Nico attended the FOTA Fans Forum in Milan yesterday alongside Team Lotus driver Jarno Trulli, Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal at Scuderia Ferrari, Paul Hembery, Director of Motorsport at Pirelli, Niccolo Petrucci, Head of Aerodynamics at Toro Rosso, and Gianpaolo Dall’Ara, Director of On-Track Engineering for Sauber.
The Forum is a great chance for fans to meet Formula One personnel and ask their questions to drivers or team members. Yesterday’s event was hosted by Pirelli at their Italian headquarters, and Nico was certainly asked a lot of questions ranging from this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, his driving experience in general and even what ‘really’ happened during the last part of the race in Spa!
“I had to save fuel, but my team-mate (Michael Schumacher) would have overtaken me anyway because he was on the soft tyres and I was on the hards” replied Nico.
About the forthcoming weekend in Monza, Nico finds that “Monza is different to all of the other circuits and the cars reflect that. They have to go very fast along the straights and I hope that we’ll do a bit better here we have at previous tracks this year. As far as tyres are concerned, this track is really hard on the rears and we’ll have to see how long they last when we’re using full tanks before we decide how many pitstops we’ll have to make.”
Speaking of race weekends, a fan asked the drivers how they prepare the night before the race. In Nico’s case, he said that he would be “sleeping in his motorhome at all the European races”. I have dinner, usually in the camper but sometimes in a local restaurant, and I then try and have nine hours sleep. It’s as if I was at home in Monte Carlo. In the morning I start to get a bit nervous, but that’s natural. It doesn’t affect my sleep.”
One of the many good things of events like the FOTA Fans Forum is that fans can actually ask the questions that they really want the answers to, like the situation in Japan. Many MotoGP riders have said they don’t want to race in Japan this year as a result of the Fukushima disaster and the supposed radiation risk. Nico was quite clear on that matter, saying that “the GPDA has already done some research on this. We have discussed it and we have read the official statements, and, according to the official statements, everything is fine. That is all the information we have.”
Another fan asked who would be fastest if the top eight drivers on the grid all raced the same car… Nico proved he has a bright sense of humour by replying that he “would be ahead of everyone else by half a lap!” before adding “Seriously it would be a close call. All of the drivers would be very close to each other.”
Nico also mentioned that having Michael in the team “has been a great experience” for him. “It’s great to work side-by-side with him because he has won seven World Championships. He is a real benchmark.” When asked how does it feel to beat the best in history, Nico simply replied “If he’s the best, what does that make me?”