The Turkish Grand Prix Preview 24 Aug 2006
Can Honda win again? Are McLaren close to realising the potential of their MP4-21? Will Ferrari resume their recent domination? Or have Renault got back on top? After all the conundrums of Hungary, the second Turkish Grand Prix promises much.
Michael Schumacher scents blood and believes that Ferrari and Bridgestone can pick up where they left off in Germany. We had some misfortune in Hungary, but I am confident that our package is strong enough to win the race and the championship. Well be pushing very hard.
Fernando Alonso felt that Renault had made serious progress that was masked by the weather at the Hungaroring, and will be going all out to defend his 10 point championship lead.
I'm feeling very positive. I am in the position everybody wants to be - leading the championship, with the races counting down. There was some pressure on us after Germany, but the race in Hungary showed that the R26 is still very competitive, and that you have to take every weekend one at a time. Turkey will be a new race with its own challenges, but I am feeling confident. This type of circuit suits our car, and Michelin will bring good tyres. So we need to concentrate on our job, put the package together and make no mistakes. Then let's see what the race brings!
Jenson Button is still on a high after breaking his duck in Hungary. "It feels like it's been a complete whirlwind since our first win together two weeks ago but now that I've had the chance to celebrate properly and a week or so of rest and relaxation, I'm ready to get back in the car again and make the most of the remaining five races. There have been some very special moments over the past couple of weeks and I'll remember those for ever but it's time now to crack on with the Turkish Grand Prix and the rest of the season.
"In Hungary, everything came together for us when it counted and it has given the whole team renewed motivation. We never doubted our potential but now we know we are winners. There are likely to be challenging times again over the coming races but our car is well-suited to the Istanbul Park Circuit and we are capable of a good result there. I really enjoyed the circuit last year and had a good race so I'm looking forward to the weekend."
Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, is still looking for his first victory of 2006, and would love to repeat his pole and victory feat of 2005. Although it is great for the team to have the short break, I am looking forward to getting back to racing, particularly as we are in Turkey this time out. The Istanbul Speed Park is a terrific circuit, it is demanding on the cars, but great fun to drive, with lots of different types of corner, some straights and elevation changes. All the ups and downs of the track dont really affect the set up; they just make it more interesting to drive. There are some chances to overtake, a couple of examples are into the first corner, which I found to my cost last year, and along the long stretch that takes you into the low speed turn 12.
"The corner that everyone was talking about after last years race was the double apex left of 7/8. I think it was bumpier than we expected, and because it is such a long, fast corner if you dont get the line exactly right or lift or accelerate at the wrong moment you will get bounced off the circuit. We exit the turn flat out at 310km/h, and it is vital to have been able to get to this speed as it takes you onto one of the short straights at the back of the track. I took the maiden pole and victory at the Istanbul Speed Park last year, and it would be fantastic to repeat it in 2006. The car again felt strong in Hungary and we had good pace, so we will all be pushing hard towards this.