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Malaysian Grand Prix - driver preview quotes 15 Mar 2006

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren Mercedes MP4/21 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 12 March 2006 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 9 March 2006 Christijan Albers (NDL) MF1 Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 9 March 2006 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 11 March 2006

Bahrain was hot. Malaysia will be even hotter - no wonder most of the drivers choose to arrive a few days early to acclimatise. But despite the temperatures, they love the circuit - another one of Hermann Tilke’s modern day masterpieces…

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - 11th, 2005 Race - 4th

"I am really looking forward to the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend, Sepang is a track I love to race on and it suits my driving style. I am hoping that this will help me and the team to find a better set-up with the car than I had in Bahrain and that we will be putting more points on the board. The wide track and its sweeping corners mean there are a few good overtaking chances, I guess the main opportunity is corner 15, but you do need really good traction to make the most of it. Other characteristics of the track are the gradient changes, including through the complex at the end of the first straight, and the different cambers. Of course the humidity is another major factor, Malaysia is a really punishing race physically. It gets so hot in the cockpit, up to 50 degrees centigrade and you lose a lot of fluid, up to four litres, during the race alone. The tropical climate means that it could rain at any minute, so that is always a bit unpredictable, particularly because when it rains in Malaysia, it really rains!"

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - 6th, 2005 Race - 9th

"My race in Bahrain showed that the MP4-21 is a competitive car, despite the heavy fuel load I had for most of the race compared to the cars around me, it was quick. I now want to get back on track in Malaysia and have a better qualifying session, so that I can improve on my finishing position in Bahrain. Sepang is a track that sees car set-up compromised between efficiency at high speeds, for areas such as the start and final straights where we reach full throttle, and good grip for the slower corners, such as the complex at turns one, 14 and 15. Parts of the track are great to drive, such as the S complex and you need to really push through here to get a good lap time. After Bahrain, I have been spending a few days relaxing and doing my fitness training in hot conditions. I will also focus on getting used to taking on a lot of fluid to replace what is lost through sweat. Dehydration affects concentration levels, muscle strength and endurance, and so I have been working with my trainer to avoid this. We also have to make modifications to the cars to cope with the heat, for example there will be larger air cooling intakes on MP4-21 for this race.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 5th, 2005 Race - 5th

"After a disappointing performance in Bahrain we are now heading directly to Malaysia. Of course we will face completely different conditions in Sepang, where both drivers and engineers face the extra challenge of the heat and the humidity. I am going to use two to three days in Malaysia to just get used to the climate there, to work out and be in my best physical shape possible to go to the race. The facilities at the circuit are great, they are state-of-the-art and very beautiful. It's a very fast, wide, swinging track with good overtaking opportunities. I have had some great races there, so I'm looking forward to going back. I hope we can use the data we collected in Bahrain to improve our performance for the second race of the year."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 2nd, 2005 Race - 2nd

"The Sepang circuit is one of the modern breed of F1 circuits, with facilities that are state-of-the-art. Last year's race was my favourite of the entire season, when we were able to take Toyota's first podium. Of course our form in Bahrain suggests that this year's race will be much harder. We were expecting a better start but now we have to work to improve our performance. Of course we cannot change much in time for Malaysia but hopefully we can keep up the learning process with the aim of moving up over the next few races. The new qualifying system has gone down well but we saw in Bahrain how chaotic it can be with all the traffic out at the same time."

Mark Webber, Williams
2005 Qualifying - 4th, 2005 Race - DNF

“Malaysia is always a big test for the car and a big test for the drivers. Traditionally, it’s a really warm race and the weather can be really inconsistent as well. The circuit is absolutely amazing, there are all types of corners, and it’s a track I really enjoy driving a Formula One car on. It’s the second race of the year, and I hope we can get another good result after the strong start we made in Bahrain.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“I haven’t driven at Sepang before so it’s a new circuit I’m going to have to learn quickly, although I will do a few more laps in the practice sessions than in Bahrain in order to prepare myself. I’ve driven it on the simulator, though, and from that I think it’s going to be a track I’ll enjoy. It’s going to be very hot out there, so it should be a good race for us and, in particular, for our tyres. By the time I get out to Malaysia, I won’t have as much time to train as I’d like, and I have a Oris marketing commitment on Wednesday, so I’ll have to acclimatise quickly but I can’t wait to get in the car again.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 12th, 2005 Race - DNF

"My first race for the team was disappointing so I hope that Malaysia will be where my season really gets started. The track is one of the best in terms of layout and I think it will suit our package well. There are also some good overtaking opportunities. Obviously it's one of the most physically demanding races because of the heat and humidity but we're well prepared for that. I think we will have a much better race here."

Jenson Button, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 9th, 2005 Race - DNF

"Having finished fourth at the Bahrain Grand Prix, which is the highest position we've finished in at the first race of a season, I am really looking forward to showing what we can do at the next race. It's reassuring that we come away from Bahrain knowing that we genuinely have the pace to compete with the other top teams. Our car should work well at every circuit this year but particularly at hot races like Malaysia where the conditions are very well suited to our tyres.

"The Malaysian Grand Prix holds fond memories for me because it is where I achieved my first podium in Formula One. I enjoy racing there as it has a lot of quick, flowing corners as well as some really fast straights. I think we can expect another exciting race this weekend."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 10th, 2005 Race - 3rd

“The Malaysian Grand Prix is unusual mainly for its high temperatures and extreme humidity. Basically I don't have a problem with that. Last year I started from tenth place and made it onto the podium - for me it was one of the most exciting races ever. I had some tough duels and a lot of fun. We have experienced some incredible cloudbursts in Sepang, but I can live with that as I basically enjoy driving on a wet track. So far, I've managed quite well in Malaysia whatever the conditions. I also know the country quite well by now. To get acclimatised I have often taken a brief holiday there before the race, and there has also been plenty on the Petronas agenda - that's Malaysia's oil and gas company, who were also our sponsors back in the years when I was driving for Sauber. When you see the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, you get some idea of how important this company is for the country."

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 16th, 2005 Race - DNF

"Malaysia will be a very busy grand prix for the BMW Sauber F1 Team because it's the home race of our main sponsor Petronas. The track is quite interesting and physically very demanding because of its long high-speed corners that generate high lateral g-forces. All this takes place in high ambient temperatures with an extreme humidity, which means that you really need to be physically well prepared. I am confident for the race."

Robert Kubica, third driver, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"Sepang is another circuit I don't yet know, but after the positive experiences in Bahrain I hope I'll have this race track sussed just as quickly. My aim is, of course, to support the team as best I can, and it will be important for me to clock up plenty of laps and run through the planned schedule completely. The Bahrain race weekend has demonstrated very clearly that it is important to gather extensive data already on the Friday. I have never driven in such an extreme climate as in Malaysia, and so I will also gain valuable experience in that respect. I can't wait to see Kuala Lumpur, and especially the Petronas Twin Towers that I've heard so much about. It's going to be another interesting weekend for me in many ways."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2005 Qualifying - 13th, 2005 Race - 7th

"Last year we had one of our worst races of the season in Sepang and this year we have good reason to be optimistic that we can leave here happy. Tyres will be a key factor this weekend and that is the big question mark. But I think we should be strong here on this front. As for the engine, all we can do is open the vents on the bodywork more to improve cooling.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2005 Qualifying - 14th, 2005 Race - 10th

“This is the toughest race of the year, not that it's so hot, but the humidity really gets to you. To be honest, most times, I've not felt too bothered physically here, but 2004 was a tough one because I didn't have power steering. I don't recommend that. Driving the car was like trying to park a car in a very tight place! It was actually the hardest race of my life and I don't know how I finished.

“During the race here, I start with about one and a half litres to drink on board the car with me, but before that I can drink maybe three litres just before getting in the car. In fact, right from now on Thursday, I make a conscious effort to get as much water down me as possible to make sure I'm as hydrated as possible. But it means that every fifteen minutes you need to go to the toilet! But funnily enough, once you're in the car you don't think about that anymore.”

Tiago Monteiro, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 18th, 2005 Race - 12th

"I'm very glad to be back in Malaysia because this was one of my favourite tracks last year, actually. From a driver's perspective, it's really enjoyable to race here - very quick, very aggressive, nice high-speed corners - but at the same time, it's also very demanding, both for the car and for the driver. The temperature, humidity and downforce loads will all be extreme, so it won't be an easy race for anyone, I guess. But we understand why we had problems last week in Bahrain, so we know what we have to work on and how we can improve. Therefore, I'm really looking forward to doing better here."

Christijan Albers, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 20th, 2005 Race - 13th

"Although the track is quite challenging, it's very nice to drive and, from what I'm told, to observe a race at. The weather here is typically very hot, but it shouldn't be a problem for us. The guys are working really hard to overcome the problems we experienced last weekend, and hopefully we'll be OK. We're pushing like hell to improve and I'm just anxious to get my first race lap of the season out of the way. After that, I can concentrate on getting into a good rhythm and putting all this hard work to good use."

Giorgio Mondini, third driver, Midland
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"I'm so excited to be here. This is so different from anything I'd experienced previously - not just the car, which is obviously much faster, but also the number of personnel at our disposal, their skill level, everything. They don't call it F1 for nothing! It is the maximum, in every way. To be honest, I had hoped to get some more test time in the car before coming here, but my aim is still the same: to make the best tyre and car set-up choices for the race. I don't know the track very well, but this should only take me 5 or 10 laps to figure out. After that, I should get up to speed very quickly."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“The SA05 race car had never completed more than 10 laps before we reached Bahrain this weekend. The fact that we were able to finish the race on a challenging track and in tough conditions shows that the car is reliable. Malaysia will be very physically demanding for Yuji and myself as drivers and also for the cars in the heat and humid conditions. We need to continue working hard this week so that we can start to improve in every area, but I was happy with our result in Bahrain today and I am looking forward to another solid race in Sepang next week.”

Yuji Ide, Super Aguri
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"I really wanted to finish my first Formula One race but I did not get the opportunity so I really wish that I finish the race in Malaysia. I have raced in Sepang when I was driving in Formula Nippon and I like the country very much so now I am looking forward to returning there to race as a Formula One driver."

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 1st, 2005 Race - 1st

“Sepang has always been one of my favourite driver's circuits, and I seem to have important moments of my career there too - my first pole and podium in 2003, and the first win of my championship in 2005. I am arriving on the back of a win, at a super circuit, so I am very happy and hopefully we can win again. Traditionally, this is a strong track for Renault. Michelin have done a fantastic job with the new rules, and the high temperatures are not a problem at all. I think they have the tyres to win again in Malaysia.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 3rd, 2005 Race - DNF

“I think this is the toughest track physically, but also mentally because we need to maintain our concentration on a very demanding circuit in terms of driving, and in the heat. I am prepared, and in good physical condition, so it won't be a problem but for sure, we will see who is fit during this race. Malaysia is one of the best circuits I think, the atmosphere is good, and I really enjoy it. You have everything to make a very challenging circuit in Malaysia. There are many different types of corners. You have high-speed, low-speed hairpins, and it is all good fun to drive.”