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Belgian Grand Prix - driver preview quotes 12 Sep 2007

Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren is interviewed on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday, 9 September 2007 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Race, Monza, Italy, Sunday, 9 September 2007 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 8 September 2007 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Race Day, Monza, Italy, Sunday, 9 September 2007 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 8 September 2007

Few in the paddock are looking forward to the return of Spa-Francorchamps more than the drivers themselves. The Belgian circuit, with its quick straights and challenging corners, is one of the calendar’s toughest prospects and a firm favourite with most of the field…

Fernando Alonso, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - 4th, 2005 Race - 2nd

“I am really excited to be going back to racing at Spa, it is my favourite track. It is very demanding and with the long lap and all the different characteristics, you need to work hard with the team to get the right balance. Everybody always talks about Eau Rouge, and yes it is a great corner, but I think the whole lap is special, you are on the limit the whole time and as a driver that is a great challenge. You need to have total concentration for every lap and I am motivated to get there and fight for the win.

“Last weekend in Italy was a special result for me and the team. The car was really fast and we are working to take that performance to Spa. There are some similar characteristics between Spa and Monza, as both demand a lot of power, so hopefully we will carry that over and be quick. The Championship battles are really exciting, after this race we have only three left, so it is very important to have another good result here, but of course it is the same for Lewis (Hamilton), Kimi (Raikkonen) and Felipe (Massa), so we will have to wait and see how it goes. There are a lot of laps to be raced still, my goal is to win as many races as possible and I hope we can have an exciting end to the season for the fans.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“Spa is a track that everyone has always talked about and it is with good reason. I love the circuit, it does require a compromise with the set-up to account for the fast straights and corners whilst also ensure you can have the right amount of traction through the slower sections, and it is all about being precise. Eau Rouge is just awesome, it is so quick and I look forward to it every single lap. It is definitely one of the pleasures of being a Formula One driver!

“You always try to go that bit quicker, and as it is flat out now with no lifting, the only way to do this is by steering as little as possible. The forces that are placed on your body feel a bit weird, but you don’t really think about that after the first lap. I raced here in 2005, race one was in the wet, race two in the dry, so I have some good experience and won race two. We tested here in July and completed some positive work with Bridgestone. Now I am just waiting to get out there and race in a Formula 1 car for the first time.

“The situation in both Championships is very close, and people keep talking about pressure, but it just provides me with extra motivation, I certainly don’t feel any stress. There are four races to go, including Belgium, and I will take them all individually and do my best to try and win them.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2005 Qualifying - 13th, 2005 Race - DNF

“It is an exceptional circuit, and without a doubt the best for the drivers. Eau Rouge is a fabulous corner, and really impressive from the cockpit even though it is not quite as demanding with the V8 engines, as it once was. But this is a circuit where the driver can really make the difference.

“At this time of year in Belgium, we all expect to have to run in the rain, or in changing track conditions. That's not a problem for me, as I enjoy driving in the wet. It would simply add another layer of excitement to the race.”

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“Spa is a fantastic circuit, and I have very good memories from my races in GP2. The track layout is very nice, with lots of elevation changes and some really good sequences of corners which put the drivers and the engineers to the test. It is certainly one of the best races of the year, and a fantastic challenge for the drivers - especially through the famous section of Eau Rouge.

“This is what I would call an old-style circuit. Not in terms of the facilities, which have been improved a lot this year, but in terms of the track design. There are many demanding, high- speed corners and this is a real driver's circuit, where we can make a big difference at the wheel. Even if the car does not have the perfect set-up, or if it is not the fastest on the grid, a very brave driver can go into the corners faster, accelerate earlier or not lift where others do. This is a circuit where you can really see who the good drivers are.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2005 Qualifying - 7th, 2005 Race - 10th

“Spa-Francorchamps is a fantastic circuit. I have always liked going there and I reckon our car should be competitive enough to fight for the win. The track is very interesting. Some corners, such as Eau Rouge, are now relatively easy to take flat out, which was not the case going back to the days of the V10 engine. With the current V8s it is much easier to take this flat out, so it is not quite as challenging as in the past. But the overall layout is very nice, with many quick corners and rapid changes of direction, all of which are features I like.”

“At the moment, even though the weather in this part of the world is always unpredictable, the forecast is for a dry weekend. I think we should be competitive if it rained, but looking at the fact that our closest rivals are quite competitive in situations where grip levels are low, maybe it is better for us if it stays dry.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2005 Qualifying - 2nd, 2005 Race - 1st

“We will fight as long as arithmetic allows us to. We can't leave anything undone. We had a good test at Spa-Francorchamps last July and I'm 100 per cent fit in terms of physical fitness: after the race I took some painkillers and I relaxed a bit. The next one is my preferred circuit. It's a wonderful place I always loved to race there and I like the latest modifications of the track. There are some very fast and challenging corners, where we could exploit some of the qualities of the F2007. We'll give it everything to win: I've been twice on the central step of the podium here at the last two races and I want to get back there next Sunday!”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“I am happy Spa is back on the calendar. I didn't attend the test in July so for me the last time I was there was in 2004 - and those days I was in a car which wasn't competitive at all. It will be different this time. Although Spa isn't too far from my home town of Monchengladbach, I didn't race there very often. The circuit wasn't on the Formula Ford and Formula 3 calendar when I was racing, and I had to miss the 2005 Formula One race after I injured myself in a bicycle accident.

“Spa is a very beautiful circuit with some very special parts. The combination of turns that make up Eau Rouge through the depression is world famous, and for spectators it is a must. The speed and power of the cars are really impressive if you see them rushing down the hill, going through the turns and accelerating uphill again. For us drivers the depression is not at all a physical problem, we are just not used to it. Normally we have to deal with g-forces in cornering speeds or under braking.”

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

“It will be very nice to race in Spa in Formula One for the first time, although I have raced in Formula 3 and Formula Renault. Spa is a very nice track, very challenging, very quick and I think generally one of the favourite tracks of all the drivers. We had quite a good test there, but the weather, as always in Spa, will probably be unpredictable, so we have to see how things develop. After Monza, again we have a track where we have a lower downforce configuration on the cars, although not as low as in Monza, but it will be very good.

“I think Spa is very nice because of the long, quick corners. Normally there is very good grip there so you have to bring a lot of speed into the corners.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 5th, 2005 Race - 7th

“Spa is another circuit close to the team’s factory in Cologne, Germany so it is special for that reason. But it is also special as a track because it is unique in Formula One, with some really impressive and challenging corners. The weather always plays its part as the Belgian Ardennes seem to have a climate all their own. Even when the rain comes it can be limited just to certain parts of the circuit.

“We had another difficult weekend in Italy but obviously we will use a very different aero package for Spa compared to Monza - the track has similar characteristics to Silverstone, where we were quick. We tested at Spa in July and we made good progress so we are hopeful of a strong result. Our first target is always to qualify in the top ten with both cars and then we hope to score points from there.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2005 Qualifying - 3rd, 2005 Race - DNF

“Spa is the best circuit in the world so I am really pleased it is back on the calendar. The changes to the track have taken a lot of effort but the results are good, especially the improvements to the Bus Stop chicane. Spa is still one of the hardest tracks in the world - a real challenge for the driver because it is very technical and very long.

“It is hard to find the limit at Spa as you really have to focus throughout the whole lap. You never know quite what the weather will throw at you but I have usually gone well in Belgium and I hope that is true again this weekend. We are coming towards the end of the season and the Japanese Grand Prix is next so it would be great to score more points before Toyota’s home race at Fuji Speedway. I am optimistic because the team is working very hard.”

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

“Spa is wonderful. It’s a great track for drivers, maybe the best one for us. It’s very, very fast. I’m not overly optimistic, but we’ve clearly made progress since the test there and I hope we can keep that momentum going. As we’ve shown in the past few races, we’ve delivered over and above our expectations, so I hope that we can continue that form and exceed our targets this weekend.”

Alexander Wurz, Williams
2005 Qualifying - NA, 2005 Race - NA

“Spa is a fantastic race track so I’m very much looking forward to racing there. In terms of performance, I’m not really sure what we can expect. We tested there a few weeks ago, but it’s difficult to tell how we will go in the race, but I think it’ll probably be pretty close again. As a team, we’ll go there with high hopes following Nico’s sixth place in Monza. If we can secure some more points, we’ll help to strengthen fifth in the constructors’ championship for the team and that’s my goal for the race.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 12th, 2005 Race - 5th

“The Spa circuit is a well-known favourite for every driver and it is a fantastic feeling to drive around there in a Formula One car. After a year away, it will be good to return and it is certainly safer since they have made the modifications to the circuit layout. It is one of the best circuits of the year, and with the unpredictable weather and the opportunities for overtaking, you always expect a good fun race. The test in July at Spa was not one of our best; however we have made a lot of progress on the car since then, as the weekend in Italy has shown, so I go to Spa in a positive frame of mind and hoping for a good race.”

Jenson Button, Honda
2005 Qualifying - 8th, 2005 Race - 3rd

“Spa is one of my absolute favourite circuits and I am really excited that it is back on the calendar for this year. As everyone acknowledges, Spa is a real drivers' track where your skill and commitment are tested to the absolute limit on every lap. The only other track that really compares to the challenge of Spa is probably Suzuka in Japan. It's a flowing circuit which you can really get into a rhythm around.

“You can overtake at the top of the hill into Les Combes, hopefully into the new chicane and you can also squeeze by at the first corner, La Source. The biggest challenge is the double left-hander Pouhon and it is really satisfying to get that right. We had a good weekend in Monza, coming away from a strong race performance with a point. We have to be realistic about our prospects for Spa as the circuit demands are very different and our test in July was difficult, but I am hopeful the improvements will carry through.”