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Spanish Grand Prix - driver preview quotes 11 May 2006

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R26 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 30 March 2006 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 11 March 2006 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, 16 March 2006 Giorgio Mondini (SUI) MF1 Racing Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Practice Day, Imola, Italy, 21 April 2006

The Formula One teams are highly familiar with Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya as it is one of their most-used testing venues. Of course, racing there is a whole different matter - as the drivers explain…

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 3rd, 2005 Race - 2nd

“It is a very special feeling for me to be at my home Grand Prix, it is something unique in the whole championship. It can be a bit stressful too, but the main emotion for me is that I really enjoy the whole weekend, seeing the fans from Wednesday and Thursday onwards. There are so many of them, it is a shame we only have one race in Spain! If I have to pick two or three races in the year I want to win, then Barcelona is definitely one of them!

“I think we are always good there. It is an aero circuit, which is good for Renault, and the team was on the podium every time in the last three years. We saw in Germany that the car is competitive, but Ferrari were a little bit stronger. The next races in Barcelona and Monaco will be dominated by tyres I think and in the past years they were both Michelin circuits. I think there are some good opportunities coming up for us.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 6th, 2005 Race - 5th

“Barcelona is a circuit we all know very well because we do so much testing there, especially in the winter. I enjoy the circuit a lot and I know the Renault will be quick there. I am very optimistic for the race weekend, and I hope it will be a bit easier than the last one!

“Barcelona is a very tough circuit for the tyres, as we all know. The asphalt is quite abrasive and there are some high speed corners that are hard for the tyres, like the last two corners. But I know Michelin will bring good tyres for this race. They know the circuit well and they are working very hard. I am feeling very confident for Spain, we know the Michelins will be quick!

“The Spanish fans are always really good with me, and give me a lot of support. Italy and Spain have similar cultures, the people there are like brothers for us I think! And it is always a big boost to see their fantastic support for the whole Renault team!”

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

"Over the weekend at the Nurburgring the car was definitely improving, and I am looking forward to getting straight back on track in Spain, to try and continue to find more pace. The Circuit de Catalunya is a very quick track, not in the same way as say Monza that is all about power, it is because there are a lot of fast corners that keep you flowing the whole way round. This does mean though that you can lose a bit of downforce when you are close behind another car through the quick corners and this can make it quite difficult to pass. The aerodynamics of cars are tested the most here, so set-up is crucial. This can be quite tricky as it can be quite windy on track and something that worked really well in the morning doesn't always work as well in the afternoon."

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

"It wasn't the best race for me in Europe, but that is racing and you have to move on. There has traditionally been quite high levels of tyre degradation at the Circuit de Catalunya, this was less last year with the resurfacing, but over the course of the past twelve months it has returned to being fairly abrasive. With all the super fast corners there are big loadings on the tyres, so tyre wear is still a consideration, particularly the front left. We have worked hard with Michelin in preparation for the race, and final selection between the prime and option will be our main focus in the early part of the weekend. I have tested at the Circuit de Catalunya for seven days since the start of the year, providing useful data. The Michelin tyre selection process for the race started in early April when we were testing at the track and we completed it at Silverstone a couple of weeks ago. Overtaking here is not easy and to do it having good traction out of the corners is a must, there is one chance, as you can slipstream along the main straight and then try to overtake at the first corner."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2005 Qualifying - 8th, 2005 Race - DNF

"Catalonia is a circuit where you have to get the right feeling for the slower and faster curves; something that is not as easy as it seems owing to the high winds. The entire team has tested in windy conditions and the track does not hold any unknowns. We have tested in Barcelona over the past few months and so we know what we have to focus most on. Despite the fact that race conditions are often similar, we have to consider that each race is unique. We will have to be on our toes as the competition is tough. We would like to repeat the experience of the past two races and I think that we can do it. We should have a good chance of challenging for victory at Barcelona".

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 4th, 2005 Race - 4th

"We have been doing quite well during testing in Barcelona. We are in the upper middle field, better in the race than in qualifying - at least in my case - and so I'm quite happy about that. We showed that we could have a strong race performance at the Nurburgring, it was just unfortunate for the whole team that we had an engine failure. I am confident however that after analyzing the data we will find the right solution for the coming races. Although I have tested there many times, the Circuit de Catalunya is always a bit tricky due to the wind, which makes it hard to find the right aerodynamic set-up. Tyre choice is also another difficult matter, but I am sure we will be able to fall back on our testing data here from the last tests. Overall, we are certainly on the right track, a little patience is needed but when the time comes, we will pick up some points and defend our last year's championship position."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 5th, 2005 Race - 3rd

"The Circuit de Catalunya is a track I know very well, just like most of the other drivers in the field. Because the track is quite demanding with four high-speed corners and few chances for overtaking, we will have to concentrate on having good aerodynamic performance. There is a long main straight but it is a fast corner coming onto it and it is quite difficult to stay close to the car in front. The overtaking situation is a little bit better since they have changed the layout of Turn 10. It all means that a lot of the lap is spent in corners and so the car's balance has to be absolutely right. Reliability and tyre wear are also two factors that are always important, especially because all the teams that go there know their set-ups already. I have had some good races here including the two podiums I have achieved the last two years and I am definitely looking to repeat this again this year."

Mark Webber, Williams
2005 Qualifying - 2nd, 2005 Race - 6th

“Barcelona is obviously a venue all the teams know exceptionally well because we have all done thousands and thousands of testing kilometres there. It has been a bit of a tricky circuit for us in recent years, but I feel we have made some progress in recent tests and I also think Bridgestone is putting some pressure on Michelin, which is good, so I hope we can take some of this progress to the Grand Prix. The atmosphere in Spain will be incredible because of Fernando, but it is good for the rest of us to compete when the event is buzzing. I’m looking forward to it.”

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

“Even though I have raced in Barcelona only once before in GP2, I know the track very well because we have done a lot of testing there, like most of the F1 teams. Since Imola, we have improved our performance and we were quite competitive at the Nurburgring, so I believe we can collect some points at Montmelo. It’s an interesting and a quick track, and I like it. I scored some points there in GP2 and also set the fastest lap, but the best memory I have of Barcelona is my first test in an F1 car - a Williams, of course, back in 2002.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 18th, 2005 Race - 9th

"The Spanish Grand Prix is slightly unusual because we use the circuit so often for testing, so I think we will see that reflected in the performance of all the teams. It's a track I enjoy - although I do get to see rather a lot of it! - and I think we should do well there. It was good to get some more points at the Nurburgring, although we lacked a little bit of pace. We have to work to improve on this for the weekend."

Jenson Button, Honda
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"It was a tough weekend at the Nurburgring so I'm looking ahead and focusing on Spain now. It's a circuit where you need to be strong aerodynamically and I think our car is good in that respect. It's quite a demanding track for the drivers and the fast corners put a lot of strain on the neck. However we do get a lot of practice at Barcelona as we test there so often, so we know the track inside out. The weather is likely to be nice and hot which always suits us better and if we can resolve the engine problem from last weekend, I think we should be able to get a good result. I'm looking forward to the weekend."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 17th, 2005 Race - 10th

"Every driver is very familiar with the circuit at Barcelona because so much testing takes place there. That's mainly because the Circuit de Catalunya is a very challenging track in terms of aerodynamics. That more or less sums up the circuit: it is fast, and in its great high-speed corners you have to make sure your aerodynamics do the job. In the meantime, the race has also taken on a special status from a spectator point of view - due to Fernando Alonso's success, of course. During the last test session I noticed they've even built new stands and heard that it's a sell-out event. It looks like the Spanish GP is going to be a very good race."

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

"The Circuit de Catalunya is a good circuit and one where I've been pretty successful, having won three GPs there. And of course we all know the track like the back of our hands because we do a lot of testing there. It has a couple of exciting high-speed corners, but not too many overtaking opportunities. There's quite a lot of understeer to contend with. But the race track apart, Barcelona's a great city! It's a happening place where people like to go out and the atmosphere is great. I love the lifestyle of the city. It's sometimes a bit difficult to understand Catalan, but with a smattering of Spanish you can get by."

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

"This grand prix is a special one because of all the testing that takes place here. For me, it's interesting to compare my personal performance on familiar circuits and those that are new to me. I like the circuit in Barcelona with its long, fast corners. In my opinion it's one of the best Formula One tracks - it's challenging and great fun driving an F1 car there. I'm really looking forward to the weekend. Unfortunately I've never raced in Barcelona. My first experience there was my debut Formula One test last December. But since then I've had eight or nine days of testing on the circuit."

Tiago Monteiro, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 14th, 2005 Race - 12th

"We had a good weekend in terms of pace at the Nurburgring and I would love it if we could be same or better in Barcelona, but I think it will be tricky. All the teams do a lot of testing there and are very familiar with the track and the set-ups it requires. You won't see too many of the top teams' cars going out for Friday practice, as they already have an extensive amount of data. But we will have to make the most of every opportunity we get, so expect to see us out there quite a bit. It's a good, challenging track - fun to drive, really - and it will be more physical than ever, with the higher G forces the cars are now capable of pulling. I'm looking forward to this weekend, and bringing home another good result."

Christijan Albers, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 15th, 2005 Race - DNF

"I'm looking forward to Barcelona, because it's a track I know quite well and we had a good series of tests there over the winter. Granted, it's going to be bit different under race conditions and the warmer temperatures will affect tyre choice, but I don't see that as being a disadvantage for us. The team is coming off a strong weekend at the Nurburgring and I'm hoping we can match the pace we had there in practice and qualifying. I had a bit of bad luck in that race, in that I got held up by slower traffic at various points, but overall, I still think it was a step forward for us. If we can continue to make progress the way we have been lately, we should be in good shape to reach our goals before the end of the season."

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

"Now that I have had two Fridays to become more confident with the team and the car, I am really looking forward to this weekend, knowing that the car is constantly improving. The team is putting a great effort into raising the level of the M16's performance and that has inspired me to make a similar commitment. I have been training hard over the past few weeks in order to be able to get the most out of the car. I will be driving at the next three Friday practices in a row, as well as one full day of testing in England, so I need to be in top physical and mental condition. It's always exciting to be heading into a race weekend, particularly when the people surrounding you are as motivated and hungry for success as MF1 is. Barcelona is a beautiful track, but frankly speaking, when you're behind the wheel of a Formula One car, all the tracks are beautiful!"

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

“Barcelona is a very high-downforce circuit featuring challenging high-speed corners that are a lot of fun to drive. On a lap of the track you need to keep a good rhythm through the first few turns then on up the hill to the unique, long corners. You need good car balance on braking and turning into turn four, then it is down and up to a fast blind apex followed immediately by the straight to the hairpin. The final two turns make up the famous high-speed last corner which is physically demanding on both the driver and the car. The Spanish Grand Prix will be another tough race for us, but the latest aero update has improved the balance of the car, so hopefully we will be able to find a good car set-up for this weekend.”

Franck Montagny, Super Aguri
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“I am happy to be going to Barcelona, it is a great circuit. I believe that it will be a very different experience to last weekend as the track is much harder than the Nurburgring. It is good to be back with the Super Aguri F1 Team as the first time you are with a team you try to do well and get to know everyone, but the second time, for sure, it is a bit easier to do something good. I am impatient to go there and to do well, so I am looking forward to this weekend.”