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British Grand Prix - preview quotes 27 Jun 2008

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Practice Day, Magny-Cours, France, Friday, 20 June 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008 
Formula One Testing, Silverstone, England, Day Two, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari Manager of F1 Operations.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Magny-Cours, France, Saturday, 21 June 2008 (L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren with Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, Sunday, 22 June 2008 Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India F1 Team Owner.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, Sunday, 22 June 2008

With its legendary history and the fact that several teams count the event as their home race, the British Grand Prix has always held a special significance with many of the Formula One drivers. Here they explain why - and reveal how they think they'll fare over the race weekend...

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 2nd, 2007 Race - 1st

“I always like coming back to Silverstone. It's a great track and it has always been working out for me since the beginning of my career. I've raced the first time here when I was in Formula Renault and it was my preferred track: fast and demanding. Winning at Silverstone gives you a great feeling, because to get there you have to do everything perfectly. I did it with Formula Renault and last year with Ferrari. It's one of the fastest and most difficult tracks on the race calendar. I don't know why, but I'm a bit nostalgic every time I come back. I like being here whatever the weather is like. At least that's the same for everybody.

“As far as we can tell after our tests last week there will be a tough fight between us and McLaren. That's not a surprise because traditionally these two teams always went well here in England. It will be about tenths of a second again. We'll fight for Pole Position and this time we need to use the track to our advantage. It's almost half way through the season now and there were ups and downs. That's quite normal and we are in a good position to fight for the title. I hope to win more races in the second half of the season, because we have a great car, able to fight for victory everywhere.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 22nd, 2007 Race - 5th

“Having spent a few days at home after Silverstone testing, I am now preparing to head back to England for the British Grand Prix and the chance to face our closest rivals on their home circuit in front of their home crowd. I like Silverstone which has been a good circuit for me, but I hope I don't have to have such a tough race as I did last year: I had a problem in qualifying, started from the back and had to work my way all through the field to finish fifth in the end. Last to fifth was not bad, but I would prefer to start from the front and stay there, rather than have to fight my way through the field.

“Although I like the fast and flowing nature of this circuit, apart from the final section, last year's fifth place was a repeat of my finishing position in 2006 and they are my best results at this event, so there is plenty of potential to finally do something better this time. I am sure we will be competitive in the race. At last week's test, we tried some new components and assessed new things on set up and made some mechanical improvements. I was quite happy with the balance of the F2008, so it's looking good. But we must never underestimate our competitors because they are working very hard and it's all very close.”

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
“It's always nice to race in one of the temples of international motorsports. (Silverstone) is a place we are especially connected to. Froilan Gonzalez gained the first win for the Scuderia at a Grand Prix in 1951. Obviously we want to add another success, but we know that we've got to do with motivated competitors, who will try everything. Last week we had three very good test days here and we think that we're competitive. To win we have to be humble and keep our feet on the ground. We have to work concentrated and with great attention for detail. If we can manage that, we can add another good result.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 19th, 2007 Race - DNF

“I’m looking forward to Silverstone this year. It’s good to be at a circuit you really know well and you are comfortable at. We test here a lot and of course the factory is so close, it’s like our home race. Personally I like the track, it’s quite challenging and really one of my favourites. The atmosphere is great too, and with all the Lewis (Hamilton) fans it should be a fantastic race.

“The test here last week went well, we tried out the complete new aero package with the wheel covers, engine cover and of course the inerter damper that we hope will give us more stability. If everything works well together, both on the aero and mechanical side, it would be a good step forward for us, which we need at the moment.

“My target for this race would be to get everything working well and hopefully being in a position where we could race and pass some cars. In Magny-Cours we were quite close, especially on my middle stint where the lap times were good, but we just need that little bit more to be able to get ahead of some others.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 7th, 2007 Race - 8th

“I’m motivated to do well in Britain now we’ve got a solid finish under our belts at the last race in France. I’ve always enjoyed and done well at Silverstone. Even though it’s not a particularly distinctive track it’s very technical so you need a good driving rhythm, good pace, good balance and constant levels of grip. I also like the atmosphere there as the fans are very enthusiastic, particularly for any British team.

“We’ll be introducing our new aero package for this race. We tested it at Silverstone last week and although my day of testing was pretty much cut in half by the accident, up to that point the car felt better than it has done in a while. Even though we know Silverstone is going to be tough too, any step forward will be a big help.

“I’m not feeling any ill effects from the accident: it really looked worse than it was, I only wish I had remembered to take my hands of the wheel so it would have spared me the trip to hospital!”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and managing director
“The British Grand Prix will be a special race for the Force India Formula One Team. With the history and heritage of this team and its location just opposite the main gates of the circuit, it’s obviously considered by the team as its home race.

“In the past, when this team was Jordan Grand Prix, there was a real buzz whenever it came to Silverstone. The fans supported it, the media enjoyed it and the atmosphere in the factory was by all accounts electric. This team now really needs to remember those days and try and recapture some of the spirit. We’re moving forward, that’s for sure, and step by step improving, but I really want everyone to feel proud of where we are and what we have achieved. It’s this race in particular that really fires everyone up, let’s put this energy into a great performance in front of our ‘home’ crowd.”

Colin Kolles, Force India team principal
“For sure we all look forward to this race as it’s just across from the factory so family and friends can come more than they can to another race. We also have a lot of information about the track from being on its doorstep, so it does feel very familiar, but we don’t approach it as any differently to any other event on the calendar. We ultimately have the same aims we always have.

“The French Grand Prix clearly showed the steps forward we have made in reliability, with our first two car finish since the Bahrain Grand Prix, but now we need to be able to race competitively and finish ahead of people. From a performance point of view, we have a significant new aero and mechanical upgrade package we will use at Silverstone for the first time that I expect to move us closer to the field.”

Mike Gascoyne, Force India's chief technical officer
“At the mid point of the season I think we are fairly much where we expected to be. We are competitive in race conditions and are able to fight with the group in front. We’ve also had some good showings, with Monaco as a particular high point with Adrian.

“We have also tried to sustain a cycle of development to improve performance throughout the season and have moved forward compared to where we were last year, but unfortunately Formula One is so competitive this year that we’ve not been able to show this progress in our results.

“After a productive test at Silverstone, we’re looking forward to the British Grand Prix this week. We tested our new aero and mechanical configuration over the three days and received very positive feedback from all three drivers. There was more grip and downforce in general over one lap, and all reported an increased stability under braking.

“It was unfortunate we lost some running time on Wednesday with Giancarlo’s accident, but the team was able to get the car repaired and we managed pretty much to catch up with the schedule and I’m confident we won’t see any knock-on effects this weekend.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2007 Qualifying - 16th, 2007 Race - 12th

“Williams won their first Grand Prix at Silverstone back in 1979 so it’s always nice when this race comes around and we can compete in front of our home crowd. We have a lot of work to do though at the moment to improve our competitiveness. To help with that, we had a three-day test at Silverstone last week. We covered a lot of ground with the FW30, and that should help us out in the next few races. Silverstone is a great track to race on so I’m looking forward to it, and I think we’ll do a lot better than we did in France.”

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

“I’m really excited about this race, not only because it’s the team’s home Grand Prix, but also because I count it as my second home race as I’ve lived in England for quite a long time now. We spent last week testing at Silverstone and managed to cover off a lot of preparation for the race, which was important for us after Magny-Cours. For the first time this year, I’ll hopefully bring some friends from Oxford with me to this race, which will be a novelty! That, and being able to drive home and not contend with an airport for once, will make a nice change!”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“From the high speed first sector through to the low speed third sector, Silverstone has quite a varied track layout. Such variation often demands compromise which presents the drivers and engineers with a fairly significant challenge when it comes to getting the optimum set-up direction and therefore the quickest lap time at this track.

“Aerodynamic efficiency and a solid mechanical balance are key requirements for a competitive performance around Silverstone. With overtaking extremely difficult around the lap due to the speed the drivers carry into the corners, the emphasis on a strong qualifying is perhaps somewhat exaggerated at this race. A particularly hard track on tyres due to the heavy loads accrued at high speeds, Bridgestone will bring the hard and medium compound tyres to this race. The best strategy tends to be either a one or two stop. Last week’s test at Silverstone afforded all of the teams a final opportunity to fine tune their set-ups for the race.”

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

"I am looking forward to the British Grand Prix because Silverstone is a fun circuit and I had some strong races there in GP2 in 2006. The first corner, Copse, is probably my favourite part of the track because it is nearly flat in sixth gear, which makes it interesting, and then you have Becketts. I prefer the fast corners to the slower ones at the end of the lap but in general it's a good mix. The weather is always a question mark at Silverstone; I was in England in May for a short trip and it rained every day! If you have changeable weather over a race weekend it can be a bit tricky because you don't know what's going to happen in the next hour or so. But even considering the weather, Britain is a fun place to race and I enjoy it every time I go there. France was a great weekend for the team, with Jarno's podium, but unfortunately I missed out on points so I will be aiming to improve at Silverstone."

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

"Silverstone is one of the most historic circuits we visit and it's a track which all drivers enjoy. The main characteristic is the very high average speed, as well as the flowing corners in the first part of the lap which are very challenging and enjoyable. Becketts is a particularly challenging sequence of corners because you really need to find the right line. The only slower section at Silverstone is the final complex where there are a couple of second gear corners; the rest is just high speed and I like that. After such a fantastic result in France I think we have a very good chance to be competitive again. So far this season it has been very tight in the midfield but we are in there fighting and we will push as hard as possible to score more points. We showed what was possible in Magny-Cours so now I am looking forward to another exciting race."

Pascal Vasselon, Toyota’s senior general manager chassis
"Silverstone is one of the highest speed circuits and a by-product of this is that probably it is the most severe on tyres because of the high-speed corners. We will be using the hardest compounds of the Bridgestone Potenza tyres for this reason. It is a medium-high downforce circuit which puts very little stress on the brakes. This is because the average speed is high so you have good cooling and you have few low-speed corners so the braking energy is low. Obviously we go to Silverstone in very good spirits after the great result in France. I am confident we have made a genuine step forward and that will be visible at Silverstone as well because the car configuration is very close to Magny-Cours. Of course the other teams are working hard to improve as well and we don't know how much progress they have made at the last test but we are back at the top of the midfield again and we want to show that once more this weekend."

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2007 Qualifying - 3rd, 2007 Race - 2nd

“It really is a classic circuit on the F1 calendar. The track is very demanding for the cars, just as it is for the drivers, especially through the quick corners where the chassis needs to be well balanced. It's also quite a physical circuit with lots of G-forces for the driver to cope with. A good lap at Silverstone is always exhilarating because the car and the driver must both be at their optimum. After Magny-Cours, this is another home race for us and there will be lots of members of the team there to support us on Sunday. A good result will be very important for the whole team.”

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

“I like the track and we tested there last week so we have the car quite well sorted already. Obviously the aim is to score more points, and to be matching my team mate, but, as we saw in France, the midfield pack is very competitive and a lot of the cars are fighting on the same level: just a few tenths can be the difference between qualifying in eighth or 16th. And qualifying will be especially important at Silverstone because overtaking is not easy due to the high-speed nature of the track.

“I guess it will feel a bit like a home race for me, and it's also nice for the members of the team who are based at the factory in Enstone to come and support the team. But all the races are just as important as each other, and I will approach the race in my normal way by pushing to the maximum all weekend and aiming for another points finish.”

Bob Bell, Renault technical director
“I think we're pretty upbeat about Silverstone. It's a medium/high down force track with some high-speed corners - a bit like Barcelona - and the R28 has generally gone well in this configuration. You need good change of direction; good traction; good high-speed performance and so I think it will suit the strengths of the car. And having tested at Silverstone last week we should be able to dial the car in quickly to the circuit and find a good set-up.

“It's pretty much the home Grand Prix for Enstone, and it's a special race for everyone who works in England in the Formula One industry. With our factory being so close to the circuit, we are always determined to put on a special show there.”

Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Motorsport tyre development director
"Silverstone is one of the more harsh circuits on the calendar, which is why we bring the hardest compound Potenza tyres from our range. It is a tough circuit for tyres in the sense of the layout and the track surface, which is one of the more abrasive we use. Graining is always a consideration when coming into the final complex, and tyre management of this is an important aspect to getting a good result. Drivers require good stability from their tyres to give them confidence through the high-speed turns. Good heat and wear resistance are also desirable here.

"(At the recent Silverstone test) the medium compound enabled a faster lap time over one lap, and if conditions are similar for the Grand Prix we would expect this to be the preferred tyre for qualifying. The hard compound enabled more consistent performance. However, if teams and drivers are able to manage the graining, the medium compound could be the preferred option in the race. As teams have now tested here so close to the Grand Prix weekend, we should see very close lap times as competitors have a good opportunity to find a good setup and maximise their cars to Silverstone's requirements."

Jenson Button, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 17th, 2007 Race - 10th

“The British Grand Prix is always a very special weekend for me and I'm excited about racing there again in front of the British crowd. Whatever position you are in and regardless of the performance of your car, the fans are always so supportive and the atmosphere from the grandstands over the weekend is fantastic. Silverstone is one of my all-time favourite circuits and I particularly love the section of the track around Becketts. The change of direction is amazing as is the speed that the cars carry through there. It's one of the best complexes in F1 and a great place to watch the race.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 13th, 2007 Race - 9th

“I've spent a great deal of time testing and racing at Silverstone since I was very young so it is almost like a home track for me. I also have some very special memories from here, especially my win from pole position back in 2003. To get the best from a lap of Silverstone, you need to have good aerodynamic performance from your car. This is a high-speed and fast-flowing circuit, one of the few remaining on the calendar, and it's a highlight for the drivers as you can really let the car go. The entrance to Becketts is the quickest corner on the track, a 290 km/h bend, leading into a challenging complex. Overtaking is possible, particularly into the slower corners at Vale and Abbey. You can overtake elsewhere and because it is such a high-speed circuit, such moves tend to be spectacular. As one of our home races, there is always a lot of expectation prior to Silverstone. Following the test, I am confident that we can have a good race this weekend.”

Ross Brawn, Honda team principal
“As the first of our two home races on the calendar, the British Grand Prix is very important to the team, particularly with Silverstone being located so close to our operational base in Brackley. We expect to see an improvement to the performance of the RA108 at Silverstone, certainly compared to the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. We have a number of new performance parts on the car in the areas of chassis, aerodynamics and engine, which should allow us to be on the pace with our current competitors in the midfield. Our drivers are looking forward to the challenge of the weekend and both rate this track as one of their favourites. Rubens has a great history here and always performs very well at Silverstone, and Jenson is extremely motivated to do well at his home race.

“The Silverstone test went very well last week and all of our development parts performed as expected. We will complete our performance and reliability analysis at the factory over the next few days before making the final decisions on our package for the race weekend. A major advantage of the test was that it enabled us to complete a comprehensive set-up programme and tyre evaluation with the Bridgestone Potenza tyre compounds available for the race, which will allow us to concentrate on pure performance gains during practice.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 1st, 2007 Race - 3rd

“There’s something about racing in your home country that definitely affects you. You can’t really say what it is, but there’s something about the familiarity of your surroundings and the constant support of the crowd that gives you a boost throughout the whole weekend. It’s not something you experience anywhere else but it does make you that bit more determined to succeed.

“It’s one of the best circuits on the calendar - a real driver’s circuit. It’s super-fast - the first half of the circuit doesn’t require any braking at all, just little lifts and shifts down through the gears. In fact, you need to watch the brake temperatures don’t drop too low because you’re not using them for much of the lap. Where else can you experience that? Formula One just wouldn’t be the same without Silverstone - it’s become a British phenomenon.”

“People talk of winning the ‘big four’: Silverstone, Monaco, Monza and Spa, but it’s more straightforward for me. I want to win the first race of the season, I want to win Monte Carlo - which I did for the first time this year - and I want to win my home grand prix. Those are my goals and I’m ready for the challenge at Silverstone this weekend.”

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

“At the Silverstone test, we have introduced further upgrades which we hope to race at the Santander British Grand Prix. The team is currently pushing very hard and it’s encouraging when you can actually feel the improvements making the car go faster. We’re all optimistic of making a step forward for the race. The car’s high-speed balance needs to be spot-on. You need to have enough confidence to attack the faster corners; the high-speed change of direction needs to be positive but shouldn’t be too sharp or too understeery. And in qualifying, the tyres start to degrade towards the end of the lap so you have to be careful through the slow stuff at the end of the lap. It’s a unique challenge.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Formula One CEO
“There are two main characteristics of Silverstone: the high-speed corners that typify the first half of the track require a good overall aerodynamic balance that enables the drivers to feel comfortable and confident with the car. But the last third of the lap is much slower and tighter and is more reliant on mechanical grip than aero performance. It’s a fantastic challenge for drivers and engineers.

“Both Lewis and Heikki came away from the Silverstone test feeling very optimistic about the changes we’ve made. We’ve been particularly aggressive in our development strategy, bringing new aero parts to the French Grand Prix, making further revisions ahead of the Silverstone test and planning even more upgrades for future races. The pace of development between the top teams will almost certainly prove crucial to the outcome of this year’s world championship and we’ve always recognised the importance of relentless, strategic development.”

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“Silverstone is the first of two consecutive home races. Great Britain as well as Germany are enormously important markets for our title partner Vodafone and for Mercedes-Benz. The race in Silverstone is sold out, which we feel our team and particularly Lewis Hamilton have something to do with. I have great respect for the circuit and for the drivers’ performance at Silverstone. The layout is unique, only in Monza and Spa the average speeds are higher than at Silverstone. Of course, many of our colleagues of McLaren in Woking and Mercedes-Benz HPE in Brixworth, some with their relatives, will be there to keep their fingers crossed for the race team.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 8th, 2007 Race - 6th

“Over the main entrance to Silverstone there’s a sign saying ‘Home of British Motor Racing’,and that really sums up the atmosphere here. This classic track has stayed true to its roots. It really has character, which I like. There are a lot of great high-speed sections, and some memorable corners and combinations like Stowe, Copse and Beckets. Also, you can always count on the British spectators to create a special atmosphere. The British fans are really into racing; they’re very informed and enthusiastic. I hope we can put on a good show for them.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 4th, 2007 Race - 4th

“Silverstone has a great history and is a very nice track. It is very important to have good downforce here, especially in the high-speed first sector. Later on in the lap the track has some low-speed corners. From a driver’s perspective, the circuit is a good mix that makes a lot of different demands. Wind conditions are always a big factor, and they can have quite an effect on the car in the first sector. Furthermore, British weather is always unpredictable, but I have been to races in Silverstone three or four times and never had rain. So let’s wait and see.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director
“Silverstone is a classic date on the racing calendar, and it attracts a special calibre of fan. A lot of the racing enthusiasts who come here are less concerned with the personalities and the show side of things and more interested in the sport itself. The team has already been testing in Silverstone this week. Both Robert and Nick have been working on their set-ups for the Grand Prix. Following the difficult weekend in Magny-Cours, we expect to get back on track again at Silverstone.”

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber technical director
“Obviously, in England we’ll be looking to prove that our result at Magny-Cours didn’t do us justice. We picked up some interesting tips from testing in Silverstone, and I’m confident we’ll recapture our previous strong form. To drive a fast lap at Silverstone you need a car with very good aerodynamic balance. The drivers have to carry as much speed as possible out of those medium and high-speed corners that are such a big feature of this course. Maggots- Becketts-Chapel is one of the best combinations on the whole calendar. Silverstone is a fairly abrasive track, so it’s quite hard on the tyres. That means we will be using the hardest compounds.”