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British Grand Prix - driver preview quotes 04 Jul 2007

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Magny-Cours, France, Saturday, 30 June 2007 (L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, Sunday, 1 July 2007 David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Magny-Cours, France, Saturday, 30 June 2007 Anthony Davidson (GBR) Super Aguri F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, United States Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Indianapolis, USA, Saturday, 16 June 2007 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Practice Day, Magny-Cours, France, Friday, 29 June 2007

With its legendary history and the fact most teams count the event as their home race, the British Grand Prix has always held a special significance. Here the drivers explain why...

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - 9th, 2006 Race - 7th

“I especially like the crowd in England because they are just true racing fans. They are very well informed and were also enthusiastic in the years when they did not have a home grown front runner. Of course with Lewis Hamilton the interest will increase a lot for this year's race, but the atmosphere has always been good. During the test I found the circuit extraordinarily bumpy, and apparently other drivers thought the same. The English weather can also add to the excitement. The sequence of the corners at Becketts is very fast and very special. For Silverstone it is especially important to have a good aero package for the fast corners.”

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

“Silverstone, I think, will be a good weekend for us. I hope so. Last year we were quite strong. I like the track as it is very challenging. Very quick, especially the first sector. Last year it was quite low grip there. I missed the test session this year, so it will be interesting to see how it is on Bridgestone tyres. The British weather is well known all over the world for not being very good. However, every time I have been at Silverstone for the race I have had a really sunny weekend, so let's hope it will be nice weather again.

“It is nice to be there because I like the style of the track and British people enjoy motor racing. It is not the newest one, but I like the whole atmosphere that surrounds it and you feel there is a lot of motorsport history at the circuit.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 7th, 2006 Race - DNF

“I am looking forward to the British Grand Prix. I have always enjoyed racing in Britain because the fans there are so fanatical about motorsport, they really love the sport. They are always supportive of all the drivers, no matter what nationality they are. The Silverstone circuit is very fast and challenging but I think we are in reasonable shape after our test there. Even though the result at Magny-Cours was not what we expected, we can take some positives out of the weekend. I lost a lot of time held up behind another car early in the race but after that the car felt pretty good and my lap times were better than our position suggested. It was frustrating to miss out on points because we had a good opportunity but I am confident we can continue to improve and get back into the points.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 22nd, 2006 Race - 11th

“Silverstone is a very high-speed circuit, probably the fastest on the calendar after Monza. The sweeping fast corners in the first half are probably the most difficult as you can lose quite a bit of time before you hit the very fast Hangar Straight. It’s a long circuit and a challenging one as well, for the drivers and also for the team when it comes to set-up. As a driver you need a lot of commitment in the corners to really get the best lap time out of the car. There are all different kinds of corners at Silverstone so there is a compromise between grip in the corners and speed on the straights. Unfortunately I go to Silverstone after a very disappointing race in Magny-Cours. We had a really strong chance to score good points but on the first lap I just misjudged the hairpin and crashed. But we know our race pace was good enough to score points so that is again the target.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2006 Qualifying - 2nd, 2006 Race - 3rd

“Silverstone is really a great place to race - I've always enjoyed racing here. We had a very good test here two weeks ago. If we manage to bring all the latest developments on the track, then I think that Ferrari will be even more competitive than in Magny-Cours. Obviously the gap of our competitors in France is not representative. The situation changes from track to track: we were behind at Indy and ahead at Magny-Cours. It's just a waste of time to think about who will be favoured at Silverstone. We just have to wait until Friday, then we'll know more. As I said before we know that we are heading in the right direction as far as the development of the car is concerned; and I have a real good feeling with it, too. I can't wait to get back on the track and stepping once again on the podium!”

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
2006 Qualifying - 1st, 2006 Race - 1st

“After the race at Magny-Cours, which was always going to be challenging following qualifying, we came away with a decent result considering and we are now focusing on a more positive weekend at the Santander British Grand Prix. Silverstone has always been a special race for me as it is one of the biggest Grands Prix of the year and has a unique atmosphere. The fans have a big passion and knowledge for the sport; and it is always a pleasure to race in front of the British crowd. This is even more the case this year as it will be the first time in front of lots of the McLaren employees who will be attending the race; it definitely gives extra motivation.

“It was a special win for me last year; it was very competitive and tough, but that is always the way at Silverstone. It is great fun to race here as there are some great corners; Copse is one of the fastest we race through. We drive it flat out; it is very quick in the entry with a short apex and you have to get the line just right. Because of all the speed, the car needs to have good handling balance. The track surface is quite bumpy and this can mean visibility is quite bad at some points of the track and you need a good ride height. Overtaking is also possible; probably the best places to do this are through Stowe, Vale and Club.”

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

“Without a doubt, the Santander British Grand Prix will be the biggest race of the year for me, as it’s my debut home race. It is going to be another new experience, I expect the atmosphere will be incredible and I cannot wait to race in front of my home fans. To win at this race would be immense, but we have to be realistic with our expectations. This is one race out of 17 and as with all the Grands Prix, I will do my best to win for the fans, but the most important thing for them is to enjoy the whole weekend whatever the result will be.”

“Silverstone always seems to have great races. I certainly had fun here last year as you can really push the limits. That weekend with GP2 last year is something I will never forget; the response from the crowd was like nothing I had ever experienced before and I can’t wait to get back out on track. The Silverstone circuit is very different to Magny-Cours due to all the high speed corners. It still needs a set-up compromise to make sure we have high speed stability for first section and grip for the latter part with the slower corners such as Priory and Brooklands. You are also under heavy loadings for much of the lap, so it is quite tough. I hope everyone enjoys the race and the team has a great result.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2006 Qualifying - 5th, 2006 Race - 4th

“It's a fantastic track, one of the legendary circuits in Formula One and really selective for the cars and the drivers. The fast corners need real commitment, a very good chassis and a stable balance - which we have now with the R27. It is quite bumpy, and physical with a lot of high g-loads around the lap. A good lap at Silverstone is always satisfying, because the car and the driver both need to be working really well to achieve that. I finished fourth in the last two years, so if we could repeat that result, it would be a great performance for us.

“It is another home race for us after Magny-Cours, with all the people from the factory at Enstone coming to support the team. So of course, a good result for them would be special. But also because we have shown in the last few races that we are closing the gap, and we are in the fight.”

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

“It's an important race for the English side of the team, as all the mechanics have their families there, plus the people from the factory, so we want to do well for them. I have lived in England for a long time now as well, and I have lots of friends there, so it will definitely be a nice weekend.

“I won my first Formula Renault race here, and in 2002 won the Grand Prix support meeting in F3. I had two podiums in GP2 in 2005, but you know, none of that counts for anything in F1. You get results through hard work, and making sure you have the best car possible for every lap of the race. Nothing will come for free just because I have done well here in the past.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2006 Qualifying - 12th, 2006 Race - 9th

“Silverstone is a great track, I really enjoy driving it and our car should go well there. We had a productive test there before France, so we should have a good chance of scoring points this weekend. In addition, it's always a good race because it's the team's home Grand Prix. There's a lot of history for us at Silverstone, having taken our first ever win back in 1979, so it also holds a lot of good memories. And I hope the atmosphere will be fantastic due to Lewis (Hamilton).”

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

“Silverstone is our home Grand Prix, so that’s exciting for everyone in the team, but I also love it because it’s a cool track. There’s no braking in the high speed first sector and lots of gforces for the drivers to contend with. It is quite a difficult track to get right though because of the different wing types required and the changeable conditions. Getting a good set-up is tricky and often has to be a compromise between top speed and downforce for the corners. As we saw in France, it’s going to be a hard fight again because everyone is very close, but we’ll be on the maximum attack to get some points. I’m travelling to the UK a bit early and will get there on Tuesday night for an RBS function before I go to Hamleys on Wednesday. There, I’ll meet the winner of the competition to create a new helmet design for me which I will be racing with on Sunday.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2006 Qualifying - 6th, 2006 Race - 10th

“The British Grand Prix at Silverstone is a big weekend for the Honda team so I'm pleased to be heading to our home base on the back of an improved performance at Magny-Cours. We can definitely say that the performance of the car has improved which is encouraging. There is always a lot of expectation on our shoulders competing at Silverstone and although we don't have the car to fight at the front, I think we can have a good race and aim for the points.

“We don't tend to test much at Silverstone these days but it will always be one of my favourite tracks. It's a high-speed circuit with some very challenging corners and one that I still really enjoy driving. I have some very special memories, not least of winning here back in 2003. It will be a busy weekend for us but an important one, so we will be giving it everything we can right now.”

Jenson Button, Honda
2006 Qualifying -19th, 2006 Race - DNF

“The British Grand Prix is always special for a British driver and although we are a Japanese team, we are based just down the road from Silverstone in Brackley. We took a step forward with the performance of our car at the French Grand Prix last weekend, so we are now making progress and I hope that we can have a good race at Silverstone and be challenging for a point or two.

“I love this high-speed circuit with the very quick change of direction and there are great corners like Becketts and Stowe. It's still a big challenge for F1 drivers today, especially parts like Becketts. It's a very difficult complex and also one that reminds you how quick a Formula One car is and how special it is to be driving in F1. You can't help but exit that complex with a big smile on your face! It still gives me and all the other drivers such a great buzz. There are some good overtaking possibilities and because it's such a high-speed circuit, when they do happen it's such a big move. Silverstone reminds me of the old days in racing in the 50s and 60s, when you didn't have any slow corners, even though the last two corners are pretty slow. Silverstone is one of the best circuits in the world and for me it always will be.

“The whole weekend at Silverstone is special and you can't underestimate the boost that a home crowd gives you. This year there are four British drivers to please the fans and that is just fantastic for British motorsport. You don't perform any differently because that is down to the driver but you do get a buzz throughout the whole weekend - just driving through the gates every day, seeing all those flags in the grandstand and all the additional events we take part in. It's such a special feeling in my heart because it's my home; it's where I'm from.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull
2006 Qualifying - 11th, 2006 Race - 12th

“I camped at Silverstone as a boy and can remember one year, maybe 1989 or 1990, standing at the inside of Stowe watching the Ferraris coming out of the mist down Hanger Straight during a Sunday morning warm-up and just thinking ‘wow, that’s incredible’.

“If you look at Turns one to five at Silverstone, there’s no faster sequence of corners anywhere in the world. It’s humbling to go through there as you have to have the bit between your teeth to hook it up and get through there well. If you go to that section and watch drivers through those corners, it’s so impressive. We don’t have many circuits with corners like that in the world. Eau Rouge in Spa is a great corner, but Silverstone has four corners of that level of speed and difficulty.

“My most memorable British GP moment is actually not one of my two wins, but is from 1995. I was going into Stowe corner, which was a ninety degree right hander at the time and I passed Alesi to take the lead. I could hear the crowd cheering above the noise of the engines, which was incredible. I’d never heard that in my life before, and have never heard it again since. I didn’t win the race because the electronics failed and I had a ten-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, so I finished second I think on that occasion.”

Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA

“Silverstone is a great track. It is one of the older circuits on the calendar and it has a lot of character. Basically the first sector is what it is all about. If you can get this right you are going to get a pretty decent time even if you don't drive the second half of the lap that well. The first sector is where you can make or break the lap. It is easy to throw time away around Copse, the first corner, Maggots and then Becketts, the series of chicanes that follow, you can easily gain or lose four tenths and sometimes it's hard to figure where it has all gone or where it's come from. It is a flowing, high speed part of the track; Copse used to be taken in seventh gear, I am not sure about now with these new tyres, but it is a 'ballsy' part of the track, so it pays to be bold around that sector.

“The rest of the track is average and has a more man-made, but technical, feel to it. I know that the whole track is man-made but the first sector flows so well and feels so natural. From this sector the rest of the track, like round near the Clubhouse, it's for the fans; it slows the cars down so that the fans get a good view of the cars. But as a driver it can be a frustrating part of the track because it is slow speed and the car doesn't work well there as you have no downforce working for you, so it is an interesting circuit combining the very high speed and the low speed.”

More to follow.