Record-breaking multiple F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher has admitted that he is preparing himself for an 'emotional' weekend when he takes to the track at Hockenheim in Mercedes-Benz colours for the first time in the 2010 German Grand Prix – an event for which he concedes he is 'extra-motivated'.
As his disappointing F1 comeback continued apace with a distant ninth place in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone just over a week ago – a race in which Mercedes Grand Prix team-mate and young compatriot Nico Rosberg finished up on the podium – there is clearly nothing 'Schumi' would welcome more than to regain the rostrum for the first time since the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix almost four years ago, and the 41-year-old is hopeful that an upgrade package for the underperforming MGP W01 might just help to drive him ever-closer to that target.
“There is one thing for sure – no matter how long you are around, it is always something special to race in front of your home crowd,” acknowledged the 91-time grand prix-winner, four of whose triumphs over the years have come at Hockenheim, the most recent of which the last time he raced there in 2006. “I will definitely try my best for my fans who give me such a lot of support, especially over the race weekend. The German Grand Prix is very special for any German driver. There are very few areas on any race circuit worldwide comparable to the Motodrom, and as a driver you feel that energetic atmosphere when entering.
“It will be the first time for me to come to Hockenheim as a Mercedes driver, and I am very much looking forward to the experience. Driving in front of our grandstand and in front of all the employees, members and friends of Mercedes-Benz will be an emotional moment. I will therefore be extra-motivated to give them a weekend to remember. We will have some updates for our car, which we hope will give us a step forward so we can look forward to an exciting race.”
“As a German driver, the German Grand Prix is always a very special weekend, and it will be even better this year to be racing there for Mercedes-Benz,” concurred Rosberg, who has out-scored his illustrious older countryman by 90 points to 36 so far this season, finishing every single race and only once being classified outside of the points.
“I have great memories from Hockenheim, as I won there in all the junior categories that I competed in, including my first single-seater race win. There's always a great atmosphere at the German Grand Prix, and the fans are very enthusiastic with the huge grandstands in the stadium section creating so much noise! It's fantastic to see their support for the German drivers.
“I love the track itself, as it's quite challenging with some good overtaking opportunities and the races here can often be quite exciting. Going into one of the team's home weekends with the podium finish from Silverstone is a real boost for us, and we will be working hard to continue our improvement in performance and have a strong weekend.”
Indeed, Mercedes needs to keep on racking up the results if it is to successfully stave off the threat from Renault behind for fourth spot in the constructors' title standings, with just 37 points separating the two outfits at the midway stage of proceedings. Following a frustrating time of things in Valencia last month, Silverstone witnessed an upturn in form for the Brackley-based operation, and team principal Ross Brawn is confident of another step forward again in the squad's second 'home' outing, just 100km from the Daimler and Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Stuttgart.
“Hockenheim will be our first German Grand Prix as the Mercedes-Benz works team, and everyone is looking forward to the occasion,” stated the Englishman. “Following two difficult races, we had a stronger weekend at Silverstone where we were able to extract most of the performance from our current package. It was important that we learnt from our experiences and made improvements, with Nico's podium finish being a fitting reward for the hard work by the team at Brackley and Brixworth prior to the race.
“The modifications which we made to our latest upgrades worked well, and we will have a further step at Hockenheim which, with careful management, should also prove to be an improvement. Two home races in a row ensures a busy time for our team and drivers, and we hope to demonstrate an equally good performance at Hockenheim in front of our German fans and colleagues as at Silverstone last weekend.”