You hardly lack variety, after snow and gravel you had your first WRC rally on tarmac. Satisfied?
Generally yes, our speed was good. Okay, it was disappointing though
that we didn’t finish were we could have been, in the top 4. But most
important was that we learned much again. On the second and third day it
wasn’t easy to have the same motivation than in the beginning when we
were fighting for the top places. Altogether I’m still happy.
Is the time difference to Sebastien Loeb like you expected it?
It was the first time that I did a tarmac rally against Loeb. How should
I have an exact idea what to expect? On some places we were not so far
As an ex-F1 driver you certainly feel more comfortable on tarmac. Are you working there already more on details?
The difference is not that big although I feel more home on asphalt. But
rally driving is and will remain something totally different to circuit
races. When we set up the rally car it is the same procedure. You
handle a programme, no matter if it’s gravel or tarmac. I’m still
lacking the experience in rally. That’s why I not only trust my feeling
but also listen to the tips of the team.
Is rally after half a season still passion or already daily business?
No, I still have a lot to learn, so it’s rather not daily business. I like driving rallies, it’s a great challenge for me.
How far are you with your process of learning?
Still at the beginning. In rally there is nothing like experience.
Everything is very complex, that can’t be learned in some months.
In which areas you see most likely room for improvement?
Everywhere, really. Everything is new for me, I’m learning all the time.
One fundamental point we have to work on is the notes. That’s something
which doesn’t exist on the circuit but in rally sport it’s an important
factor of success. With the right notes you can gain a lot of speed.
And where you have improved the most?
I don’t think that there is this one point. The point is to improve
everything together, the whole package – to learn as much as possible. I
feel now much stronger than at the beginning of the season, in all
areas. But we have to continue working and learning.
Are there things in the rally championship you imagined differently?
No, basically everything is like I expected it. From last year I had a
bit of experience, so I could imagine how things will come. But if you
want to improve only experience counts. A circuit you can learn in some
hours, with rally that will take much longer.
Where can you benefit from your experience in F1?
Like I said before, rally and circuit are actually completely different,
there is no comparable point. Of course on tarmac rally there are some
things which are similar like for example the quickest curve. The
driving style is still pretty different, in the race car you want
anything but drifting. To drive as clean as possible that applies for
about your setup in WRC? You said at the beginning of the season that
you will start more or less with the same setup like your team mates. Is
that now different?
Actually we start every rally with a very similar setup. Later I, like
the others too, let the team make little changes to have a better
feeling for the car. Once we want the car to turn in better or we change
the height of the car. Luckily the team has a lot of experience with
the car and they can give me good advices.
How difficult is it for you to trust someone else in the car?
You mean the relationship to my co-driver? That’s very good. My co Kaj
Lindström is a great guy with plenty experience, that helps me a lot.
For me the point is to make good notes and to use them optimal. We are
working on it and it’s getting better every rally.
Which rally has you surprised the most?
But for me all WRC rallies are new – apart from Finland. All and
everything is new. But the most special event this season was Jordan.
The surface and the character of the rally changed all the time. It was
very important to work precisely with the notes. We got our first points
there, a nice memory.
What do you know about ADAC Rallye Deutschland?
Not much. I know it is a tarmac rally with very different surfaces and that Loeb has won there several times. That’s it.
Germany is a “Racing” country. Is it a special feeling, as an ex F1 driver to contest there now with a WRC rally?
Not really. I’m not thinking about something like this. I start every
rally the same way. So Germany is a rally like every other rally.
They say that in F1 the relation car to driver is 60:40. How is that in rally?
I don’t know. I don’t have the experience yet to value that exactly. It
depends on so many different things, if you just look at the surfaces
and the tactics. In rally there are probably more variations than in F1.
When I was driving Grand Prix, the top cars were pretty close, a driver
could make a big difference.
How often do you have contact with your buddy Sebastian Vettel? Do you get information about F1 from him?
From time to time we talk but that’s not so often. If, then we talk
about F1, rally but also about other things, just normal things.
What would have to change that you come back to F1?
It is not so much the question what would have to change. The point is
to have the right options. I had some opportunities to stay in F1 this
season. But they were not the right ones. That’s why I’m now here.
The fight for the F1 championship is close. Who will be world champion?
I think it will be a duel between McLaren and Red Bull. The Red Bull is
the quicker car, but they had some problems with reliability. The
drivers are pretty close. McLaren also did a good job, especially Lewis
Hamilton. I guess it will be very close.
What do you think can we expect from Michael Schumacher in the second half of the season?
Hard to say, I don’t know. He is a seven time world champion so
obviously good. It is always also a question of the car, motivation and
many other things.
How about your future? Is there a decision to continue rally?
You can be certain that as soon as I make a decision I will let
everybody know. There are always options to do different things. I need
to find the right one for me.
When can we expect your decision?
When I made it.