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San Marino - driver preview quotes 20 Apr 2006

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 31 March 2006 Mark Webber (AUS) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 31 March 2006 (L to R): Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team with Jenson Button (GBR) Honda Racing F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 2 April 2006 Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 2 April 2006

The anticlockwise Imola circuit poses a tough test for both man and machine - which is exactly why the majority of drivers love it…

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 11th, 2005 Race - 9th

"The Imola circuit is technically very demanding - with lots of long straights and slow corners which are especially tough on brakes. The venue has been kind to me in the past and I've always enjoyed good results - particularly when I took my first ever grand prix win there in 2001. By contrast the circuit has not been that good for Toyota down the years although both Jarno and I scored points last year. We could face cold conditions in Imola but you never know what the weather will bring there. We struggled at the start of the year in cool conditions but we made the podium in Australia so that shows how far we've come. Of course the season has started off harder than we expected but Australia was much better and the team is strong enough to keep bouncing back."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 5th, 2005 Race - 5th

"It always makes for a slightly different weekend when you are racing at home. I will have more support than usual and my fan club usually pays me a visit but I will also be busier out of the cockpit. Despite being in Italy, I don't particularly like the circuit at Imola. It's often cold there in April but the most important factors for performance are braking stability and traction, as well as a car that can ride the kerbs. Last year I was able to celebrate the birth of my son with a points finish and we have to hope for another top eight finish this time. I didn't have a good weekend in Australia but our pace was much better so we can only be confident. We have had two hard weeks of testing and we hope to find suitable tyres for the conditions and to reap the benefits this weekend."

Mark Webber, Williams
2005 Qualifying - 4th, 2005 Race - 7th

“Being the first European race of the season, Imola is always keenly awaited by everyone as it feels as though we’re finally back home after the first three flyaways and that the new season is really underway. There’s always a pretty good atmosphere in the paddock as we return to working out of our motorhomes and the whole set-up has a much more traditional and familiar feel. The track itself provides us with a unique challenge as it’s somewhere we really have to use the curbs quite a lot. I’ve always enjoyed racing at Imola and, falling after a successful test at Barcelona last week when both Bridgestone and Williams made good progress with the tyres and car respectively, I’m looking forward to getting the car on the track.”

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

“I’m looking forward to my first Formula One race in Imola. Bridgestone have made some good progress on their compounds for cooler temperatures, as we saw in Melbourne. The team’s test went well in Barcelona last week and I believe we made good progress, especially with the aero package. I know the Imola track from GP2 so that will be a help to me, definitely, so we will see how it goes.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 10th, 2005 Race - DNF

"The Imola circuit is a good one for the drivers. I really like the layout and the challenge of setting up the car which is not easy. Imola has had its ups and downs for me; I have had a lot of support from the fans there in the past but there are also some very sad memories. Our difficulties during the last race in Australia have made us work even harder in testing over the last couple of weeks and there is a good feeling that we have made some solid progress. The whole team feels positive about this weekend and I share those feelings so we're hoping for a competitive race."

Jenson Button, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 3rd, 2005 Race - DSQ

"I've always really enjoyed racing in Imola. The track has a mixture of different types of corners and a few chicanes and is quite challenging for the drivers. There's always a fun atmosphere and it's a track where I have great memories. In 2004 I qualified in pole position here which was my first pole in F1 and finished the race in second place. It's good to be back in Europe following the first three races where we were able to achieve a podium position and some points. Obviously we were extremely disappointed with our performance in Australia, however we have made good progress in testing and I am confident we will be competitive in Imola. Hopefully it should be a good weekend for us."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 9th, 2005 Race - 6th

"The San Marino Grand Prix is the first race of the season in Europe and, from experience, this is when the teams come out with their first major round of modifications. We're no different and have tweaked one or two elements of the car's aerodynamics since the last race. I'm not expecting these changes to shake up the field completely, but they might just result in a readjustment in the balance of power. As far as the track itself is concerned, two things in particular stand out. Firstly, that we drive very hard over the kerbs at Imola and need a car that can deal with that kind of treatment. Second, Imola is very tough on the brakes, almost as tough as Canada. That makes efficient brake cooling very important, although the lower top speeds with the V8 engines will make this slightly less of an issue. As far as the travelling is concerned, the start of the European season means things are a little calmer again - despite the testing we've been doing. I really hope we can build on the progress we've made so far this season at Imola."

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 12th, 2005 Race - 4th

"Imola has always been a good track for us as it was there where we got our best result last year. It is a fun track but it is the second race on the engine so we will have to be a little bit careful. It is a very different track to the first three of this year, with a lot of chicanes and kerbing, but it is fun to drive and very difficult to overtake."

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

"Imola is one of my favourite tracks in Europe and I am happy to return there after a victory in 2002, which was the first time I drove in Formula Renault. Unfortunately I am not racing but I hope I will help the team to get as much data as possible from the Friday pre-testing and I hope to do a good job. It is the first time this season we will race on what I would say are the "old" kind of tracks, because Imola is an old-style circuit with all the kerbs. Bahrain and Malaysia are very flat with no kerbs, but here you have to jump over the chicane. It is something different but I like all types of tracks, as the new ones have larger run off areas and those kinds of features. I like Imola, I am happy I am back in Italy where I have lived for five years so I am really looking forward to it. It is also the first time I shall be with the team on a circuit I know."

Tiago Monteiro, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 18th, 2005 Race - 13th

"It's good to be back in Europe! I'm looking forward to trying out all the new parts we have on the car, which should make for a good improvement. I really believe I could have scored points in Australia had I not been forced to retire with mechanical problems. Hopefully, I will have the same opportunity at Imola, which is a very exciting track with a great racing tradition - one of the last traditional drivers' circuits left on the calendar."

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

"I am really looking forward to the first European GP of 2006. I was very impressed with the new parts we tested at Silverstone, which should help us move forward. The car is really improving, and Tiago, Giorgio and I will do everything to show that MF1 Racing is on the way up. Imola is a nice track with a great atmosphere, and I can't wait to get back in the car again. Maximum attack!"

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

"It's going to be nice to finally drive on a track I'm familiar with, for a change! I know Imola quite well and I like it very much, actually. It's a challenging circuit, but it's good from a driver's point of view because it flows and allows you to get into a rhythm. Friday is going to be interesting because from what I've seen, the track surface is still very dirty, which will affect traction considerably. But my fitness is much better than it was in Malaysia, so I'm confident that I will be able to do a good job for the team and help them choose the right tyres for the weekend."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri
2005 Qualifying - 6th, 2005 Race - DSQ

“The start of the European season means that the team will be in its new motorhome, which will be exciting to see. Following the two-week break the team is now refreshed and looking forward to the San Marino Grand Prix. Imola is a unique circuit - classic and narrow with a bumpy surface. We use a lot of kerb throughout the race, so car set-up is very important. The weather is often cold which makes the driving conditions very different from the first races of the season. Our car has good straight-line speed, but the chicanes and high-speed corners will make this race another challenge for us.”

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

"I am disappointed that I was not able to drive during the test in Barcelona last week as I really need to complete more miles and spend more time learning the car. I want to finish the next race as I did in Australia and hopefully be able to run a little faster. It is my first European race so I am looking forward to it and have been studying the Imola circuit during the break."

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 1st, 2005 Race - 2nd

“(Imola 2005) became maybe the most talked-about win of my career so far I think. For me, it was a win like the others - a special achievement. But when you are fighting with Michael (Schumacher), then I think the media talk about it in a special way, and make it something bigger. I enjoyed the final laps of the race last year, and it was an important race to win. But if I can do it again this year, on my own, a long way in front, then that's even better!

“(Imola) is very difficult for the drivers, with the chicanes and the kerbs, and the car bumping over them. That makes it hard for us to take the same line twice in any corner, and every lap you have to feel things a little bit differently. It is tough physically, but also for the car because there is a lot of stress over the kerbs. This is a hard race to finish.

“Ferrari and McLaren will be our main opponents. Ferrari dropped down in the last two races, but I think they will be back. Their tyres work well at this circuit, and it is their home Grand Prix, so I expect them to be extremely competitive.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 13th, 2005 Race - DNF

“It is nice to be racing back in Europe, and to be in my home country as well, with all the Italian fans. Physically, I am fitter than ever before, and feeling really good at the moment. And compared to last year, I am in a much better position in the championship: more points, and closer to the lead. So yes, things are looking very good right now.

“You need to be good in every area to be quick here, you must have a complete car. The drivers need to have confidence in the handling and the reactions, the right tyres and a strong engine. We have a mix of slow and fast corners, plus of course you need to attack the kerbs very aggressively - and the car needs to cope with that. The R25 was quick there last year, so there's no reason to think the R26 will not be this year.

“I have a fresh engine, and a bit more power from the new specification, so that gives me a fantastic chance for this race. We are not underestimating our rivals, because we know that the level of competition is very close the front. But I believe we have the package to win in Imola.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - DNF, 2005 Race - 1st

"We had a solid session at the test in Barcelona last week, we were able to complete the MP4-21 development work planned for the session and continue the progress made by Pedro and Gary at the Paul Ricard test the week before. It will be good to see how the modifications will be on the race track. The biggest factors at Imola are hard braking and acceleration, because of all the chicanes and the short straights in between them. This also means that performance of traction, braking and braking stability is key for this race. To get quick lap times at Imola, you have to really attack the kerbs and because they are so high, probably more so than at most tracks, we have to keep the car quite soft so it rides the kerbs well. The best place to overtake at Imola would be the Tosa hairpin, both under braking and also exiting, and you also tend to see a lot of cars running wide providing more opportunities."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"It was good to test last week, as we have been able to cover some good pre-race set-up work for San Marino and the car felt good. Imola is a very technical and demanding circuit, so the set-up of the car is particularly important at this track to be fast. It is a medium to high downforce track, because of all the slow corners and chicanes, also there isn't really one very long straight that would demand a lower downforce configuration. Imola is one of three anti-clockwise tracks we race on. It does place an extra strain on your body, particularly your neck. However it's not really a big deal, I have been working with my trainer to ensure there are no issues. There are a couple of great corners at San Marino, such as the Piratella and Acque Minerali, and you need to make sure you push and carry as much speed through them as possible, they should be quite fun with the V8 engine!"

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2005 Qualifying - 14th, 2005 Race - 2nd

"We want to do well at Imola and we want to be among the title challengers. We have fine tuned our package during the tests and I think that we have a car with which we can compete for victory. I do not believe that the gap to the leaders is too big to close. Imola should be the first step towards this."

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2005 Qualifying - 8th, 2005 Race - 10th

“Now is the time for us to do well. It is the moment to turn the page and to try and finish ahead of Renault, otherwise it will be hard to fight for the titles right to the end. We are in much stronger shape here in Imola, thanks to some interesting developments on the car, including aerodynamics, engine and tyres and that is the most important thing. It makes me feel confident for the weekend."