Q: Nico, two days ago you celebrated your 27th birthday. Were you hoping for a big surprise F1 gift?
Nico Hulkenberg: To be honest I had a very nice day with friends - very laid back, and no thinking about any race matters!
Q: But Ferrari keeping Kimi Raikkonen has the potential to ruin many a dream in the paddock...
NH: Not mine. With Kimi staying the biggest chunk of cockpit speculation is off the table, so we can all go back to business as usual.
Q: But didn't you say that Kimi's future was a key factor to many F1 careers? What consequences, for example, might it have for you? Do you know where you will be driving next season?
NH: No, I don't know - but with Kimi staying it means the biggest issue is off the table. The rest will settle in the next couple of weeks. For some of us who are still looking around it will still take some weeks until everybody has found his place. Consequences - that sounds so harsh and final! (laughs) Everything will fall into place, I am sure.
Q: Losing your front wing in Budapest made for some spectacular images - have you found out what caused it? Spa isn't as forgiving a circuit as Budapest...
NH: Yes, we know what happened, and we will make sure that it doesn't happen again.
Q: The talk of the town is the new starting procedure. How did you prepare for it? And is it something that will make the races more open?
NH: To answer the first part of the question: I didn't really prepare. I spoke with my race engineer, and otherwise will wait for what happens on Sunday when we are all thrown into the water and expected to swim. I doubt though that the field will get more spread out - at least not in the long run. The learning curve in the paddock is always very steep. Probably we will see some little surprises on Sunday, but I would say that will be it. In Monza everything will be back to normal.
Q: Was it a good idea to implement the new starting procedure at a race like Spa - an already demanding track?
NH: I don't think that it would make any difference whether here or anywhere else. For my part I have to say that this is one of the coolest tracks of the season - I love it here. All the nature around - such a sophisticated track built into pure nature - that is quite something. It is a fantastic old-school track - modified lately, but still with the DNA of a classic track of the 70s or 80s. Here you can really throw the car from one corner to the other, and drive yourself into ecstasy.
Q: A track that you praise so much - but one that always keeps people guessing. Take your own form today - 12th and then sixth, a real mix. What is the true picture?
NH: We tried many things in the morning to find out what worked best for the rather unusual warm conditions that we had today - on a track were you wouldn't automatically expect summer conditions. And in the afternoon I think we found a very good balance between qualifying necessities and race trim. My guess is that we can even find a bit more time tomorrow morning - at least that is my hope.
Q: So what's your hope?
NH: I think that racing owes me something after that unfortunate Budapest incident. Good points - that is what I want. It is also the best argument for a sound future in Formula One - actually it's the best sales argument. (laughs)