DRIVERS – Timo GLOCK (Marussia), Nico HULKENBERG (Force India), Bruno SENNA (Williams), Kimi RAIKKONEN (Lotus), Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull Racing), Sergio PEREZ (Sauber)
Timo, obviously you finished second here in 2009. Is that one of the reasons why you say this is your favourite race?
Timo GLOCK: No, in general it’s just the event here, the show. The first time we were here in 2008 I just the track and the event and for sure being on the podium was a great experience and good to be back to it and enjoy the time here.
So what is it about the track itself?
TG: The European races have enough run-off areas and here it’s a bit different, the same like Monaco. If you do a mistake you end up in the wall and that’s the challenging part here.
I believe you only arrived this morning however. Are you a little bit worried about getting acclimatised?
TG: No. I do that every year because we stay on European time. I just arrived this morning, went to the hotel and slept until 1pm or 1.30pm and I’m in the rhythm, so no problem. I’m not the only one who arrived so late.
Nico, great potential in Monza but less so here. They’re very different circuits. How do you feel about this track?
Nico HULKENBERG: To be honest, quite positive. I think If anything this kind of circuit should suit us a bit more – quite a lot of slow-speed corners. There’s not really one high-speed corner here. That is in our favour a little bit more than at Spa and Monza, the two last races, so I think we should be all right. As usual I think we’ll be around the top 10 and hopefully inside.
But also one of the toughest races as well.
NH: It is. It is for everybody, you know. Always a race which touches the two-hour mark. It’s pretty hot and humid. We know the circuit is physically demanding, a lot of nasty bumps and kerbs and if you get them wrong they’ll launch you into the wall. It’s a physical race, it’s tough, but we’re fit and up for it.
Lots of talk about your future. Is the contract with Force India done yet?
NH: Well, there’s a good chance I’ll be with Force India next year but as you know nothing has been announced yet.
Bruno, you feel that this circuit should suit your car. Is that correct?
Bruno SENNA: Yeah, definitely. Our car has been very happy on high downforce tracks and here we’re running everything we have so it’s good news for us. I think coming from a couple of difficult races where sometimes strategy played a bit of a part in our results we’re hoping to come back and score some solid points for the team.
Looking at qualifying in comparison to your team-mate, it’s heavily weighed in his favour. What’s your problem in qualifying?
BS: It’s not an easy situation. I think Pastor has a driving style that is better suited to the tyres. Last year I had a better run in qualifying than this year, which is abnormal, but the tyres have changed and so far it hasn’t come down to my side too much. Last race the qualifying was close enough but I think there is always something to learn. My race pace has been very good and my consistency in the race has been good, so if I get qualifying right I know that I can score some big points for the team and that’s the aim.
Well you’re just behind your team-mate and he’s had a win. Can you be a winner as well?
BS: I’m sure we can. We’ve seen a few weekends where we’ve seen someone has just suddenly jumped to the front and won the race and had a dominant weekend. If you get everything in the right window, with the way the cars work and the way the cars work then we are more than capable of having a good result.
Kimi, we’ve been talking about you being a winner this season for quite a long time now, so what chances here? Do you compare this circuit with Valencia perhaps, you’re the lap record holder here as well?
Kimi RAIKKONEN: We’ll try. It’s not going to be easy. We have to see if we are in a better position than we have been in the last few races but it’s a different place than Valencia and we have to wait and see.
What sort of circuit at you looking at, though. Is it the sort place that could favour you?
KR: I don’t know. I haven’t been here with the team before. We don’t now. I think last year they had a very difficult time but then it’s a completely different story now. We will know much more tomorrow, usually it’s been pretty OK this kind of circuit, so hopefully that’s the case, but like I said the last two races haven’t been easy for us but that was at different layouts than here so you never know.
You’re close to second in the championship now. Do you think you could win the championship without winning a race?
KR: I don’t know. We’ll keep trying and try to score more points every race and hopefully improve. If we end up winning it will be great. But whoever has the most points at the end of the year deserves to win the championship. If that happens it’s a good thing for us, but if it comes with a win or without I don’t care.
In terms of your comeback are you going to have another season in Formula One?
KR: You never know. There are a lot of nice things to do other than Formula One. Right now we have options and we’ll see what happens.
Q: Sebastian, obviously a winner here last year. Do you feel that the championship is just slipping away a little bit at the moment?
Sebastian VETTEL: I think that after the weekend in Belgium it looked much better, after last weekend in Monza it didn’t look as good, so I think things can change quickly, so I don’t see any reason why it should change now.
Q: Do you feel the car is a little inconsistent in terms of circuit to circuit?
SV: Not really. I think that if you look at all the races that we’ve had so far I think consistency is the most important thing and I think we always have a car that was good enough to finish in the top five. I think that’s pretty consistent, if you look at the championship so far. I think that’s what you need and that’s what you’ll need until the end of the year. Obviously the more points you score the better it is but surely we were not in a position to win every race this year but I think we had a good car and I don’t see why it should change in the next couple of races.
Q: What about technical failures; are you still worried about that?
SV: Obviously it’s not a nice thing to happen. It usually helps quite a lot if you are able to finish the race, to get some points so I’m confident it will improve but obviously two times this year we’ve had a problem with the alternator. We’re working hard on it. It’s a bit difficult because after the failure, you don’t know exactly what was wrong, otherwise we would have fixed it after the first time and it would not happen again a couple of months later. But I think we’ve got a couple of ideas and it should be better in the future.
Q: Sergio, second in Monza, very good potential result in Spa as well, but two circuits that are very different to here. What are your feelings about this race?
Sergio PEREZ: I definitely have a very strong feeling. As you say, it’s not similar to Spa or Monza but I think we should be quite good here. It’s very difficult to know what to expect but I think we can also be competitive here and this is our target, to fight for the podium again.
Q: How important is the tyre strategy going to be here, because it was interesting to see your teammate doing a long stint last year at this circuit?
SP: The thing is, it’s always very important, very crucial, the way you manage the tyres, the way you manage your strategy, so it will be quite crucial. I think it’s quite important here as well, because you do have some big tyre degradation, especially coming from overheating the rears so it will be important to manage the tyres and it will be crucial as well for the strategy.
Q: So can that give you a good result?
SP: I hope so. I hope we can be on the good side with the tyre degradation. We don’t have any guarantees, so we have to see how we are tomorrow in terms of car balance for the long runs.
Q: We’ve been hearing various rumours about your future for many months now; can you tell us if approaches have been made by major teams to you, which teams?
SP: As I say, in the position that I am, when I have a good result because I’m fighting for points and sometimes I’m able to get some good points so it’s always the time when the rumours start but then you have another race and there are no more rumours and they are chasing the driver who has a good race. In that respect, I’m not really worried. I know that I have a very strong car for the next seven races so I hope I can deliver very strong performances.
Q: But have approaches been made?
Q: From major teams, no approaches?
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Sebastian, you won eleven races last year; what is your opinion, is it possible to win the championship without winning a single Grand Prix?
SV: I don’t know. It depends. I think it’s easier if you win a lot of races. But it’s not impossible. I don’t know if there has ever been someone… I think Keke (Rosberg) won one race (when he won the championship in 1982). It depends what the others do. I think that’s the most important… if you want to win without winning (a race).
Q: (Ian Parkes – PA) Sergio, just following on from the earlier question. Luca di Montezemolo has repeated his assertion that again, you lack experience to join Ferrari. Could I just get your thoughts on that first of all, and secondly, over the past week, you have been linked with the possibility of joining McLaren should Lewis leave. Could I just get your thoughts on that as well?
SP: In respect of what Montezemolo said about experience, I fully respect his opinion. I have to know my position, probably, he means, to become a Ferrari driver you probably need more… I don’t know, because it’s only my second year in Formula One. I feel ready to do a good job, to be in a top team, to be able to fight for the title, for the championship, so in that respect I feel ready but I fully respect his opinion.
Regarding the McLaren rumour, as I said, there are so many rumours around. Before it was Ferrari, and now it’s McLaren. Always, when I have a good race, they put me in a different team. The most important thing is to keep doing a good job and try to maximise the car potential for the next races.
Q: (Ubaid Parkar – F1 Pulse) Bruno, what do you have to do in the next few races to ensure that you secure your seat at Williams next year? Do you think you need a podium perhaps, or maybe a win?
BS: I think the focus is to continue scoring points consistently. There’s no target for anything. The target for me has always been, since the beginning of the season, to qualify and do the best job I can in the races and I’m sure that, coming to the next few races, I had a pretty decent run last year in a few of them, and I think that with added experience, I can improve and do a good job. Of course every time I get in the car I aim to get a podium or a win, but this is not always possible and if we can do something like that then great news for me.
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) For anyone really, no matter who; my taxi driver said yesterday that he thought it was going to rain on Sunday – local opinion – and I just wondered that assuming you’re not behind a safety car and assuming that it is actually raining as distinct from damp, I just wondered what it might be like driving here under lights with falling rain at racing speeds, if anybody’s got any thoughts on that? It’s different from any other situation we’ve found ourselves in.
BS: I reckon the glare from the lights on the spray from the car in front can be quite difficult to cope with but we’ve never had that situation before so it’s going to be a bit of a learning curve. We’ve driven in damp conditions (here) which is already fairly difficult on this track but with spray, I reckon it’s going to be a very big challenge and we’ll see if it’s going to be possible or not. Hopefully it’s going to be just like any other day in the wet.
SV: Difficult to know, we’ve never driven in wet conditions here so we don’t know how it will be with the lights. I think no one ever really drove a Formula One car at night during the rain with lights. I think it will be very slippery, because this circuit is not very grippy. I think it was a little bit damp at the beginning of practice last year so yeah, it will be slippery.
Q: (Tom Cary – Daily Telegraph) Sergio, given the rumour with McLaren, is there anything in your association with Ferrari that you think would not help you there, that could prevent such a move from happening?
SG: No, not really. I have a nice connection to Ferrari through the Ferrari Academy, but I am just part of the Ferrari Academy, not part of the Ferrari team, so it doesn’t affect… As I said, still a long way to go in the season and I’m fully focused on the next races.
Q: (Peter Windsor – F1 Racing) Kimi, you mentioned that there are plenty of nice things to do beyond Formula One if you weren’t racing next year. If we exclude trucks and rallying, I just wonder if you could give us some examples of nice things you could be doing?
KR: I always said that I’m not desperate for Formula One and when I feel like doing something else I will. Now I’m enjoying it, I’m in a good team with nice people to work with. We’ll see what happens. There is a lot of different racing and doing just normal things in your life outside of Formula One. I will wait and see.