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European Grand Prix - driver preview quotes 18 Jul 2007

Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 10 May 2007 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 8 July 2007 Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Practice Day, Silverstone, England, Friday, 6 July 2007 Alex Wurz (AUT) Williams FW29 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 5 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

Germany’s tight and challenging Nurburgring circuit will host this weekend’s European Grand Prix. Although former Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher will be sincerely missed by local fans there is some consolation. As the ‘home’ race for Nico Rosberg, Adrian Sutil, Nick Heidfeld, Ralf Schumacher, BMW, Mercedes and the Toyota team, the event is set to be as popular as ever. Here the drivers explain why they can’t wait to head for the mountains to tackle the legendary track…

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 11th, 2006 Race - DNF

“The Nurburgring is not only the home track for the team but also for me because I was born and grew up quite close by. I have always really enjoyed racing there because I get a lot of support from my home fans and I also have good memories of winning my first Formula Junior race there, and of course winning the European Grand Prix in 2003 which was a very special moment. I hope to have another good result to celebrate this weekend and I am confident we are making progress, even though the result at Silverstone was disappointing.

“On the positive side, you could see from my sixth place in qualifying and my lap times during the race that our car has improved and we are able to compete higher up the grid. The team is pushing hard to continue this improvement and it would be great to see the results of that work with a points finish at one of our home tracks this weekend.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 7th, 2006 Race - 9th

“Silverstone was a weekend to forget to be honest. We had a good opportunity to score points because the car was quick, as you can see from Ralf’s great performance in qualifying. It was a shame that on my car I had no grip and was sliding a lot in the race. Formula One is about many little things so we have analysed the data from Silverstone and we will work on improving the set-up when practice starts on Friday. I am still optimistic for this weekend because I think the car definitely has potential and everyone is working very hard to get the best out of it.

“I know the Nurburgring circuit very well, not just from my ten years in Formula One but also from my time in German Formula 3. The most important thing at this track is to find a good rhythm because the corners come at you very quickly. This is a home race for the team because our factory is based in Cologne so I will be pushing to get a positive result for everyone in the team.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2006 Qualifying - 13th, 2006 Race - 6th

“It is a famous circuit, and the new, slow section at the start of the lap is demanding for the drivers and the cars. From my point of view, the old Nurburgring was definitely the best circuit in the world, so I am pleased to be racing here again. The most important thing is good traction on corner exit. We use quite high downforce, and the main worry is the understeer, which can be quite high. So we try and soften the front end to get good grip, by playing with the springs and anti-rollbars, while keeping the rear stiffer. That will be a major focus for us during the practice sessions.”

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

“In GP2, I had a very good race at this circuit, and it's probably my best memory of that championship. I won the first race on Saturday after starting from P17 on the grid. It was a consistent drive, we had a very good strategy and everything came together. At Hockenheim, I wasn't very competitive when I raced in GP2, so I'm pleased that my first F1 race is at the track where I did well! And to be honest, I think it's a more enjoyable circuit too, with some quite tough high-speed corners.

“I have never driven an F1 car on this circuit, but as always, I think you need a stable balance in the high-speed corners. On the way back up the hill from the hairpin, there are two high-speed right-left sections, and a good balance is important if you want to gain time. The other crucial factor will be to have good braking stability, to ensure we can attack the braking zones and corners with confidence. We will work on both of these areas during Friday practice, and also on Saturday morning during our qualifying preparation. Qualifying in the top ten is absolutely vital, and finding a good set-up for that single timed lap will be a major focus for us during practice.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - 15th, 2006 Race - 10th

“I am very much looking forward to the race on the Nurburgring. That's where the greatest number of my fans have always turned up, and thanks to this year's good results there will probably be a few more. When I drove the Formula One car round the Nordschleife at the end of April, the atmosphere there was fantastic.

“It's a good feeling having that kind of support, and one or other family members will also be coming along to the Ring. As a young kid, I already had a lot of outings to the Nurburgring with my father and my two brothers as it isn't far away from Monchengladbach. Later on there were race wins in various classes to add to those pleasant childhood memories.

“I think we're pretty well prepared for the Ring. Our performance potential is a great motivator. Naturally it's a lot more fun when you know you're essentially in contention for points and good placings. If qualifying turns out better for me than at the last race in Silverstone, I should also be back in the running for the race.”

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

“Obviously when we go to the Nurburgring this will be the only Grand Prix in Germany this year. I am sure there will be a big crowd and a lot of people who will be fans of our team. I have to be honest and say I don't find the track spectacular.

“This will be my first Grand Prix on this track, but I have driven on the old track, when the first corner was a chicane, and practically every year since 2001 I have been racing on this track. Because of this I know the track pretty well and I also know the shorter version that the touring cars are using with the short cut after Turns Six and Seven. I think it will be a good weekend and maybe after that my feelings for the track will change.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2006 Qualifying - 5th, 2006 Race - 4th

“I always enjoy this track, because it has very demanding corners. Let's hope we can make a hat-trick: just like in Magny-Cours and in Silverstone I have never had a perfect race there with my former team. It's time to succeed. The second part of the championship has begun and you can see how the performance pendulum is easily swinging from one side to the other. Obviously I want it to stay on our side and that I continue to win: and at the end of the season we'll do the calculations.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2006 Qualifying - 3rd, 2006 Race - 3rd

“Now, I'm just relaxing at home and then on Wednesday, we go to the Nurburgring where I expect the F2007 will again be very competitive. Last year in the European Grand Prix I finished third and it was my first ever Formula One podium. Hopefully this time, we can be back on the podium but in a better position. I have good memories of last year, but we always want more!”

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
2006 Qualifying - 1st, 2006 Race - 2nd

“We had a positive test at Spa this week, with a lot of dedication from everyone within the team. This season is very competitive and we all have to push hard to find more performance from every part of the car, particularly for the Nurburgring. It is not a track that depends on a particular part of the car and it is difficult to get the maximum performance here. The layout of the track, with the range of corners, means that you have to have a consistent balance for the different speeds, so there will be a lot of hard work with my engineers to get a competitive set-up.

“As with Silverstone there are some bumps here on the track, that you have to watch out for, and you have to use the kerbs very aggressively to be fast. You can overtake here. The changes to the track a couple of years ago have added another chance, under braking into the Mercedes Arena at the first corner. This will be my first time as a McLaren driver racing in front of all the Mercedes-Benz employees from Stuttgart, who, I have been told, mostly sit in this section of the track. I am really looking forward to it and hope we can give them a good race. I’ve had a positive couple of races here over the past two years and I hope to continue that into the race next weekend.”

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

“Despite having a mixed weekend at Silverstone, we still came away from the track with a good haul of points and I am now really looking forward to getting back to the Nurburgring. I had a great weekend there last year, taking my first double win of the year and I enjoy driving the track. In 2005 I also won one race there in F3; my team ASM was powered by Mercedes-Benz, and as a result the support from the crowd was fantastic.

“It will be great to race in front of them again, this time in the McLaren Formula One car. I am sure the grandstands are going to be packed. The track has a very mixed layout, probably with more slow corners than anything else, so you need good traction for the acceleration on the exit. Through the first sector of the track you can really make up time, the corners are very slow so with good balance and under braking you can find the time.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2006 Qualifying - 12th, 2006 Race - 7th

“The European Grand Prix is going to be good. The German fans are really supportive and I’ll have a lot of friends with me over the weekend. The track is cool and the car normally goes well there. I’m really looking forward to turning things around at this race and getting a good result because we need to start scoring more points. We tested in Spa last week, which was a great experience in itself because I’ve never driven the track before in a Formula One car. There was a lot of rain, but we just slowly worked our way through our planned set-up work and made some good progress.”

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

“Ever since I can remember, the Nurburgring has meant something special to our family. My Grandfather used to take my father on trips there from Austria to watch the races on the legendary Nordschleife, so there was always lots of talk about this crazy racetrack in our family. During my days in German F3, I lived just a few hundred metres away from the circuit for two years. The new track layout requires a neutral set-up and, as a driver, you need to find a good rhythm in order to get the best lap time. It’s going to be a great race and I hope that in the post-Schumacher era the German fans will still be as excited about Formula One as they were before.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2006 Qualifying - 4th, 2006 Race - 5th

“The Nürburgring is a challenging circuit for the drivers and one that I particularly enjoy. I won the Grand Prix here back in 2002 so I always feel good about returning and racing around here. I like the layout of the circuit and it has some great high-speed corners and interesting undulations. With the recent improvements to our car, we are now capable of knocking on the door of the points-scoring positions so I am hoping to have a good race at the weekend.”

Jenson Button, Honda
2006 Qualifying - 6th, 2006 Race - DNF

“Although it is a venue with a great deal of motor racing history, I have to be honest and say that the Nurburgring is not one of my favourite circuits on the Formula One calendar. It is actually quite a tricky circuit, particularly going down to the first corner from the start line, as it has a bumpy approach and you need to keep your wits about you and position yourself well for the best exit.

Having said that, the first corner is one of the best opportunities for overtaking as the cars around you quite often just slide straight on. You can also overtake going into the chicane at the end of the lap. The key to getting a quick lap around the Nurburgring is getting your approach to turn one absolutely right because you can ruin your whole lap if you get on the brakes at the wrong moment. From a technical viewpoint, the biggest challenge is to have a car which works well with the changes of camber because there are a lot of corners off-camber so it is vital to get the correct line when you arrive into the corner.”