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European Grand Prix - driver preview quotes 04 May 2006

Mark Webber (AUS) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, 18 March 2006 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, 17 March 2006 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, 18 March 2006 Tiago Monteiro (POR) MF1 Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, 17 March 2006

The tight and challenging Nurburgring is the venue for round five of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship. The men behind the wheel discuss their prospects for the weekend ahead…

Mark Webber, Williams
2005 Qualifying - 3rd, 2005 Race - DNF

“Although our qualifying and race pace at Imola was not particularly strong, the most positive outcome from the weekend was that we managed to get some reliability back into the car. Bridgestone has made good progress since the winter, but one of the biggest challenges we still face is getting the tyre selection correct for every event. We will have to wait and see how we fare against our main opposition at the Nurburgring, but we will, of course, look to optimise our strategy and tyre usage over the course of the weekend to get the best possible result. The weather at the Nurburgring can be very unpredictable at this time of the year, so the race can sometimes be very mixed.”

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

“It’s going to be great driving at one of my ‘home races’. I’ve enjoyed some success at the Nurburgring in the past so I’ll be drawing on that in my first Formula One outing. The circuit is good fun; it’s nicely flowing and has various types of corners. As a team, we’ll be looking to improve upon the recent progress that we’ve made, particularly at the Silverstone test this week.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 7th, 2005 Race - 3rd

"I always enjoy going to the Nurburgring, particularly as it is one of the tracks where I achieved a win, in 2002. It is a challenging circuit for the drivers and has some interesting characteristics like great high-speed corners and interesting undulations. It's normally very cold when we go there so we are expecting all the efforts that we have made on our tyre-warming issues over the last few tests to pay off. We also worked really hard at Silverstone this week on the set-up of the car, and seeing the results, we are hoping for a strong performance at the Nurburgring."

Jenson Button, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 13th, 2005 Race - 10th

"We had a positive test at Silverstone this week in which we made good progress and took another step closer to the competition. Apart from a podium at the Nurburgring two years ago, I haven't had that much success at this track. It's a very low grip circuit with a lot of corners off-camber so when you arrive into the corner, it's vital to get the correct line. I think we are starting to see our race pace improve relative to our strong qualifying pace and we should feel positive as we head to Germany."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 1st, 2005 Race - 2nd

"Driving on the Nurburgring is always something very special for me. The race is my personal home grand prix. The Ring is the circuit nearest to Monchengladbach, where I was born and grew up. As a three-year-old I learnt to ride a bike on the Nurburgring. My father used to take me and my two brothers to the Ring quite often, and in winter we even went tobogganing on the Nordschleife. At the age of eight I had my first go-kart experience on the Nurburgring - great childhood memories. I've also done a lot of races on the Nurburgring - in Formula Ford, Formula 3, Formula 3000 and, ultimately, Formula One. I've really enjoyed every single race in the Eifel and also won a few. Last year I gained my first ever Formula One pole position there and came second in the race. Of course that kind of success before a home crowd was fantastic. I don't feel my home race puts unwanted pressure on me in the least. On the contrary, I'm really looking forward to the support I'll get there. Nowhere else will I see so many fans."

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 15th, 2005 Race - 13th

"The Nurburgring is not one of my favourite tracks, although in the past I have done well there: I won my first and my last grand prix there in 1996 and 1997. Last year the European Grand Prix was one of the most difficult races of the season. Since they put the new layout in the first part of the circuit, I really don't like the Nurburgring any more, so it is probably my least favourite Formula One track. Still, I hope we can get some good results there especially as the race is in Germany, and for BMW that makes it important. I have always wished we could race on the Nordschleife. I have not had a chance to go round it yet, but that really would be mega."

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

"I'm looking forward to the second European track and I know the Nurburgring, especially the GP version, although I have driven the Nordschleife once or twice. It should be a good weekend, especially as it is the first grand prix of the year in Germany. It's good for the team to be racing in BMW's home country. The Pit Lane Park will be opened at the Nurburgring, which means that, in addition to my free practice sessions on Friday, I will be busy with this on Saturday and Sunday. I will enjoy the whole weekend, but hope our results turn out better than at Imola.

“I don't really like the track that much, but there are some nice parts, particularly the quick corners. It's important to have a car that is very good overall - in the quick corners, the slow corners and the chicanes. The Nurburgring demands that kind of versatility."

Tiago Monteiro, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 17th, 2005 Race - 15th

"After the race in Imola, the team and I had a good three days of testing at Silverstone, with many laps run and some good data gained from all the tyre testing we did. We are pretty happy with our tyre choice for the Nurburgring, a track where you need lots of traction to put in quick times, especially coming out of the hairpin corners. We're also confident of making a little improvement, speed-wise, after this test and I hope it will be reflected on track this weekend. With so many strong teams in F1 this year, it won't be an easy task to move up the grid. I am also aware that we need to find some more speed, especially in qualifying. But we are a resilient team, and we will continue to fight with everything we have."

Christijan Albers, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 20th, 2005 Race - 17th

"I am happy to be in the car again after my big shunt in Imola. Hopefully, we can make a good start this time around and be in a better position to move up the field. I know this circuit quite well, having enjoyed a fair bit of success here during my F3 and DTM days. Since the Belgian GP will not be staged this year, this race is more or less my home race, being the closest one to Holland. There will be plenty of Dutch fans in attendance, which always makes me proud. Seeing all the orange in the grandstands gives me a boost - some extra motivation to do my very best and give something back to the fans and the hard-working members of my team. Their support is very important to me, and they deserve nothing less than my maximum effort."

Adrian Sutil, third driver, Midland
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"I'm very happy to be doing my first official Friday practice in Germany. I really like the Nurburgring, and have fond memories of winning an F3 EuroSeries race here last year. I hope I can put in a strong performance and help the team as best as possible. I'm well prepared for this day and really looking forward to it!"

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri
2005 Qualifying - 16th, 2005 Race - 12th

“I enjoy racing at the Nurburgring mainly because of the layout – it is a challenging circuit with flowing high-speed corners and an undulating track. I have special memories of driving here, not only from F1, but also from my Junior Formula days. At the European Grand Prix we will be testing the latest spec of Bridgestone tyre and an aero update package that we hope will help us in the medium to high-speed corners that require a lot of downforce and good car balance. The race is earlier in the season this year so we are unsure of how the weather will affect us, but the Nurburgring is a great circuit and always produces an exciting race so we are waiting for the weekend to arrive and to be back on-track again.”

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

“Firstly, I would like to apologise again to Christian for what happened in Imola and I very much hope that he is ok. I am new to Formula One and have had very little running in the car, so I have been trying to drive safely and to improve with every race. For the European Grand Prix I have been studying the Nurburgring circuit very closely by watching videos of the past races and learning the race lines. I am looking forward to the race and hopefully will be able to show some improvements.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 6th, 2005 Race - 1st

“I am expecting a big fight again. I think the level of competition is much closer than the championship standings suggest, and there will be some big challengers. The Michelin tyres have performed very consistently at every circuit this year, and they have done a great job. It will be the same in Germany, I am sure, so we will see a big push from McLaren-Mercedes at their home race, running on the same Michelin tyres as us...

“What we don't know at the moment is how consistent Ferrari will be. So far, they have been strong at the same tracks as in 2005, and not so good at others. It is too early to say if it will be the same this year, so we can't write them off - and Michael (Schumacher) is racing in front of his people too. We must concentrate on our job though, at Renault. I have the new B spec RS26 engine, which is a good step forward, and there are new developments on the car at every race. So I am sure we can be fighting for the win again on Sunday afternoon.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 9th, 2005 Race - 6th

“It is a good circuit, for sure, and one that I enjoy driving. There are a few slow-speed corners, like turns 1 and 6. You have a slow-speed chicane where you jump on the kerbs and the car feels nervous. There are quick curves, some of them you have to attack aggressively, and they link together so you need to get a perfect line to be quick. It is an interesting circuit, and it should suit the R26.

“I think we will be right up at the front. I still have another race on the B spec engine, but we have had excellent reliability on it, so we know the performance will be there. The car was very quick last year at this track - I went from the pit-lane to P6 in the race, so we had strong pace and the Michelin tyres worked well. The R26 will be quick, like it has been at all the circuits. I am sure the competition will be strong too, from the usual teams. But we will fighting for the podium, and to score the maximum points possible.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - 2nd, 2005 Race - 11th

"Although it is not like some of the wider tracks such as Bahrain and Turkey, there are a couple of genuine chances to overtake at the Nurburgring, such as the chicane, the first corner with its wide entrance and also as you go into to the Mercedes Arena. At Imola it was impossible to pass even if you had the pace, so hopefully we will be able to make the most of our strategy for the qualifying and race and get a good result here. Although the nature of the track means you can build up a good rhythm, there are some odd cambers and bumps that you have to watch out for. Also, as with San Marino, Nurburgring is another track where you really use the kerbs pretty aggressively, to make sure you get a fast lap time. Following my exit on the final lap at the Nurburgring last year as a result of a flat spotted tyre, I am hoping to have a less dramatic race this year; however this track seems to always see exciting and close racing."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - 5th, 2005 Race - 7th

"It was good to get on the podium at Imola and get some points. The strategy worked well and hopefully we can build on that and continue to move forward in Europe.The Nurburgring is a fairly mixed track, with some straights, hairpins, different types of corners, however I would say it is dominated by slow corners. As a result, we will run with a medium-high downforce here and traction and grip are more important than at a super fast track such as Canada. It does tend to be quite grippy here as it is pretty smooth, but there is a lot of understeer and this is always a focus of the free practice sessions to minimise this. We have been testing at Silverstone for three days following San Marino, it was an interesting test and we had some good running with new components for this race. As this is a home race for Mercedes-Benz, I hope we can put on a good show for the home fans."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2005 Qualifying - 10th, 2005 Race - 5th

"Coming to Nurburgring is always special but this time I am happier than usual. In reality, I hope to get a good result and put on a show for our many fans. After Imola and the positive outcome of the test sessions, I am confident that we can challenge for the win and this would be a marked improvement on last year. Our set up this year is notably better and this fills me with hope. As I am from Kerpen, it is, naturally, exciting for me to race on this track. We are determined to put on a good display. The competition is tough but so are we. I think that our initial troubles are behind us. I believe that we will be competitive and we would like to leave the circuit with a victory. So, I cannot wait for a tight battle."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 8th, 2005 Race - DNF

"We struggled on race day in Imola but our pace shows that we've made big steps forward since the start of the season. We initially struggled because our car concept made it difficult to get grip out of hard compounds in low temperatures. But we have worked hard on our set-up and we reaped the benefits for our podium in Melbourne. Now we hope to regain that good form with another good result at our home race. I've always really enjoyed racing at the Nurburgring, which is always greatly affected by the weather. I won my first Formula Junior race at the track and I won the grand prix there in 2003. It will be great to have some of the people from the factory there. That support will be really appreciated so let's hope we can give them a result to cheer."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 4th, 2005 Race - 8th

"I've had nothing but bad luck in the races so far this year so it's time for a change. Now that we have resolved our set-up problems we can concentrate on pushing the team forwards. At the Nurburgring the weather will be a crucial factor and I am glad to know the circuit well from my time in German F3. That experience helps to predict what the weather could do and to plan strategy, as it did when I finished second in a rain-affected race there in 1999. It would of course be great to challenge that high again. Our pace has been improving in recent races so we will push hard to try and maintain that momentum. I know that the package is good and it would be especially satisfying to perform well in front of the massed ranks of Toyota employees and fans."