Who is the best driver in the field?
W eber: I want to name three names. If everything goes well, it's Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel.
Would you want to manage one of the three?
Webber: Vettel, of course. Now he needs a manager more than ever because now he has to sell his success. It's about the money that he can earn outside the cockpit.
Vettel will say to himself: A manager costs me 20 percent. Without it, the bottom line is the same.
Weber: Gerhard also thought that once and in the end realized that it was wrong.
Berger: I can still remember exactly. Willi called me in 1982. At the time he had a Formula 3 team and asked me if I would be interested in him managing me. I said to Willi: I don't need a manager. The problem with managers is: there are so few who understand their business. It's easy to get the wrong one. 80 percent are whiskers, 10 percent might just pay off and ten percent are good. It's the art of finding one of the last ten percent. Willi is one of those. But I didn't know that at the time.
Does the manager have to take care of the driver's image?
Weber: You can talk to the driver about it, but in the end you don't only sell yourself success. A driver who constantly follows behind will not find a sponsor. He needs a patron. When you have a successful driver under contract, you need to have a network of connections with the industry and decide which product your driver will suit. Most companies today would rather use an animal than a human as an advertising partner. Motorsport has left a lot of scorched earth anyway. In 1992 I built something new with Michael Schumacher. Most of them didn't even know about merchandising. They thought it was something to eat. At that time there was no driver who wore a cap permanently. We invented that. At that time I should have gone to Gerhard and Mansell and sold them a cap. I could have made a fortune there. I don't take anything from the driver. First of all, I have to take money into my hand to promote him. Then if I find a million and he only gets 800,000 for it, what's the problem? He didn't do anything about it.
Your current driver is Nico Hülkenberg: What's next for him?
Weber: We thought about it and asked: Do we want to take a year off? But in this day and age you are quickly forgotten. Because everything changes so quickly. That's why I think it would be better for Nico to be present and go to a team where he can at least drive in Friday practice. That would be the ideal solution for him. So he stays on the ball.
Rumors speak of Force India?
Weber: I can't say anything until nothing is official.
Is the job as a substitute driver better than a regular place at Virgin or Hispania?
Weber: It has to be a Williams-level team , where technical development also takes place. With the small teams, someone like Nico, who has already had a Formula 1 season behind him, can't learn much anymore. The offer from Virgin was there, which made us very happy, but two Germans in the team with a Timo Glock who already knows the area well, the risk was too great.
Berger: The Glock is a good man. You can lose then. But I also think a lot of Hulkenberg. He already approached his job with incredible consistency in Formula 3. So Vettel and Schumacher-like. In the past season, I was sometimes a little disappointed that he didn't beat Barrichello more often, but at the end of the season Hulkenberg showed with his pole position under the most difficult conditions that he had the potential. He has the speed, he can handle difficult situations and he is a hard worker.
Weber: You shouldn't underestimate the Barrichello. It's damn fast. And he's more experienced than anyone else combined. Most still have the Barrichello from his Ferrari days in mind. But we all know that he wasn't always allowed to do what he wanted.
But isn't something fishy in Formula 1 if a driver like Hülkenberg doesn't get a regular place despite having a pole position?
Berger: That is very questionable. Whatever the reasons for it. That wasn't a coincidental Pole in Brazil, but one that he brought out. He mustn't fall between the chairs like that. It's probably up to the manager, what do you think Willi?
Weber: I would also like to say something about the subject. Formula 1 must be careful that it does not become a two-tier society with 14 real drivers and ten pay drivers in the field. When teams can only stay afloat with paying drivers, something is wrong. That's why I refuse to pay money for a cockpit for Nico. Once you do that, you always have to bring in money. And more and more. Word of that gets around. You quickly have an image away. I want to sell performance. The boy is too good to pay to drive.
Read on Wednesday (19.1.) in the second part of the Formula 1 regulars table: The comparison Vettel against Alonso and why Schumacher is no longer world champion.