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Hungarian Grand Prix - preview quotes 19 Aug 2003

Mark Webber (AUS) Jaguar.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, British Grand Prix, Silverstone, England, 18 July 2003

Mark Webber, Jaguar:
"The Hungaroring requires a lot of downforce on the car and I am confident that we have this. The circuit has numerous slow corners and obviously in the past it has been difficult to overtake. However, having said that, I understand that they have made a few changes in the last year and I am certainly looking forward to walking round the track on Thursday and seeing how these changes affect the driving line. After the holiday break I am desperate to get back behind the wheel and to push for some more points given that we only have four races left now. The team has been working really hard over the break and I would like to reward them with a few more points this coming weekend. It will, however, be very tough."

Justin Wilson, Jaguar:
"Hungary is one of the circuits most familiar to me on the F1 calendar, having been fortunate enough to race here for three years with F3000. I managed two podium finishes including a win so it's a circuit I have enjoyed racing at and one that I am looking forward to competing on in the Jaguar R4. The three-week break has lasted an eternity and I am desperate to get back into it. I have spent the break training and so am looking forward to feeling the benefits at the circuit where hot dusty weather is the norm and you are stretched physically. I am interested to see how the track changes affect the flow of the circuit and until Friday morning I am not too sure what to expect. I do know, however, that the team has been hard at work despite the holidays and we are all keen to see what we can achieve over the weekend. I am certainly more comfortable with the R4 now and this was helped by a 50-km shakedown that I undertook at Santa Pod on Monday. The car feels good and the pace is there. We now need to translate that into more points and close the gap between ourselves and immediate competition."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Jordan:
"The Hungarian Grand Prix always comes after a few weeks of rest and that is good for everyone. My last race was very frustrating because I thought I had a good car for the points, but reliability issues prevented me from achieving my goal. I hope that Budapest will bring back a strike of luck, which has been avoiding me for quite sometime and I will work hard for a positive result."

Ralph Firman, Jordan:
"With the current heat waves in Europe I am sure that the Hungarian GP will be just as hot as we experienced in Germany though I hope on this occasion that my race lasts beyond the first corner and that I don't become involved in other people's accidents. The Hungaroring will be yet another entirely new circuit for me to learn and from what I have seen it seems technically challenging with lots of changes of direction and very few overtaking opportunities, apart from the first corner. Entering the last quarter of the season, my focus is on doing whatever necessary to qualify, race and finish as well as possible. It has been a frustrating year so far, partly due to lack of development, but the team has worked very hard and I want to reward them as much as I can in order to ensure that we are together in 2004 and able to build on all that we have learned."

Jacques Villeneuve, BAR:
"I enjoy the Hungary race, the general atmosphere is nice. The people get excited about the race and it's quite a happening city. It's always been fun racing here. It's a strange track because it doesn't really have straight lines, it turns all the time, which normally is not a good thing, but somehow the layout is actually fun and it has a good rhythm. The track is changing a bit this year so I don't know exactly what to expect, but previously the chicane is the one corner that just shouldn't be there. The rest of the track is quite nice. I don't know how much the changes will affect the ability to overtake. This year's car is a lot more stable than last year and Hungary was always a difficult track to get a balance at, so hopefully the car will suit the track characteristics a little more. The heat will affect the tyre wear - the hotter it is, the harder it is on the drivers, the tyres and the engine. However, I train hard, so the hotter it is, the happier I am."

Jenson Button, BAR:
"Hungary is never really a place I've enjoyed racing because it's a very tight, twisty circuit, which is not my favourite. I prefer faster circuits where you can overtake. But hopefully this year, with the changes they have made, there will be some improvement. Aside from that, it's a nice race - the fans are really cool and quite excitable so there's usually a good atmosphere. It's going to be another hot race, but I don't suffer too badly in the heat because of the amount of training I do. Our car seems to be better on high-speed corners, circuits like Silverstone and Barcelona, whereas on low speed circuits I don't think it's at its best. However we've made some changes so hopefully there will be an improvement and I am feeling very positive after the points-scoring finishes in Silverstone and Hockenheim. Hungaroring is very tough on tyres, you normally get quite a lot of blistering so we have to put a lot of thought into tyre choice for this race in order to make the most of the conditions."

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams:
"I have always enjoyed the city of Budapest, even if I cannot count the Hungaroring among my favourite circuits, but I think it has improved now because of the changes that have been made to the track. I will see once I am there. It is going to be a very hot weekend, as usual, and no doubt this is positive for us, first of all because our Michelin tyres perform very well in the heat and also because I have no problem with the physical effort required. I have been working out hard in the last few months and I have been doing the same last week in Miami. I feel fit and ready for any hot conditions.

"We haven't performed very well in Hungary recently, but our car is much improved this year, so I am sure it will suit the Hungaroring much better. I know the team is very motivated, and so am I, and all the partners like Michelin are pushing very hard. I am not interested in talking about Championships, because the only way these are won is by concentrating on each race as it comes, and that is where my focus lies at the moment."

Ralf Schumacher, Williams:
"As far as my expectations for the race in Hungary go, I can't really say much as the appeal decision against my penalty following the accident at the start of Hockenheim is still pending. If the penalty stands and I lose ten places, that will obviously make the race a lot more difficult, as it is well known that Hungary doesn't allow much opportunity for overtaking. But nothing is impossible.

"There have been a few changes to the Hungaroring for this year and, while we were at Hockenheim, I managed to get some plans of the new circuit. The start/finish straight, for example, has been extended by 250 metres, which might make overtaking a bit easier. Basically I'm looking forward to the weekend in Hungary because I have very good memories from last year's race. We managed to set the car up well and I ended up in third place in what was probably the best race of the season for me. This year, our car has a shorter wheelbase which should make it even more suited to the track. Also, the hot temperatures you usually get in Hungary at this time of year will suit our Michelin tyres which will hopefully give us an advantage."

Nick Heidfeld, Sauber:
"Hungary has given me some of my best memories of racing. I won the F3000 race there in 1998, and I remember (Juan Pablo) Montoya and his manager David Sears screaming at me in the pit lane because they said I'd blocked him in qualifying. Montoya then started the race from the dirty side of the grid and before the race his mechanics swept the track ahead of him. My engineer David Brown told one of our mechanics to go over and ask if we could borrow their broom...

"In 1999 I won the F3000 title in Hungary. After the race we went out to celebrate at a place called LeRoy Beach close to the Danube but were told we couldn't go in because Sylvester Stallone was having a private party there. We had to wait until he and his bodyguards left before they let us in!

"Hungaroring is quite a difficult circuit. There are a lot of corners and overtaking is very difficult. I'm going to be interested to see if the changes have helped that aspect."

Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber:
"I've known the Hungaroring since 1994, and since then I've only missed the 2002 race. It's not a bad circuit from the fun point of view, though overtaking is very difficult there. It's one of the most difficult tracks in the world in that respect. You just have to try to grab any opportunity if the guy ahead makes a mistake. It's easier than Monaco, but otherwise it's very tough.

"I've never been on the podium there. I had the chance to win the 1997 race before I had a problem with my Williams' fuel filler flap, so my best result was fourth for Jordan in 1999."

Jarno Trulli, Renault:
(Q: We saw you in some difficulty after the race in Hockenheim: have you recovered fully now?) "Absolutely: they gave me some precautionary tests in the medical centre, but I was already feeling a lot better just a few hours after the race. I have spent some time in Italy relaxing with my family, and this week I will be busy doing a training camp to prepare for the hot conditions in Budapest: it will be a long race, but I am in the best shape to tackle it.

(Q: The Hungaroring is often a circuit the drivers enjoy, in spite of producing rather processional races in the past. Is that the case for you?) "Hungaroring is a challenging track: it can be tricky because the circuit is very narrow, with a lot of corners in quite a short lap. The track surface also used to be quite bumpy, although that may have changed for this year, and it is often dusty because it is not used much during the season. That makes it a difficult lap, and interesting for the drivers.

(Q: What are you expecting from this year's race in Budapest?) "Hungary has always been a strange race for me: it is one of those places where I have never managed to score points, even though I like the circuit a lot. This year, I think we have a good car for the track, and the testing on Friday morning will allow us to try a bigger range of set-ups to get it exactly right. I scored my first podium for Renault at the last race, so am more motivated than ever: the team is getting better race by race, and I think we can be on the pace wherever we go."

Fernando Alonso, Renault:
(Q: This will be just your second race at the Hungaroring. Is it one you are looking forward to?) "Definitely: by the time we get back in the cars, it will feel like a long time since we finished in Hockenheim! The Hungaroring is a complicated circuit, with lots of corners: that means there is a bigger margin for the driver to make a difference. I like the track, the fans and the city, and I think we can have a good weekend.

(Q: There have been a number of changes to the circuit since last year: what effect do you think they will have?) "I have only seen the changes on paper so far, so it is difficult to say exactly what will happen, but they look good. The first corner will probably be the place where overtaking happens, and it will be a downhill braking area too, which could make things even more complicated. We will have to wait and see on Sunday, though, to judge whether things have really changed.

(Q: The team seems to have taken a step forward since Silverstone. Can that be maintained in Hungary?) "I think so, yes. The conditions should suit our package, we have seen that the Michelin tyres perform very well in high temperatures, and in theory, the circuit should suit our chassis: there are lots of corners, and that is where our package is strongest, at high and low speed. We will have to work hard all weekend but, with the extra benefit of our testing on Friday, I think that we can push for the podium again."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren:
"Obviously it was a disappointing end to my race so early during the German Grand Prix, but we arrive at the Hungaroring refreshed after the short break and looking to score as many points as possible. During the break I spent some time relaxing with my friends and family in Europe and also went to a team promotion in Bratislava to play in an exhibition ice hockey game with a Slovakian 'all stars' team, which was great fun. The Hungaroring is another track where qualifying is even more important, as there are not many overtaking opportunities. It is also a very dirty circuit as it is not used very often, so the track will probably get quicker as it becomes cleaner during first qualifying on Friday. This also means that you are punished more if you go off line in Hungary due to the dust. With all the thousands of Finnish fans that come to the Hungarian Grand Prix, it is like a home race for me. The Finns are all so enthusiastic and it creates an exciting atmosphere, I am looking forward to driving in front of them again this year."

David Coulthard, McLaren:
"I am determined to build on my result in Germany at the Hungarian Grand Prix. I enjoy driving the circuit, we have a competitive car, there are often high ambient temperatures, which are good conditions for the Michelins, so I am feeling positive and looking forward to the race. There have been a couple of modifications to the circuit, primarily the lengthening of the main straight, which will mean we will be able to build up a greater speed on the drag down to the first corner. In previous years it has been very hard to overtake at the Hungaroring and the revisions have been designed with the aim of increasing the opportunities, but we shall have to wait and see. During the break I took part in a couple of promotions early on, including a fantastic day spent at the Cowes regatta at the helm of the Hugo Boss yacht in a race, and then spent some time relaxing on my boat at a slightly different pace, whilst maintaining my training programme throughout."

Olivier Panis, Toyota:
"After picking up four points in Hockenheim and a couple of weeks of holiday, I am ready to push hard in the final four rounds of this year's championship, starting this weekend in Hungary. The Hungaroring is not used mush during the year. As a result, it is very dusty on the first day and there is only one racing line. It is a low-speed track and particularly tough due to the lack of overtaking possibilities. I know the track has been modified for this year and
I am looking forward to trying it on Friday. I hope the changes create some new passing points. The team has worked hard to get up to 6th in the championship, so my aim is to score more points to build on the recent achievements."

Cristiano da Matta, Toyota:
"I have never even been to Hungary before, let alone raced at the Hungaroring. Many drivers have told me that it is impossible to overtake on this track, but I'm hoping the recent modifications will improve this. The track appears to be very tight and of the remaining four circuits on the calendar, I expect this one to be the most problematic for our TF103 race car. We will have to be more methodical and careful in our approach to this race because qualifying and strategy will be more critical than usual. Nevertheless, we will try our hardest to continue our ever-improving performance and get more points in the bag. Having spent some relaxing days in Brazil since Hockenheim, I feel fully refreshed to do just that."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari:
"In recent years, the Budapest circuit has always produced a positive result for us. In 2001, a win brought me the Drivers' championship and with Rubens' help, we also brought home the Constructors' title. Last year, we did the double again, with Rubens taking the win and once again we celebrated victory in the team title race. So why not think that this year's race should produce a strong result for us?

"We will only find out on Friday if the changes (to the Hungaroring layout) are sufficiently significant. The Hungarian Grand Prix is a race where strategy plays a key role, which could work in our favour, given that we have proved to be particularly strong in this area.

"It's true that the F2003-GA will not be different to the car we took to Hockenheim, apart from the obvious aerodynamic modifications, but this does not make me any less optimistic. We know the situation in the championship and we will do all we can to fight for the win. As for myself, I feel very relaxed after a few days holiday. I want to get back to racing and cannot wait to be back in the cockpit of my Ferrari."

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari:
"Last year, we went well here and had a big advantage. A lot will depend on the weather, but I am optimistic on the tyre side. To be honest, I felt I was quite strong in Hockenheim, but events meant I could not prove it. For the other races (remaining this season), it's possible that Monza and Suzuka will suit us best, but that does not mean we will not be competitive in Indianapolis too."