German GP - Thursday - Press Conference
17 JULY 2014
DRIVERS - Nico HULKENBERG (Force India), Kevin MAGNUSSEN (McLaren), Adrian SUTIL (Sauber), Kimi RAIKKONEN (Ferrari), Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing), Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)
Q: Nico Hulkenberg, if we could start with you. Points in every race so far this season, only you and [Fernando] Alonso have managed that so far and you‚Äôre seven to two against your team-mate in qualifying. How positive is that for you and how do you think that is perceived within the Formula One paddock?
Nico HULKENBERG: I think it‚Äôs very positive in general. I think it‚Äôs a very good achievement to have scored points in every race - probably Nico and Lewis would have been the same without the technical failures. I think it has been a very positive start to the season, first half, many, many points, much better than we expected going into the season and I think that is also the perception of the paddock. However, we‚Äôre only in the middle of the season and there‚Äôs still a long way to go before the end and our aim is to get the fourth position in the Constructors‚Äô Championship. We have a big challenge on our hands there against Williams, McLaren and many others. I look forward to that.
Q: You‚Äôve largely been fighting for fifth and sixth places in races this season but just recently, the last couple of races, it was more like eight and ninth. What brought about that change and where do you think you‚Äôll be fighting this weekend?
Hulkenberg: I think Silverstone was overall a bit difficult for us. The track didn‚Äôt suit us so well, plus the conditions made it even more difficult. Therefore, it was still a very good achievement to get points on the board there. In Austria we were a bit compromised by a few issues, which we found out after the race, otherwise that could have been better. So hopefully here we‚Äôll be back to bigger points but it‚Äôs difficult to know. Obviously it‚Äôs very hot this weekend, so it will be interesting to see how the tyres behave and who will manage it the best.
Q: Kevin, coming to you, points in the last four grands prix for you, six points finishes in total this season with one podium but McLaren still seem to be quite up and down dependent on circuit, why is that?
Kevin MAGNUSSEN: It‚Äôs difficult... it‚Äôs a good question. It‚Äôs something we don‚Äôt really quite understand 100 per cent, but surely it has a lot to do with tyres, they behave quite differently race to race. I think we are improving, the car is improving, we‚Äôre putting downforce on the car at nearly every race so I think we're moving in a positive direction.
Q: We‚Äôre coming up to the summer break and there‚Äôs a lot of talk about the driver market - as there always is at this point. Where do you think you stand with regard to staying at McLaren next season.
Magnussen: I can only do my best and hope that is good enough. Anyone at McLaren should feel that you have to deliver to your best to deserve to be there and that goes for me and Jenson as well.
Q: Kimi, the first question has to be how are you feeling after your accident at Silverstone, any after-effects and what happened?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: Well, I crashed, I guess you saw it. No, I had some pain but it‚Äôs all fine.
Q: Just in your leg?
Raikkonen: No actually it was in my ribs the most, that‚Äôs why I didn‚Äôt do the test, but it‚Äôs all gone away now.
Q: You‚Äôre 100 per cent now?
Q: Many things have not gone the way you expected them to this season in your rejoining Ferrari, but can you tell us what has gone the way you‚Äôve expected it and what positives you‚Äôve drawn so far?
Raikkonen: We‚Äôve been in every race at least. That‚Äôs what you expect at least. It‚Äôs been a difficult year, hopefully it will turn around at some point - it must, it cannot go much longer like this, it‚Äôs not fun. But this kind of thing has happened to me before and we always managed to turn it around, so I have a strong belief it will turn around. We have to just fix issues and get things as I want and I‚Äôm sure we can be back where we should be.
Q: Nico, coming to you: a new contract extension with Mercedes, congratulations on that, you also got married since we last saw you, but you‚Äôve never been on the podium in Germany, I see from your record, so I guess that‚Äôs this weekend‚Äôs first objective. You‚Äôre still on top of the championship, just four points clear, but your team-mate Lewis Hamilton said that this is a ‚Äòreset moment‚Äô in the title race and that he‚Äôs been on the back foot all season. How do you see it?
Nico ROSBERG: Yeah, it‚Äôs been a very exciting week for sure. We also became world champions, which was awesome. In terms of the championship, how do I see it? I just see it as the next race, which is Hockenheim. It‚Äôs our home race. I really look forward to driving here. I‚Äôm here to win, of course. I‚Äôm here to try to extend the championship leads. That‚Äôs where it ends for me. I‚Äôm really just looking at the moment, taking it race by race.
Q: As you say it‚Äôs been a great week for Germany on the sporting front. As a keen follower and friend of the national team is there a way you can harness some of that positivity into your challenge this weekend?
Rosberg: The effort of the team as a whole, how they all played together and everything was really great to see and that‚Äôs what won them the tournament I think, not any individual strength or anything. That‚Äôs what we‚Äôre trying to do as well, to really work well, everybody together, to really make the most of it. I think we‚Äôre also on the right track with that, in that respect, because to dominate the sport as we are doing at the moment, I think that indicates we work pretty well together as a team and of course there‚Äôs room for improvement but we‚Äôre going in the right direction.
Q: Adrian, you qualified 13th at the first race in Australia at the start of the year and 13th at Silverstone. There seems to be some continuity there. If you look at the ultimate pace of all the cars, Sauber doesn‚Äôt seem to be progressing. Is that the way it‚Äôs seen internally and what‚Äôs the plan?
Adrian SUTIL: Yes, more or less a consistent season but also a few changes and progress of course. I think the car is a better car compared to the first races but you can‚Äôt really see it in results. Nevertheless Silverstone was a bit better. You could see already in the free practice the car was a bit more competitive and also I think in qualifying in the rain we were closer to the top 10, which was good. We are still struggling sometimes with the tyres, especially with the hard compound, in the race, which slowed us down a lot. I can‚Äôt really say more. Of course we want to try to improve the situation. It‚Äôs not where we want to be but everyone in the factory is trying the maximum to improve that. It‚Äôs not an easy situation but we‚Äôre going to get out of it pretty soon.
Q: You‚Äôve said several times that stability is the problem, that the car lacks stability. Can you elaborate on that and what plans are in place to fix that?
Sutil: Well, the window is very small where the car operates and also the window when you are close to the limit, whether it stays on the line or is completely off - it‚Äôs easy to make a mistake with this car. So you need to have a lot of confidence in the car, you need to drive and learn as much as possible about the car behaviour to feel well. It‚Äôs getting better very race. But yeah, it‚Äôs a little diva to control. It‚Äôs just a situation like that so we try to make it more easy to drive. The stability is sometimes there, [then] you have a bit too much understeer in the other areas, so you are shifting the problem from one end to the other but it‚Äôs very difficult to get rid of the problem completely so this is where we are struggling most at the moment.
Q: Sebastian, obviously winner of the German Grand Prix last year, your first F1 win on home soil. Tell us about the feeling of racing here at home, especially with the country on such a sporting high at the moment?
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, obviously last year was very special - I had been trying many times before, so it was definitely a good feeling to succeed. I think this year should be a very good weekend. Mostly good weather forecast and obviously the whole of Germany still has the German flags from the World Cup around, so it would be nice to see a lot of those on the track and get a little bit of that support as well here on the circuit.
Q: Obviously the battle with Fernando Alonso in Silverstone was one of the highlights of this season so far. There were quite a lot of radio messages from the pair of you at the time but looking back and thinking about it now, how much did you enjoy it?
Vettel: Yeah, I probably enjoyed it more than I probably said after the race. I still think it took a little bit too long because obviously I lost quite a lot of time fighting him and couldn‚Äôt progress to probably finish higher up. But it was definitely very tight, it‚Äôs always very tight when you fight with Fernando, he‚Äôs very tough to overtake, he doesn‚Äôt give you a lot of room, but eventually I squeezed past, so for sure I was happy to finally overtake him on the track.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ian Parkes - PA) Question to Nico. First of all, congratulations on becoming a married man. Secondly, you‚Äôve obviously had to change your helmet design this week. You showed it off on Twitter with the World Cup on top of the helmet. I‚Äôve spoken to FIFA and they‚Äôve expressed their reason why you‚Äôre not allowed to have the World Cup: intellectual commercial property rights and all that. You‚Äôre obviously disappointed I guess, but can you understand their reasoning behind it?
Rosberg: All the things you have to think about, it‚Äôs amazing that even a trophy has its trademark or whatever, just sticking it on a helmet you know. That was a surprise but of course I fully understand. It was a pity as it looked really cool, with the trophy on top. Anyways, replaced it now with a big star and no-one can take that away. The star is ours.
Q: (Graham Keilloh - F1Plus.com) A question for all the drivers. We all recall the incident at last year‚Äôs German Grand Prix with Mark Webber where a wheel fell off after a pit stop. In recent days there have been moves afoot for there to be a little bit of rowing back on the tough sanctions that were put in place following the Webber incident. I just want to know what each driver feels about more leniency for unsafe releases that may be coming in?
Hulkenberg: To be honest I didn‚Äôt really understand the question. I‚Äôll pass it on to Kevin.
Magnussen: It‚Äôs good if us drivers don‚Äôt get points or penalties [that are] that harsh , as it‚Äôs not really our fault. Of course we are a team and we should be penalised somehow together but I think it‚Äôs good if it doesn‚Äôt just go to the drivers.
Q: Adrian, anything to add?
Q: Sebastian, do you have a view?
Vettel: I think it‚Äôs like going to prison for stealing a chocolate bar. I think it‚Äôs too harsh for the drivers, it's more for the team. There‚Äôs not much you can do as a driver, but it is what it is.
Rosberg: Obviously it is one of the most dangerous situations for all of the people working in the pitlane you know. So definitely it should be harsh to try to avoid people doing that or things like that happening. We need to find the best way, what sort of penalties to do.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Kimi there has been a lot of criticism around you in the past few months. Do you feel that your position in Ferrari could be threatened next year or do you feel confident that you will sort your problems and that everything is going to be OK for the future?
Raikkonen: Like I said, I‚Äôm sure we can fix them. How fast? I hope quickly but it depends on many things. I have a contract so I‚Äôm not worried about that for the future.
Q: (Abhishek Takle - Midday) A question for Sebastian. Hockenheim obviously hold some special memories for you because this is where you watched your first Friday practice session. You won the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. What would it mean for you to win here at Hockenheim, at some point in your career?
Vettel: Well, I hope I can turn things around and that we can have a good race on Sunday and a good weekend in general. But of course we are not the favourites going into the weekend but there‚Äôs always a chance of winning. For sure, this circuit is very special to me because my home town is only 30 minutes from here, it‚Äôs where I grew up. I also started go-karting not far from here, just around the corner, so a lot of memories. I know a lot of people that work here, so it always feels like a second home. In that regard it would be nice. So definitely a very special place for me, special memories. The first car race I did was here in 2003, so yeah, it‚Äôs definitely one of the tracks I want to win at.
Q: (Luis Fernando Ramos - Racing Magazine) A question for all drivers. Many teams will race without the FRIC system. Is there a feeling that this might change the gap between the teams significantly or not; that it will stay more or less the same, like it was before?
Rosberg: Everybody has it to some extent. It‚Äôs impossible to predict. For sure it can have some influence but we just need to wait and see what happens.
Vettel: Well I said it is one of the things that obviously got banned now. I hope it brings the field closer to Mercedes but it‚Äôs difficult to say. All of the teams have been playing with it to some extent. How much it has an impact? I think it has to be seen this weekend and also probably next week in Hungary. After those two races I think you can have another judgement.
Q: Kimi, your thoughts on the FRIC suspension?
Raikkonen: Yeah, I mean it‚Äôs the rule and obviously that decides if we can use it or not. It‚Äôs not in our car, I don‚Äôt expect it‚Äôs going to be a completely different world but until we run it, the cars, and see what the other teams do, it‚Äôs hard to say. I guess we‚Äôll know a bit more after this weekend.
Sutil: I think... we hope... it will be better for us, that we are closer - but very hard to say, for sure. Some, they rely more on it, some less. Let‚Äôs see. After the weekend we‚Äôll be wiser.
Q: Kevin, your thoughts.
Magnussen: Not much to say really. We ‚Äòll try to get the best out of the car without it.
Hulkenberg: It‚Äôs pretty much how Nico said, it‚Äôs really hard to predict if and how much people will lose due to it. It‚Äôs just a case of wait and see how much it impacts on different cars.
Q: (Koen Verhelst - Media Group Limburg) A question for all the German drivers: where did you watch the World Cup soccer finals last Sunday and, in relation to that, how to you explain the success of Germany both in Formula One at the moment and football and perhaps also in the economy?
Vettel: I watched in on TV at home. I wasn‚Äôt there! Thank God they showed it. At home, with a couple of friends. I think the reason, it has been 24 years since we last won the World Cup. I hope that the next one doesn‚Äôt take 24 years again. I think we had a very strong team for the last World Cups as well and were very close to win. It‚Äôs good that we succeeded now. For the Formula One drivers, I don‚Äôt think there‚Äôs a particular reason. Obviously, for us, to some extent we‚Äôre the generation after Michael and Michael was a big inspiration, so for sure, when Michael made Formula One really a sport in Germany and made it big a lot of fathers with their sons went to the go-kart tracks and wanted to do like him. I think it‚Äôs chances, in the end, if you have a thousand kids trying rather than ten, the chances that one or two end up in Formula One are obviously a lot greater. The economy... I‚Äôm not a specialist - but I think we like to work.
Sutil: The same, I watched on TV at home. Very quiet. It was a great game, I think. Very exciting and both played very well. One minute the Germans were a bit better than the other ones and scored a goal. I think something to be very proud of. It‚Äôs great to see Germany being very happy about it. So many festivals and parties after it, so really, really good. Good mood in the air, so, great also for this weekend here, for the German Grand Prix. The drivers? I think it all started back in the 90s, probably. When Michael went into Formula One there was a big boom of racing in Germany - but also a lot of car manufacturers are based in Germany, it‚Äôs a very strong country for cars, for technology in general - and they‚Äôre supporting young drivers from the early ages, especially BMW was involved for many years with the Formula BMW. That‚Äôs where I started the racing, I think also Sebastian as well and Nico. Most of the drivers took the step and went into Formula 3. So there are clear categories where you can go. Still, I think it‚Äôs very hard to say it‚Äôs a really good support because it‚Äôs so expensive. When I see the number for young kids coming up into racing, in go-karts you have to spend so much money, not having a real... let‚Äôs say you can‚Äôt be sure that you‚Äôre going to make it. So, even there. Football has a better structure behind. We could still improve it but Germany, for sure, it one of the leading countries and that‚Äôs great. They‚Äôre pushing it really hard.
Q: Nico Hulkenberg, anything to add.
Hulkenberg: I also watched it at home with some friends. I think we won because we had the strongest team and a great team spirit, a very clever coach. I think I agree with what Sebastian says about the drivers and why we have it strong now and the economy, I think is just German mentality and appetite to be strong in the economy.
Q: Nico Rosberg, your thoughts.
Rosberg: I watched it at my parents place, as is tradition in our family because my Mum is the biggest soccer fanatic in our family, so I watched it there with friends and went absolutely crazy when they scored. It was a great time. I agree with the others on the other parts.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Nico, last week Lewis was putting in doubt your true nationality about being German, real German supporter - and your helmet problem proves the opposite. How big is this... the pressure that Lewis is putting on you? Are you feeling it? Is it also big the pressure to have a championship that is open now completely, and to race at home and try to win this race?
Rosberg: On the media, I generally don‚Äôt read the media, so most of the time I don‚Äôt know what‚Äôs going on - but this I did know about it. I really don‚Äôt get into such things. Everybody‚Äôs free to have his opinions, and I was there anyway and it was more or less a joke discussion, so for me it‚Äôs not really relevant to discuss it in any way. Other than that, yeah, it‚Äôs a great battle between us. Every race it‚Äôs been us two fighting it out for the win. It‚Äôs fantastic - a tough battle also - but good. I‚Äôm sure it‚Äôs going to continue for a long time and it will be very close - and I look forward to the race here now in front of... it‚Äôs my second home race, I have Monaco and here. I‚Äôm very fortunate in that sense, I have two home races, and look forward to all the support and I really hope to do a fantastic job. It would be a great end to already the great times I‚Äôve been having recently if I could win here at the German Grand Prix.
Q: (Heikki Kulta - Turun Sanomat) Kimi, do you remember having any heavier shunt than you had in Silverstone?
Raikkonen: Yeah, probably I have had. Hopefully not too many more but it‚Äôs just part of the thing. It hurt a little bit but quite often you can have a quite slow accident and get badly hurt, so it‚Äôs not about that really, it was just an unfortunate thing. Nothing serious happened. It‚Äôs part of the sport.