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Turkish Grand Prix preview quotes 02 May 2008

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Turkish Grand Prix, Preparations, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Thursday, 8 May 2008 Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 24 April 2008 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 26 April 2008 (L to R): Dr Mario Theissen (GER) BMW Sauber F1 Team Principal with Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Saturday, 5 April 2008 Hirohide Hamashima (JPN) Bridgestone Technical Director talks with Luca Baldisserri (ITA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 25 April 2008

The Turkish Grand Prix may have only featured on the Formula One calendar for the past three years but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the most popular venues with the drivers.

While the already legendary Turn Eight is possibly the biggest draw, Istanbul Park’s distinctive mix of slow corners, long straights and changes in gradient makes this one of the most challenging - and eagerly-awaited - tracks of all…

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 1st, 2007 Race - 1st

“It was here in 2006 that I scored my first ever Formula One victory and then I repeated myself last year, on both occasions starting from pole. Apart from these two reasons to look forward to the weekend, I have to say that Istanbul Park is a fantastic track and I enjoy driving there a lot. I think we have a good car in the F2008 and I feel it can be quite strong this coming weekend. There is every reason to think we can fight for the win. We will have cooler temperatures this year, as the race is much earlier in the calendar, but I don't expect this to produce any unexpected situations.

“You do not need to be a mind-reader to work out what is my target for this weekend: I want to record a hat-trick of Turkish victories! It might be possible, but you can never be sure. At the last race, starting third on the grid, I was unable to win on a track where overtaking is very difficult. At the moment, I am enjoying a tough competition with Kimi (Raikkonen) and my second place in Spain was still a good result. But I will be trying everything to go one better this Sunday!”

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 3rd, 2007 Race - 2nd

“We didn't have any tests after the race at Barcelona, but I bet that our competitors have worked hard to be prepared as good as possible to beat us at Istanbul. But I'm not worried at all: we worked and I'm convinced that Ferrari can be really strong there. And when you have a look at this year's tracks so far, the one at Istanbul is very similar to the one at Sepang and Sakhir, where we could win. That makes us think that we'll be competitive over the weekend.

“I like the Turkish GP's circuit, it's the best of the new circuits. You go uphill and downhill and it has some very challenging corners. You get a great feeling, especially when you get turn eight right. We are racing anticlockwise for the first time this season and it will out our neck muscles under pressure.”

Luca Baldisserri, Ferrari team manager
"We hope to maintain our momentum from the past two victories here in Istanbul and from the last three consecutive wins so far this season. The cars used by Kimi (Raikkonen) and Felipe (Massa) are basically to the same specification as those that were used in Spain, with the exception that at Istanbul Park we will not use the slotted nose. This is because this solution is much more efficient at medium to high downforce levels, whereas Turkey requires less downforce. The new nose worked very well, but as we said when we gave it its race debut in Barcelona, we would only use it at circuits where we deem it will bring us an advantage over a more conventional component."

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 19th, 2007 Race - 21st

“The goal for the Turkish Grand Prix has got to be to get a strong finish and to be able to say we had a good weekend at the end of the event, that is, we had a good race, a good qualifying - I want the complete package. There have been problems in the races until now, with a couple of mechanical failures and accidents. I said in Barcelona that this is where the season should start, and from the performance side I was very happy as I was where I really should be, but then I had some bad luck again at the start.

“Last year Turkey was an OK race but I had to retire on the last lap. It was a bit frustrating as it had been a good race until that point. It is a great track with good corners and now this year we go a little bit earlier to the race so it should not be as big a problem with the heat. I look forward to this race and hopefully it will go without any problems. I think the rest of the season should be much better than it has been and hopefully it really starts in Turkey now.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 10th, 2007 Race - 9th

“The car balance (at the last round in Spain) was good and our second stint in the race was particularly encouraging. We need to improve in qualifying now as we had some problems with reduced grip and had to do two flying laps, which isn't ideal. We have spent a lot of time analysing why the performance drops from practice to qualifying and I am hopeful we will not have the same problems again in Turkey. Of course at the moment the field is so close that one tenth of a second can mean the difference between Q2 and just missing out, so we have to make sure we are completely on top of the game.

“I enjoy Istanbul and have had some good results there, including a fourth in 2005. It's a very challenging track with some nice high-speed sections that are difficult to get right. It is going to be a tough race but once again we need to keep pushing. The car is very reliable and, if we get qualifying right, we could be up there again in the top 10 and ready to take advantage and pick up points if anything happens in front.”

Mike Gascoyne, Force India's chief technical officer
“Turkey is an exciting track, with turn eight in particular a very challenging high speed corner. The VJM01 is very good in high speed turns - we performed very well for example in sector one in Barcelona, the quickest part of the track, so I think the car will also go well in Istanbul. Traditionally we have has some success in Turkey and we know the car is reliable so we should look to have a good weekend. We have no specific updates on the car and will be using basically the same spec car we raced in Barcelona as we are concentrating on development for Monaco and Canada, both of which we have specific packages for.

“One item to emerge in Barcelona was that the free practice and race form was relatively good, but we dropped a long way off in qualifying. It was clear that on Saturday, fuel corrected, we couldn't get anywhere near the times we were able to do on Friday, even though the track was clearly much quicker. We dropped the ball and we have to make sure we don't do that in Turkey, but we have looked at the reasons and have identified some areas we can improve. I don't see any reason why the qualifying form we showed in the first three races where we were very close to getting into Q2 cannot be replicated in Istanbul. That has to be the aim now, but overall we need to get two cars to the finish with two strong race performances. We've shown with our finishes with Giancarlo that we can pick up points if they're available and stay with the other runners. We have to make sure we do that in Turkey too.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - 9th, 2007 Race - 16th

"I have always enjoyed myself in Turkey so I am looking forward to this race. I am confident again because we showed in Spain that we are quite strong, but we also saw that we have to perform at our maximum if we are to get into the top six. The fight is so close that small variables can make a big difference to the end result so we must keep pushing hard. The facilities at Istanbul Park are great and the track itself is interesting, even if it is not a personal favourite. It's not the most difficult lay-out but there are one or two tricky corners; Turn Eight is the hardest because it is very quick and it is really three corners in one. We have been competitive on every circuit so far this season so we should expect to be qualifying in the top 10 and scoring points again. I am determined to get another positive result this weekend and I believe we are in a strong position to do that."

Timo Glock, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA

"I have good memories of Turkey because I have had good results and exciting races there in GP2. I remember a really close fight with Lewis Hamilton in 2006 and then I won the sprint race last season - I don't think I have finished outside the top four in Turkey so I have a pretty good record to defend! It is a nice track to visit because it is so modern and the facilities are great, but more importantly for a driver it is quite an exciting track to drive. There are some really challenging corners, particularly Turn Eight which is difficult but enjoyable. Our car has looked competitive so far all season and we have more improvements for this weekend, which shows how hard everyone is working. Spain was a difficult weekend for me so I hope in Turkey we can have a bit more luck and fight for my first points with Toyota."

Pascal Vasselon, Toyota’s senior general manager chassis
"Turkey is an average circuit for most of the parameters - brakes, downforce and so on. But the special factor you have in Turkey is Turn Eight, the long left-hander. This is a key corner and simply the most demanding of the season, which means it has a lot of consequences in terms of car balance and tyre usage. You can really say that the Istanbul circuit is all about this corner; it is one of the very few circuits where one corner is so significant. You have to make sure your package can handle it and this drives tyre selection. We go to Turkey with optimism because we have seen over the first four races that our car is competitive and able to challenge for the top six. It was unfortunate that a mix-up cost Jarno sixth in Spain but it was encouraging to again be fighting in that position. So the goal for this weekend clearly has to be a strong points finish, hopefully with both cars."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 22nd, 2007 Race - 17th

"The Istanbul Park track is fairly challenging from a driver's point of view as it runs anti-clockwise which is unusual and the undulations are quite extreme which can make for an exciting lap. I have been impressed with the circuit since we started racing here in 2005. The lap itself has a nice flow, and most importantly, it's a good racing track with overtaking opportunities, which have led to some exciting races. The highlight for most drivers is the high-speed turn eight where the triple apex is really quick, blind and tough on your neck."

Jenson Button, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 21st, 2007 Race - 13th

"The Turkish Grand Prix is one of my favourite races on the calendar and I've had a couple of good results here in 2005 and 2006, finishing in the top five on both occasions. The track layout is excellent with the changes in elevation making it a tough but enjoyable circuit for the drivers. There are some really good overtaking opportunities at turn one and turn three, with a chance of passing into turns nine and 12 if you get it right.

"The Spanish Grand Prix was our first major upgrade to the RA108 and the new aero package definitely gave us a performance improvement over the weekend. It's good to know that we are improving the car step-by-step and I was able to develop a good understanding of the new developments. The car that we take to Turkey will be essentially the same package, therefore our focus will be getting onto Q3 and qualifying in the top ten. Turkey is a circuit that I have always been competitive at, and really enjoy driving, so I am hopeful that we will have a good race."

Ross Brawn, Honda team principal
"Istanbul Park is a great race track which our drivers really enjoy. Although there is no opportunity to test before this race, we will have some small refinements to the car and aero package to suit the characteristics of this particular circuit. I am expecting the RA108 to perform slightly better around Istanbul Park than in Barcelona, where we suffered with ride quality over the bumpy surface, so I believe we can look forward to challenging for the top ten in qualifying and hopefully scoring points again."

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2007 Qualifying - 4th, 2007 Race - 3rd

“Istanbul Park reminds me of racing at other circuits, such as Spa, for example. The circuit is very wide and gives a good opportunity to overtake. There are also some special corners where you cannot see the exit and that makes Istanbul quite unusual. Turn 8 is especially interesting as it is a very long left hander where we experience more than 4g. It's a fun circuit and I hope I can take the most from it.

“The conditions will probably be slightly different (because of this year’s earlier date for the race), especially in terms of the temperatures, but they will be the same for all the teams and so it will be important to make the most of the practice sessions on Friday to make sure we are happy with the set-up. This is not something that worries me, and we can work well on hot or cool tracks and this aspect will make the weekend interesting.”

Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA

“I won (at Istanbul Park) in GP2 and also took pole position and the fastest lap. It is therefore a circuit where I have some happy memories. So it will certainly be easier for me to attack this weekend and to get my car working well.

“Turn Eight is certainly one of the more interesting on the calendar. It is extremely fast and a tough test for the driver. I don't know if it will be more difficult in a Formula One car; maybe on the contrary because of the superior performance of the car, especially with the aerodynamic grip available. To be honest I cannot wait to see what it is like from my cockpit. I hope the weekend will allow me to keep learning and reaching Q3 will once again be my goal. I will need to work well with my engineers during Friday practice in order to get the most from my car so that we can approach the Grand Prix calmly.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 2nd, 2007 Race - 5th

“It (Istanbul Park) is a fantastic circuit. It is quite demanding, particularly through Turn Eight, but it provides a good challenge. I always look forward to the race and hope to improve on last year’s result. I also hope to have Heikki (Kovalainen) alongside me for the race so we can get a good joint result for the team, I know he has a final check at the track on Thursday so we will have to wait and see until then.

“The balance of the car felt good in Spain, and this is really key at Turkey because of the high speed corners. You need to have a stable balance to be quick through them, such as turn three. You also need a very stable car through Turn Eight, to ensure you conserve your Bridgestone Potenzas and that you are able to carry speed through there. This section of the track is key as you can gain a lot of time.”

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 7th, 2007 Race - 6th

“I can’t wait to get back into the car and race with the team next weekend, but at the end of the day that decision is out of my hands, the FIA will make it based on safety grounds only.

“Turn Eight is made up of four corners, one corner after another just turning left, left, left and left, with four apexes. To get it right you have to hit one apex, then just lift a little bit at the right point and then you can go full throttle again for the next. It is not easily flat out, but it is almost flat out and the line is so crucial, that is one reason why it is so challenging and drivers like big challenges so I guess that is why we enjoy it so much.

“It is definitely one of the circuits that has more up hills and down hills, also there are some apexes that are on the brown of the hill and are blind. There are also parts of the circuit that are very flat, so it doesn’t have a big effect on the set-up as it would be too much of a compromise. It does mean you pay attention more to your driving lines and trying to maximise when you go on the power over these hills, trying to maximise your own technique. Going over the crest of hills is the same as in a road car, you get that sensation with your stomach, but you get used to it as you do more laps over the course of the weekend.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Formula One CEO
“The circuit has actually some terrifically demanding corners, and it is therefore positive that we are coming away from Barcelona where the MP4-23 was very strong in high speed corners. If you can have a well balanced car through high speed corners then you can be kinder to the tyres. So we have every reason to be optimistic that we will be able to preserve our Bridgestone Potenzas at this track. A key part of the practice sessions is understanding the conditions we find when we get to the track, we will be very careful in these sessions to analyse, working together with Bridgestone, tyre wear and degradation with representative race fuel loads.”

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“Our aim is to improve further over the next few races, however it is possible the Turkish Grand Prix might be a challenging race for the team. We didn’t really shine here in the past, and also this time we are not the current benchmark. The team wants to score as many points as possible, but after three consecutive wins Ferrari obviously arrive here as the favourites.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2007 Qualifying - 8th, 2007 Race - 7th

“I’m looking forward to Turkey. It was our strongest race last year in terms of pace in comparison to the front runners so I think we can do well there. The circuit itself is great and it should suit our car. We’ve spent some time analysing our performance in Spain, where we took the wrong set-up direction with the car in the opening sessions. We’ve learnt from that mistake so we should definitely take a step forward next weekend. I’m looking forward to it.”

Kazuki Nakajima,Williams
2007 Qualifying - NA, 2007 Race - NA

“I’m not particularly familiar with Turkey’s circuit, but I did race there last year in GP2 and liked the track so hopefully I can do a good job for the team in my debut there in an F1 car. I will try my best to get a good result and score some more points.”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“Istanbul’s Otodrom has a couple of overtaking opportunities per lap and a good mixture of high, medium and low speed corners. The circuit has a great layout and always produces something exciting during the race.

“The Turkish Grand Prix normally takes place in August, when it’s always really hot. With the race falling earlier this year, though, the temperatures are likely to be much cooler which will have an impact on bodywork configuration and tyre selection. Downforce is some way off the maximum level because of the long straights, so car set-up is arranged around that. Bridgestone will bring the harder compound tyres to Turkey, mainly due to the long and heavily-loaded left hander of Turn Eight, a corner which sees the cars and drivers experience the longest period at such a high lateral load of any track on the calendar. The majority of the teams will most likely opt for a two stop strategy in Turkey.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 6th, 2007 Race - 4th

“I’m looking forward to the race in Istanbul, particularly to Turn Eight, the main feature of the track. It earned its fame in the very first grand prix because it is so tricky and causes plenty of spins and action. It’s a very long, very fast corner with several apexes. Then you need a good top speed for the long back straight with its right-hand kink. But apart from the race track, I’m looking forward to Istanbul itself. This city is one huge international metropolis in a totally unique location. There’s a lot more to discover there than our schedule ever allows.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 5th, 2007 Race - 8th

“I don’t have the best memories of the races in Istanbul Park, as last year and in 2006 they really didn’t go at all well. Of course this time I hope my luck will change and I shall have a strong race. The race track itself is pretty interesting, and in Turn Eight especially we face a lot of g-forces. Istanbul Park is one of the tracks where you have to find the right balance between high- and low-speed corners.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director
“Our targets for the Turkish Grand Prix are clear: we want to consolidate our position among the leaders, where Ferrari is currently the yardstick. For the fifth race of the season we will be making detail improvements to the F1.08 again. The layout of this ultra-modern circuit on the Asian side of Istanbul is a real achievement and presents a true challenge. The race has been moved from the height of summer to this earlier date, which should make quite a difference to the demands on the teams and their material. Last year we had to contend with air temperatures of 36 degrees on race day.

“For the Formula One teams and their partners, an international metropolis like Istanbul is an excellent platform. For the first time in the 2008 season we have the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park in tow. It gives fans a chance to grasp - in the truest sense of the word - what they can normally only see from a distance. We have significantly extended the Park again, which now has space to accommodate even more visitors. Plus it now features new high-tech exhibits with which visitors are invited to experiment.”

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber technical director
“The race in Barcelona showed the order at the top has not changed. Ferrari still has the advantage, while McLaren Mercedes and the BMW Sauber F1 Team are practically on a par. It’s so close that the slightest modification could swing the pendulum either way. That’s why we are pushing our development forward at full speed.

“Drivers race in an anti-clockwise direction at the Istanbul Park, which apart from that also provides plenty of variety. It has slow sections where good traction is called for, but then there’s also the spectacular Turn Eight, which comprises four sections that are taken in one go at around 250 km/h. Because of the long, often uphill straights, the car.s aerodynamic drag must be kept within limits. That’s why for Istanbul we select a downforce setting a notch lower than in Barcelona.”

Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Motorsport tyre development director
“Istanbul has a wide range of different corner types and is a very difficult circuit to master in terms of car set-up and maximising tyre potential. In Istanbul we face the highest G forces we see all season so we are bringing the hardest tyres in our range for this race. Historically, we have seen hot temperatures in Turkey, and the change to May should mean slightly lower temperatures. Last year we did see some drivers experience problems with their use of our tyres, so we have made changes to the tyre construction to minimise the chances of this happening again. This circuit is not only a challenge for our tyres, drivers face a tough race too as the circuit is not clockwise like most of the tracks on the calendar.”