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German GP: Thursday Press Conference


Today's press conference with Rio Haryanto, Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Nasr, Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel and Pascal Wehrlein.

Sebastian, let's start with you, if we may. News yesterday that Ferrari is replacing technical chief James Allison with Mattia Binotto. Can you give us your thoughts on that?
Sebastian Vettel: Well, not much to add. I think we have stated in the press release what happened. I think Mattia has been in the team for a very long time so he is very experienced and knows the team inside out. Obviously there will be a difference but in the short term it doesn't change that much.

The timing of the switch means that he'll be in charge with plenty of time to influence the direction of next year's car. Would you like the emphasis of the team now to shift to the 2017 car?
SV: We are already obviously working flat out on the '17 car, I think everybody is, the rules are very different. Still there's stuff I think we can learn from this year, so that's why I think it would be wrong to forget about this year's car. So I think still directions are very important heading into next year with the different approach but of course there is a very large group in the factory focusing on next year's car.

Thank you. Coming to you Rio, you've out-qualified Pascal five times in 11 races; that's quite a statement isn't it?
Rio Haryanto: Yeah, it's a good result. It's good to be able to be quote competitive in qualifying but I still want to improve also a lot in the races and we are clearly working hard on that and there are some occasions in the race where I've been having a split strategy to him and I just try to keep learning and to move forward.

The fact that you're here in Germany this weekend, does that bode well for the rest of the season in terms of your involvement with the Manor team?
RH: I have a contract for one year. Of course there are certain obligations that we need to fulfill. My management is working very hard and I would like to say thanks to the team and also to the people in Indonesia who have been very supportive and hopefully I can keep my seat for the rest of the season.

Thank you for that. Nico, coming to you, you've scored points in five of the last six races but after Budapest you seemed to be a little bit downbeat in your assessment of the team's chances at this race, sating it could possibly be a bit like Hungary. Don't you think this track should suit Force India a little better than that?
Nico Hulkenberg: Difficult to judge. I think in Hungary we had a bit more potential in the car, but it was kind of a tough weekend with the mixed qualifying and then in the race also the race, how it happened, it just evolved against us. I think there was more potential than what we got at the end, only a tenth place. Hopefully here this weekend we're a bit more competitive again and obviously we'd like to beat the McLarens, the Toro Rossos and put on a fight with the Williams and not be behind them.

Now, Vijay Mallya told us in Silverstone that both you and Checo are confirmed for next season. Checo was a little more non-committal than that last weekend. What's your situation?
NH: Everything is easy and relaxed, there's not much more to add. I think Vijay said what the situation is and we're just focused on this year now, trying to get as many points as we possibly can and that's the main focus really.

So you're staying for next year
NH: Yes.

OK, thank you. Felipe, we had the news last week about the takeover of Sauber. What difference can you notice inside the team and where is the focus of attention now?
Felipe Nasr: Well, first of all, it's good news. I was happy for the team to have these new investors taking over. It brings a lot more stability to the team, especially to all the employees at the team. I could see in their faces already that people are happy again, back in their work, they can just focus on the job they do pretty much. We were very limited on the things we could do this year, talking about development and car performance. We couldn't unlock anything, just because we didn't have the resources to do so. I think now looking to the short and the long term there's a lot that can happen. I believe there are serious people behind it. We expect to see some decent, let's say, updates to be on the car after the summer break, which I'm really looking forward to. I want to put the car back competitive, I want the team to score points, I want to score points as well, which is the only thing missing until now.

Well, you mention that, the team is still looking for it's first point as we reach the half way stage in the championship. So are you taking some encouragement that you'll get there soon?
FN: Well, I believe so. I'm doing all I can. Sometimes in the last few races we have been close to it, we just need that little bit extra from the car to be more competitive, especially in qualifying, being able to qualify a bit higher, Unlocking performance is all we look for and hopefully it will come soon and I can celebrate that first point as well.

Thank you. Coming to you Pascal, your first Formula One grand prix at Hockenheim, first home grand prix in a Mercedes-powered car as a Mercedes protégé, sum up the emotions?
Pascal Wehrlein: Yeah, it's a very special race to me. I've already said in a few interviews that when I was five years old, in 2000, I was here in the grandstands watching my first Formula One race live and it's amazing to be in the car now in 2016.

You've had podiums here, I believe, in DTM and in Formula 3, so it's a track you clearly know well and like. Is there a belief that you could repeat the result from Austria?
PW: I hope so. The track shouldn't be that good, as Austria was for us, but as soon as I am in the car I will push as hard as I can and hopefully I can do the same again.

Thank you. Daniel, coming to you, your 100th grand prix start this weekend, congratulations. Obviously a very strong weekend in Hungary last time out but do you feel that after that double setback of not winning in Spain and Monaco it took a few races to get your mojo back?
Daniel Ricciardo: No, not at all, if anything it increased it. The way things turned out after Spain and Monaco, yeah, the race results weren't as high as I was hoping for sure. It wasn't a lack of mojo or anything like that. It was probably too much of the other! Obviously it was nice to be back on the podium last weekend; that was cool. Obviously I had a podium in Monaco, but unfortunately I didn't really enjoy it, so it was nice to actually enjoy the one in Budapest and appreciate it, because you don't get a podium every race. To see the fans and everything and to spray the champagne on Sunday afternoon, it's a nice reward. It's a beautiful feeling, so it was nice to soak that in. A hundred grands prix - I would say it's gone quick, but at the same time it hasn't. It's taken a lot of steps to get here and yeah, I look back on HRT and it does feel like a long time ago. Yeah, 100 feels about right.

There was optimism before Budapest that Red Bull would be able to challenge Mercedes there. Obviously it was a slightly complicated weekend, particularly with the rain in qualifying, but in the end they did manage to keep you at arm's length. You personally now are third in the Drivers' Championship, it that the limit of what's possible this season?
DR: There should be another chance or a slight chance you'd think in Singapore. It's a strong circuit for us and for whatever reason last year it was a weakness for Mercedes, so if it's a similar trend then we can genuinely have a crack there. But otherwise probably a wet race is our only real opportunity on an even playing field. Now we're close with Ferrari in the Constructors', I'm third in the Drivers' Championship, it's really close from third to sixth. But that's fun, so hopefully we'll just try and keep that. Some more consistent podiums would be good and yeah leave Sundays feeling happy, that's always important.

Questions From The Floor

(Daniel Johnson - The Daily Telegraph) A questions for Seb or two actually. When you first came here when you were a kid the grandstands were full, there were 100,000 people, and if you look at Michael's heyday the sport was massive here. It's not secret that now it's struggling for popularity compared to that. Do you have an explanation for why that is? And the second question is, from a driver's point of view what was Michael's impact on Formula One, what's his legacy would you say?
SV: Starting with the second one, I think he was obviously the first German world champion and the first one that made Formula One really popular in Germany. Obviously Formula One has been around for a long time and also there were a lot of races in Germany, but I think the real difference is that we didn't really have a local hero for a very, very long time. There were Germans participating, but obviously if there is one really, really successful one, winning a lot of races, that's what attracts a lot of the attention. That's what also caused the hype initially and caused the grandstands to be full. I think entering the motodrom in the old days was a bit different than nowadays, because the track was different, all the other parts of the track there was only trees, so I think that's different now, you have big grandstands around the track, a bit more spread. Plus the fact that it's clear nowadays, let's say the last couple of years haven't been that popular, there's been a lot of negative in the press and obviously people, fans, follow that as well and that doesn't help. I think Formula One has lost a little bit of its excitement in terms of just if you listen, the cars are a lot more quiet, which also then looks a little bit less spectacular, even though it's not true, corners speeds are as high as they've ever been. Just when we go on power it doesn't sound as nice as it probably did in the past. So there's a couple of reasons and I think it general grandstand tickets are too expensive. In my point of view they should be a lot cheaper, a lot more affordable, so a lot more people would be tempted to spontaneously say 'yes, let's go, we want to be part of it and let's not miss it'. So I think there are a couple of reasons.

(Livio Oricchio - To Sebastian. Sebastian, until September of 2014 Mr Marchionne didn't have great approach to Formula One and then came Arrivabene also. All of them for sure hard workers, competent and they were doing their time - and now we have also Binotto, also another guy without experience to concept a car globally. He comes from engine side. Are you worried that you have very good people behind you but all of them, the mainstream leadership of the team with no experience in Formula One?
SV: No, I think we have the right people on board. I think obviously, yeah, it's been a lot in the press, especially about our president and what he expects from us and so on... I think first of all it's good to see, as I've always said, that he's involved. Obviously he's pushing the team very hard, and also in Maranello, he spends a lot of time there. I think he knows what he's talking about and generally has been trying to understand what's going on, in the last year in particular. So, I think things are heading in the right direction. Obviously it's a big change now, which doesn't impact on tomorrow's work but obviously for the future. No doubt about it but I think things are heading in the right direction. When you say that they didn't have access, I think it's not entirely true. Obviously I haven't followed that close but in Maurizio's case as well I think he's been in Formula One and involved for a long time, so I think he knows the business very well and I think he's doing a very, very good job. That's how we all feel in the team. He's our leader, he's the team principal and we're happy he's with us.

(Sandor Van Es - Formula 1 Magazine, Netherlands) Daniel, I have a question for you. Congratulations with your third in Hungary, your team-mate hinted that in the first part of the race he was a little bit held-up by you because he was driving like his grandma.
DR: His grandma's fast!

How satisfying was it to finish clearly ahead of him and, related to that, how are you going to approach your little battle in the second part of the season?
DR: Yeah, it's part of... especially the early stages of the race, there's always, a lot of the time, when there's some tyre-saving, you always go through a phase where you try and make it to lap number X and sometimes the approach is to build up to it and make sure you get to that point, that you don't throw yourself in a three-stop strategy, say, when you're planning a two. So, from my side, at the start, I was just trying to do what I had to do. Try to hang with Nico and Lewis. It was sort of there - and then to the end of that stint they seemed to pull away but it seemed like my tyres had a bit more life at the end of the stint than perhaps Max's did. Yeah, I don't know if it was necessarily a shot at me, it was more, I think, as well, the way sometimes we have to manage the tyres. Especially at the start of the race with high fuel. You do have to be quite conservative and yeah, it doesn't always feel that fast. I am impressed with the speed of his grandma. That's pretty good.

(Louis Dekker - NOS.NL) For Sebastian and Daniel. What do you need to beat Mercedes on Sunday. Help from above or something else?
SV: I think we both have the cars that we have and both of us are very happy. Obviously we're missing a bit to really take it on to Mercedes in lap time. It's been, on this type of track, probably around three-four tenths to seven-eight tenths per lap, which is a lot and obviously allows them to take it fairly easy but we will try to extract everything we can, try to do the best job possible and I think that way we enhance our chances to put them under most pressure. Then, I think, there's always a lot of things that can happen. We've seen it in the past. That's why we go racing. Otherwise, y'know, there's no point for us being here.

DR: Yep, you always hope for some variables. I think all things even they're clearly the quickest at the moment. Rain definitely helps us. We seem to be able to close the gap there, and also the rain, whether it suits our car more or not, it also opens up more opportunity for the driver to make a bit more of a difference. It's easier to make mistakes with things like this. Even if they were quicker in a wet races there's still more chances they might make a mistake, or whatever. So, yeah, otherwise, as Seb touched on, we've just got to try and do what we can do with what we've got. It if does open an opportunity, obviously Barcelona, on lap one, that opened an opportunity for everyone, these sort of things can still happen. It would be nice if we could beat them with them still on track. That would be, I think, more satisfying.

(Joe Van Burik - De Telegraaf) Another question for Seb and Daniel. Do you have faith F1 will change much with the new 2017 technical regulations.
DR: Yeah. I'm confident the cars will be quicker, the cornering speeds will be quicker. I think that's one thing which obviously we're all going to be open to. If it does become a bit more physical - not that it's not, I was sweating quite a lot after the race last weekend - I think more to just feel the car a bit more in the high-speed corners. I know our car is very strong in high-speed corners and I still feel like I want to do more, so I can imagine midfield teams, they're not really experiencing a massive amount of gees and grip. So, looking at that, the wider tyres and more downforce, it should make that part a lot more fun. How much it's going to change, I don't know. I am having fun, as Formula One is now, but of course you can always improve things. Even if this improves one part of it, then that's a positive.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Hockenheim, here.


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