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United States Grand Prix - driver preview quotes 14 Jun 2007

Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2007 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari with Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2007 Scott Speed (USA) Scuderia Toro Rosso during the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2007 Alex Wurz (AUT) Williams and Jenson Button (GBR) Honda Racing F1 Team during the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 10 June 2007

Aside from being one of the calendar’s most historic circuits, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway boasts some unique characteristics, in particular its legendary banking. Here the men behind the wheel discuss their prospects for the United States Grand Prix…

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2006 Qualifying - 3rd, 2006 Race - 3rd

“There are lots of real racing fans, it is a legendary circuit, and that makes it very special to be competing in a Grand Prix here. And it is all the more special because I managed to finish on the podium here last year. Contrary to what you might think, it's not an easy circuit, and it's very difficult to find the good set-up. You have to find a good compromise between having enough grip through the infield, and being fast down the straight. You need a stable car with a good change of direction for the twisty section, but good top speed to be able to overtake or defend your position on the straight. It's not an easy balance to find.”

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

“It's a mythical circuit, that everybody in motor racing has heard of. It's a spectacular sight when you go through the tunnel for the first time, and find yourself in the infield. The oval is huge, and makes the F1 circuit look very small alongside! I think it is an interesting circuit for us to race on though. The section on the oval is very high speed, while the infield offers some interesting combinations of corners. I am looking forward to discovering what it feels like from the cockpit.

“I think I have some good momentum from the race in Canada, and my target will be to build on that this weekend. I believe we have a top ten car now, so I need to make sure I get the most out of it in qualifying. Once you make it through to the third part of qualifying, then it opens up many more opportunities in terms of strategy for the race.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2006 Qualifying - 4th, 2006 Race - 6th

“The circuit at Indianapolis is quite unique and the venue usually puts on a great show over the race weekend. Although the track is not particularly challenging and actually very slow with the tight infield section, it is a lot of fun, particularly driving the first corner of the oval banking flat out.

“It's always a good race for the fans because you can overtake at Indianapolis. It's a long way from the grid down to the first corner so that is a good opportunity or at the end of the back straight.”

Jenson Button, Honda
2006 Qualifying -7th, 2006 Race - DNF

“I really enjoy racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I had never driven on a banked circuit before Formula One went to Indy so the last corner of the Formula One circuit configuration is really fun to drive. I know the banking is not much compared to the IndyCar races but it feels banked to us.

“The circuit is not such a high-speed circuit which I generally prefer, but you can get some great racing as there are some good overtaking opportunities. The key to getting a quick lap around the Speedway is achieving a package which doesn't have too much aerodynamic drag for the long straight.

“The place has a lot of history and the fans are so passionate about their racing. We always have a lot of support when Formula One goes to Indy which makes for a great atmosphere over the race weekend.”

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
2006 Qualifying - 5th, 2006 Race - 5th

“Canada was a tough and frustrating race for me, but at least I left Montreal with some points and am in a strong second position in the Championship, which is not won or lost in one race. I am in a good situation in the table, the car is great, it is definitely capable of winning races and I am looking forward to getting back out on track in America and hopefully having no safety cars.

“I have not had very good results in this race in the previous years, it was better last year than in 2005, so I am hoping it will improve again this year! It is always great to go racing at Indy, fans at Indy are fantastic, they are pretty serious about their motor racing and their passion means there is a great atmosphere. I hope we are able to go out there and put on a good race for them. Indy is another of the tracks that I want to win at, it is so historic and is a very important circuit in this sport, to have a trophy from there in my collection would be fantastic.

“There are opportunities to overtake at the Motor Speedway, the main one is probably if you slipstream another car on the start-finish straight, but you need to have a very fast straight-line speed to make this work. This is why we have such a low level of downforce.”

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

“It still hasn’t really sunk in that I have won my first race, it was an amazing weekend for me and it is fantastic that we are racing again already this weekend. The Motor Speedway is another tough circuit on the cars, I hope we are as competitive, but until we get out on the circuit on Friday we can’t really predict how it is going to go. I am really excited to be racing at Indianapolis. It is such a legendary venue, you can’t escape the history here and I am looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere for the first time.

“The track has the unique characteristic of the banking, but from what I hear it doesn’t have a massive impact on the cars, but it will be pretty cool! To be going into race seven of the championship in the position I am in is amazing; however it is still early days. This will be my seventh race and I am very much still learning. There are 11 more this season including Indy and that is a long way to go with a lot of hard work ahead. I have enjoyed the season so far, but am aware racing isn’t predicable and anything could happen at the next race.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2006 Qualifying - 9th, 2006 Race - DNF

“It's difficult to say what we expect from IMS. I enjoy the circuit and it has always been a good circuit for Ferrari. There is a very long straight, where you need to have a good speed, but at the same moment the infield section is very tight and there are some corners you have to take with the smallest gears. Fortunately you are able to overtake at the end of the straight.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 8th, 2006 Race - DNF

“As the home of American motor racing, Indianapolis is a special venue and it has a special atmosphere to go with it. Unfortunately it has never been a very lucky track for me and I have had a couple of incidents that I would prefer to forget. Now I will look to put those behind me with a more positive visit to the venue. The main challenge of the Speedway’s F1 circuit is to balance the set-up of the car. We have to reach a good top speed along the banked start-finish straight into the first corner while keeping the car stable through the slow and twisty infield section. This season has been a struggle for me but I remain confident that we can turn our form around. We scored a point at Montreal and Toyota has a strong record from its races at Indianapolis so we will hope to give the team a boost with a good result on Sunday.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 20th, 2006 Race - 4th

“Since I’ve been at Toyota our car has always been competitive at Indianapolis. In 2005 I took pole position and last year I finished fourth despite starting from the pit lane. The Speedway plays host to one of the most important races in the world so it is a special place to drive. You can really see how the people are passionate about motor sport. I enjoy the atmosphere both at the circuit and in the town because everyone is so friendly. The Formula One track is not particularly technical but it is slippery and we work hard on the mechanical grip in the slow corners to allow us to take off downforce for straight-line speed. We’ve been having a difficult season in 2007 and the Canadian Grand Prix was a very hard race for me but now I’m hoping for a better weekend’s work.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2006 Qualifying - 19th, 2006 Race - 9th

“After Montreal, I am going to Chicago for a couple of days of relaxation, it sounds like an interesting place, so I am looking forward to it. Moving on to Indianapolis, I don't suppose it is my favourite track that we visit during the year, but as a driver I will put this to the back of your mind. We will run similar downforce levels to Montreal, albeit the circuit has different characteristics, but we'll still be hoping for a similar level of performance and I want to make up for the points I missed out on in Canada. In many ways, it's good to have another race so soon as it provides the possibility of making up for the problems I had in Canada.”

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

“Coming to Indy is special as it is a race track which has a significant place in motor racing history, in fact, what a name - 'Indianapolis'. I am really looking forward to the race and of course I come here feeling very positive after scoring some more points in Canada, but of course the US Grand Prix is another clean sheet and a new game. My goal is to ensure I qualify in the top ten and of course fight hard for some points in the race itself. The set-up for the race is quite similar to Canada, yet there are some subtle differences in the details, for instance the tyre compound is one step on in terms of hardness, so we will definitely have to do quite a lot of set-up work on the car to find its balance on this track.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - 10th, 2006 Race - DNF

“I like it when race tracks have a distinctive character, and that's definitely the case with Indianapolis. The Speedway is an icon of American motor racing, and the high-banked turn is something special for Formula One, although it isn't exactly challenging for the drivers to drive flat out in a straight line. It's far more difficult to get the car's set-up just right. You have to find the right compromise so as to be as fast as possible along the almost two-kilometre full-throttle stretch, yet still have enough downforce for the many corners in the twisty infield.

“My memories of Indy are very varied. In 2001 I managed a sixth-placed finish there with Sauber, although I had lost my first, second and, most crucially, seventh gear. That was one of my best races. A less pleasant memory is the accident in 2006. We had done well in qualifying, but shortly after the start I was involved in a collision and turned over for the first and, hopefully, last time in my career.”

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

“Indy is the second race of our trip overseas and I really don't have any special feeling in my mind for the track. There are long straights, which are punctuated by the last corner which is banked, and then you come into a part where it is very slow. You have to have the right configuration between high speed and slow corners. I think it is a good track for our cars.”

More to follow.