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Hungarian Grand Prix - preview quotes 25 Jul 2008

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 20 July 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Jerez, Spain, 25 July 2008. Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari Manager of F1 Operations.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 3 July 2008 Jenson Button (GBR) Honda.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 20 July 2008 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda Racing F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday, 20 July 2008

After some rainy races in recent weeks, the forthcoming Hungarian event is expected to be a scorcher. And as Budapest beckons, the drivers and some prominent team members discuss their prospects for the race...

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

“It's no secret that we're not satisfied by how the last five races went. I was particularly disappointed after the series Montreal-Magny-Cours-Silverstone: in each one of these races I had the possibility to win, but because of one thing or another things didn't go the right way and I lost. I never let myself be influenced by tension and I won't start now: I've just to keep my focus and continue to give as much as possible, race after race. That's what I've done every time I was in trouble.

“I've won once in Hungary and I came in second twice. Two years ago I took the pole, but due to the rain the race was very chaotic and starting from the front didn't help. This is one of those circuits where overtaking is really difficult, so a good qualifying on Saturday can be decisive. It's still early to make any forecasts for the championship, considering that the first three drivers are only seven points apart: the positions can change in a single race. It's useless to cry over spilled milk: we are looking ahead, with eight races to go and at the end we'll do the maths. We just passed the half-way point of the season, so it's important to always gain points. Excluding Hockenheim I was always in a position to win and I hope success will come soon.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2007 Qualifying - 14th, 2007 Race - 13th

“We're heading for the Hungarian GP and we've got the possibility to make up for the disappointment at Hockenheim, where our performance wasn't up to our expectations. We suffered a lot during that weekend, but now, after the four days of testing at Jerez - where I was on the track on the last day - I think we understand the problems we had in Germany, although I don't want to get into detail. Let's say that I'm quite confident that we'll have a very different performance of the F2008 in the next races.

“Just like the track at Monte Carlo, the Hungaroring needs the maximum amount of aerodynamic downforce, while we're using the Bridgestone soft and supersoft tyres: with this configuration things went well at the Monaco GP, where we were very competitive. This is another reason to be confident. Although I prefer fast tracks, I like the one in Budapest: I've never reached the podium, but I was always really strong.”

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
“Despite the fact the last two races have been negative for us, the Scuderia is definitely not in crisis. The team is still leading the constructors' championship and theoretically, one of our drivers could again be back at the top of the drivers' classification on Sunday night. We are on a similar points tally to last year, we have won half the races so far and indeed, taken half the pole positions. Just as we never felt we were unbeatable after our French GP victory, so too, we do not feel all is lost after the British and German events. The entire squad is doing its best to overturn this situation. We have come from behind before and in fact, we have emerged as the top team at the end of the season, having been in much greater difficulty than we are now. If we look at where Ferrari was in 2007 after ten races, today we are in a much better position and this year, there is one more race than last, which gives us even more opportunities to fight back."

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

"The Hungarian Grand Prix will always be a special race for me as the venue of my first win in Formula One but obviously I would much prefer to be going back with the chance to challenge for the win again. The new parts which we tested in Jerez last week are a small step forward, so it will be interesting to see how this places us in the midfield pack for the race weekend.

"The Hungaroring circuit itself has a good rhythm and a nice mix of slow-speed and high-speed turns. A lap around the circuit is actually quite a challenge because there is no respite and no opportunity to relax your hands, so you are gripping the steering wheel hard the whole time. As a city, Budapest is fantastic and definitely one of the most exciting places that we visit during the Formula One season, with a great atmosphere during the Grand Prix weekend, both in the city and at the circuit."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda
2007 Qualifying - 18th, 2007 Race - 18th

"The Hungaroring is a pretty physical track which is twisty and bumpy with slow corners. It is very difficult to overtake so you have to start from the front to have a good race which makes having a good qualifying session on Saturday very important. The race can be incredibly hot so it is a tough challenge for the drivers. We have to be well prepared and you need that extra little bit of fitness to cope with the heat. Our test in Jerez last week was a good opportunity to acclimatise to such conditions, both for the drivers and for the car. I won at the Hungaroring in 2002 and have been on the podium a couple more times since then so I really enjoy returning to Budapest."

Ross Brawn, Honda team principal
"The Hungaroring is a low speed and high downforce track where we will face similar challenges to Monaco, albeit with a different layout and corner speeds. We frequently see high ambient temperatures during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend which, combined with a low average speed of 197km/h, can make engine and brake cooling a challenge. The supersoft Bridgestone Potenza tyre is fastest here and it is important to maintain a balance to avoid graining and overheating. The track generates grip throughout the weekend, even during the race, therefore anticipating the best set-up for the conditions is key.

"The team completed a very well executed four-day test in Jerez last week with an extensive programme of test items for the current season and looking ahead to the development of our 2009 car. In addition to running the final stage of our mid-season aerodynamic upgrade, we evaluated a new suspension system, brake and engine modifications and an evaluation of the 2009 slick tyres. The test went very well, with the full programme completed in punishingly hot conditions, therefore we are very satisfied. Our evaluation of the resulting data should have positive results for the performance of the RA108 in the forthcoming races and for the direction of the 2009 car."

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2007 Qualifying - 4th, 2007 Race - 7th

“Hungary is a very different track to the ones we’ve been racing at over the past few Grands Prix. It has a similar layout to Monaco, a circuit which suited our car, and is a track which really requires a different set-up direction to that which we’ve run at the past few races, so Hungary should be a better race for us. We did a good job in qualifying there last year and we then went well in the race, so I think we can look forward to a good weekend. It’s always very hot at Budapest, which can make it really tough, but it’s never a problem for me.”

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

“I’ve never driven a Formula One car at the Hungaroring, but I raced there in GP2 last year and had a pretty good result. The circuit itself should suit our car, and we did a lot of work at the Jerez test last week on set-ups so we are well prepared. Budapest looks like a really cool place to visit. I obviously stayed in the city last year, but I didn’t have much of an opportunity to look around, maybe this year I’ll get out a bit more.”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“The Hungaroring is a maximum downforce circuit that requires the driver to maintain a smooth driving style throughout the course of the lap because the car is almost always laterally loaded. Concentration is therefore crucial for developing a good rhythm around the lap.

“As sustained high speed corner loading isn’t a problem in Hungary, Bridgestone will take the soft and super-soft tyre compounds to Budapest. Strategy can be quite varied, with one, two and three stop strategies all used effectively in past races. Obviously such a tight and twisty circuit demands a good qualifying performance and a strong start as it’s extremely difficult to overtake.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 21st, 2007 Race - 17th

“Budapest is a great city, with so many interesting places to see and so much history. The Hungaroring itself is actually a very slow circuit and the race is very tough due to the high ambient temperatures and it's also a difficult track to overtake on, so you have to concentrate on your own race and the strategy, and try to get as good a qualifying position as you can. I've only driven it once in my career, but the 2007 race was good as we showed we were quite competitive with the cars in front of us. We could race Honda, which meant I really had to push and attack every single lap. This year we have been very close to the other teams, but F1 is so competitive now that just two tenths is the difference between the back row and the midfield. You just can't afford to make any mistakes any more.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2007 Qualifying - 13th, 2007 Race - 12th

“I scored my first points in Formula One at the Hungaroring, so for sure this is a really great memory of the event. It's very twisty and challenging, but if you have a good rhythm, it can be a lot of fun. It's always been a circuit where qualifying is important as it's just about impossible to pass on this track. Let's wait and see how the combination of the new aero package helps us this time out.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and managing director
“Of course, we need to keep the momentum going we developed in Germany with the two car finish. We will also be running the seamless shift gearbox in Friday practice, so I think we have to use this as an opportunity to see how it performs in pressurised conditions, then go back to Silverstone, look at the findings and improve for the second part. We need to be reliable and consistent, and continue to progress as we have done with the aerodynamic improvements.”

Colin Kolles, Force India team principal
“We're under no illusions though that this race will be difficult - we've not performed well in qualifying so far and, with few places to pass on the Hungaroring, it could be a very hard race for us to make up positions if we don't qualify well. So we have to look to the strategy to help us, and try and make the most of qualifying to give ourselves the best possible chances. We need then to have good reliability to get two cars to the finish.”

Mike Gascoyne, Force India's chief technical officer
“We have struggled in qualifying compared to our race pace, and Hungary is a place where overtaking is very difficult so qualifying is even more important than usual. But let's not forget that we had a very competitive outing in Monaco, which is very similar in set-up to Hungary with maximum downforce and few overtaking opportunities, so we have to look to do this again; have a good strategy and take advantage whenever we can.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2007 Qualifying - 6th, 2007 Race - 4th

“I won my first Formula One race at this circuit with the Renault F1 Team in 2003 and it's a place were I have always gone well. So I'm happy to go back there again this year and determined to bounce back after my result in Germany. I have some great memories here and the race usually takes place around the time of my birthday. There are always lots of spectators, the people are very kind, and we always enjoy a warm welcome - that is why the paddock enjoys coming back to Budapest each year.

“It's quite a demanding track and the temperatures are often quite high for the race, which makes things even more difficult, especially for the drivers and the mechanics. To be quick here you need very high levels of downforce, as well as good grip and traction to get performance out of the low-speed corners. So we will begin working on these things as soon as free practice begins on Friday, building on the information we learnt last week in Jerez.”

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

“My GP2 weekend in Hungary in 2006 was very special because I won the feature race on the Saturday from pole position and then the sprint race on the Sunday, as well as setting the fastest lap in both races. It was definitely one of my best weekends in racing. It's quite a rewarding track to drive if you can find a good rhythm and it seems to suit my driving style. Obviously I haven't driven there in a Formula One car yet, but I'm looking forward to doing that this weekend.

“I think it will be difficult to fight for another podium under usual circumstances because the gap to the leading cars is still too big. I also think that the battle in the midfield will be very competitive, just as it was in Germany, and so I will need to concentrate on getting a good grid position because it is so difficult to overtake in Hungary. If we can reach Q3 then I think the realistic goal is to fight for some points on Sunday, and if we can do that I will be very happy.”

Pat Symonds, Renault director of engineering
“It's a difficult track, which is often quite dirty for the first day of practice, and so you spend a lot of time sliding around with the car, understeering mid-corner and oversteering on corner entry and exit. But you just have to stick with it and wait for the track to come to you. In terms of downforce it's a very high downforce track and it's also pretty hard on the tyres due to the traction zones out of the low-speed corners. The tight and twisty nature of the track makes overtaking extremely difficult and so getting a good grid position for both cars will be a higher than normal priority for all teams.”

Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Motorsport tyre development director
"The Hungaroring is an interesting circuit, especially as it is not used much during the year. This means the circuit grip levels experienced on Friday are likely to be very different from those experienced in the race. For deciding set-up and tyre strategy, this makes things difficult, and competitors will have to work hard. Tyre management, particularly with graining, is very important, and qualifying position is crucial as overtaking is difficult."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2007 Qualifying - 8th, 2007 Race - 10th

“I enjoy racing at the Hungaroring because it is a challenging circuit which is good fun to drive. It’s a narrow track with a lot of corners in quite a short lap so it’s not easy to overtake. That means qualifying will be particularly important here. Usually we expect a dusty track because it isn’t used regularly and this is quite a challenge for a driver because if you run off line you lose a lot of time, so you really have to concentrate to avoid making even the smallest mistake. Normally this race is one of the hottest of the year so you really need to be in good condition to stay sharp throughout the race, although I have done my training so it won’t be a problem for me. I have usually been competitive in Hungary, even if I have been a bit unlucky with results, so I am optimistic for the weekend and I expect to score points again. We showed in qualifying at Hockenheim that we can fight close to the front so our aim is to repeat that pace and get back in the points.”

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

“After my incident at Hockenheim I am fine and raring to go. I have had the chance to relax a little at home so I am definitely ready for this weekend. Also, I had a day in the car at Jerez preparing for the Hungarian Grand Prix and that went well. I enjoy visiting Budapest. I went there on holiday a few years ago and it was a fun place and also I have had some exciting races there, particularly in 2006. Obviously it’s a twisty circuit and we will have a different aero package for this race. I know the guys at the factory are pushing extremely hard so I am sure we will be competitive again. Qualifying will be really important this weekend because overtaking is very difficult in a Formula One car. I have had some fun races in GP2 in Hungary and overtaken a lot of cars but it’s completely different in Formula One. Even though the result wasn’t what I wanted in Hockenheim, I was competitive in the race and fighting to finish in the top six so I am optimistic again for this weekend.”

Pascal Vasselon, Toyota’s senior general manager chassis
“In Hungary we have an aerodynamic efficiency requirement which is different from our baseline car and much closer to Monaco, so we will run a high–downforce specification. The lay–out of the track also requires attention in terms of cooling, because the average speed is lower and there is quite a lot of braking, so we always have to be careful with cooling the brakes and engine. However, the main challenge in Budapest is tyre related; lateral severity is quite high but the track is quite low grip. You have to make sure you can get adequate heat into the tyres without destroying them very quickly and this is not easy. We have made further developments on our high downforce package since Monaco and we are pretty happy with the results and looking forward to this race. We were in the top six there last year so we are optimistic. It’s going to be a tough battle between now and the end of the year. It’s tight with Red Bull, and Renault is there too after the result in Germany, but it’s our objective to stay fourth in the constructors’ championship. We are ready for the challenge.”

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2007 Qualifying - 11th, 2007 Race - 8th

“It’s a circuit I enjoy. I’ve done a couple of GP2 races here but my best performance was last year when I had one of the best races of my F1 career. Okay, I finished only eighth, but I was fighting with Rosberg for lap after lap, really pushing 100 percent all the way to the flag. It was one of those dices that never gets shown on TV, but I felt proud and satisfied afterwards because I’d pushed for the whole afternoon. This year, it would be nice if I could reward the team with another strong result.

“It’s a circuit where you’ve got to make the car work for you: it’s not a track where you can drag the laptime out of the car, it’s more about working patiently with the set-up to make your life easier on raceday. If you end up fighting the car, the heat and the constantly twisting nature of the track mean you’ll be exhausted by the end of the weekend. Like Canada, it’s also a place that punishes you if you go offline. So driving well at the Hungaroring is all about neatness and patience.”

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

“Hungary is very different from Germany; Hockenheim is a track that allows you to slipstream and pass other drivers fairly easily, the Hungaroring is the opposite of that. Qualifying will be crucial, and strategy will also be important in determining the optimum fuel-weight for the opening stint. It will be hot and tiring too, so keeping your focus and concentration will be vital. I don’t go into this weekend surfing any particular wave of confidence: it’s such a different type of circuit that it’s difficult for anybody to feel certain about their chances.

“I’m wary about making any strong predictions; yes, we were strong in the last two races, but we encountered difficulties in the two before that, so it’s impossible to call it this weekend. All I can say is that our car feels fantastic at the moment and I’m really enjoying driving it: it feels like you can keep fine-tuning it to extract more performance from it, which is a fantastic feeling for any racing driver.

“It’s easy to say that you’ll treat each race with a certain amount of respect. But the reality is that I haven’t changed my style: it seems to work for me and I enjoy pushing hard to achieve a good result. That’s when I feel I am operating at my maximum and it’s potentially dangerous to start thinking about changing your approach at this point in the season. I’ll be honest: my approach has served me fairly well so far and I’d need to give it some serious thought before attempting to change it. Let’s just say it will be business as usual in Hungary this weekend.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Formula One CEO
“The two circuits on the calendar that most resemble the characteristics of the Hungaroring are, bizarrely, Montreal, which is dusty and low-grip, and Monte Carlo, which requires a high-downforce set-up to cope with the minimal straights and numerous low-speed corners. And the reality is that we were reasonably competitive at both those circuits. While it has been true to say that one of the key strengths of our car is its pace in high-speed corners, we’ve done a lot of work to the package to strengthen its weak spots. At Silverstone, we were comfortable with our pace through the last sector, and at Hockenheim, we were comfortably quickest through the stadium section of the track, which is tight and reliant on good mechanical grip. We won in Hungary last season and travel to Budapest confident that we have strengthened the weaknesses of our package. Nonetheless, we are fully prepared for a battle with our rivals, whom we can never under-estimate.”

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“The characteristics of the circuit just outside Budapest are quite different to those at the previous Grands Prix in Silverstone and at the Hockenheimring. The average speed per lap of almost 200km/h is the second lowest speed after Monaco, where we won. In Hungary, we have clinched four victories out of the last 10 races; Lewis was our most recent winner last year. Four times we started from pole in Hungary, the last time also in 2007 with Lewis, and we have posted four fastest race laps.

“As overtaking on the Hungaroring is almost impossible, apart from into turn one, a good grid position is even more crucial than on most other circuits. Nevertheless, at the Hungaroring, we will hardly see spectacular overtaking manoeuvres as demonstrated by Lewis on his way to victory in Hockenheim when he passed Felipe Massa and Nelson Piquet. To be fast through the many corners, which make up the largest part of the circuit, a lot of downforce will be key. At the Hungaroring, this is more important than good top speed. The high ambient temperatures at this race are among the highest which often put a lot of strain on car, engine cooling, tyres and of course the drivers.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 7th, 2007 Race - 5th

“For sure we can expect a lot of Polish fans in Budapest. The Hungarian Grand Prix is the closest race to my home country, so in some way it is my home race. The Hungaroring is the track where I had my first Formula One race in 2006. As a driver you always have a special relationship with the track where you had your first Grand Prix. However, it is not for these reasons alone that I like this track. For most of the lap you have some steering angle, which means you rarely get a break, and this is made worse by the fact the straights are very short. The Hungaroring is a difficult track, but then Formula One is about challenges.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2007 Qualifying - 2nd, 2007 Race - 3rd

“I’ve always coped very well on the Hungaroring. The track suits me, and in the short history of our team I took a podium place there in 2006 and 2007. In 2006 it was the first podium for our team at the end of an unbelievably wet race. In 2007 I started second and finished third again. I also have a lot of positive memories of the Hungaroring going back to previous occasions. In 1999 I took an early Formula 3000 title there and was able to celebrate. The city is beautiful. I just love the historic buildings and its setting on the river. Budapest has lots of charm, especially when the weather is really summery. If it’s dry the circuit gets very dusty particularly at the start of the weekend. Racing there is exhausting because there aren’t any long straights where you can sit back and relax a little bit. I’m looking forward to the Hungarian Grand Prix and hope we will perform as strongly again as we have done in the last two years.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director
“In the last two years, the Hungarian Grand Prix was a very exciting affair for us. In 2006 the weather turned the race into a cliffhanger, and in 2007 an offensive strategy really put us on our mettle but rewarded us with a podium place. For 2008 the goal is to make it onto the Budapest podium for the third consecutive time. Our pledge is to get both cars firmly into the top ten qualifiers and take home another decent points haul from the race. The Hungaroring makes huge demands on the cars’ aerodynamics and brakes. At 58 percent, the full-throttle percentage is at the lower end. However, temperatures could become critical for the powertrain. It’s generally hot in Budapest in August, and the heat tends to build up in the dust bowl of the circuit. Plus the low average speed does its bit to drive cooling systems to the limits.”

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber technical director
“After Monaco, the Hungaroring is the track with the lowest average speed. Especially in the middle section of the track, it’s just one turn after another, and the start-finish straight is relatively short. That calls for maximum downforce. Overtaking is very difficult, and you have to take that into consideration in your race strategy. The track accumulates fresh sand every day, so grip levels are accordingly low, which can lead to understeer. In Hungary we use the softest tyre compounds. When it comes to the car’s set-up, you have to focus primarily on the middle section, which consists of a variety of corner combinations and the very tight final turns before the start-finish straight, which require good traction. The track layout and frequent high air temperatures mean the cars have to drive with maximum cooling.”