Q & A with Nick Heidfeld
|By Jonathan Noble||Thursday, July 31st 2008, 12:22 GMT|
Q: You're one of the highest-scoring drivers in the last few races. Do you feel the season is really taking off now?
Nick Heidfeld: "Yes, I think it has changed a lot for me over the last couples of races - probably since Canada it has been going up. Although I still had qualifying problems there, I had a good race pace and could have won the race.
"Since then, qualifying has been better apart from Hockenheim where I made a mistake myself. But over the weekend the result was very good and without the mistake I would have made it into the top ten.
"I did the fastest race lap again, like earlier in the season in Malaysia, and I have had two second places in four races. So I am really happy to have finally had things turned around."
Q: Is the improvement in form purely a result of the changes you made in that test at Barcelona after Canada to improve your qualifying form? Or has something else changed?
Heidfeld: "No, that (test) was the key. We didn't have to change the car fundamentally, all we changed was the set-up and I did change my driving style and that was enough."
Q: What are your thoughts on this weekend?
Heidfeld: "I am looking forward to it because it is one of my favourite tracks here. I usually score good results here I hope I can keep it like that. I think we are probably more consistent in our pace than McLaren, or especially Ferrari.
"I expect one of them to be quicker, most likely too, as we have seen over the last few races some other teams are getting closer like Red Bull Racing and Toyota from time to time have good pace, and Renault as well. But I think we should be the third strongest."
Q: Do you feel over the last few races that BMW Sauber have dropped a way a little from the top two teams?
Heidfeld: "I think we are further away from the top team, but not always of both teams. If you look at Silverstone, in Q2 where you normally see the pace both Robert and myself were ahead of both Ferraris. So we were a bit surprised about their poor speed.
Also in Hockenheim they were not that much quicker. In qualifying they were a bit quicker but the race pace was pretty similar. So no, not compared to them actually. I think McLaren have made some good steps forward, as have some teams behind us."
Q: Have you done any 2009 work in the last tests?
Heidfeld: "Yeah, I only did the last test in Jerez with 2009-specification, so lower downforce with this year's car and 2009 slicks."
Q: What is the feel? Better or worse to this year?
Heidfeld: "In terms of fun for me it is very similar, and lap times so far are a bit slower. And even though I did a full day it is still not enough to know what it will really be like.
"Next year's car will be completely different, even if we take downforce off this year's car. We have to know how to tweak the tyres best, and the difference in tyres is smaller than I would have thought."
Q: Do you still feel you have an outside chance of the title, or are you not considering it?
Heidfeld: "I think it is very unlikely, but it doesn't mean in my mind I say it is zero percent chance. You take it as it comes - you just try to give it your best. At the moment I am 17 points behind the leader, who at the moment has a better car. So it is unlikely, but you never know."
Q: Does it surprise you that you are only seven points behind Kubica?
Heidfeld: "Yes. It does surprise me - and it makes me quite happy. It shows me that in a phase that I struggled I was still able to take some points."
Q: What is the state of play of your contract for next year?
Heidfeld: "As you might know, we are not allowed to speak about contracts."
Q: When do you reckon you might be able to speak about it then?
Heidfeld: "I am not allowed to speak about it all!"
Q: Are you relaxed about your future?
Heidfeld: "Yes. I am now. I had some problems but we turned things around and I am quite happy with how it is going so far. And I have to say, the backing I had during these weeks and months from the team was very good, and that helped me - to know that they stand behind me. I worked hard with the engineers to overcome the problems and it worked."
Q: You mentioned you were surprised by the points gap between yourself and Robert. So it one of your targets to finish ahead of him?
Heidfeld: "Yes it is. I said in the last race that last year I finished fifth in the drivers' championship with a car that was clearly worse than this year's. So I want to go one better.
"Of course I want to beat my teammate, as everyone does, but the target is fourth place. It will not be easy, but that is my target."