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Selected driver preview quotes - Malaysia 04 Apr 2007

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 16 March 2007 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren signs autographs for the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 17 March 2007 Jenson Button (GBR) Honda Racing F1 Team on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2007 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 16 March 2007

Who's expecting what in Kuala Lumpur this weekend

Despite the intense heat, Malaysia’s Sepang circuit has always been a firm favourite with the drivers. Here, they explain why…

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2006 Qualifying - 1st, 2006 Race - 1st

“Without a doubt, this is the toughest race of the season - not just physically, but mentally too. The high temperatures and humidity make things very tough for the drivers and the cars too. For me personally, though, there are very good memories from my win last year, and I am prepared for the race this time round. I trained hard over the winter, I am in peak condition - and ready to go.”

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

“I worked hard with the team during testing in Sepang to get comfortable with the car, and I have learned the circuit: it seems very challenging, and fun to drive. I am determined to put Melbourne behind me, and drive a good race in Malaysia. We found a good basic set-up with the car, in conditions similar to those we will have during the race weekend. On a personal level, I have learned the circuit, the lines and the braking points, so that gives me a solid starting point for the race weekend.

“I think it will be a tough race, probably the most difficult of the season because of the conditions. The air is very hot, even on the straights, so you hardly get any cooling at all - and that makes it very intense physically. It will be tough, but I have trained for this race - and I am ready.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 22nd, 2006 Race - 8th

“Compared to Melbourne, the conditions in Malaysia are completely different. The heat and humidity we experience there is a real challenge for everyone in the team, not just the drivers. I have trained for the heat and I have been able to adjust to the climate with the testing at Sepang so I am in good shape for the race weekend, there are no worries about that. I like the circuit, there are some opportunities for overtaking there and it is a new track so the facilities are really great. Also, I have had some good races there and I am hoping for another this year. We made a reasonable start to the season with my point in Australia but we want to be more competitive and hopefully the work we did at our test last week will move us closer to the front. I am optimistic we can be fighting for more points this weekend.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 9th, 2006 Race - 9th

“Sepang is one of the modern kinds of circuit on the Formula One calendar and the facilities we have there are very good. As a track it is an interesting technical challenge and the heat and humidty make it one of the hardest races of the season. We have been testing already at Sepang last week which will help us with set-up information and hopefully we will have more performance from the car as well. I have very good memories of Malaysia because I achieved Toyota’s first Formula One podium there in 2005 and that is probably the best race of my time with the team so far. It would be great if we could repeat that kind of result but we know we still have some work to do to catch up with the top teams because in Australia we were still a bit away. However, after a difficult winter of testing it was good to start the season with a competitive performance in Australia and I hope we can have a strong result in Malaysia.”

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
2006 Qualifying - 7th, 2006 Race - 2nd

"It was a solid start to the season in Australia. We knew we were not as quick as the Ferraris so we had a good result in light of this. In the early part of the season it is important to keep scoring points and finishing on the podium as we push forward with our development programme. The nature of Sepang is quite technical, and the car needs to be really strong in every area. All the important corners tend to be high-speed, so you need a perfect car balance and good aerodynamics.

“Everyone within Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has been pushing really hard since the Australian Grand Prix to try to close the gap. I have always gone well at Sepang, winning there in 2005 and finishing second there last year. So, my memories from the track are great, we will try hard to add to these this year! It is always a tough race physically, on the team as a whole and the cars, but we are prepared for that and after what has seemed to be a long gap after Melbourne, we all really want to get back to racing."

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

"From what I had seen of the track before arriving for the test this week, I thought it looked like a great circuit and I was not disappointed. Its layout means you can build up a great rhythm, with all the corners running into each other. It is also really wide, which I imagine will lead to exciting racing. The four days of testing this week were really useful on two counts. We had a number of developments to the car that we ran and will now bring to the race, and I was able to learn the track prior to the event. I am now looking forward to competitive action here. As I said at the time, it was a dream start for me in Australia, but I am realistic that motorsport is unpredictable and things don’t always go so well. We have all been working to reduce the gap to Ferrari and I will do my best with Fernando (Alonso) and the team towards this in Malaysia."

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2006 Qualifying - 6th, 2006 Race - DNF

“A couple of years ago I had my first victory in Formula One in Malaysia. Later on I won more races, but you never forget the first victory; that's for sure. I hope that the next weekend will be a positive one for us, just like the one in Melbourne. The Sepang race track is very difficult and demanding: if not all the components of the package are working perfectly, one cannot be competitive. As I said before, the car is running very well, but as long as we are not on the race track, everybody under the same conditions, you can't tell. As I always say: lets' wait and see how it will work out this time."

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2006 Qualifying - 21st, 2006 Race - 5th

"The Malaysian Grand Prix is definitely the most difficult race on the calendar from the physical point of view. I feel in very good shape for the race. This time I don't have my personal trainer with me, although I usually do, but I know what I have to do to get the work done. When it comes to Malaysia, actually there are times when it feels like driving the race car - not just sitting in it in the garage - is the coolest thing you can do!

"In the first race we managed to win but we had a reliability problem with the other car, so the obvious next step is to be in a position to have both cars at the front. And that's not easy, but we have a good team and a good package and everyone is working very hard. I am confident we will be very strong again this weekend."

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2006 Qualifying - 3rd, 2006 Race - DNF

“I have good memories of Malaysia from last year when I made my debut on the Sepang track. It is a good circuit from a driver’s perspective; the layout has a bit of everything, with plenty of fast and slow corners. The surface is quite bumpy which also gives it an extra dimension. The most challenging aspect of the Malaysian Grand Prix is obviously the heat and humidity. I'm well prepared though, as is the team, and we’re looking forward to having a good race this weekend.”

Alexander Wurz, Williams
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

"Malaysia is a very cool race track. It has quite a difficult corner section, which I’ve always enjoyed ever since I first drove on this track. It is very challenging to get the set-up right for it though, but the toughest part of the race will be the heat for the majority of the drivers. This is the race where a disciplined training programme really pays off. In last week’s test, I covered over 200 laps in two days, which was a good test for me and for the reliability of the car in such extreme conditions. The race simulation we did also went very well. We won’t see the true performance of the teams until the race weekend, but I’m sure it’s going to be another super close Grand Prix."

Jenson Button, Honda
2006 Qualifying - 2nd, 2006 Race - 3rd

"The Malaysian Grand Prix is a race which has great significance and memories for me as I scored my first F1 podium here back in 2004. The Sepang circuit is a very tough track and the race weekend is hard work for everyone, not just the drivers behind the wheel, but for the team and the car as well. The intense heat inevitably focuses our technical concerns on cooling, particularly as we run for almost seventy per cent of the lap at full throttle. The humidity is physically very wearing and you have to spend your time balancing the need to keep cool with the need to be physically prepared to deal with the heat during the race. In the build-up to the weekend, I'll be training outside as much as possible to acclimatise and spending last week here for the test has also helped with that process.

“Sepang has some great opportunities for overtaking. Turn one is a good chance, along with the right hander at Langkawi and the left hander at Berjaya Tioman. For a really quick lap, you need a car which is aerodynamically sound but with the least drag possible. Too much front-end grip will lose you a lot of time in turns five and six."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - 11th, 2006 Race - DNF

"So far I've never really had a problem with racing in the heat. But it is good to take some time to acclimatise to the conditions, especially as the high humidity takes a bit of getting used to for us central Europeans. I arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, and our test was very helpful. I think we're in pretty good shape for the race and hope that we can get both cars to the finish this time. I've experienced some incredible downpours before in Sepang. Driving in the rain always holds an element of risk due to the lack of visibility - even more so here, where the rain is far from normal. When the heavens open, everything disappears under water in no time. But I'm still a fan of wet weather. It's a lot of fun hanging on to 700 horsepower in these conditions. Either way, I've always got on quite well in Malaysia. And that includes 2006, even though a problem with the car cost me fifth place shortly before the finish.

"For me, one of the nice things about my job is the travel, and I've got to see quite a lot of Malaysia. Petronas was a Sauber partner in my earlier spell with the team as well, and came up with new ideas each year. For the Malaysian people, the state-owned company is like an icon. They greet us with such pride, because we are taking the company name around the world. It's really impressive."

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

"This will be my second visit to the Malaysian Grand Prix, but the first time I will be lining up for the race. I'm really looking forward to it. The circuit is very interesting, but has a very different character to Melbourne. It was good to have the chance to test in Sepang, so we could find out how the car behaved in the heat, how the temperatures affected the tyres, and so on. And the test was also very useful for me personally to acclimatise to the conditions.

"I hope that we will be as strong in Malaysia as we were in Australia. After retiring from the race in Melbourne, the most important thing for me is to finish this time around and to collect some points."

Sebastian Vettel, third driver, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

"I have never been to Malaysia and am looking forward to getting to know another new track. I've heard a lot of good things about the circuit. It has some fast corners and the high temperatures also make driving here very physically demanding. But I'll be arriving a week beforehand and have enough time to get used to the climate. For the team, I hope that we are also strong in Malaysia after our good start to the season in Australia."

Adrian Sutil, Spyker
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

“I've never raced at Sepang before, but I am familiar with the layout and am looking forward to getting back in the car. I learnt a lot in Australia and now I want to put that into practice in Malaysia. The aim is to be fast, not to pick up any penalties - which I know won't happen again - and do a good race.”

Christijan Albers, Spyker
2006 Qualifying - 15th, 2006 Race - 12th

“I'm looking forward to the second race now as we all know the first did not go so well! I really want to get a good result, especially with the team working so hard to push the update through. Sepang is a very interesting track and I'm looking forward to getting there and getting back on track.”

More to follow.