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German GP: Preview - Renault

NEWS STORY
16/07/2011

You scored four points for the team at Silverstone, a reasonable result considering it was a difficult weekend for the team?
Nick Heidfeld: It is definitely not what we were hoping for, but if you look at the problems we faced on Friday and then Saturday when I qualified 16th, I managed to finish 8th on Sunday which is I think the best I could have done. It was actually a fun race, with some nice battles out there, and we faced some interesting weather conditions going from a wet part of the track to a dry part. But, four points is not what we're aiming for - we need more, deserve more and we must be proactive in making that happen. I really believe that we will be able to score a greater number of points over the next few races as we have some more interesting developments to bolt onto the car.

At the Nurburgring you will be in front of your home crowd - is it always special for you to race in Germany?
NH: Yes, it is always special to be in Germany, there's no doubt about that. There are obviously a lot more fans supporting me there, and especially at the Nurburgring - I have so many nice memories from racing at this track. Learning how to ride a bike, driving a go kart and sledging in the snow are all things I did at the Nurburgring. I also won some races in junior categories there, and of course got my first pole position in Formula One at the track, so coming back is like a trip down memory lane.

How enthusiastic are the German fans?
NH: They are very enthusiastic and they have every reason to be because firstly Sebastian (Vettel) is leading and fighting for the championship, and secondly we have a number of German drivers in the championship giving it their best shot. I'm proud to be one of those drivers and proud to be representing Lotus Renault GP on the grid.

What do you expect from the car at this race?
NH: I know, as James Allison has confirmed, that there are some bigger developments coming than we had at the last couple of races. There has been a tremendous amount of work going on in the wind tunnel so I am very hopeful that we will take a significant step forward. We have had to demonstrate our patience during what were a couple of challenging races recently (Valencia and Silverstone), but now is the time for us to take that step forward and compete with the top teams again, which is where we belong.

What are your targets for this race?
NH: Well, my objective is always to perform the very best that I can. I hope that the car is strong, so that we can go back to qualifying in the top 10 (which is exactly where we should be) and then get even stronger in the constructors' championship; we will need to take the fight to Mercedes who just overtook us but we know we are more than capable of a fourth placed finish this season.

Vitaly, how would you summarise your British GP weekend?
Vitaly Petrov: Honestly the experience of the venue was fantastic because the British Grand Prix has so many fans, there are just so many passionate people and it was our home race too. Unfortunately our on-track performance was not great over the three days. We had a very poor qualifying which left us in P14 and P16 - well below where we should be qualifying. The wet weather didn't help us, and the rule changes (mapping) clearly had an impact. During the race, I got an ok start but we really struggled with the tyres and I found the car pretty undriveable in the wet conditions. I was unable to get to grips with the inter tyres, which affected us badly and we were just unable to protect ourselves from the other drivers such as Michael (Schumacher). When the conditions dried, we picked up our pace but it was not enough because we needed the car to be stronger than it was, so generally I was disappointed because I thought the high speed corners would suit us well. However since then, I think that we as a team have understood what went wrong and will move on from it in Germany.

You are at the Formula Sochi Festival in Russia this weekend. Does it make you proud to be able to bring F1 to the attention of your own fans?
VP: I think it's been very important to come to Sochi and demonstrate all the sport has to offer. Formula One is getting more popular in my country, and we have a Russian Grand Prix in a few years (2014) so now is a good time to say 'look, this is what F1 is all about!'

What are your expectations for the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring?
VP: Well, last year the race took place at Hockenheim, but of course this year driving at the Nurburgring will be different. The weather can be quite changeable there, which will again have an impact but the main thing we need is a strong set-up for the car. As usual, aerodynamic efficiency will be the key. It (the car) hasn't performed at the level we know it can, and it has been off the pace for a few races now so we must get it right quickly to turn our season around. Additionally, it's very important we reach Q3 in qualifying so that we can score more points come Sunday afternoon.

What's the minimum you expect from the next two races?
VP: Once again, we will be aiming for the maximum number of points, but we need to look at the whole weekend and get our performance up immediately from P1 right through until the race. Since Silverstone, we have been putting in the work to ensure we give ourselves the best possible chance at the Nurburgring. The speed with which we introduce our new upgrades is the critical factor in our success and I'm convinced that having these upgrades in place for Germany will give us more of a chance.

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