German Grand Prix - preview quotes 11 Jul 2008
The forthcoming German Grand Prix, round 10 of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, will take place at Hockenheim, which last featured on the calendar in 2006. Here, the drivers and some prominent team members discuss their prospects for the forthcoming race...
Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2006 Qualifying - 3rd, 2006 Race - 2nd
We haven't been racing at Hockenheim since 2006: back then I came in second behind Michael (Schumacher). I like this track, although I've never raced on the old one with its long straights. I had some pretty good races there and in 2006 I was really fast: I hope that I'll be in the same position and maybe even make a step forward in the final result. There are some parts, which remind of Magny-Cours and there's always a great atmosphere, especially at the Motodrom, where you can feel the fans really close from inside the car. Now that there's only one race in Germany, it is a very important event for Formula One in general and, even if Michael won't be here for the first time, I'm sure that there will be lots of fans and we'll have fun. I'm sure Michael will be at the Ferrari box, although not for driving...
I felt fine over the last days with my family at home in Monaco, but now I can't wait to race again and start the second hard and exciting half of the championship the best way possible.
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2006 Qualifying - 1st, 2006 Race - 3rd
The races in Germany never went very well for me. Neither Hockenheim nor Nurburgring ever brought me luck although I really like them and I've always been competitive on both of them. My strong point in Germany is getting the pole position. Last year I started ahead of everybody else at the Nurburgring and also the time before at Hockenheim: for one reason or the other victory always slipped through my fingers.
"I will drive at Hockenheim the first time for Ferrari. The last race on this track Ferrari ended with a one-two win and I came in third. We've done some testing here last week and it went pretty well. We tried some new components and judging by the lap times there is still a great balance, but I think that Ferrari will be very competitive and fight for the win. I had some really good impressions of the F2008: I'm convinced that we'll be at the max. I hope it will be hot, as it usually is at Hockenheim. Our car goes really well at high temperatures and also the tyre-wear is not too high. So I really hope it will be hot. It's hard to overtake, but the qualifying doesn't determine the result as on other tracks: although starting from the first row will make life much easier.
I've always said that the championship will be very uncertain. I had the possibility to win the last three races, but for one reason or the other things didn't go the right way: but that's racing and I'm sure I'll win again soon. Every point will be important, just like last year. Three drivers tied on the top spot and a fourth, who is three points behind - that's a very interesting situation.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
"Now we embark on the second half of the season, after a positive first half, given that our two drivers, along with one another, are jointly leading the drivers' classification, while the Scuderia heads the constructors' championship. However, while we can only be happy with this situation, we know we missed several opportunities to score more points. In pure performance terms, the team, the drivers and the car have proven to be competitive at all circuits and in every track condition, but for a variety of unusual reasons, we have not always found ourselves in a position to capitalise on this. With this in mind, we have analysed all those reasons and reached the conclusion that we have to pay even closer attention to ever single detail. Methods for doing this have occupied our time in Maranello since the last race."
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Motorsport tyre development director
"Hockenheim is definitely a compromise circuit. The first sections are mainly high speed, but the stadium complex at the end of a lap is made up of a succession of slower corners. This will be an area where tyre graining can be caused, especially at the beginning of the race weekend. As ever, the weather will be difficult to predict, and we have seen a wide range of conditions at Hockenheim in the past. The hard and medium compounds should deliver strong performance even if it is very hot, although we could see our wet and extreme wet tyres used again at this event.
"Testing at Hockenheim was a valuable exercise as we have not previously undertaken mileage there with our current range of tyres. The test allowed us to verify the chosen compound allocation, and allowed the teams to work on their set-ups and car developments ahead of the race. Of course, the weather also enabled the teams to assess our wet and extreme wet weather tyres on the Hockenheim circuit too."
Nico Rosberg, Williams
2006 Qualifying - 15th, 2006 Race - DNF
Firstly, Ive just returned from our trip to Moscow and to say it was awesome is an understatement! The city itself was fascinating, and the Russian people made us feel really welcome and seemed to love seeing our sport which is good for everyone. To drive through Red Square and around the Kremlin was an experience Ill never forget. On to this weekend, Ive had a lot of great experiences at Hockenheim, and its been the scene for quite a few of my past victories, so Im looking forward to going there. As its my home race, it will be nice to have the support of the German fans, but they really provide a great atmosphere for everyone as they are so enthusiastic. In terms of the track itself, I really love it, and it should suit our car as well, but I still think it will be difficult to get into the points on Sunday considering how close the field is. As always, we will just do our best.
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA
We had a test at Hockenheim last week which allowed us to maximize our preparation time for the race weekend. We covered a lot of ground with the set-up so we should be in good shape when we arrive. Ive raced at Hockenheim a few times already, but that was when I was in F3, so I need to draw on my experience from those races as this will be my first Formula One race there. The test helped me get used to the circuit, and Ive also spent some time in the sim at the factory to help me prepare. Its a great track, but quite challenging. Its quite similar to Silverstone and Magny-Cours in that sense. Im looking forward to it!
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
Hockenheims layout mainly consists of slow and medium speed corners, although there are two high speed corners but they do not dominate the lap. As a result, we tend to head towards a softer set-up for this race. The track layout and surface aspect is particularly tough on tyres, characteristics only emphasised by the high temperatures we often experience over the race weekend. To balance out these issues, Bridgestone will therefore take compounds from the harder end of the scale to Hockenheim.
We had the opportunity to test at Hockenheim last week, with both Nico and Kazuki getting cockpit time. We progressed through a detailed set-up programme which puts us in a good position going into this race. Most teams tend to go for a two stop strategy at Hockenheim. The race itself normally provides some great action as the long straight leading into the hairpin, which has plenty of tarmac run-off area, offers a good overtaking place.
Jenson Button, Honda
2006 Qualifying - 4th, 2006 Race - 4th
"I have always enjoyed racing at Hockenheim and I have some great memories from previous races here after finishing on the podium in 2004 and 2005. There are good overtaking opportunities and you can see some great battles, which makes the racing exciting for the fans who always pack the grandstands here. The track can be quite a challenge if the heat and humidity levels are high, and the medium to slow speed corners put quite a bit of stress on the tyres.
"Our aims for Germany are as always to get the best out of the car and hopefully achieve a good result. It is so incredibly competitive in the midfield pack at the moment that it is almost impossible to make predictions. Our test at Hockenheim was successful, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that relates to our performance this coming weekend."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2006 Qualifying - 6th, 2006 Race - DNF
"My first victory in Formula One came at Hockenheim back in 2000 so this circuit is very special to me. The layout changes mean that it is a different venue now from the track that I used to enjoy so much, however it's still a good circuit. Overtaking is possible, particularly under heavy braking, and with changeable weather, this can make for an exciting race."
Ross Brawn, Honda team principal
"Following the test at Hockenheim last week, we will be introducing the next step of aerodynamic, mechanical and engine performance upgrades for the RA108. The test allowed our engineers to gain a better understanding of our recent lack of qualifying pace, so we will be aiming for an improvement on our grid positions as the foundation for a strong race performance. With changeable weather predicted for the weekend, it could be an interesting race."
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA
To drive at the Hockenheimring is a very good feeling for me as it will be my home race. It's a great circuit to drive, a very nice feeling for an F1 driver, with hairpins, long straights and really quick corners. The motodrome is such a fantastic complex: to go in there and hear the crowd is amazing. I have very good memories from the past here - both as a fan and as a driver - which is why I am so pleased to be here now. I think I am well prepared for my home Grand Prix after the test, so hopefully it will bring me a little bit of luck. I'm absolutely looking forward to my home Grand Prix.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2006 Qualifying - 5th, 2006 Race - 6th
Hockenheim is a good circuit for drivers, with the long straights and hairpins, and there are a couple of overtaking points, which make it good racing. It's not actually one of my favourites of the year, but I do have some good memories of the event, especially in 1997 when I led the race.
We were at Hockenheim last week for the test and tried out some more new parts. We're slowly getting there, the new parts at Silverstone were only two tenths from getting us into Q2 and if I had not spun on my fastest lap in qualifying, perhaps we would have got through for the first time this year. With the seamless shift box due to debut in Hungary, we should perhaps look to this race for a better step forward rather than in Germany, but I'll still be pushing in this race.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - 13th, 2006 Race - 7th
Hockenheim has changed a lot since I first raced there in Formula One, when it was all about top speed. I personally preferred the old long circuit, with the extremely fast straights in the forest, but the new version is still quite interesting and there are opportunities to overtake. We had a promising test last week at Hockenheim which was very useful because we have not raced there for two years and we had the chance to study set-ups and tyre behaviour. That was the first time we have used the current Bridgestone Potenza tyres at Hockenheim and it was important to understand their characteristics at this circuit. We made good progress with some new aero parts and hopefully this track will suit our car. I have finished in the points for the last three races which shows how competitive we are at the moment, so my target this weekend is to again score points and fight for the top six. I am optimistic as usual.
Timo Glock, Toyota
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA
"Hockenheim is one of my favourite circuits. It is only 45 minutes away from where I grew up so it is my home race. That means I will have friends and family coming down to watch me so it will be a special race for me and I hope it will be a successful one. Usually I have good races at Hockenheim and I've won a few times, which is another reason why I enjoy racing there so much! To have a good race there it is important to have strong top speed but there is also the last sector where there are slower corners, so you have to find the right balance. In the end I think it is a good mix of different corners and it's a fun track to drive. It was disappointing not to score points in difficult conditions at Silverstone because the opportunity was there but I am not downhearted; in fact I am really looking forward to this race and I expect to have a good weekend. It is important to me to perform well at my home race and I'm feeling good."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyotas senior general manager chassis
"The new Hockenheim circuit is more average in terms of its characteristics than the previous lay-out. The braking energy is in the middle of the range and the downforce level is now medium to medium-high. What is normally above average is the temperature and that is what is responsible for the tyre blistering that we have sometimes seen. The ambient and track temperatures are often extremely high and I'd say that is the only real outstanding characteristic. This will be the first time that we have been to Hockenheim with the current tyres. Bridgestone's choice of the two hardest compounds in the range is conservative because Hockenheim is a medium severity track, a little like Magny-Cours. We are expecting a level of performance more in keeping with our display at Magny-Cours than Silverstone. That means we are hoping to be near the front again. Actually, Magny-Cours and Hockenheim are now very similar in terms of car configuration so we are expecting to go well."
Fernando Alonso, Renault
2006 Qualifying - 7th, 2006 Race - 5th
It's a very physical track for the drivers. It can also be quite hot, which makes things difficult for the whole team. For the car, good straight-line speed is necessary, but not as much as it was in the past when the circuit was different. In the slow corners grip is always poor, but it is possible to make up for some of that with a good mechanical set-up and a car that is easy to drive. To be fast in Hockenheim, the right compromise is always difficult to find.
We drove in Germany three days last week to improve the set-up of the car and so that we could approach the race in the best shape possible. The weather was mixed, but we were still able to complete our programme, and I think that we have a good basis to work from when we start free practice on Friday. The R28 has performed well on different types of circuit already this season, and we must concentrate on realising our potential this weekend.
Nelson Piquet, Renault
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA
It's a fun track to drive and I've raced there at a few times before when I was in GP2, although it's quite different in an F1 car. It's a demanding circuit with several heavy braking zones and so you need a well balanced car that is stable under braking and which also has good traction and grip out of the slow corners. It's quite a rewarding place to drive and, as we tested there last week, the car should be well sorted already when we start free practice on Friday.
As always, we will be aiming for points. I'm very motivated for this race and really looking forward to racing in Germany. I expect the midfield battle to be incredibly tight once again, but, if we can reach Q3 in qualifying, I think that points will be a realistic target. The whole team is focused and working hard for this coming weekend, and it would be great to reward everyone with a strong result. I will do everything I can to achieve that.
Alan Permane, Renault chief engineer
It's a demanding track which is hard on tyres and on the brakes. But we've seen some good racing there in the past as it's a track where you can overtake. This will be the first time we have raced in Hockenheim with this generation of Bridgestone tyres, and so evaluating the tyres was one of the main focuses of the test there last week. We have gathered some valuable data and will complete our assessments when free practice begins on Friday.
Having tested in Hockenheim last week, we should be in good shape for this weekend. Obviously we go to each event aiming to win, but we have to be realistic, and, based on our performance in the last two races, I think we can aim to get both cars into the top ten in qualifying and hopefully race strongly in the points on Sunday afternoon. We have quite a large aero update for Hockenheim, and we know the car has speed, so the mood in the team is one of optimism. We're focused on what we need to do, and ready to close the gap on those around us to try and secure fourth place in the constructors' championship.
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA
Our cars real strengths are in high-speed corners and under braking. Hockenheim is more of a technical, medium-speed circuit so I wouldnt expect us to have any particular advantage - but the car does feel very good here. It has a similar downforce level to Magny-Cours, where we werent really able to show our true potential, so it will be interesting to see where we sit in comparison to our rivals.
The new top body engine cover (with dorsal fin) has been designed to improve aero performance, particularly through high-speed corners - and we feel it had an advantage during the Hockenheim test. But its still too early to say; maybe Hockenheim is not the best place to try this new wing and we need to see if it is affected by crosswinds - it was quite windy at the Hockenheim test, but we didnt seem to be too affected by the wind. Its definitely encouraging for the future.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA
I was at Hockenheim in 2005 when I won a Formula 3 EuroSeries race and in 2006 with GP2 when I finished second and third. Its actually quite a straightforward circuit to get into, and it helps that our car just feels so awesome at the moment. Theres a bit of everything around here and its quite fun to throw the car into some of the high-speed corners, like Turn One and Turn 12 - the high-speed right-hander into the stadium section.
It will be great to be at Hockenheim where I will compete in my first German Grand Prix. Im looking forward to the support of the Germans and especially the Mercedes fans. I know that many of them will be on the Mercedes grandstand from where they have a great view and there will also be a fantastic entertainment programme behind the grandstand. I will be on stage during the weekend and answer questions about my practice and qualifying. It is always nice to get close to the fans as it gives me additional motivation.
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
Two pole positions but only two podium positions and one fastest lap in the last two races at Hockenheim are naturally not what we and the fans will be expecting at the second of the teams two home Grands Prix. At the tests before Magny-Cours, Silverstone and during this week at Hockenheim we have further improved the MP4-23 mechanically and aerodynamically, and the drivers are happy with the balance of the car.
There are great challenges for drivers and cars at Hockenheim. In 2006 the average lap speed during qualifying was 222 km/h, 69 percent of a lap are run under full throttle; both figures are above the average of all other Formula 1 circuits. Consequently Hockenheim is a so called engine circuit, and that certainly suits us. Five times per lap the drivers reach 280 km/h and more, the longest full throttle part - before the hairpin - is 1100 metres corresponding to 15 seconds of full throttle. This season so far Lewis has led for most laps compared to the competition, 179 from 571 in total that is 31 percent, a little less than one third of all laps and kilometres that have been completed. It would be nice if he would add one more leading lap at Hockenheim - the last one of the race.
As already at Silverstone there are many spectators on the grandstands who also come because of us or even especially because of us. Among them are several thousand Mercedes-Benz employees who have bought tickets to watch Lewis and Heikki. We have prepared a special programme for the spectators with surplus value without additional charge at the Mercedes Grandstand. New this year is the Kangaroo TV which will be offered by us for a special price and keeps you informed so that you dont miss anything during practice, qualifying and race. Additional highlights of the programme are the visits of Lewis, Heikki, test drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett as well as all the Mercedes-Benz DTM drivers from Bernd Schneider to Ralf Schumacher. Also present will be Formula 1 double World Champion Mika Hakkinen. In addition to this there are co-driving opportunities in the Safety Driving Centre close to the grandstand. We dont forget that the most important work will take place on the track, however we do everything to make the race a terrific experience also apart from simply the sporting spectacle.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - 16th, 2006 Race - DNF
"I'm really looking forward to my home grand prix. Hockenheim is a very special race for the whole team, while a lot of Swiss fans have traditionally made the trip across the border to give their support. I personally have a lot of good memories of the Hockenheimring, especially the old circuit with its long straights through the forest. Those sections were really unmistakeable, but the new track is, of course, significantly safer and better for the spectators - and I appreciate it for those reasons. Plus, a good overtaking opportunity has been created in the Parabolika. I've driven at Hockenheim in Formula Ford, Formula 3, Formula 3000 and Formula One, and can't wait for this Grand Prix."
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2006 Qualifying - NA, 2006 Race - NA
"In 2006 I had the opportunity to drive at Hockenheim in free practice on Friday, but this will be my first Formula One Grand Prix there - although I did race at the circuit in F3. We weren't there last year so I think it will be a very special weekend for our team and especially for BMW and all the BMW fans. We always try our best. It is the kind of track with different kinds of corners, although not really high-speed corners. The only one that is quite quick is when you enter the stadium, where there is always a special atmosphere. I know corner one is pretty quick but not really a long corner. There are some quite short corners with only one line you can take through them."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director
"This is the only F1 race being held in our home country in 2008 and naturally we're very much looking forward to it. However, you can't afford to let that disturb your concentration - after all, we don't get any more points here just because its our home GP. The circuit has lost some of its allure since they cut out the straights through the forest, but the atmosphere should be fantastic after a year without Formula One. It is sure to be an extremely exciting race. Three drivers are tied at the top of the drivers' standings, while Robert is only two points behind them. Nick is not far away either, and his strong performance at Silverstone has given him an extra boost. You could not have written a better script for our home GP.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber technical director
"Needless to say, Hockenheim is a very special race for us, and there is an extra buzz of anticipation within the team. The circuit is characterised by slow and medium-speed corners, where you need a lot of downforce. More than any other part of the track, the Motodrom is a key section when it comes to the lap time. However, you can't afford to ignore top speed altogether, as the best overtaking spot is going into the hairpin after the long Parabolika, which is taken flat-out. Here, as well as a good top speed, the most important thing for the drivers is high braking stability and optimum traction on the exit from the corner."
More to follow.