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Monaco Grand Prix - driver preview quotes 24 May 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.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, 14 May 2006 Christijan Albers (NDL) MF1 Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 2 April 2006 Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, 13 May 2006

The Monte Carlo streets present a challenge like no other in Formula One racing. It may be the slowest event on the calendar, but the tiniest of mistakes can have huge consequences, hence its reputation for separating the boys from the men - no wonder the drivers love it…

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 10th, 2005 Race - 8th

"Like most drivers, Monaco is one of my favourite races and it's always a bonus to be based at home. I particularly enjoy qualifying at Monaco, it's one of the biggest challenges of the year and so important to get right. Overtaking is very difficult around the street circuit so you have to qualify well and get a good grid position. We had a positive test at Vallelunga working on chassis set-up and tyres specifically for this race. We know that the potential is there for the car to qualify well so I'm looking forward to a good weekend."

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

"I'm really looking forward to this year's Monaco Grand Prix. I had a good race there in 2004, finishing second after a really exciting battle. It's a crazy place to be racing, the circuit is very tight and twisty and you can really feel the speed of the car when the barriers are so close to you. It's a different race than any other on the calendar, with so much history, and it means even more to me as I live in Monaco so it's one of my home races. You need good mechanical grip from the car and this is also a circuit where the driver can make even more of a difference to the race outcome. We've been really strong in qualifying all this year and that will be very important for the race as it's almost impossible to overtake except in the pit stops. It's also a fantastic race for the fans who can get so close to the action."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 6th, 2005 Race - 7th

"The race in Monaco is without doubt one of the highlights of the season. Driving through the streets with the apartment blocks and buildings on either side is an extraordinary feeling. I finished second last year, but even if I hadn't got such a great result the race would still have been a lot of fun. Qualifying will be much trickier than in recent years, with a lot more cars out on the track at the same time.

“I have a strong connection with the principality, having lived there for several years before moving to Switzerland. When Formula One comes to Monte Carlo the whole place goes crazy. The bay is full of yachts and the streets are buzzing. I would recommend anybody to experience the Monaco Grand Prix weekend at least once. The atmosphere is totally unique. As a fan, you can get closer to the cars than at any other race - normally you're sitting hundreds of metres away. In Monaco you have a real sense of the speed and sound of the F1 cars. Away from Formula One, on the other hand, I prefer life to be rather quieter and feel very much at home in Switzerland."

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 9th, 2005 Race - 11th

"Monaco is a very exciting track to drive on and that is probably the track where we were the most competitive last year with Sauber. It is hard on the tyres because we go with very soft compounds. However, the car is normally quite easy on tyres. This GP is a race where anything can happen; you can start last and still get on the podium. There was a year when only four cars finished. There's always a lot of excitement around Monaco and I think we can probably do quite well there."

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

"Monaco will be something special for me because this is my first time on a street circuit with a Formula One car. I like street circuits, though, and in the past I have performed really well in places like Monaco and Macau. I think I've raced on six or seven street tracks. But my race performance isn't an issue this year: I just need to do a proper job on Thursday. This will not be easy as the track will have very little grip, but I hope I'll be able to help my two team-mates a bit.

“I raced at Monaco in the World Series last year, but unfortunately only finished fifth. It is a really difficult track and there is no space for any mistakes. But it is the same for everybody."

Tiago Monteiro, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 15th, 2005 Race - 13th

"Monaco is very different from any other circuit we race on all year: different track, different strategies, different atmosphere. It's a race unto itself, really, where anything can happen, so I'm curious to see what will happen there this year - especially during qualifying. I had a good race in Monaco last year, and I'm looking forward to another one. I tend to prefer street circuits, actually, because it's a very different feeling for the driver, with so much more adrenaline! We raced on a lot of street circuits when I competed in Champ Car in 2003 - maybe six or seven of them - so I'm quite accustomed to this type of track."

Christijan Albers, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 14th, 2005 Race - 14th

"The Monaco Grand Prix is always something special. The glitter and glamour, the street course, the big boats, it's what Monaco is all about. The track is very exciting for a driver, as there is no room for errors. The underdog stands a bigger chance here because top speed isn't such a factor. It's the type of track where a good driver can make a difference by taking risks, so I'm really going to go for it. With all the updates to the car - the new chassis, suspension set ups and new engines - we hope to put on a great performance this weekend."

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

"Monte Carlo is the only completely urban street circuit of the year, so in that regard, it's very special. (Montreal and Melbourne are only partial street circuits). I've raced there three times previously, in cars that lapped around six seconds slower than F1 cars, so it won't be too much of a difference. It was good training, actually. It's important to be familiar with every inch of this circuit, because there is no room to make mistakes here - one wrong move and you're into the barriers. Monaco is a very vibrant city and the surroundings are beautiful - the swimming pool corner, for instance, is gorgeous - but once you're in the car, you have to block out all that scenery. This track demands your total concentration. It might not be particularly fast, but it's one of the most challenging."

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

“This is a very special and unique race as it is driven on the streets of Monaco. The cars require high mechanical grip as the average speed around the circuit is very low and the road surface is undulating. The whole circuit itself features a lot of elevations which can be seen clearly when you watch the race on television. After turn one you climb up the very steep, blind hill and onto the challenging Casino Corner. A steep drive down to Mirabeau then leads to the Loews Hairpin, which is probably the tightest turn in F1. You exit the tunnel at 285 km/h, which is an amazing speed considering I normally drive through there at 50 km/h in my road car! The rest of the circuit is flat but still with the high speed corners of Tabac and the Swimming Pool complex. As I missed the race last year, I am very excited and looking forward to returning to the Grand Prix in an F1 car.”

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

“It has been good to have a ten-day break after the Spanish Grand Prix. I have been able to relax, visit the factory to see the guys and prepare for the race next week. I am very pleased to be going to my first Monaco Grand Prix with the Super Aguri F1 team and I would like to thank Aguri for having the confidence in me to do it. It will be a hard race for sure, but I am very much looking forward to the most famous race of the season and I am very glad to be taking part.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 2nd, 2005 Race - 4th

“Monaco is different to anywhere else, completely different. First of all, we run a special set-up to cope with the bumps and tight corners, so the car feels very different and is quite hard to drive. The circuit is so tight, that it is hard to get the car and tyres to the maximum, or to use maximum power on this track. At the end of the day, from the point of view of getting maximum performance from a Formula 1 car, this is not my favourite circuit. For me, Monaco is a show for the people. As drivers, I think we have to help make that show we provide, enjoy it and try to be as spectacular as possible for the fans.

“Sometimes you have to guess a little bit with set-up, and make changes thinking about qualifying and the race, not the immediate moment. The circuit starts the weekend very dirty and cleans up with every lap, getting better and better all the time. So you have to have some guesses, and put a set-up on the car, then work from there.

“I think the car will be quick there. You need good traction at this circuit, and that has been a strong point for the R26 all the way through the season so far. Michelin did a fantastic job in Spain, and they have always been very strong in Monaco, so they should be there as well. This has been a good Renault track in the past but more than ever, we will need a perfect, mistake-free weekend to fight for the win. That will be what we are focusing on.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 4th, 2005 Race - 12th

“Monaco has always been a great circuit for me, and I have always been quick there. It is a very difficult circuit, but I have always enjoyed it and, more importantly, felt very comfortable driving there. I think that the race is going to be very tough physically and mentally, but I am really looking forward to it.

“You know, you go round the first few times and you're telling yourself that it's impossible to drive on the limit at this track. Then, after ten or fifteen laps, you get more confidence, you feel more comfortable, you start braking later, and you find the limit.

“You have to feel comfortable with everything. The R26 is a really easy car to drive - you can trust it when you are on the limit. As we build up the speed during the weekend, we will be getting closer and closer to the kerbs and the barriers, as we push to go flat out for qualifying. You need a car that is going to react how you want, and I think the Renault will do that.”

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

"Monte Carlo is a completely different challenge to the Barcelona track we will be pushing hard for victory. To lay the foundation for a good result you have to perform well in qualifying. In Monaco overtaking is almost impossible as the track is so twisty and narrow. Because of this, I am sure we will see some interesting strategies from all the teams. Also Monaco is all about the car being responsive, particularly the front end. You are less aggressive under braking here into the corners because the barriers are so close and you need to be precise, and a responsive front end means the car is better in the mid corner and exit performance, allowing you to get on the throttle without having to wait for the car to turn the corner. At Monaco this is where you can find time, so the handling of the car and the mechanical grip are more important than other areas, such as aero efficiency."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - 18th, 2005 Race - 5th

"Everything about the Monaco Grand Prix is great, it is such an historic track and this creates a fantastic atmosphere. It is a unique challenge to race at because of its short, tight layout and other factors such as the gutters and manhole covers, the camber as the road crowns and all the white lines. Despite all this, the ride height isn't massively high, instead we run with suspension that has more compliance than normal. It isn't very comfy for the drivers, as you really feel all the bumps, but you don't notice it because you are there to race. Also the corner loadings and pressures on straights are much less so it is not too tough physically. Cooling is another issue at Monaco, because there are no real straights. As a result we run with the maximum cooling package of the season and we spent time at Paul Ricard last week focusing on the Monaco spec for cooling. We covered over 3,000km in total at the test and in addition to work for Monaco, we also looked at specific components and set-ups for the much faster Canadian Grand Prix."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2005 Qualifying - 8th, 2005 Race - 7th

"I think that we can be optimistic about the race. I believe that we can do well. However, as I have said previously, I don't intend making predictions owing to the characteristics of the circuit. Monte Carlo is unique from this point of view. We have not yet tested out current car on a circuit similar to this one and so what we hope is to do our best. At Monaco things can change in an instant, above all in extreme conditions. This makes the races very exciting."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 17th, 2005 Race - 6th

"From a driving point of view it's great to drive at Monaco and a challenge to be quicker than everyone else round the narrow streets. The barriers are closer than anywhere so you need to adapt your approach slightly. But that is something we have all got used to down the years. The first challenge is to secure a good place on the grid and then to try and finish the race without mishap. Still, I have always been quick there and I've taken pole position and a podium in the past. Last year I made the points and we will hope for more this weekend. Tyre choice is always tricky because the track changes so much during the weekend. But if you have a driveable car here it's fun so I'll be looking forward to trying out our new TF106B."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 5th, 2005 Race - 10th

"Monaco is one of my favourite tracks and it's a great event with a fantastic atmosphere. It's also a circuit where things have always gone well for me, above all when I won the race from pole position in 2004. Qualifying is critical for the race because of the notorious difficulty in overtaking and Saturday should be extremely eventful. This year's qualifying rules mean that we can expect a lot of traffic during the sessions. They are likely to be chaotic, with cars getting in each other's way and the fight for grid positions could turn into something of a lottery. It's hard enough putting a lap together around the streets when they are clear, but it is all but impossible to pass even a much slower car. Nonetheless I am looking forward to returning to action on this classic circuit and hoping for a good result."

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

“Monaco is certainly a very special race on the calendar for everyone involved in Formula One. It’s an historic event and one we all want to do well at. We had a good result there last year and I hope we can improve on the previous race in Barcelona by quite some margin and get some solid points for the team. I love the challenge of Monte Carlo and, as a sporting event, the atmosphere is absolutely amazing. I really hope it will prove to be a turn in fortunes, and form, for the team. It can’t come soon enough after the last race and I’m just looking forward to getting there.”

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

“Monaco will be a special weekend for me. Racing in the town where I have lived all my life, and with all my friends supporting me on such a fascinating circuit, will be great. I had a great race here in GP2 when I finished third and, although the track will be quite different in a Formula One car, I'm going into the weekend with a strong belief that we can do well.”