Q&A with Spykers Markus Winkelhock 18 Jul 2007
Ahead of his Formula One race debut at this weekend's European Grand Prix, Spykers Markus Winkelhock talks about his big chance and how his familiarity with the Nurburgring may help boost his performance...
Q: You now have the opportunity to race the F8-VII. How does that feel?
Markus Winkelhock: I was very surprised to get the call from Colin (Kolles - Spyker team principal) as I did not think that I would have this chance! But obviously I am very, very pleased to be able to race this weekend. It's now the only German race on the calendar, so I am excited to be make my race debut in front of so many German spectators.
Q: You are very familiar with the Nurburgring too - what does it mean to you to be racing in front of your home crowd?
MW: I know the track very well from Formula Renault, Formula 3 and DTM, which will be an advantage going into the race as I do not have so many kilometres in the car. Making my race debut at this track in particular though will be very important personally for myself and my family. This was the last track my father raced a Formula One car on before he died; now I can make my Formula One debut on the last track he ever raced on in F1.
Q: How did your family react when you told them?
MW: My mother was a bit emotional - she is clearly very happy that I can achieve something I have wanted for so long, but obviously a little nervous too. I think all parents are like that though! She will watch the race on television I think rather than coming to the track.
Q: You have tested the F8-VII this year at Silverstone and at Paul Ricard, so you are already familiar with the car
MW: I actually haven't had so many kilometres in the car this year, only a shakedown in Silverstone and a day in Paul Ricard. From this point of view its not so easy to be able to get a good impression of the car, but I have been at all race meetings this year and I study the data from every session so I know exactly what's going on with the car and how it's behaving. This, plus the fact I know the track very well, will help when we get started.
But adapting my driving style to new cars, new tracks and new situations is always something I have been good at - for example, after the last test in Ricard, I went straight to Germany to test the Audi DTM car! I didn't have any problems getting used to the different style of driving as after a couple of laps you get a feel for what this particular car is doing and don't think of the other car at all.
Q: Last weekend you raced in the DTM at Mugello. Do you think that will be an advantage to have raced so soon before coming to the Nurburgring, or will it be difficult to adapt to the single-seater again?
MW: You cannot compare the two cars at all as they are very, very different and need a very different style of driving, but the racing in the DTM is very competitive so that of course will help when, hopefully, we will be in the position to fight some other people.
Q: It has been clear from the start of the season that yourself and Adrian Sutil have become good friends. Has he given you any words of advice?
MW: I actually haven't spoken to Adrian since I got the call from Colin, but when I get to the track he will be one of the first people I speak to! He is a good friend, we get on very well. I feel good in the team.
Q: How have you been preparing for the race?
MW: I have been concentrating on building up my neck muscles in particular and have increased my fitness training, but I have been training hard since the start of the season anyway. As the team's reserve driver I could be called for any reason so you need to be fit enough to jump in the car and go - being race fit doesn't just take three or four weeks! I have also looked at the data for the car once again so I feel ready.
Q: How will you approach this weekend?
MW: This weekend will be very special - it's my home Grand Prix, my debut, and I will have friends here supporting me, but I need to concentrate myself on the job and do the best I can. When you put your helmet on and get in the car you need to be 100 percent focused on doing what you can. This is a great opportunity for me and I want to make the most of it.