Drivers press conference was mostly about this weekend as the turning point of the season, after 10 races out of 21, with Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), Carlos Sainz (McLaren), Nico Hulkenberg (Renault), Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso).
It was a tough season for Sebastian Vettel, started just one year ago with his crash when he was leading under the rain in Hockenheim, who led to his 2018 title defeat to Lewis Hamilton, and it continued up into his last race clash with Verstappen in Silverstone. Questions were all for the Ferrari’s driver, as rumors sees the four time world champion retiring at the end of the year and it doesn’t seems like he is going to have a long career like his former teammate Raikkonen: “Racing at 40 years like Kimi? I don’t know, it depends on the regulations from 2021, we’ll see what happened then. I will be 40 in 2027…”
Anyway Vettel seemed confident about the rest of the season, looking forward to his home race: “This place is very close to where I come from. I had dinner with the team last night. I’m very calm, there are a lot of German flags and enthusiasm around the track. This year we had occasions where things were looking very good, others were not too good. Sometimes the car feels how you like, other time less. We are looking to what is missing at the performance comparing to the beginning of winter tests.”
The four time world champion sees Ferrari in a process to go back at the top, but he reckons Mercedes is actually the team to beat: “We made progress, we are not where we planned to be. The understanding and the directions are going the right way. Mercedes is in front, that’s pretty clear. They struggled in the tracks where degradations is higher, but in terms of speed they are the benchmark. I’m fairly open minded with the start of the weekend, it will be probably hot at the beginning and the cooler then, everything can happen”, Vettel said. “Obviously I want to win but I have to be realistic. Coming here I don’t think we are the favorites but we have a chance to do well, that’s the objective. We’ll find out in the weekend, but of course it’s a special place to me, close to my family. A good way to celebrate is to be fast all weekend”, he added.
38 degrees Celsius during FP2? 🌡️— Formula 1 (@F1) July 24, 2019
Rain on the way during qualifying? ☔
Thunderstorms arriving on race day? ⛈️
Current forecast = more wild weather at Hockenheim 📡#F1 #GermanGP 🇩🇪 pic.twitter.com/sqSjNJSeV2
It’s going to be home race also for Nico Hulkenberg: “It’s good to come back here, amazing atmosphere, tickets were more or less sold and there was a magic atmosphere last year. Obviously it would be nice to repeat something like that. Happy to be back here and we’ll do what we can”. Despite happiness for approaching the German GP, Nico knows that the first half the season was harder than the French team was expecting: “So far in the season we can’t be entirely happy with what we achieved. A little more disappointing than 2018, as development didn’t lead us where we wanted to be. Not entirely happy with everything if I look over the last 3 years. But I see light at the end of the tunnel”, Hulkenberg stated.
Renault’s main competitor at the moment is the McLaren, which also uses French engines. Carlos Sainz is actually comfortably seventh in the driver standings: “Being best of the rest it’s a combination of good strategy, good starts, good pace. I wouldn’t expect to be in front of Renault as of now. I was in Renault last year, we finished strong and in Abu Dhabi the McLarens were half a second behind. We think we are in front now but we are not faster than them, it’s hard battle.”
Anyway Sainz is not looking after his former team work, but more about catching up with the front of the field and to have better qualifying results: “I don’t look much to what Renault are doing, but looking at the top three teams and trying to catch up. I am not entirely happy with how things are going in qualifying, there are races where I was affected to issues outside of my own, but I’m happy with the speed of the car. I feel ok with the car, I feel quick, to improve in qualifying it’s important that I feel the speed.”
Kimi Raikkonen is eighth in the standings and scored 7 out of 10 races, including the last 3. The Finn is not a man of too many words, as he tried to explain his current feelings: “I’m just trying to do the maximum, trying to make the car faster. For sure we have improved, we are quite happy and looking forward. There’s a lot of work to be done to go faster and get closer with McLaren.”
Vettel was then asked about Mick Schumacher getting closer to Formula 1 year after year: “I think it’s not too correct to compare Mick with other people or with its father, it’s not fair cause today it’s another racing. The name Schumacher is 100% known in Germany due to Michael, and to have Mick in F1 would be huge and a great step for Germany. In top of that, he is a great guy and he deserves a chance. Let’s have fingers crossed. Hopefully he gets the chance one day and bring enthusiasm to the sport”, Seb concluded.