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Q&A - Heidfeld upbeat on BMW Sauber future 07 Sep 2008

Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Thursday, 4 September 2008 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.08.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 5 September 2008 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.08.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 5 September 2008 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.08.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 5 September 2008 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Thursday, 4 September 2008

This season has been quite a rollercoaster ride for Nick Heidfeld, who has witnessed team mate Robert Kubica setting the pace at the majority of races, prompting speculation over his future with BMW Sauber. But after a successful Monza test last week, and a Spa qualifying session in which he left the Pole trailing in his wake, Heidfeld looks to have silenced his critics. Now he is targeting P5 in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix - and the championship with BMW next year…

Q: Nick, how much of a wake-up call was the team’s demand that you raise your game?
Nick Heidfeld:
It was not a wake-up call at all as we have been speaking about the problem for a while. I don’t really care what is written in the press as the communication in the team is very good. It might sound stupid, but the most pressure comes from myself because as a sportsman you have very high demands on yourself and if things don’t work well I’m not happy with myself.

Q: How secure would you say is your drive for next season?
NH:
Answering this question would mean that I would have to tell you how my contractual situation is and I cannot do that, but I am pretty confident - that much I can say. It is no secret that I want to stay, as I’ve been with the team for quite a while now, we reached all the targets that the team gave out a couple of years ago, the target for next year is to fight for the championship, and I want to do just that.

Q: How important was the Monza test last week? You put in an impressive time. Was that a relief?
NH:
It was very important although I must say that we did not adjust the programme massively. The conditions were completely different to here - it was very hot there - but I found a few small things which obviously did make a big difference.

Q: Did you have the impression that you had to show a good result here as obviously Spa and Monza could be crucial races for you?
NH:
It was important for me to show a good result here in Spa especially after the Valencia race, which was very poor, and the test gave me confidence to be able to change things and improve as after Valencia the problem discussion opened up again and people immediately jumped on it with the notion ‘ah, he’s back to the old problems,’ with the tendency to forget that I have already improved since the start of the season.

Q: Friday saw you very optimistic. What caused that optimism?
NH:
Simply seeing that I managed to get the hardest tyres we have working on a very cold track. Theoretically this weekend should be one of the most difficult times for me so seeing that Friday already worked out for me felt quite good.

Q: How much more work to you have to put in this season compared to last year? In a situation where you have to find lap times and change things?
NH:
It is a huge difference. Last year things were just working out and things were just coming to me. This year I have a lot more work to do - with the engineers, thinking about it at home and trying to get more test mileage. But if you have to do it, you have to do it and if you get a good result as reward it was all worth it.

Q: Was there ever in your career a similar situation to now where pressure is looming at every race weekend?
NH:
I have been in similar or worse situations in terms of pressure, like not knowing what will happen to me the next year. This year I have to admit that I struggled more than ever before in any other series. Thinking back of all the team mates I had, I usually did perform pretty well and never had as many problems as in this season. Of course it is not nice, but on the other side it also shows that it is not a normal situation for me and I think I have the benefit of all the years in Formula One that my team knows what I can do.

Q: How did it feel to qualify better than Robert? It’s been quite a while…
NH:
It felt good. I guess I do not have to say more.

Q: Coming back to the race. What is your goal? Where could you see yourself ending up after the chequered flag?
NH:
It is always the same: to get the maximum out of the situation - and after all the problems I was facing lately, to continue with the performance I have shown in qualifying. Realistically it could be P5 as the Ferraris and McLarens were stronger all weekend long. But then here in Spa you never know what the weather situation will be - or I could do a phenomenal start - but under ‘normal’ circumstances the best should be P5.