Q & A with Nick Heidfeld

After a dismal showing at the Monaco Grand Prix, BMW Sauber will be desperate to bounce back at the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend

Q & A with Nick Heidfeld

The has worked hard to understand its problems, and with the introduction of the double-decker diffuser, the Hinwil-based squad knows Istanbul will be an important race.

AUTOSPORT caught up with Nick Heidfeld ahead of the race weekend.

Q. How important a weekend is this for BMW Sauber in terms of turning things around?

Nick Heidfeld: I think it is important to us - similar to the Barcelona weekend. Already beforehand we said that it is important to see that our new developments are working, and it is the same here. As we all know, there is no testing any more. We have the wind tunnel data, we sometimes have some straight-line testing data, but until we see lap times we cannot really be sure.

It is important that we see a step forward here, but actually I am quite confident that we will see an improvement. As usual, the question is how much did the others improve. But it is going to be a step forward for us, and we are also going to work on other stuff that is already in the pipeline for the coming races. On top of that, I expect that Monaco was a one-off.

It is not an excuse because it is not nice to struggle so much in Monaco, but still I believe it was not a representative circuit for us. We should be better here and I guess it will be a similar situation for Toyota.

Q. What would be a satisfactory performance for you this weekend?

NH: I haven't thought about it in terms of exact positions. We will just do our best and then we will see what happens.

Q. Ferrari has made a big jump in recent races. Is it encouraging for you to see that teams can do that?

NH: Encouraging is a good word - but you need to do it yourself. I think in Barcelona we could see that we also did a step. I think Ferrari did the biggest step forward, but we clearly had a big improvement as well going for two points with seventh position.

It was not what we originally targeted for, but it was something that was out of reach for us before Barcelona - and there we could do it. It is impressive to see how much they have come back, and looking at the Internet they are quite convinced that they will be in a very strong position.

Q. How clearly does the team understand what went wrong in Monaco?

NH: I think we have a better picture now, and we have some thoughts and ideas. But obviously it is very difficult to be sure if we found the reasons, because we will not go back there now and say okay, let's see if it works. But we think we have a good understanding for some of the reasons.

Q. Is it mostly related to turning the tyres on?

NH: That is probably the biggest part, but also there are one or two other things where we think we could have done a better job.

Q. What is the data from the wind tunnel saying about the upgrade coming for this weekend?

NH: Obviously I cannot give you an exact number, as it is not only the double diffuser that we have. There are a number of other new parts to make the diffuser work better, and also to generate more general downforce. It is clearly better but I cannot give you any numbers.

Q. Is this a track that should suit your car?

NH: I don't know. I always find it hard to say which circuits suits the car. It is obvious that Monaco was not our circuit, but as you just said before, the change of the cars this year might also change the behaviour of the cars on whatever circuit. So it is difficult to predict.

Q. Will you be running with the double diffuser and KERS here?

NH: No, actually the decision has been made to run without the KERS here. As in Barcelona, we will focus on the new aero package and then we will decide at the next couple of races in the usual way about if we put it on the car or not.

Q. Are you excited to see what the advantages the new diffuser might bring?

NH: Yes, definitely. I don't think we really planned it as a test. We will put it on and as long as we don't feel anything strange we will keep it on. There is not much time to change the car in the little practice that you have. As I said, I am quite confident in what we believe this package will bring. If everything goes normal we will just keep it.

Q. There is a lot of uncertainty about the future of F1, and what teams will enter next year. Does that worry you as a driver?

NH: It is a strange situation because first of all, I want to do my best job here and fully concentrate on the driving. But politics at the moment, and for the last couple of months, have been extreme, especially regarding the future of the sport.

I have followed it very closely and I just hope that a solution will be found to keep F1 as it is - with the best teams and the best drivers. Then I would like to stay there, but I think I am not the only driver who is worried and would even consider other options if F1 changes dramatically.

I am here to drive at the pinnacle of motorsport, and if that was not the case any more, which is uncertain at the moment but I hope and believe that a good solution can be found, then things might change.

Q. What about Le Mans?

NH: Yes, I did it with Mercedes for one year. Unfortunately we pulled out that year, but it is something that I could imagine. Not next year, but definitely in the future. When I did it a couple of years ago, Mercedes asked me to do it. I was not so happy to go there but I was asked and did it - and when I was there I saw it was an amazing race. The atmosphere was fantastic, the circuit was great fun, and I always have it on my mind to do it again one day.

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