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German Grand Prix - driver preview quotes 26 Jul 2006

Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, French Grand Prix, Preparations, Magny-Cours, France, 13 July 2006 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota (Right).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, French Grand Prix, Practice Day, Magny-Cours, France, 14 July 2006 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren Mercedes MP4/21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, French Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Magny-Cours, France, 15 July 2006 Sakon Yamamoto (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Team Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, French Grand Prix, Practice Day, Magny-Cours, France, 14 July 2006

Hockenheim is the venue for the German Grand Prix, round 12 of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship. Here, the drivers discuss their prospects for the weekend ahead...

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 12th, 2005 Race - 6th

"It's always nice to come back to Hockenheim and I really enjoy the atmosphere, particularly because it is my home race. The fans are especially vocal in the stadium section, where the grandstands mean that there are people on all sides. On the old circuit through the forests the stadium used to be the main place to watch but now the whole track can be seen by the spectators. I like the revised track layout and the wide corners are good for driving fluently and maintaining a good rhythm. We normally expect hot weather for the race so tyre choice is important but our Bridgestone tyres have been excellent in recent races so I hope we can keep up our improved form. I had a good race at the circuit last year and worked my way up from 12th on the grid to 6th place thanks to good strategy work from the team. We did well in France and we should hope for another strong result on Sunday."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 9th, 2005 Race - 14th

"Ever since I first competed in German Formula 3 I have enjoyed racing at Hockenheim. Of course it used to be all about low downforce and high speed but the circuit changed completely when they changed the layout in 2002. Now it is a technical track where setting up your car is very important. You need to have pace through the quicker sections but you must also get the most out of the many slower corners. The only passing opportunity comes into the hairpin at the end of the long straight so you need to have good straightline speed in the race to make sure you don't lose out. Last year I had one of those incident-filled races where everything happened, starting with a puncture at the first corner, so this year we will look to make up for that. Our form has been greatly improved recently due to very good work from the team both at the race tracks and at the factory.”

Mark Webber, Williams
2005 Qualifying - 6th, 2005 Race - DNF

“I expect we’ll experience similar temperatures in Germany to those we had in Magny-Cours. The track itself is pretty featureless and is not one of the most exciting places we visit. However, it has provided some interesting races in recent years thanks to the long back straight which flows into the hairpin and which provides good overtaking opportunities. The stadium section is obviously a famous feature of the Hockenheim circuit and, because it’s the only part of the track which hasn’t changed in the last few years, it proves a popular spot for the spectators. Given Michael Schumacher and Ferrari’s recent form, I don’t think there’ll be any shortage of German fans there to cheer them on.

“Although our results didn’t reflect it at Magny-Cours because I wasn’t able to complete the Grand Prix due to a tyre issue and Nico started the race with a 10-place grid penalty, it was clear that we were just on the fringe of the points and improving our performance. Of course it is frustrating, it would be good to be running a bit closer to the front, so that is exactly what I’ll be trying my hardest to do at Hockenheim.”

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

“It will be great to race in Germany in front of people that I know and people that speak my language. I really enjoy the track and have great memories of it having won many races there over the years. After a promising test in Jerez last week, I'm confident that we can achieve a good result in another of my home races.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 3rd, 2005 Race - 1st

“Hockenheim is a very physical track. The temperatures are always extremely hot, which makes it very demanding for the drivers. In terms of the car, straightline speed is still something you need in Hockenheim - not like in the old days, but the circuit has long straights even now.

“We know that at this stage of the season, we have to be finishing in front of the Ferraris. But I think that a win in Germany could be worth more than ten points because of the psychological aspect. I try to win all the races - but it would mean a lot to take the victory here.”

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

“Hockenheim is a difficult circuit when it comes to getting the right set-up for the race. There is a very long back straight where you need good power and speed, then lots of slow corners which need good traction. The temperatures are always very high in the race, which makes life hard for the tyres, especially the rears. You need to find a good set-up so that the tyre performance doesn't drop off too quickly on the long runs.

“We know that the Renault package is a very strong one, good enough to win races. At the moment, though, the tyre factor is playing a big role, so it is hard to make too many predictions about performance between the teams before we start running.”

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

"It has finally come around. For every German driver, the home race provides extra motivation. The psychological effect of driving here is huge. I always receive great support from our fans at Hockenheim and this lasts for the entire weekend.

"We go into Hockenheim on the back of two straight wins and it is no secret that we want another. We want to turn the championship red and Hockenheim ought to be the next step. Naturally, we also need the supporters on our side as they are very important.

"I don't think that I have to state how charged up we are. I believe that it is clear for all to see. I can sense the same thing from the team. Our competitive spirit has been reawakened and we want the title."

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

"Our car has definitely been improving over the last few races, and we had another productive test in Jerez last week as the development process on the MP4-21 continues. Hopefully when we get to Germany we will be able to make the most of this on track. Since the changes were made to the Hockenheimring, it is now more about slow and medium speed corners than all out speed. As a result, it is really important to have good traction on the exits of corners to make sure you find the speed you need on the short straights in between. Also, this cornering means the brakes are put under quite a bit of pressure so we will run with bigger brake ducts than normal and for sure braking stability is key. I hope that following a result that was not what we were looking for in France, we are able to go to Germany and put on a great race for all the Mercedes-Benz employees and fans that will be at the track for the weekend, they are always very supportive so I hope they will get to see a good result for the team."

Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"It was great to be back racing in France, and I am really looking forward to getting back out there again in Germany this weekend. The car felt quick, and hopefully we will demonstrate that a bit better at Mercedes-Benz's home race. I last drove at Hockenheim in 2002, so I have been on the revised layout. It is now more of a high downforce track, but you do need a compromise on the setup to ensure you can challenge for position on the track by being quick on the straights. For overtaking, one of the best places would be between corners two and three, so the exit speed of turn two is very important. There always seem to be exciting races here in Germany, and I am really looking forward to racing for the first time in front of the home crowd for Mercedes-Benz as a McLaren driver. The noise that comes from the Mercedes-Benz Grandstand is fantastic and I hope we can give them something to cheer about this weekend! We had a productive test last week at Jerez, with the test break we did a lot of work on tyres for the next three races with Michelin and also continued the development programme of the MP4-21, and I am interested to see how the car will now perform at Hockenheim."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 15th, 2005 Race - 10th

"My first victory in Formula One came at the Hockenheimring back in 2000 so this circuit is very special for me, even though the layout changes mean that it is a different venue now from the track that I used to enjoy so much. It's still a good circuit for the drivers and the fans however, because overtaking is possible, particularly on the long straight with late braking, which can make the racing more exciting. Your car needs to work well at Hockenheim, and with the hot and humid weather that we usually get, it can be a particularly challenging race for the car and the driver."

Jenson Button, Honda
2005 Qualifying -2nd, 2005 Race - 3rd

"Hockenheim is a circuit that I always enjoy and I have some great memories from previous races here after finishing on the podium in 2004 and 2005. There are some decent overtaking opportunities around the circuit and I enjoyed a good battle with Michael Schumacher for third place last year. It will be very difficult to achieve a similar result this time but testing went well in Jerez last week and we hope to see an improvement in our performance in the next few races."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri
2005 Qualifying - 8th, 2005 Race - 12th

"It was very exciting for me and the team to shakedown the SA06 for the first time last Wednesday. It is good to have this kind of shakedown as we are able to see if there are any initial installation problems. We were able to solve our minor issues quickly and we completed our planned programme for the day, so it was a very good day for the team. The car felt good, although it is difficult to say how good as (Silverstone's) Stowe circuit is very short compared to a normal race track. I am excited to be going to the German Grand Prix with a car that we know will be competitive, so I am very much looking forward to arriving in Hockenheim.”

Sakon Yamamoto, Super Aguri
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"Our second shakedown on Thursday was another very good day for the team because we did not encounter any major problems and completed our testing schedule. I felt that the car was improving constantly throughout the day so I am really looking forward to going to Germany next week. Hockenheim will be my first race with the SAF1 Team and I am, of course, very excited and appreciate everyone's hard work. I am very proud to be racing with the team and will try my best to improve, step-by-step, for everyone."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 7th, 2005 Race - 11th

“As the home Grand Prix, the German GP is naturally something special for me. A lot of fans are sure to come over from Switzerland too, as has always been the case. So I’m really looking forward to the crowds in Hockenheim. The unique stadium atmosphere in the Motodrom will also add to the mood.

“Basically I preferred the old Hockenheimring. The long forest straights meant that you drove with limited downforce, a set-up that made the later, twisty part of the track very difficult. I enjoyed that challenge. But of course there’s a lot to be said for the new lay out. The fans can see more, the track is safer, and there’s a good overtaking opportunity on the Parabolika. In terms of its characteristics, Hockenheim is not a very physical circuit. But that could change if it turns out to be as hot as it has been on a couple of occasions.”

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - 14th, 2005 Race - 15th

“I have fond memories mainly of the old track. The current lay out is no longer a low downforce circuit and is similar to some of the other modern race tracks we drive on. There are a few good braking zones as well as passing opportunities, which make the races interesting. It is likely to be very hot in Hockenheim. Recently, our strength has not been in hot races or tracks requiring a lot of downforce. We will be doing our level best.”

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

“I know this track fairly well because I often drove there in my Formula 3 years. So for me it isn’t a case of getting to know the circuit first. I’m hoping we’ll have some productive practice sessions on Friday. It would also be nice if it was a bit cooler. That seems to make things easier.”

Tiago Monteiro, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 18th, 2005 Race - 17th

"I’m looking forward to Hockenheim, as I like the atmosphere at the circuit. It’s probably the best in the world, especially for the spectators in the stadium section. Even as a driver, you can’t escape the enthusiasm and I’m hoping there will be plenty of fans there, even if most of them will be cheering for a certain German driver! It’s likely to be a very hot race that will be tough on tyres and drivers, especially if we reach the temperatures we had in Magny-Cours again. We’ve been working hard with Bridgestone and I’m feeling confident about our tyres for this weekend. We had a positive test at Jerez last week and worked on a number of updates, especially with the suspension. We also ran a major tyre programme in preparation for the next three races and found some good aero improvements, which will hopefully help us continue closing the gap to the cars ahead."

Christijan Albers, Midland
2005 Qualifying - 16th, 2005 Race - 13th

"I really enjoy the two German races, perhaps because they are the closest grand prix events to Holland, so we always get a good turnout of Dutch supporters. The atmosphere in Hockenheim is always lively; the fans are really into it and the noise from the grandstand stadium section is just incredible. The circuit itself is also one of my favourites - I've raced on it many times during my DTM, F3000 and F3 days, so I know the track quite well. We had a good test last week in Jerez that provided us with lots of useful data on our recent upgrades and tyres, so I'm expecting us to be more competitive than usual. If we can find the right set-up early on Friday, we should have a reasonable shot at a strong race."

Markus Winkelhock, third driver, Midland
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

"For me, it will be a very exciting weekend because I live only one hour away from Hockenheim, so I guess you could say it’s my home race! I'm really looking forward to driving the M16 again on Friday; it's been a while since I last had the opportunity. You can be sure I will try to do a good job and support the team as much as I can. I’m in good shape, having done a lot of fitness training recently, so I think that will benefit my performance significantly. I also think it will be a bit easier for me to post better times in Hockenheim than it was in Bahrain and Australia, because at least here I know the track, which is helpful considering how little time we have to test all the tyres and find a good set-up."