Nick Heidfeld reckons 'Silverstone is different to the other places in F1 - it¿s unique' while Vitaly Petrov 'would love us to have a good result'...
Nick Heidfeld reckons 'Silverstone is different to the other places in F1 - it's unique' while Vitaly Petrov 'would love us to have a good result'...
Q: Looking back to the European Grand Prix, how would you summarise your weekend in Valencia?
NH: Well, the race itself was not as successful as we hoped or even expected it to be after Saturday's qualifying. P9 and P11 is not what we target, but given our pace on the Friday and Saturday it was clear that was where we were. On Sunday we were hoping to fight with Mercedes because we usually have a stronger race pace than we do in qualifying, but that was not the case. I was aiming to battle for sixth or seventh position but, in the end, it wasn't to be; finishing in P10 was not a result of any particular mistakes so we have looked at where we can improve for Silverstone.
Q: The race in Valencia had a few more battles than we saw in previous years there - is that proof that F1 has got more exciting for spectators?
NH: Yes, definitely. The Valencia race is quite a recent addition to the calendar, and during that time it hasn't been known for its excitement or overtaking. This year there was some, which shows that the changes that were drafted into Formula One prior to this season have made it more exciting; there was not as much overtaking there as at the previous races this season but still it made for a good spectacle. Vettel may have been leading the whole way, but P2 between Alonso and Webber changed quite a few times so that was entertaining for people.
Q: What steps need to be taken to ensure you finish higher up the points in the coming races?
NH: As I've said before, we understood some of the problems we encountered but you cannot wave a magic wand and change these things overnight. Everyone is working very hard in the factory but the question on all our minds is what's going to happen with the change in regulations from Silverstone. We will wait to see if that changes the pecking order or the gap between the teams, and then go from there.
Q: Looking ahead to the British GP - do you think the track, with its faster corners, will suit the R31 well?
NH: First of all, we will need to see how Pirelli's choice of tyres (soft and hard) will affect the race - so that's going to be an interesting aspect. I've not actually driven the new track here yet, so that will be exciting for me. I've driven at Silverstone plenty of times before but last year I didn't, and I know that since then they have changed the layout. I think Silverstone will suit our car a lot better because at the other high speed circuits this year we have been relatively strong. And, with the new regulation changes it's going to be exciting; some people think nothing will change, some think that we will see changes but it is all just guesswork. A number of people think we will be one of the teams most badly hit (by the changes), but I doubt it. Let's see who's right!
Q: You finished second at the British GP before - does the challenge of driving at a new-look Silverstone excite you?
NH: Yes it's always nice to drive at a new track but, on the other hand, if you look at the layout of the old track it was a great track to drive at. On the old circuit there was Bridge Corner, which was quite special; a lot of people involved in racing would say this was quite a unique section but it has gone now. I'm not sure what the new circuit will be like, the first part is the same with a lot of high speed corners such as Stowe. Silverstone is very different to a lot of other places - it's a unique place that's for sure.
Q: Have you had a chance to sit down after Valencia to analyse the race?
VP: Yes, of course. I spoke with my engineers back at the factory to understand the race. What happened at the start was my doing - I touched the paddle on the steering wheel which is very sensitive and was in second gear when the lights went off. Obviously this shouldn't happen again so we made the necessary change on the steering wheel to avoid this in the future. We saw quite a few teams performing well in Valencia around us. In a certain way, it reinforced the fact that we must keep on pushing to develop the car and work hard.
Q: Silverstone is a classic venue and the team's home race. Do you enjoy racing there?
VP: Silverstone is an interesting track and it has a new pitlane which we will use for the first time. The circuit has good high speed corners, and it's the first GP of the season where we'll have high speed corners like these, so we'll have to see how the tyres will behave. I have good memories of Silverstone; I won there in GP2 in 2006 so it always makes it enjoyable to come back to a track where I've done well in the past. The typical British weather also means that rain or sunshine will be pretty unpredictable - but that makes the charm of Silverstone!
Q: What type of set up does the circuit require?
VP: We will take the baseline set up we had at Silverstone last year and build on that. Of course, we will have to take the tyres into account. The first sector is quite high speed that requires one type of set up but the car would almost need a different set up for the second and third sectors with slower corners were more traction is required. Basically the car will need to respond to the different demands of the circuit. As usual we will make the most of the free practice sessions to get ready for the race.
Q: What objectives do you set yourself for the British Grand Prix?
VP: We need to concentrate on making fewer mistakes and to try to continue to work hard to improve our performance and our strategies. Of course, as it is our home Grand Prix and I would love us to have a good result but we have to work towards giving ourselves the best chances to do so.