Local drivers Timo Glock, Michael Schumcher, Adrian Sutil and Sebastian Vettel were joined by Mark Webber to preview this weekend’s German Grand Prix.
DRIVERS: Timo GLOCK (Virgin), Michael SCHUMACHER (Mercedes), Adrian SUTIL (Force India), Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull), Mark WEBBER (Red Bull)
Q: For four of you it’s your home race. Just a quick word on what it means to you. Your hopes and expectations. How much you enjoy it or maybe you don’t enjoy it. Timo, your comments.
Timo GLOCK: Good to be back at Hockenheim again and I had a lot of good races here at Hockenheim, so really looking forward to it. I hope we have a smooth weekend and try to be in front of Lotus is our own target and we see.
Adrian SUTIL: It is very nice to be here. I like this circuit and it is a home grand prix, so for a German driver it is something special. I want to perform well. I like it. A lot of people come here, a lot of guests, a few people from my family as well, so it’s nice. I will enjoy it definitely.
Sebastian VETTEL: I think it is always nice to be back home. For me and Timo we are very close from this area, so sorry for the weather first of all but it is nice to be here. We all know the circuit very well and driving in front of your home crowd is always something special. We saw it the last race at Silverstone. The people were cheering a lot for Jenson (Button) and Lewis (Hamilton), so it is a bit of the same for us here. We are enjoying it and we all want to do well. I think apart from Michael none of us has won his home race yet, so that is the target for this weekend.
Q: Michael, four times a winner here?
Michael SCHUMACHER: Yes.
Q: Your expectations and hopes? How much do you enjoy racing at home?
MS: I think it is different to what it has been in the past as we come here as a kind of German national team. We have our main factory about 100kms from here. We went over there yesterday, so lots of support, lots of expectation in a way. It is good to see that compared to the previous years, ticket sales have gone up and interest has gone up although it is not fully sold out, but still there is a nice influence from that side. We naturally hope to have a decent and good race weekend to satisfy our guys.
Q: Sebastian, you ran the Red Bull car in your home town last weekend. I was going to say is that the fastest you’ve ever been through the streets, but I won’t ask that question. What was it like?
SV: It was great. It was in a 50kph zone in the city, so of course we didn’t exceed the speed limit. It was crazy. The night before I was actually a bit nervous about how many people will come and watch us and then the day after it was sunny. It was a fantastic day and we had more than 120,000 people coming, so they had to block the motorway and it was absolutely crazy. I didn’t see much of my old roads I used to go to school or the swimming pool or whatsoever as it was full of people. But it was very nice and I think we put on a good show. We also had a DTM car there and a guy with a motorbike, so all in all I think it was a great package and a lot of people came, so I hope they will make it as well this weekend. On Sunday I think it should be dry, so it will be nice.
Q: A lot has happened at Red Bull since the last grand prix. Have you now set the re-set button between you and Mark? Are you now back to normal?
SV: Well, I think as far as I understood if you said to Red Bull I think we are still selling cans, so not much has happened in that regard. A lot of talk and a lot of press but the most important thing you need to understand is that it doesn’t matter who wins the race. In the end we are a team and Red Bull Racing won the race on the Sunday. Mark did, so it was a great result. For some reason, or unfortunately, we didn’t get a lot of positive feedback. We know where the focus is. It is surely on this race and nowhere else. The team is motivated as ever, so the most important is the atmosphere within the team and for us it doesn’t get affected by what is being said or written.
Q: Mark, your thoughts?
Mark WEBBER: Yeah, it wasn’t a huge drama at the last race. Obviously there was a little bit of stuff here and there but first of all Sebastian did absolutely nothing wrong with me at the last event. That is totally obvious. Seb did what he did and had an incident at the first corner which was bloody unlucky for him. It can happen to any of us and the race from my side went okay with a great team effort. Unfortunately we didn’t get a one-two which we were more than capable of doing. The team is ready to go forward. We are both competitive and it is only natural the media and everyone wants to wind up a nice rivalry between whoever it is, but Seb and I are naturally going about our jobs. What we have in common is that we work for the same team, have the same passion and the same drive to get the same result and there is nothing wrong with that, so we are fine and the team is learning here and there along the way but it is a healthy learning. We are in a sensational position. Two years ago the team was not doing this type of results. Now we are and we are taking on the best teams in the pit lane, so it is an absolute credit to us and we are looking to continue that.
Q: Mark, you have had something like five lock-outs of the front row of the grid, yet not one of those has been converted to a one-two in the race. Is that part of the learning curve?
MW: Yes, it is but also there is an element of people saying we should be 5000 points in the lead. I don’t really think we should be for many reasons. Seb had a couple of victories taken away from him at the start of the year but also if you look in Turkey we were not fast enough. We had an incident on the track but we were not fast enough in the grand prix. Canada, we had a different tyre strategy there for qualifying and as the race turned out that was the result we deserved. We are not taking credit away from what other people are doing. At the end of the day there have been some calls from Jenson from the cockpit, a few great victories there and that’s how it has been. We look to capitalize on some of those qualifying positions in the future but there is no points given on a Saturday. We know that and we are looking to do better. It’s not like it’s a no-brainer on Sunday afternoon and we just drive off the front row and disappear. We have got some work to do and that is evident as you can see by the points..
Q: Timo, first of all, your aims and the team’s concentration at the moment. Is it looking towards Lotus? What sort of performance are you still putting on the car? Where are the priorities now for you?
TG: I think Silverstone showed the aero update worked quite well and we had, I would say, a second aero update in Silverstone. It doesn’t show in the results as we are still in the same position but we were much closer to Lotus. We could race against them in Silverstone and for here we should have another little update in terms of an aero package which will bring us another little step forward again, so that’s positive. It goes in the right direction. The first half of the year was tough to sort out all the problems but now it is becoming a more focussed direction in putting performance on the car.
Q: Adrian, what is affecting Force India at the moment? It seems to be very much up and down. Sometimes you qualify and race really well and other times it doesn’t go so well.
AS: I don’t think it is up and down to be honest. I am very consistent in the points and I think the only driver who has scored points in every race since Barcelona, so it is a very consistent team and good performance of the car. Sometimes it is very close to go into Q3, sometimes it is enough but it is just a very close competition to go into Q3. Williams did a little upgrade on their cars and they are much stronger. Also Sauber did a good step forward. We are not struggling, no. We have to optimise everything a little bit better. We lost out in qualifying in the last two races in my opinion as we could not use our tyres in the best way. But there are all reasons behind that and everything is going well and we should be able here to get another good result, another good points’ finish. The car is strong enough.
Q: Michael, do you feel you are being unfairly treated by the media who are perhaps expecting too much from you or are you perfectly happy with your own performance?
MS: No, perfectly happy with my own performance is probably wrong to say. But put it this way. Yes, there is an expectation out there which I think you have to be realistic that it is impossible to meet. I am away three years and just to come back and start exactly where I finished with maybe a car that doesn’t allow me to right now is probably unrealistic. I am not a magician either. It just needs time. I take that time. I enjoy most of all this process. There were some set-backs and moments where you would, obviously, be a little bit angry. But, in general, that is what it is about. There are ups and downs and that is the excitement of motor sport. I know the final target where I want to go and I am very confident I can achieve this. That is what I am working for and what I am focussing on. There is the sportive side and there is the entertainment side of this whole circus. You just have to accept and see it is just part of that situation and do not bother too much about it.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Walter Koster SaarbrÃ¼cker Zeitung) Mark, did you already have in the past such a situation like in this season with another team principal or team-mate?
MW: Frank (Williams) and Patrick (Head) were sometimes not that easy but look it is normal. It was a situation that happened which was very unusual. As I said already, I don’t have any problems with Sebastian. What happened at Silverstone was nothing of Sebastian’s doing. I had some discussions with Christian (Horner) over the weekend. He is running the team and we learn and we go forward. There is always unexpected things throughout any driver’s career. As Michael just said there are new challengers for him right now and lots of little hurdles along the way. You are dreaming if you think it is always going to be straight up.
Q: (Tobias Holtkamp Bild) Michael, which of the two guys sitting next to you will be World Champion at the end of this season? Who are you crossing your fingers for?
MS: First of all, it’s obviously clear that both of the guys to the left and right of me have a very good package and a very good possibility to fight and win the championship, but you probably don’t have to forget the McLaren drivers, that they’re still in the picture. I don’t think it’s finished yet, but naturally you sort of get the feelings of your national heart coming up and therefore you sort of have a German tendency. I’m sorry Mark but I guess that’s normal.
Q: (Marc Surer Sky Deutschland) Michael, I know your car is very sensitive on compounds. Here we have the softest and hardest of Bridgestone’s compounds. Does that worry you?
MS: No, not really. I think we actually have much more of a problem with inconsistent behaviour on the same compound. As a clear example, again in some of the races, I go out with the same tyre and suddenly I’m half a second quicker or half a second slower and I’ve done nothing differently, but the result is there and it’s not happened only to us, it’s happening up and down the pit lane every so often and it’s a little bit difficult to understand.
Q: (Udo DÃ¶ring DarmstÃ¤dter Echo) Sebastian, during the days after Heppenheim, has it kind of been like being on cloud number nine with this great support in your home town? And yesterday, you couldn’t play soccer; was it a serious injury?
SV: It’s nothing. I can still walk but to play soccer or to play football would probably have been a bit too risky, so that’s why I had to cancel. I had a bit of an incident at the beginning of the week, nothing big, but it didn’t allow me to play football yesterday. Yeah, I was back home and obviously it settles down. First of all you need to understand what happened. It was a very special day, the Sunday, and as I said, a lot of people I’ve never seen it that busy there. All in all, it was just a fantastic day. We started off very early in the morning in the old town, the old party of the city. It takes a while to settle, as I said. It might still be difficult to understand that so many people came to see us but it was a very, very nice day.
Q: (Jonathan Legard BBC Sport) Michael, as someone who is well versed in winning championships, what are the ingredients that are needed to win a championship, particularly when you are opposing your team-mate, who is very challenging? What factors are there which are crucial to winning a title?
MS: I don’t think I can give the answer you’re looking for in mentioning one particular part, because it’s like a detailed or small piece or puzzle of the big picture. You have to have all those little bits together to finally do it.
Q: (Jonathan Legard BBC Sport) You talked how you were still very confident in yourself about achieving what you want to do. Has that confidence been knocked at all, because it’s taken you longer than you thought it might have done to achieve something in your first year back?
MS: Naturally you wish to go straight ahead with this, thinking, before I was finally able to drive the car, where we’d been last year with the team. You sort of think that there might be a possibility to continue on from there, but then it’s easy and clear enough to understand why that is and was not possible. That’s about it. You just understand and realise the situation and work from there on.
Q: (Alan Baldwin Reuters) Sebastian, sorry if I’ve missed something but perhaps you could just clarify this incident with your leg that you had at the beginning of the week?
SV: I fell down when I was running. Nothing special but I had a bit of a hyper-extension of the muscle on the leg, nothing big. I can walk, it’s not a disaster.
Q: (Gary Chappell The Daily Express) Mark, â€˜not bad for a number two driver’. You’re above Sebastian in the standings now. Should you win on Sunday, what will be your cry over the team radio this time?
MW: I think it would be like it normally is, it’s a great team effort. It was said in the heat of the moment at Silverstone and that’s what was said but we’re both treated very equally in the team and as I said at the time, I would never have continued in that situation. That’s why I am continuing, so technically the cars are to give both of us a really fair crack and I’m looking forward to trying to have that big problem on Sunday if I can, to work out what I might say.
Q: (Byron Young The Daily Mirror) Seb, I’m sure you’re not too young to have watched Michael win some of his World Championships. What did you learn from what you saw when you watched when he was competing and when he won World Championships?
SV: Many things. I think from great champions there are always a lot of things you can learn, and also if you look outside the table of Formula One, if you look at others sports – tennis, golf there are great players, great individuals. They’re probably all talented but then there are one or two popping out, like probably at the moment Roger Federer and Nadal in tennis. What did I learn from Michael? I think you just need to listen to what he says. Obviously in the past I was watching mainly, like he said even now. Obviously he himself knows best which situation he is in at the moment. Obviously there are a lot of expectations from the outside but it’s part of being a great champion, being wise enough to know what you have to focus on. As he said, there are always two worlds: one is the entertainment and one is the sporting side. I think we clearly understood that he is focussing more on the sporting side and trying to come back and win races again. I could give you many examples but I think that was the lesson of the last ten minutes, I guess.
Q: (Gary Chappell The Daily Express) Michael, how different is it for you now, coming back to your home race and not being the dominant driver and not actually being the dominant German driver?
MS: It probably evolves into the same answer that I sort of mentioned before, because it is very clear that we are not in the position to come here and win the race, because as a package, we are not yet strong enough to do so. But, for us, we fight for our possibilities of results and if we could manage a podium, that would be a great and a fantastic result for us, for the fans, for our supporters, and that’s what we’re aiming for.
Q: (Sarah Holt BBC Sport) Michael, you spoke about your final target that you had in your mind. Can you categorically confirm that you will be driving for Mercedes in 2011, and in which case what is your finalâ€¦
Q: (Sarah Holt BBC Sport) And in which case what is your final target for that season?MS: For this or next season?
Q: (Sarah Holt BBC Sport) Next.
MS: It’s what I mentioned the day that I officially publicised that I was rejoining Formula One and it is to win another title, that’s our aim, that’s what my focus is and that’s what I’m here for. Very clearly.
Q: (Gary Chappell The Daily Express) On that point, Norbert Haug says that next season you’re going out to win the title. You will be another year older. What will actually change then?
MS: I don’t know of anything other than becoming even wiser.
Q: (Byron Young The Daily Mirror) I just wanted to ask Mark what the reception has been like here from the fans? Is there any sense that you’re the rival to their local hero?
SV: No, I think it’s been a very good reception so far. I think motor sport here in Germany has a huge following. I think there’s a lot of guys who obviously followed Michael in his day, and now there’s fresh blood, fresh talent, more people on the grid because of what Michael achieved, so they have a better knowledge of the sport, I suppose. They know there’s a bit of bullshit here and there which comes with the sport, and I suppose they like to watch the racing unfold. I drove for Mercedes Benz here, I did a lot of testing here with the sports car, so I have a little bit of a feeling for the guys. Obviously I’m not German but in terms of I have a feeling for how they follow their motor sport, so it’s a good time for me to drive here, at that part of my career as well.
Q: (Byron Young The Daily Mirror) Mark, is there a psychological advantage to winning this race, beating Seb, assuming the two of you are at the front and battling for victory, is there a psychological advantage to winning this race?
MW: Not all the drivers on the grid have the luxury of having a home race, so the guys here do. Obviously I have an Australian race, there’s the British Grand Prix. I think last year we all shared the victories around. I think Jenson won my race, I won his race, and Seb won someone else’s race, and I won Rubens’ race, so it was always moving around. It is a unique thing, obviously, to win your home race and of course it would be right up there with Sebastian’s highlights to try and do that, so it’s a slightly different event in many ways. Also, on the other side of the coin, it’s another 25 points, it’s a normal grand prix. It maybe has a little bit more emotion around it for the German drivers. It doesn’t mean anything more special to me to win here, so psychologically it doesn’t do anything for me, but for the home drivers it’s a nice place to win.