German Grand Prix - selected preview quotes 29 Jul 2003
Ralf Schumacher, Williams:
"Not winning at Silverstone was a shame as it was Williams' home Grand Prix, but I have moved on and am looking forward to racing at Hockenheim and securing some more points. The World Championship, however, is far from my thoughts at the moment. Hockenheim is my home Grand Prix so I am concentrating on that and, hopefully, securing another win.
"Last year, we ran for the first time on the revised track, which is great, so I can't wait to get back there. Losing the long straights of the old circuit is not a problem as the new layout is clearly much more interesting for both the drivers and the fans. There's a great overtaking opportunity before the hairpin and the corners in the infield don't narrow at the exit, they remain open, so you can maintain your rhythm and drive fluently."
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams:
"It's good to approach the German Grand Prix with some more valuable points under my belt. I am now third in the Drivers' Championship and this is very good, but the gap from the lead is still substantial and I need to score points consistently in every race to be able to challenge for the title.
"Since it was revised for last year's race, Hockenheim now offers more overtaking opportunities but, unfortunately, fewer high-speed sections. All in all though, the layout of the new circuit should allow our cars to demonstrate their true potential. So far, we have always been fairly competitive at Hockenheim, even when our car wasn't as good as it is now, so I don't see why we shouldn't be confident in achieving a good result this year."
Jacques Villeneuve, BAR:
"I have quite good memories of racing on the old track in the past. I am not a big fan of the new track and didn't really enjoy racing on it last year. It's not a low downforce track anymore and it's like many of the circuits we race at. There are a few overtaking opportunities though, which should make for an interesting race. Our new car is definitely an improvement and the engine worked really well during the race last weekend, so I am optimistic for Hockenheim."
Jenson Button, BAR:
"Silverstone showed that we have made some good steps forward with the overall car and engine package and I had a very good race, so I am definitely looking forward to Germany and hoping to pick up where we left off. My objective in Hockenheim is to have as good a qualifying as possible because, if our race pace in Silverstone was any indication, we can look forward to a strong result and I really want more points. Last year we went to the revised circuit not really knowing what to expect and found that the new section was very hard on tyres, but this year we have the data and hopefully we'll be in good shape. The new circuit has a good overtaking opportunity at the end of the back straight and although the old track was very spectacular, at least the revised version retains the Stadium Section which is pretty special to drive through."
Nick Heidfeld, Sauber:
"Another home Grand Prix for me, but Hockenheim is a bit further from where I was born than the Nurburgring, where I did some of my early racing. The most special thing will be the atmosphere of the crowds when you come into Hockenheim's stadium. That is something you never forget. The other distinctive things were the long straights, which belong to the past. Now the circuit is more modern, and fortunately it generates similar overtaking opportunities. The new layout is safer and better for the spectators, who get to see the cars for more laps. I think it should be good for our car. Last year we were competitive there and scored points."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber:
"Hockenheim is a special race track. For the spectators the design of the infield is impressive with a sort of stadium atmosphere. By modifying the track last year to make it shorter the organiser have enabled them to see even more action. I have known the track for many years as I started racing there in 1985. But after the revision for 2002 I only knew four or five of the corners well so it posed a new challenge. I knew so many of the circuits from my time in Formula One that it was good to see something new. I was surprised last year to see so many overtaking moves so that promises some great spectating in this year's Grand Prix. I'm looking forward to having a good race in front of my home crowd."
Jarno Trulli, Renault:
(On the updated circuit versus the old) "The new circuit is completely different: there is no comparison between them. The old layout was all about low downforce and high speed, whereas we now have a medium downforce track. We also have a lot of tarmac run-offs now: they don't change our approach in terms of driving, but it makes our life safer. The drivers have been pushing a lot for these tarmac areas, and things are much better like this.
"The circuit now has just one long straight for overtaking, so I think we will need good straight-line speed to be able to match our rivals and be battling with them. We know the car is strong through the corners, and on the exits of the slower sections, so I believe we are in good shape for the race.
Fernando Alonso, Renault:
(On racing for the first time at the revised Hockenheimring) "To get used to it perfectly, I think it will probably take me six or seven laps: I don't think it will be a disadvantage, especially as I have the extra time on Friday. I am not worried about it.
(On whether the high temperatures will suit the Renault and its Michelin tyres)"You can never say so for sure. In theory, higher temperatures are better for our tyres, and in hot conditions like Barcelona and Malaysia, the car has worked very well. Our new aero package at Silverstone saw us gain some competitiveness, and we should have also some new parts for the engine in Germany. I think we have to be looking to finish on the podium."
Justin Wilson, Jaguar:
"The word 'busy' is an understatement of how have I been recently. A new team, a new car, but still the same goals - to score points in Formula One. I am incredibly happy to be here and have a lot of people to thank for helping me get to this stage. Friday testing at Hockenheim cannot come quick enough for me. The Jaguar R4 has made so much progress in the last few months so I will be looking to make the most of its pace and reliability. Although I have only been here just over a week, the team has made me feel very welcome and I am doing my best to learn about my newfound environment. In Jaguar I have a great team supported by the best in the business in the shape of Cosworth Racing and Pi Research. Yesterday, I completed a 50km shakedown test with the team at Silverstone and all went according to plan. My seating position in the car is comfortable and the R4 felt very good, albeit for a handful of laps which was enough to wet my appetite pre-Hockenheim. To be honest, I only know about 50% of the track at Hockenheim since I have not raced there since they changed it. This is where the Friday testing is so valuable and makes a huge difference to both the team and myself. Michelin will be new to me too but the team has an excellent relationship with them. The tyre-war so far has clearly been one of Michelin having the upper hand and let's hope this continues this weekend. With only five races to go I am acutely aware of the responsibility that I have to help the team push for fifth and I will certainly make the most of any opportunity that comes my way. In addition, my contract with Jaguar Racing is only for the next five races and added altogether, I go to Hockenheim with a lot to prove to everyone."
Mark Webber, Jaguar:
"Hockenheim is a good straight-forward circuit that I enjoy racing at. I won here with sportcars in 1998 and was on the podium again with F3000 in 2001. The track requires medium to high downforce and I believe that the R4 will suit this circuit more so than it did at Silverstone two weeks ago. Since my second 'home' race at Silverstone I have been really busy with the team attending sponsor-related events in Istanbul and working with the team at the factory in Milton Keynes. Our aim for the last few races very much remains the same and I would like to finish on a high at Hockenheim before going into the three-week break. As always I will be challenging for any points that the big boys leave behind, although at this stage in the game it is always much harder to find a point given the pace and reliability of the big three teams. Although we have improved our reliability and our pace is evident, our immediate competition has not stood still. Nonetheless, I am pleased with our progress to date - both on the R4 and the R5 development programme for next season."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren:
"Although I did secure a podium finish at the British Grand Prix, the team's main aim going into a race is of course to win it, and it was disappointing not to do so as the car felt competitive. However, there are still five races to go, including this week's German Grand Prix, and there is only a gap of seven points to the lead of the Drivers Championship, with a lot of points still to be won. The German race always seems to be fairly entertaining and it was certainly eventful for me last year, with my battle with Montoya! Last year the Hockenheim track had some major revisions, the main one was removing the long blast through the forest and the new four corner complex. Although this reduced the top speeds, it is still a very quick circuit that is fun to drive."
David Coulthard, McLaren:
"Despite my race being somewhat compromised at Silverstone due to my qualifying position, it was encouraging to come home in fifth. We now move to the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, which is one of the fastest tracks on the calendar, and despite the modifications it is still renowned as a car breaker. It provides a number of genuine overtaking opportunities, including a wide hairpin at the new Parabolika. As we no longer have the fast, power section along the back straight, this has reduced the set-up compromise of previous years. Of course there is still a level of compromise, but as there are not such extremes of challenges on the track any more we are able to more fully optimise our set-up for the whole lap. As a home race for Mercedes-Benz, we are looking to put on a good race for all the fans and employees. There is always a good atmosphere at the event, and last year the spectators in the new Mercedes-Benz grandstand at the Spitzkehre complex made a roar to rival the stadium section at the end of the track!"
Olivier Panis, Toyota:
"I drove on the new Hockenheim track for the first time last season. I thought it was quite good, although it had a completely different feel compared to the previous layout - it is much wider and slower. The circuit's width can lead to some overtaking possibilities, but it is a maximum downforce track, so we need to find a good mechanical and aerodynamic set-up to be quick. We are introducing some new aero parts this weekend to gain more downforce, and we have a new specification engine, which felt very good in testing. Consequently, I am hopeful that we can maintain our recent good form and get some more points."
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota:
"After briefly leading the race and ultimately picking up two more championship points in Silverstone two weeks' ago, the whole team is in upbeat mood at the moment. I raced on the old Hockenheimring in 1996, but the circuit has totally changed and will require a very different style of driving, so it will be back to the usual story for me this weekend, with my priority being to learn the track on Friday morning. Nevertheless, I have become quite used to learning new tracks quickly and we have new parts on the car for this race, so I remain optimistic about our chances of getting another good result."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Jordan:
"The last Grand Prix was quite encouraging as our pace, balance and grip were all better than in recent races. The team is working hard to give me performance and reliability from the car and my target for the German Grand Prix is to finish the race and, although I think it may be tough, to score some points."
Ralph Firman, Jordan:
"Going to Hockenheim is another new experience for me as it will be the ninth circuit so far this season on which I have never previously raced in anything, never mind Formula One. That's been the downside of concentrating on winning the Formula Nippon Championship instead of competing in European Formula 3000. However, I am pretty used to learning the circuits quickly and Hockenheim looks like a very interesting challenge. From what I have heard it's going to be very hot and also that the revised circuit which was introduced last year was quite hard on tyres. No doubt the team has all the valuable information from last year's race and can make the right decisions, and one change already is that we will be using a different tyre construction which will hopefully be good. I had a strong race in Silverstone, though the car's pace is not where we want it to be, but I am determined to give it everything in the hope of more points. I am glad to see that Hockenheim at least offers some good overtaking opportunities."