Exclusive interview - BMW Saubers Nick Heidfeld 29 Sep 2007
BMW Saubers Nick Heidfeld is something of a lone ranger in the 2007 standings. In fifth place, he has a 23-point lead on team mate Robert Kubica in sixth, but a 21-point deficit to Ferraris Felipe Massa in fourth.
But with the F1.07 improving at every race, Heidfeld is taking it all in his stride. Not content with targeting best of the rest in Japan this weekend, the German star is already looking to 2008 and beyond
Q: BMW Sauber are enjoying a much better season than anticipated, but there is still a considerable gap to Ferrari and McLaren. Are you expecting that gap to close in the remaining races?
Nick Heidfeld: Firstly, we are very satisfied with the season we have delivered so far. And no, I dont believe that we will close the gap at this very moment as we are already focusing 100 percent on next season.
Q: What did you make of the incident between McLarens Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton at Spa? How did that look from a drivers perspective?
NH: This was a normal race situation. Nothing outstanding. In Fernandos case I would have done the same - and in Lewis case I would have done the same. They both saved their cars so I dont understand that hype.
Q: If you had to bet your own money on Fernando or Lewis to win the title, who would you go for?
NH: Now, on Fernando. A couple of races ago, on Lewis. At the moment I see the advantage with Fernando.
Q: Could you imagine racing for a team while not being on speaking terms with the team principal?
NH: At the moment, no. But you never know what comes your way. And honestly, the team principal is not the most important person in the team for a driver. The most important person when it comes to racing is your race engineer - and you better talk to him!
Q: You were testing in Jerez last week. What did you focus on in Spain?
NH: We tested for this race and did find some minor improvements for the remainder of the season, but our focus was clearly on the development for next season. We tried out some things, including driving without traction control
Q: You have had some pretty lonely races this season, the frontrunners quite a way in front and the guys behind reasonably far back. Do you like that situation? Is it difficult to keep concentrating?
NH: It is a different kind of racing for sure. But I guess I did pretty well to get on terms with this situation. I have never experienced concentration problems, so one could say I feel quite comfortable.
Q: Coming back to this race, the track is pretty much virgin soil for everybody. How did you prepare and what do you think about it now that youre fifth on the grid?
NH: I did some computer simulations before I got here to look at possible braking points. And on Thursday afternoon I walked the track to verify and get a visual feeling for it. And then it was to find the right balance with the car - and obviously it worked.
Q: So are you satisfied with your qualifying performance?
NH: Yes. Yesterday in the dry I had a bit of a problem to find the right set-up, but today in the wet it went smoothly. I had the impression that even more might have been possible - that I could leave a McLaren or Ferrari behind me. But fifth spot on the grid feels okay. The only difficulty we faced was to find out which tyres to use at what stage of qualifying.
Q: So youre hoping for wet conditions on Sunday
NH: Yes, because in the wet we found a good balance of car and tyres.
Q: Now to your future. You have a two-year contract with an option for another year at BMW Sauber. Your team mate Robert Kubica said that his contract will be reviewed every year
NH: I dont know what contract Robert has and I am not allowed to speak about my contract. All I can say is that I have a contract for next season.
Q: But you have said many times that you intend to fight for the world championship in 2009
NH: Of course it must be my goal to fight for the world championship after seeing such an immense step-up in the teams performance this year. And yes, I would want to do it with BMW Sauber. But these are dreams of the future. First things first - we have a race here this weekend and I want to focus on that.