Nico: “We’re racing for the fans”

Nico: “We’re racing for the fans”

Q: Celebrating the 10th anniversary of your Formula One debut right here in 2006. Melbourne made it four wins in a row, how big a psychological boots was it to get off to such a good start?
NR: Yeah, of course it was a great start but it’s one race out of 21, so it’s really early days. But I’m really pleased with the car that we have. The team has done an incredible job to give us such a car again this year. It will be a great couple of races coming up for sure, but of course we are also looking closely at the battle with Ferrari.

Q: Well, one possible weakness appeared to be the race starts. Once again a problem for both Mercedes cars, the Ferraris got ahead. What steps have you and the team taken to address that?
NR: Yeah, for sure we’ve worked on it, but it’s a challenge this year, because it’s one clutch lever that we're only allowed to use due to the rule changes. So it has made it more difficult but it’s definitely an area we are focusing a lot. It’s a good challenge. It makes it more difficult, there will be a bit more variability in the starts.

Q: After the Australian Grand Prix the GPDA published a fairly hard-hitting open letter. Are you a member of the GPDA, do you agree with the contents and, if so, what would you like to see changed?
NR: Yes, we’re all united on this opinion because we love the sport and can see the fans are criticising some aspects that we could do better. We could be even more exciting as a sport and we want to question whether or not the F1 governance cannot review the process in which decisions are made in all these things to try to get it to a point where we can get some better decisions done and become a more exciting sport. There’s recent examples, with this qualifying where the fans are just at home and they’re not happy with it. We’re racing for the fans. Mostly for the fans. That’s the examples that are now the recent cases. Even the rules for next year. We’re putting on more downforce although actually we should be trying to help overtaking. More downforce is known for making overtaking and following other cars more difficult. It’s not necessarily the right way. With all of these things we are saying that we would like to be more involved, have more of a say, us drivers – so let’s see where this takes us.

Q: You talked about the processes and the governance structure, what about the people at the top, because there’s a structure we work within but there’s also the people trying to bring in new rules? So can I just ask you specifically, do you have your full confidence in Bernie, Jean to move the sport in the direction that you think it should go in?
NR: It would be inappropriate now to mention any names or criticise any individuals or even compliment individuals, it’s just that we know that it’s not perfect the way it is, it could be better and so it needs to be reviewed and that’s what we’re trying to encourage.

Q: Do you feel that all the drivers should be members of the GPDA and that there would be a greater solidarity if everyone was a member?
NR: This letter was signed by the GPDA but it is all the drivers, the whole grid, and that’s what counts.

Q: Normally if you write a letter you want to see a reaction but what will you do when there’s no reaction at all?
NR: Well, let’s see. It’s a process. It’s a process where we want to try and integrate ourselves a bit more into the whole thing. Let’s see, step by step.

Q: You mentioned in some of your previous answers the fact that you feel that the decision-making process is flawed. Do you think then that this letter is the first step perhaps in integrating the drivers’ opinions and perhaps giving the drivers more say in the governance of Formula One?
NR: First of all, I didn’t use those words. I think I just said ‘for sure it can be done better.’ We’re driving those cars, we know, we have a really good opinion on what would be best to make the racing more exciting. It makes sense for us to be more integrated into the whole process.

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