Last Grand Prix Race winner Mark Webber joined with five local boys Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Michael Schumacher, Nico Hulkenberg, and Timo Glock, for Thursday FIA press conference.
Q: Nico Hulkenberg, starting with you, but it’s a question for all the German drivers – you best memories of Hockenheim. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a Formula One memory or any other series or even just spectating.
Nico HULKENBERG: Well, actually my first ever formula car race was here, in 2005, with Formula BMW, the opener here at Hockenheim and luckily I won the first race right away, so great memories for me here. I race in Formula BMW quite a lot, in Formula 3, 2010 and Formula One. It’s a placing I’ve been racing at a lot and I really enjoy being here.
Q: Timo, your best memory here.
Timo GLOCK: Definitely in 2006 when I won the GP2 race. On the last lap I think I overtook the leader and won the race, so I think that was the best one. Not the best memory was 2008 when I finished the race in the wall in the last corner and had to go to hospital, so up and down.
Nico ROSBERG: Yeah, it’s very special to come here. As Nico said also I’ve been here so many times, testing in the winter and in the summer, testing all the time and driving in so many races. And now coming here as a Silver Arrows driver, which wasn’t really the case two years ago, it’s great. A lot of friends and family coming and I really enjoy the track and I have high hopes of doing a top result here.
Q: Any particular major memory?
NR: For example, winning the, no… I think was already BMW champion at the time but winning the last two races was a great memory for example.
Q: Sebastian, major memories? Were you a spectator here?
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I remember the first time I came here was with my father in I think 1992. I was five years old and we came on a Friday, it was raining like crazy, on the old track. We were for the cars to come, for Michael to come, but they only did the installation lap but that was already enough because just to hear the cars, the sound, see them, see the spray was unique. So that’s a nice memory. A couple of years later I watched again a Formula One Grand Prix, from the main grandstand and it was very hot. I remember they sold water for 10 Deutsche Marks, which was really expensive at the time and later on when we left we found out that they had just refilled the water bottles from the tap, so that was quite a good business. After that, through Formula BMW and Formula 3, similar to the two Nicos, a lot of racing here. It’s not far away from where I was born, where I grew up, therefore it’s obviously special to come here.
Q: Michael, three wins here, what are your greatest memories?
Michael SCHUMACHER: I guess it’s the first one, in 1995, when I stopped at some part of track, because I think I stalled the engine and I got towed back to the pits, which was, in a way, nice because you have lots of time to enjoy the atmosphere, all the fans, the appreciation… I mean they had to wait for such a long time, although in 1994 we already had a race-winning car, but then retired. So yeah, in ’95 a German finally won a German race.
Q: Nico, back to you. Vijay Mallya says the team needs more luck. What do you feel is required within the team now – you’re scoring points on a regular basis now?
NH: You always need luck, of course. You also need pace and speed and you know you need to be competitive, especially in a midfield that is very tight and very difficult. We see each Saturday and Sunday that one or two tenths can make a big difference and our main rivals have scored some big results, a lot of points. So now we really have to dig deep, keep our heads down to be within reach and keep the momentum up.
Q: Mark, after 99 grands prix with Red Bull Racing, you’ve re-signed with the team. What does that mean to you to re-sign for them next year.
Mark WEBBER: Yeah, it’s been a long relationship and yeah we’re going to be working together again next year, which is very exciting, to continue the challenge to stay at the front. This year’s obviously going pretty well and there’s a big reason to keep the focus on for that as well but the continuation of that moving on to next year is also helpful.
Q: Looking at the last couple of grands prix, Red Bull Racing have been very competitive, you obviously won the last one. How important do you think the Valencia update was and to have it in Valencia rather than introduce it as Silverstone?
MW Well, it’s two different venue and two different temperatures, so it was important for us to get those parts to the track in Valencia to validate a few things and give us a direction. Yeah, it’s always nice when you get them a race earlier rather than later as you just learn so much earlier. I think ultimately it was a good decision. Very difficult to get the equipment to the track but the boys did a great job and Valencia was the first step to understanding some new stuff with the RB8. But, as we’ve seen, it’s very, very tight, you need to pull everything together to win and yeah, we want to be at the front again this weekend.
Q: Timo, obviously Marussia’s development has been very difficult over the last few weeks – but how much optimism did you get from the update at Silverstone and how is that going to play out in these next two grands prix?
TG: I hope we just have more stable conditions here to learn more about it. It was quite difficult for us to see really what the update gave us – but it definitely felt better in the race, the pace was quite good, so I’m looking forward to a good weekend here, we have some little parts again which should give us a little gain but it’s difficult if everyone else makes at the same time, at the same race, an update, or brings an update, then sometimes it’s a bit difficult to see the step. But the car did improve and in the next couple of races we should have a couple more bits and pieces coming.
Q: Nico Rosberg, after a very good start to the season things seem to have gone off the boil a little bit, how can you turn that around?
NR: I don’t think that’s quite right – it’s just that we haven’t maximised what we had in the last few races and that then eventually finished with the race in Silverstone where yes, the track didn’t really suit our car. So, it’s maybe not quite the right picture: I still think we have a good car and I still think if conditions suit us and we get a grip on the tyres – like at the track for example, here in Hockenheim , which should suit our car a lot better, I think we should be able to do a much better result.
Q: So you’ll be turning it around here?
NR: Yes, for sure.
Q: Sebastian, a very strange statistic that someone’s come up with: you’ve never won in July – and yet you really want to win this grand prix, obviously. Talk to us about that.
SV: My goodness! Then if it doesn’t work this year then we move it to August. Or June! I don’t know. Yeah, obviously it would be very special to win here, I think first of all to have the chance to race in your home country is something that’s very special, and being able to win would be incredible. We try again – but I don’t believe in a bad month or a bad date in that regard.
Q: Michael, four wins here, many, many, many times here, your home grand prix, very important for Mercedes, their home grand prix as well. You seem to be on the ascendency as well – what are the chances this weekend?
MS: Well I guess the most difficult race we have behind us. That was Silverstone. Hockenheim will suit our car much more naturally. And obviously I’m a lot more optimistic. Indeed, we want to give it a good show and give the max effort that we always do but anything extra that can be done for all our Mercedes colleagues that we have visited yesterday and they will be here, some of them, for the race weekend, supporting us, crossing fingers for us. We’d love to do well for them and if one of us two could be on the podium, I think that will be great.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Frederic Ferret – L’Equipe) Question to all the German drivers – have you ever been to Hockenheim camping, and what are your memories there?
SV: I haven’t been camping myself but two years ago, last time we’ve been here, we’ve been to the campsite to visit the fans, so yeah, there have been plenty of fans and obviously the atmosphere was very special. I don’t know if you have been there already but if you haven’t then you should go – I think you will get a beer for sure. So, yeah, it’s a good atmosphere, a good vibe, so I think the people come here and enjoy the whole weekend. Hopefully the weather is not like Silverstone this week, otherwise it will be quite poor for them.
Q: (Kate Walker – Girl Racer) I have a question for all of you please, a driver’s career is full of highs and lows; I was wondering if you could tell me how you keep your motivation, how you keep your focus in the low periods, so that you can get back up to the highs?
NR: It’s really normal in sport, y’know? Sport is all about highs and lows and the lows that are the difficult ones. I for myself have learned to push through them and come back stronger, and that’s motivation alone: you want to come back on the other side even better than before and do a very great job.
MW Adversity comes with the territory. If you have a very low ambition and set your goals very conservative then it might be a bit more stable but when you want to achieve great things or special things, there’s going to be some adversity along the way and getting back up from the canvas is part of the rules and sometimes our failure is part of success: we need to have that [failure] to be successful.
MS: In our sport we are privileged to drive these cars and for us it is a big excitement to be involved in this sport and it’s natural that you want to do the best that you can do. ‘It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday’ is something that you learn very quickly. It only matters what you do at the moment and you might do in future. That’s what it’s all about. I guess it’s a school that you go through in the early days in karting and that’s what you grow up with. Partly it’s a character that you have or build up, so to all of us I guess it’s very natural.
TG: I think in generally we had that question yesterday from a fan as well. For me it’s quite easy. Every day is a new possibility and it’s very easy for me to motivate myself. We are in the greatest championship in motorsport and there is no reason to not be motivated.
Q: (Simon Cass – Daily Mail) To anyone who wants to answer this: it’s Lewis’s 100th Grand Prix this weekend. I’m just wondering what you’ve made of Lewis’s time in the sport up to now, what impact he’s had, how you rate him as a competitor and just generally whether he has made the best of the advantages that he’s had up to now?
SV: I think a happy 100th, then, and you’d better ask him whether he feels he has done the best or not. You’d better ask him whether he feels he has done the best.
MS: He’s certainly been a contender in the championships for many years, so he’s one of the stars that we have around. We are, for the fans, so-called gladiators and that’s what the fans want to see: to give it all and maybe sometimes exceed limits and to establish yourself. He’s been through that in good ways so I think for all of us he’s a very serious competitor and it’s good to have people like him.
Q: (Elmar Dreher – DPA) Nurburgring is suffering a lot of economical problems; your comment on that, and what does racing at Nurburgring mean to you, especially as we might not see it there any longer?
TG: I think generally it would be a shame to lose the race. I hope it’s not going to happen. For me, it was great, every time, to race at the Nurburgring and I hope we stay there for a bit longer. I have great memories there, so I hope they can sort out the problems.
MS: Yes, equally there is a lot of history relates to the Nurburgring track and race for all of us German drivers. We just wish the situation well and hope that solutions will be found and we will be back there as soon as we can.
SV: I think it would be a real shame to lose Nurburgring as a race. Obviously we hope that the Nurburgring recovers quickly, it’s one of the most traditional races we have on the calendar so it would be a big loss, similar, for the Italians, to if we lost Monza for instance.
MS: You could buy it.
SV: Yeah, you could. Your wallet is bigger than mine, so you could buy it.
MW Yeah, it’s a sensational little track and obviously you have the big circuit out the back. I think the Nordschleife is a track which has to stay in the same configuration and stay open for ever. It’s such an amazing… one of the most famous bits of tarmac around the world. It’s just a beautiful, beautiful circuit, the long track. Obviously the short track is also pretty good but let’s hope it continues on the calendar. It’s a great little venue.
Q: (Matt Coch – pitpass.com) Mark, at Silverstone you were saying that you’d sort out your contract later on, then two or three days later it was signed. What happened, what changed, why was it so fast?
MW Well, because I’m not going to tell you guys I’m going to do it in two days, am I? Obviously we get ready to announce things when we’re ready, and there comes a date when ‘let’s announce it’, OK, done. For me to keep the situation calm, the tactic worked OK. We have to deal with this stuff in lots of different situations, on many different aspects of our stuff out of the car, and this was just one of them in contractual sense. Pretty straightforward really: stay at Red Bull, move on.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Sebastian, you have 104 points less compared to last year after nine races. How much different is your feeling?
SV: 104! No, it’s different, of course. Obviously we had an incredible year last year, good start, a lot of points, a lot of wins. This year we’ve had two DNFs and all in all, I think it has been a tricky season. Obviously a lot of guys and a lot of cars that are very competitive, so naturally I think it’s a different season so far but feeling-wise, I feel as happy as last year really, so looking forward to this weekend, but I think we have a long season ahead of us.
Q: (Sonya Kreye- Speed News) Sebastian and Michael, you took part in the charity football match yesterday. I wanted to know how important it is for you to support kids and maybe also the youth in general?
SV: Obviously we do this many times a year, not just the only time here in Germany together with the Nazionale Piloti team, with a couple of drivers which is always nice. For us, in a way, just to play some football but obviously if we can help, in that case, yesterday evening, help little kids. It’s always nice to combine those two things, so we obviously try to raise as much money as possible, to give them a big push. As I said, it’s something we do many times throughout the season, a couple of times, and the more drivers who participate the better it is as well. It would be even better if we had more drivers on board, but so far I think it’s very important to have… Nico is playing sometimes, Michael is playing… to have a couple of good drivers playing as well.
MS: It’s a beautiful combination. We love the sport, we love soccer and to do something that you enjoy doing at the same time we were able to give a little bit of entertainment to the fans, quite a few thousand people wanting to see us and they pay for all these charity functions that we do in many parts of the world, particularly yesterday here in Germany it’s certainly been nice for us, to do this at home and see quite a few friends that you have made throughout the years, in different areas, whether it’s from the movie business or in other sports. It’s good to hook up again and see them and have a little bit of social contact again but the most important thing is to help kids and people in need.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Michael you drove on the old circuit here in Hockenheim; can you make a comparison between the old circuit and the new one from the driver’s point of view, car point of view, the challenge?
MS: The old track was obviously mainly about straights and braking, some riding kerbs at the chicanes. It had been a challenge in a certain way but now we have a more normal race track. Do I prefer one or the other? Both were interesting. The main focus and the most enjoyable part for us was when we had the new stadium area, entering the Mercedes Motodrom, seeing all our supporters, that, by the way, is sold out completely. That is obviously beautiful.
Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) Mark, is there any clause in your contract that if you become World Champion it will change the terms of the contract?
MW It’s not really the forum to talk about what’s inside my contract.
Q: (Udo Doering – Darmstaedter Echo) How stressful or demanding is a Friday for a Formula One driver, and has this unusual season changed anything in your work on Friday?
NR: Friday is one of the most demanding days. It starts quite early with engineering meetings and then you have all the testing all day long, so there’s a lot of preparing technically for the weekend, for Saturday and Sunday. That’s the most important period of the weekend. What else? That’s it really, a lot of technical stuff.
MW Did you get that? Did you check the radio volume?
MS: 1-2-3! It is certainly the most busy time that we have in the weekend. We come in early and we leave the latest of all the weekend and there’s a lot of driving, but there’s a lot of analysing and a lot of discussions with the engineers because that’s your main focus, the way you prepare the weekend. In between you may have some functions as well, so it’s the most heavy duty that we have to perform.
Q: (Gary Meenhagan – The National) Michael touched on the stadium section of the track; I was wondering if you could talk about how it feels to come into that section with the fans around there?
SV: I think it’s one of the best sections we have in the whole calendar, because it’s packed full of people. In the past, you were somewhere racing in the woods all by yourself and then you came back to the paddock area, to the Motodrom where the people were. I think it’s still incredible today: to turn right and then all of a sudden drive into a kind of stadium makes it very special for us. Hopefully we will see a lot of German flags this weekend and have a great atmosphere.
NR: I had one of my most memorable experiences in the stadium, because it was my father’s last race in DTM and I sat on the roof of one of the DTM cars with him to wave goodbye to all the fans and everything, and it was absolutely ram-packed full house and the atmosphere and everything was incredible, and that was one of the days when I decided wow, OK, I want to do this one day.
Q: (Alex Popov – RTR) Mark, in the official press release, has officially admitted he was approached by Scuderia Ferrari, so to the other people here, can you confirm you were in talks with Ferrari too?
Q: (Matt Coch – pitpass.com) There’s lots of history at this circuit; I was wondering if any of you guys has been out to the Jim Clark Memorial at what was the old turn two/three/four?
MW Yeah, I went out to the memorial when I raced in F3000 in 2000. Yeah, he was obviously an amazing driver with amazing respect for all the people who watched him race. I went out to pay my respects. It was amazing in those days. Obviously they raced different categories, not just in Formula One, they did other categories in between the main championship if you like. It was a sad way for him to go, but obviously a lot of great men lost their lives in those days. It was an amazing circuit out the back there too, obviously very high speed, very risky for all of us. Yeah, I’ve been out there to check it out.
Q: (Vanessa Ruiz – ESPN Radio) A non-track related subject, but I hope that at least one of you will want to talk about it: sometimes there seems to be a lot of public interest in your personal lives. How much does that concern you and do you have second thoughts before going out at night, do you think of ways of not attracting the photographers’ attention or something like that?
NR: It’s part of the job, you know, so you get used to it and it’s OK. Sometimes it can be nice, sometimes not so nice. I was at Goodwood recently and I put on my hoody and sunglasses and walked around the whole festival, just by myself, to experience it and not to be recognised and that was very nice also, for a change. So it depends.
SV: I think you learn to deal with the situation. In the end I also think it’s up to us, as Nico just described, to do normal things, to lead normal lives. I think in the end it’s not that much of a problem. I think it depends largely on who you are, how you act. If you go out, if you go somewhere, then there might be people that recognise you. OK, then you sign something, you do a picture, you talk to them. It’s also nice and gives you a lot of energy, but as I said, I think it’s very personal and individual how you handle the situation. Ask Lewis. Everyone has different interests, I guess.
MS: Indeed, you would chose places to go or not to go, depending on your wishes. Myself, I’m obviously more focused on living a quiet and private life, so would rather avoid lots of people. If you go to places where it’s full house, you know what to expect. If you go there for a function, it’s one thing. If you go there for a private event then that is very often difficult and very often I simply inform myself and chose places where to go and try to have a calm and quiet moment, because we all love our privacy, we all want to enjoy life to the point that we can, but we then have to accept that it’s not always the perfect combination but what kind of life is perfect? It doesn’t exist, but it’s probably as perfect as it can be for me.
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