Nico, a new contract extension with Mercedes and you also got married this week but you’ve never been on the podium in Germany, so I guess that’s this weekend’s first objective? You’re still on top of the championship, just four points clear, but your team-mate Lewis Hamilton said that this is a ‘reset moment’ in the title race and that he’s been on the back foot all season. How do you see it?
NR: It’s been a very exciting week for sure. We also won the World Cup, which was awesome. In terms of the Championship, I just see it as the next race, which is Hockenheim. It’s our home race. I really look forward to driving here. I’m here to win, of course. I’m here to try to extend the Championship lead. That’s where it ends for me. I’m really just looking at the moment, taking it race by race.
As you say it’s been a great week for Germany on the sporting front. As a keen follower and friend of the national team is there a way you can harness some of that positivity into your challenge this weekend?
NR: The effort of the team as a whole, how they all played together and everything was really great to see and that’s what won them the tournament I think, not any individual strength or anything. That’s what we’re trying to do as well, to really work well, everybody together, to really make the most of it. I think we’re also on the right track with that, in that respect, because to dominate the sport as we are doing at the moment, I think that indicates we work pretty well together as a team and of course there’s room for improvement but we’re going in the right direction.
You had to change your helmet design this week after FIFA expressed their reason why you’re not allowed to have a picture of the World Cup on there, for intellectual commercial property rights reasons. You’re obviously disappointed I guess, but can you understand their reasoning behind it?
NR: We need to take everything into consideration, it’s amazing that even a trophy has its trademark and that sticking it on a helmet can be an issue. That was a surprise, but of course I fully understand. It was a pity as it looked really cool, with the trophy on top. Anyways, we’ve replaced it now with a big star and no-one can take that away. The star is ours.
We all recall the incident at last year’s German Grand Prix with Mark Webber where a wheel fell off after a pit stop. In recent days there have been moves afoot for there to be a little bit of rowing back on the tough sanctions that were put in place following the Webber incident. I just want to know what each driver feels about more leniency for unsafe releases that may be coming in?
NR: Obviously it is one of the most dangerous situations for all of the people working in the pitlane. So definitely it should be harsh to try to avoid people doing that or things like that happening. We need to find the best way, what sort of penalties to do.
Many teams will race without the FRIC system. Is there a feeling that this might change the gap between the teams significantly or not; that it will stay more or less the same, like it was before?
NR: Everybody has it to some extent. It’s impossible to predict. For sure it can have some influence but we just need to wait and see what happens.
Where did you watch the World Cup soccer finals last Sunday?
NR: I watched it at my parents place, as is tradition in our family because my Mum is the biggest soccer fanatic in our family, so I watched it there with friends and went absolutely crazy when they scored. It was a great time.
Nico, how big is the pressure that Lewis is putting on you? Are you feeling it? Is it also a lot of pressure to have a championship that is open now completely, and to race at home and try to win this race?
NR: It’s a great battle between us. Every race it’s been us two fighting it out for the win. It’s fantastic – a tough battle also – but good. I’m sure it’s going to continue for a long time and it will be very close – and I look forward to the race here now… it’s my second home race, I have Monaco and here. I’m very fortunate in that sense; I have two home races, and look forward to all the support and I really hope to do a fantastic job. It would be a great end to already the great times I’ve been having recently if I could win here at the German Grand Prix.