20 July 2012
German GP – Friday press conference – Pt.1
For me the German Grand Prix is a classic grand prix. In Europe from the history we have four grands prix which are very important. That's Silverstone, one grand prix in Germany at the Nürburgring or the Hockenheimring, it's Monza and Spa... and of course also Monaco. The German Grand Prix has a high level of importance and also, if you think how many German drivers in the meantime in Formula One and also Germany is a very healthy country from the economical side and therefore it's very, very important that this grand prix takes place here in this country.
Norbert, obviously very important for Mercedes…
Yeah, absolutely. It's very special for us. We have more that one home grand prix: we have the British Grand Prix; we have another home grand prix in Abu Dhabi where our shareholder Aabar is at home but this, just 100km from the main facilities of Mercedes, from Stuttgart… I personally have great memories from when I was a young boy already I was here, looking mainly at motorbike races, so Hockenheim is just home turf – and it's of course it's good having a good performance here – we try. I remember winning 2008 with McLaren-Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton, which is a great memory. And yeah, there's a lot of spectators, a lot of guests, the Mercedes grandstand, a great programme there, a very busy weekend for all of us. It didn't start in a typically Hockenheim way: normally it's hot; today it was more the Silverstone way, which we experienced a fortnight ago. So, it seems to be the same tomorrow: rain again, and probably sun on race day – so parallel to what we experienced two weeks ago. But still, a very important race of course.
Peter, is this as close to a home race as you get?
Yes, I think it's a home race – similar to Monza, both grands prix are very close to the factory in Hinwil. But I have a special relationship with Hockenheim. I drove many, many races here. I started I think in 1967 with my first race here, with a Volkswagen Beetle.
Question then to all of you again, on a similar subject: how important is the Nürburgring? It's got problems of it's own at the moment, can they be solved? How important is it that they are solved and it remains one of the homes of the German Grand Prix.
The Nürburgring as well has a very, very interesting and important history. Everybody in the world knows the Nürburgring who's involved in motor racing. I just hope that all the politicians find a solution to get the money together that the Nürburgring will survive. Because in the meantime a fantastic infrastructure has been built up around the Nürburgring with all the hotels and, apart from this, there are many workshops where parts for racing cars have been produced. It would be a shame if people would lose their jobs from this. There are many, many races over there: the 24 Hours for example, and a lot of other races, and especially Formula One. I just hope that in future we will also have a race there because the Nürburgring is history for motorsport in general and especially for Formula One.
And a huge heritage again for Mercedes, Norbert?
Yes, absolutely. There is a great heritage and I hope and think it will continue. We definitely have a DTM race at the Nürburgring after the summer break, the 19th of August, so that is confirmed. And I think there are good chances for a grand prix in the future – but it's probably too early to talk about that and to speculate. I think they built great facilities and probably the plan was a good one but it didn't turn out in the right way. I think what is very important to know is that the Nürburgring is booked in a fantastic way – so the industry has lots of bookings there, not only Nordschleife but also grand prix circuit where the Grand Prix takes place. I think this is a positive development for the Nürburgring: I just think they got in financial problems but hopefully they are solvable.
Peter, I'm sure Saubers have raced there. Did the Beetle make it that far?
Not just the Beetle. '86 we won the first sportscar race, together with Mercedes. I think with Pescarolo and Thackwell on the car. I think it's important for this very traditional race track that the responsible people find a solution to save the situation.
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