in terms of tyres in Formula One racing?
NH: I still believe that Michelin delivers the best tyres in F1. In Melbourne, in particular, it was clear that almost all the drivers were struggling to get their tyres up to operating temperature, some more so than others. We are working hard with our partners at Michelin to get on top of the problem.
Q: Are you looking forward to the European season?
NH: Yes, as we had to spend a lot of time travelling for the first three Grands Prix of the season. I also flew home between the races in Malaysia and Australia - for testing and to see my family - and that upped the mileage even further.
Q: How do strike a balance between your career and your family life?
NH: Things are working pretty well at the moment. Patricia, Juni and my mother were all there in Bahrain. They had a nice time in the hotel and on the beach during the day and I got to spend some time with them in the evening. I really enjoy having my family around me and they also help me to switch off now and again. They didn't come with me to Malaysia and Australia due to the oppressive climate and distances involved. But now, with the races in Europe, they'll be able to join me once again.
Q: The BMW Sauber teams Pit Lane Park will make its first appearance at the Nurburgring. What's your view on the new project?
NH: I've only seen a model of the park up to now, as it will be built for the first time at the Nurburgring. But I really like the idea behind it. There are so many things that the fans would love to get a closer view of, but it's simply not possible to let them all into the pits. So it's a great idea to recreate a whole pit lane complex just for the fans and I'm looking forward to checking it out.