F1weekly podcast number 517
Race recap with Clark and Steve and…
History of the German Grand Prix with Nasir Hameed.
Renault Preview of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“The Hungaroring is one of my favourite circuits”
Nick Heidfeld :
How was your home race in Germany?
It wasn’t what I was aiming for, that’s for sure. Before the race I thought we could have scored good points. But, as early as the first lap, I had a coming together with Paul (Di Resta). I locked up the front wheels and couldn’t avoid hitting him. Then I was at the back of the field but I made up positions quickly. The pace in this phase was actually good, though it was clear that it would be a difficult race.
I was up to 16th and I knew the pace wasn’t bad; you never know what can happen during the race. Then I came up behind Sébastien (Buemi), who covered the left hand side on the way into the chicane, which was perfectly fine. I turned right to overtake him and after that he turned right as well, pushing me into the grass. Unfortunately I then took off and had a crash. Luckily I was not hurt, but it was a disappointing end to a race I would love to have done well at.
Nevertheless, have you seen signs of improvement on the car since Silverstone?
Yes, if you look at our result in Germany it was not great. However, if you observe the pace compared to Silverstone, where we qualified 14th and 16th, it is going in the right direction. At present, it just doesn’t feel good enough, but we are working relentlessly on it. What makes me optimistic is that lately we’ve seen significant progress in the wind tunnel. Now it’s just a question of getting parts onto the car quickly. I’m hopeful we can get a few additions onto the car this weekend, and I know that further afield, in Spa and Monza, we will have even greater upgrades.
Are you looking forward to Budapest?
Absolutely, it’s one of my favourite circuits. I enjoy driving there and seem to get on well each time I race there so I hope this weekend is no different. I’ve had two F1 podiums at the Hungaroring before, so I’ve got good memories from the place. Normally the conditions are pretty hot, but we’ve just had a quick look at the forecast and actually there is a chance of some rain! I also know that a lot of Polish fans usually attend this race, so it will be a little extra motivation for me driving what was originally Robert’s car.
The circuit has few overtaking chances so qualifying could play a pivotal role again…
It could, and I’m sure it will. That said, the DRS should help a bit. It’s a very twisty, tight circuit with tarmac that normally gives the cars high grip so it’s good fun to drive and I’m looking forward to it.
What kind of result at the Hungaroring would give you satisfaction heading into the August break?
What’s most important is that we see ourselves moving in the right direction. Hopefully we will have some new parts, which will help get our pace up. We want to have a good result, especially before the August break because it would do a lot for our morale to go into the second half of the season on a high. But, if for whatever reason it doesn’t work out and I still know that we’re moving forward and our pace is good, then it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But, no two ways about it, we’re aiming high – we have to, because this is what we’re here for.
“Car set-up is very important in Budapest”
With a sole point in Germany, the Russian is looking to battle with the big guys again in Budapest.
How was the German GP for you?
Well, I scored another point but we should be finishing much higher up the points. We’ve said that time and again, but we brought good developments to the car last weekend, perhaps lacked a bit of luck and didn’t capitalise on our opportunities. What’s noticeable is there are other teams beginning to compete seriously with us, such as Force India and Sauber, so we need to take the initiative and make a significant step forward to stay ahead of these guys. We should be fighting for fourth spot in the Constructors’ Championship, and for that to happen we need to improve on our result in Germany. If you look specifically at the race, I probably didn’t pit early enough in order to fight with the group in front, and that lost me a few places so it was always going to be hard to be higher up the points.
Has the team started moving in the right direction since Silverstone, though?
Yes, it was good that the exhaust situation that was causing a lot of discussion at Silverstone was resolved, but that alone is not enough to get us back where we should be. We need to be fighting with the teams in front because we are a top team. We brought some upgrades with us to Germany and there’s no doubt they helped, but we’re going to keep pushing forward to ensure we’re back where we should be.
Looking ahead to Hungary, where there are swathes of Russian fans, how do you like racing there?
It’s a great circuit and I’ve got good memories from my time there in GP2. I won my first race in Budapest, so it’s always great to come back. The atmosphere is great with a lot of fans watching so I’m always happy to go back. And yes, there are lots of Russians in Budapest too, so I will be doing everything I can to give my team and them a good result.
What are your thoughts on the Hungaroring circuit?
It’s quite technical and you need the right setup to be successful there. There are just two high speed corners but the rest is more technical. Car set-up is very important in Budapest.
How can you summarise the first half of the season?
Well, we all remember that it started well. Then we had a significant drop a few races into the season and consequently lost a lot of points. We’ve had some challenges with our aero packages so we will be analysing that in the August break among other things. I remain confident our season will take an upturn in the second half of the year, that’s what we’re all pushing for.