28 May: European Grand Prix - FIA Saturday Press Conference
DRIVERS: 1. Nick
HEIDFELD (BMW-Williams), 1m30.081s 2. Kimi RAIKKONEN (McLaren-Mercedes), 1m30.197s 3. Mark WEBBER (BMW-Williams), 1m30.368s
Q: Nick, second place at Monaco and now on pole for your home Grand Prix, a golden moment for you. Nick
HEIDFELD: Yes, itís fantastic. I thought after Monaco that it would be a bit more difficult for us here but luckily I was
wrong. It went quite well this weekend. I had a bit of a problem yesterday on my car, I had to stop early which didnít make the
tyre choice easy for us. I thought we could be on the front row but I was surprised to see us on pole position. Itís fantastic, my
first pole position in Formula One and my first pole position, obviously for a number of years now.
Q: It looked a perfect
lap from the outside; what was it like from your point of view? NH: Yeah, I was satisfied with it. This morning I lost quite
a lot of time, on my quickest lap I think I lost grip towards the end of the lap, so I changed my Ďoutí lap today a bit. I
probably lost a bit on the first sector but overall I think it was good.
Q: What does it mean to you now to be racing in
front of your home crowd starting from the pole? NH: Yeah, if you could chose a race where you want to have your first pole
position I think this one would be it. Itís my home Grand Prix and itís fantastic. The race is tomorrow, but obviously itís
the best position to start.
Q: Do you feel pressure? NH: You always have a lot of pressure. I try not to let that
get too close to me and I donít think I will have any problems with it.
Q: Kimi, a new look qualifying session here for
the Grand Prix of Europe, your thoughts on that and obviously qualifying second to Nick. Kimi RAIKKONEN: Everything is
working reasonably well. The car has been very good all weekend and of course itís slightly different now. Before everybody was on
light fuel so we knew exactly if we were quick or not but now you donít really know what the other teams are doing. We have a good
race car and we should be in a strong position to start from second place. As long as we get a good start I donít see any reason
why we should not be able to fight for a win. Iím quite happy how things went. Of course I would rather have been on first place
but today we couldnít do it, so letís see when the others are stopping in the race.
Q: Well coming off two wins in a
row, a hat-trick facing you here now on another sort of circuit but again, the package looks very competitive. KR: Yeah,
everything is working well. I think we had a good tyre working well for one lap and itís also consistent, so Iím not too
worried. OK, itís hard to say what the other teamsÖ there might be someone behind us who is much heavier or lighter. You never
know, itís a bit confusing again now, because nobody knows before when people are stopping in the race, but Iím pretty happy and
I think we have a good car for the race.
Q: And weíve had very hot weather too, 30 degree ambient, 50 degree track
temperature today. Your thoughts on that? KR: Yeah, I think the circuit was not as quick as it was in the morning, but that
is quite normal these days. Quite often itís a bit different from the last practice to qualifying so itís just guessing a bit
and trying to get everything exactly right for qualifying, but I was happy enough with the car. We will see how it is tomorrow. They
are expecting a little bit cooler weather tomorrow.
Q: Mark, it looked as if you didnít quite get all your work done this
morning, the chequered flag beat you to it but a good qualifying run nonetheless. MW: Yeah, we missed the last lap to do our
qualifying check on the tyres. We only got the first sector in and then of course we had to come in. Very happy with qualifying, the
lap was pretty good and like Kimi says, you donít know what strategy people are on. Of course I know what strategy we are on as a
team, but against the other guys, itís always tricky now. BMW Williams have done a good job this weekend. We came back from
Monaco, here we are on a different circuit again, doing quite a good job actually, so looking forward to the race.
a short run down into the first corner there, youíre behind Nick of course. Whatís it going to be like off the line there in
terms of grip either side of the track? MW: I donít actually know, is pole on the left or on the right? Anyway, if itís
on the left then I hope Iím on the clean side, or the better side wasnít too destroyed when Kimi got me, so he is on that side
so Iím sure. Well, the McLaren is not too bad getting away, so if we can get away well and come out of the first corner in third
place then we should be okay.
Q: And your thoughts too, on the conditions this weekend. Itís been incredibly hot so far. MW:
Yeah, not as hot as itÖ cooler than like what I feel actually. The ambient is quite hot, but I donít feel the heat that much.
But itís a lot hotter than normal for this part of the world when we come here and race. It has been hard for the tyre companies,
I think, to bring a tyre here which has quite a big window which it has to work in. In terms of ambients, normally we can be faced
with 15 or 20 degrees ambient here, now we have 30 as you say, so itís been quite hard for the tyre companies to get that right
this weekend and we will see in the Grand Prix tomorrow, it will be a bit cooler but itís still going to be a tough race for the
Q: Well, what does it feel like Nick? NH: It is fantastic. To have my first
pole position in Formula One, finally, after so many years, and this is definitely the place I would have wanted to have pole
position. It is my home Grand Prix here at NŁrburgring, in front of all the spectators, and it has been a perfect day so far.
MŲnchen-Gladbach could be quite empty tomorrow, couldnít it? NH: There is a good chance that now a lot more spectators
will come. I know I already have a lot of supporters here. My family is here, a couple of friends are here.
Q: How was the
lap, was it absolutely perfect as afar as you were concerned? NH: Yeah, it was a good lap. It was not perfect but I was
definitely satisfied with it. I paced my Ďoutí lap a lot slower than this morning when I started to lose a lot of grip towards
the end of the lap, therefore I probably lost a bit in the first sector but there was no mistake.
Q: I guess youíre quite
a fan of the new qualifying system now. NH: No, not really. It is great to be on pole position but actually I find it not
nice now not knowing who has how much fuel and all that. We always say after the race you can calculate it after the first stint but
I have never seen anyone doing it, apart from the teams. The spectators will never understand.
Q: How important is this
pole for BMW, here at home? NH: It is very important but it is more important to show that we are moving in the right
direction, and I thought it would be tougher for us here after Monaco. I would have expected the BARs to be a bit stronger, at least
thatís what they said over the last couple of weeks. I didnít think we would be able to get pole. I thought that maybe we could
get the second row so it is fantastic. It is great, especially as we know we have a few more parts and actually a new package coming
later in the season.
Q: Is it a bit worrying that you may be lighter than everybody else? NH: Well, you donít know
anything, I wonít tell you anything, and we will see tomorrow. You cannot wish for anything more than pole position, so whatever
strategy we are on we are happy.
Q: Kimi, this brings an end to your run of three poles so far, but you say youíre not
too unhappy with second. KR: We would like to have first place, but unfortunately it didnít happen today. It is difficult
to know what other teams are on fuel wise. Now we need to wait until the race to see. Iím happy what we are doing. I think we have
a good race car and as long as we get a good start, hopefully better than Williams, we will see. I think itís good.
guess youíre just happy not to see a Renault up here. KR: It is better that there is Williams than itís the Renault but
it comes at the end to the same situation. Maybe they have more fuel, maybe not, I donít know. We really need to wait and see in
the race what happens but we are in a strong position anyway so we are not worried.
Q: Has it been difficult to make a tyre
choice in these conditions? How has it affected the drivers? KR: I think there are two different choices around the paddock.
We tried both of them and we took what we feel is better. Weíve been very happy with it, it has been working well, very
consistent, so I think it is going to be a good race tyre.
Q: Mark, never lower than fifth so far this year, you are
keeping it up, well done. MW: Qualifying is going pretty well. I was very happy with todayís lap, it went well, so we will
see how the race goes tomorrow. But a good job for the team, BMW and Williams coming here pretty well prepared for the event but
unfortunately I made a mistake yesterday on the long run and Nick had a small problem with his car so the tyre choice was a little
bit tougher for us, we will find out tomorrow how our choice was, but it should be a good race tomorrow, I think the fans are in for
a good race.
Q: You were just pipped by Kimi in the final sector, was there a small mistake there, or what happened with
you? MW: I think it is so hard to compare. Totally different cars, totally different drivers, maybe I did a slightly better
job in the first sector, he did the last sector, different fuel loads, I mean, yeah, I could have done the last corner maybe a
fraction better but to be honest when I finished the lap I knew it was a very good lap so I was happy with it.
Q: Is this
going to be the situation for these next few races because it is a very intense period now coming up. MW: It is. Obviously,
the two fly-away races in North America are different downforce levels to what we have done the last few events on, so we go to a
much different part of the aerodynamic part of the car. Williams have normally done well in Canada. It is a massive track for
engines too, you need a very, very good engine there, so hopefully we can be strong in Canada and in Indy as well and then coming
back to the European races I am sure we can go to another level.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Dusko Dragic-
Ekipa) All three drivers, are you attending the driversí fan show at 6:30pm today and until what time do the series of technical
briefings on a Saturday usually last? MW: Yeah, I think I will do a few taxi rides. The carís in Parc Ferme now so we canít
do a huge amount, maybe a few briefings, but generally we are definitely done by six oíclock. NH: Yeah, as on Thursday
we are going to take part again with an M5, I think the people enjoyed it a lot. Actually Saturday is the day we stop the earliest
because qualifying is done and we are not allowed to change anything on the car any more except for front wing settings and a few
things on the electronic start. KR: Yeah, I will be there. But it is the same, the meetings are very short today because
you cannot really do anything.
Q: (Anthony Rowlinson - Autosport) To the two Williams drivers, do you think you have fixed
the start problems you have had in recent races? NH: We will only find out tomorrow, but I think my start in Monaco was not
too bad, it was still not good enough compared to some other cars, but we had another start day last week and hopefully we made some
good progress. MW: Yeah, thatís all. I hope we have made an improvement. Obviously there was an error on the start in
Monaco, we are not sitting here saying we are going to smoke through the rows in front of us, is it clearly an area we are looking
at and we will keep focussing hard on getting to the first corner.
Q: () Kimi, how important is it to lead in the first
corner this race? KR: It would help always but I think at this circuit you have also chances to overtake if you are quick
enough. Of course, it is always easier to drive if you are in first place but we will see what happens. Our starts have usually been
pretty good, we are not on the clean side of the circuit but as long as we make a good start and we are in the top two or if we can
keep our place it would be good.
Q: (Juha Paatalo Ė Financial Times Germany) To Nick, obviously you have been waiting for
this moment for quite a long time and you have a few hard years behind you. Could you just describe your feelings now and do you
think you have realised it yet? NH: No, to be honest I donít think I realise yet because I didnít expect to be on pole
and on the other side I am already thinking about the race tomorrow. It is great to be on pole position but what really counts in
the end is the race.
Q: (Marco delíInnocenti Ė La Gazzetta dello Sport) Nick, have you realised that you are the first
German driver at the moment here? NH: Yeah, obviously today I was the quickest here, but I think also in the points standings I
am in front, yeah, definitely.
Q: (Marco delíInnocenti Ė La Gazzetta dello Sport) Did you ever dream before to be
quicker than Michael and also Ralf Schumacher? NH: I mean, I have been asked that question quite often and I always say it doesnít
really matter if I am quicker than Michael and Ralf. I just want to be in front of everyone, like today, and whether it is Michael
or Ralf I donít really care