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Turkish Grand Prix - team and driver preview quotes 29 May 2009

Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 28 March 2009 Hirohide Hamashima (JPN) Head of Bridgestone Tyre Development.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 19 October 2008 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso retires from the race after a crash.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Race, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 24 May 2009 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 21 May 2009 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 21 May 2009

The historic Monaco Grand Prix is a tough act to follow, but it’s clear that Istanbul Park, which will host next weekend’s Turkish race, is more than up to the challenge. State of the art, and featuring one of the most challenging corners on the calendar, the already legendary Turn Eight, it’s no wonder the drivers can’t wait to get started...

Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal
“In Istanbul, the RB5 will essentially be in the same specification as in Monaco, with a few minor aero updates. Istanbul Park is a fast and flowing track with the particularly challenging Turn Eight and a relatively slow final section - it therefore has some similarities to Barcelona. This is an important race in the championship and our target is to challenge the Brawns who have had a remarkable run so far. It was also clear at the last two races that Ferrari have made a significant step forward and I think we can expect them to play a key role this weekend, especially as it’s a race they’ve won for the past three years.

“The high-speed Turkish track represents a completely different challenge to Monaco and it should be better suited to the strengths of our car. Mark was competitive at this circuit last year and Sebastian (Vettel) made his F1 debut in Turkey in 2007, as a ‘Friday-driver’ for BMW, topping the time sheet in both sessions. It will be important for us to achieve a strong result and our objective has to be to reduce the gap to the championship leaders. We’ve been competitive at all the circuits so far this season, even though at a couple of races our performance has been compromised by cars equipped with KERS.

“Management of the softer tyres in the inevitably high Turkish temperatures will also be a key factor, as indeed it has been at most of the races so far. It will be important not to abuse the tyres in the high-speed turns and this could play a key role in the final result. We look forward to the weekend, it should be a really interesting race.”

Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"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. It has high speed sections and also heavy braking. Both of these factors mean that a lot of energy is being put through the tyres, so watching wear and degradation will be a consideration. 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.

"Turn Eight is a difficult corner and we have learnt a lot about this corner from the problems we have seen here in the past. This season we are using slick tyres, and they are inherently stronger in the tread than a grooved tyre. In addition, we developed the tyres using the data gained here previously, so we are not predicting any issues, however we are always vigilant as this corner produces the highest G forces we see all season."

Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso
2008 Qualifying - 18th, 2008 Race - DNF

“The Monaco weekend went pretty well, bringing home a point, which is always good for morale, especially at such a prestigious race. It was a good race and I hope we can continue to move forward with this momentum, starting in Turkey. We have begun to get a better understanding of what we are doing with this car, which should allow us to get more performance out of it now. In Istanbul, we will run the car in a way which we hope will provide the key to a good step forward in terms of extracting all the potential out of our package. So far this year, it was often a case of waiting for Friday practice to see how the car would work and then establishing a set-up, but this weekend we will start with a good idea of what we want and that should see us being able to make more progress over the rest of the weekend. It’s always good to arrive at a race track in these conditions. As for the Istanbul track, it’s fun to drive, even if it lacks some grip. The stand out corner is Turn Eight, where you need to have a car that is stable over the bumps which characterise the corner, but Istanbul isn’t just about the one turn and pure performance involves having a car that is well balanced everywhere.”

Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso
2008 Qualifying - N/A, 2008 Race - N/A

“I’ve raced here twice in GP2, finishing on the podium in third place last year, so I have good memories of Turkey. I like the circuit: very modern, very fast and featuring the famous Turn Eight, the quadruple left-hander, which is rather special. I have always felt comfortable here, so I don’t have too many worries and I hope that will be the case this year, for my first time in F1. Our car is going better and better, even if it’s true that I’ve had three difficult weekends at the last three races: in Bahrain I was unlucky to pick up a piece of Kubica’s car that got wedged in my front wing, in Spain someone drove into me and in Monaco I made a mistake. At the moment when these things happen, I find them hard to deal with, but afterwards I don’t let them bother me. I tell myself I’m in Formula One trying to do the best I can, so there is no point in beating yourself up over what’s happened. I just want to move forward and I hope that, starting with Turkey, things will improve and we can look to score points again. I think that with what we learned about the car in Monaco, we should be able to use all its potential now and Istanbul should provide a clearer picture of where we really are in the order. We definitely need to do better than at the last three races!”

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2008 Qualifying - 4th, 2008 Race - 3rd

“Ferrari have gone very well at the Turkish Grand Prix over the last three years, but this time Brawn GP is the great favourite, because they won five out of the six races so far. We’re closing the gap, but we’ve got to give it our all to get back in the lead. It was great to be back on the podium at Monaco. The team pushed very hard and it was a very nice reward to have both cars amongst the first four. The Monaco weekend was a step forward as far as the result is concerned, but we have to be patient - I know that our fans want to see us winning immediately, but we have to be realistic. We’re closer, that’s for sure, and we’ll have some updates in Turkey; but we know that the others work hard too.

“Compared to the Monaco track the Istanbul Park is a more conventional track and we have a more definite idea. I really like this track and it’s very demanding. There are all types of corners and blind spots to brake; everything you need for a beautiful race. This year’s cars have less downforce, but we’re using slicks - Turn Eight will be very exciting under these circumstances. I think that it’s the downforce we still have to make up ground compared to Brawn GP and Red Bull, but we’re heading in the right direction. Now, almost half way through the season, I’m much more optimistic than I was at the start, especially with the steps we’ve taken in the last two races. We know that there are further improvements coming up, which makes me think positive about the future. Who wins five out of six races at the start of the season is in an excellent position to winning the title, but the championship isn’t over yet. Everything can happen, although things have to change very soon.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2008 Qualifying - 1st, 2008 Race - 1st

“I have a very good record in Istanbul, having won for the last three years starting from pole position each time. I find it difficult to explain why I should be so strong here, other than the fact we had three fantastic weekends in Turkey, when everything worked perfectly, with the car performing very well right from the first session. It would be nice to carry on in the same direction. I just like the track and feel comfortable there, but it’s hard to pinpoint why it suits me better than some other circuits. I do prefer fast-flowing tracks and have a feel for all the corners here, as it’s not good enough to only be fast over one particular section of the track. I think I’ve also found a good way to set up the car perfectly for this circuit. It’s not just Turkey though, as I’ve won in Brazil for the last two years and actually, it should have been the last three in my home race. In fact, it’s been suggested to me that maybe the reason is that they are the only two anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar. Who knows? Maybe I’m better than others at driving through left handed corners!

“Turn Eight in Istanbul is an amazing corner, where you hit one of the highest lateral G-force levels of the season, which puts a lot of stress on your neck and body. On top of that, in the middle of the corner, you have a big bump, which can give you a problem in terms of stability. It is a really a tricky corner, with different lines to choose from, depending on how your car is behaving: sometimes you have too much understeer, or oversteer in the middle and all these factors make it very challenging. The last few years, I haven’t had to give much thought to the overtaking possibilities in Istanbul, starting from the number one slot on the grid. This year, given how competitive the front of the field is in qualifying, it is going to be a very interesting Saturday afternoon, but at least the track does provide some passing opportunities, especially with the long main straight. Last year, Lewis (Hamilton) changed his strategy to a three stop and was easily able to pass me. On Wednesday I jump on a flight to Istanbul and I can’t wait for Friday to see if the progress seen in Spain and Monaco will continue in Turkey.”

Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 12th, 2008 Race - 14th

"Istanbul Park is quite a challenging circuit as it is one of very few tracks which runs anti-clockwise, just like my home circuit of Interlagos in Sao Paulo. It's tough driving an anti-clockwise track as the muscles on that side of your neck aren't used as much throughout the year so we do some extra training to prepare as some of the quickest corners at Istanbul Park are also left-handers. The lap itself has a nice flow allowing you to find a good rhythm and the highlight is the high-speed turn eight which is a quick and blind triple apex corner with the additional challenge of some very bumpy tarmac. The circuit is one of the best modern tracks on the calendar and I have been very impressed since we started racing here in 2005. The facilities are fantastic but most importantly from a drivers' point of view the track has produced some really good races."

Jenson Button, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 13th, 2008 Race - 11th

"The Turkish Grand Prix is always a race that I look forward to as I really enjoy driving the Istanbul Park circuit and have been quite competitive there in the past. Hermann Tilke did a great job with the layout of the track here and the changes in gradient are great fun and quite challenging for the drivers. We've seen some excellent racing at Istanbul Park with good overtaking opportunities at turns one and three. You can also pass down the hill into turn nine and at Turns 12 and 13 if you brake late enough and get it just right. Turn Eight is obviously the corner that everyone talks about and it's probably the longest corner that I've ever driven. It's quite high G-force, up to 5G for seven seconds, which puts a lot of stress on your neck. You have to be as smooth as possible through the triple apex and if you get it right and take it flat, then it is one of those corners where you exit with a huge smile having made up a lot of time."

Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal
"After a week back at the factory in Brackley to reflect on our successes in Monaco, the team is now looking forward to our next challenge at the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul this weekend. The Monaco Grand Prix was a wonderful weekend with Jenson and Rubens, the team and our engine partner Mercedes-Benz, performing at the top of their game to bring home our third one-two finish of the season. However Monaco is a unique track and we know that our competitors will be very strong in Turkey this weekend. Development work on the BGP 001 car has continued apace at the factory and we will be bringing a new front wing to Turkey along with some aerodynamic updates and new rear suspension elements. Istanbul Park is a thoroughly modern race track which presents an interesting engineering challenge to get the best out of the car through the high-speed sections and the slower turns at the end of the lap. It's hard to believe that we are already over a third of the way through this season and it's been a very intense but immensely rewarding start for the Brawn GP team."

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 19th, 2008 Race - 16th

“The main upgrades will now come in Silverstone so we have to be quite realistic about the performance this weekend. We have to keep pushing and try to have another strong qualifying that sets us up for the race. I enjoy the track and you can actually overtake in some corners so I hope we can have some good fights and be able to move up the field. I think we're solid midfield contenders now so we have to get to the finish and see where we are.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 20th, 2008 Race - DNF

“I quite enjoy Turkey. It's a very physical track, you get lots of adrenaline when you drive there with the gradient changes and I have had some good results, including a fourth in 2005. We don't have a lot of new development coming through for this race though so it is going to be a tough one but once again we need to keep pushing. I'd love to get into Q2 again but we will know more about where we stand after Friday.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
“We have some new development items coming through, such as new front wheel spinners and a small modification for the rear suspension, plus the rear wing we ran in Monaco will also undergo some slight changes to suit the downforce level in Istanbul. However the main thrust of the upgrades will come through in Silverstone now, so our aim for Turkey should be to keep the momentum we picked up in Monaco going and consolidate our form rather than wholesale improvements.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 8th, 2008 Race - 10th

"I am hopeful of a strong result this weekend. Monaco was difficult for everyone in the team but that is in the past now and we are looking forward to the next race. Monaco is basically a one-off circuit for Formula One and the Istanbul track is very different so I'm sure we will be a lot more competitive this weekend. We are third in the constructors' championship which shows that overall we are in good shape this year and it is important we return to the performance level we had in the first four races. Istanbul is not one of my favourite circuits and I have not had much luck there in the past; but I am determined to change that. Turn Eight is the most challenging part of the track and it's important to get your set-up right for this as you need a balanced car to be really quick. I can't wait to start practice and find out where we are because I am fired up to bounce back this weekend."

Timo Glock, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 15th, 2008 Race - 13th

"I am going to Turkey with a huge amount of determination because Monaco was not the kind of weekend we expect and we are all looking forward to getting back to where we belong. Everyone at the team is really passionate about racing and about succeeding so the Monaco weekend hurt us but also gave us even more motivation to improve. I have spent some time at the factory since then to do what I can to help and I can see everyone there is giving everything for the team to succeed. Clearly we want to get back in the points this weekend but really our goals are higher than that and we ultimately want to be fighting for the podium. It's a very close fight at the moment so it's difficult to predict exactly what will happen but certainly we expect a big improvement and I am looking forward to battling at the right end of the grid in Turkey."

John Howett, Toyota President
"Clearly we want - and expect - to deliver a significantly better performance in Turkey than we did in Monaco, which was unacceptable to us. We saw in Spain and Monaco that we were not good enough on slow-speed sectors and we have worked tirelessly to understand the reason for this. It tends to be influenced by traction and this was magnified by Monaco. We have conducted a straight-line aero test and that will give us the information we need to rapidly develop a solution. Turkey is a very different circuit to Monaco and I am very optimistic we will be strong."

Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 16th, 2008 Race - DNF

“Turkey is one of the few tracks we race on in an anti-clockwise direction so that puts a lot of pressure on our necks. With lateral loads reaching 4.5g, I’ll be doing lots of neck work before the race to prepare. I don’t have much experience of the track as I was knocked out of last year’s race on the first lap, but it’s a circuit which tends to suit our car with its mix of long and short straights, several corners for overtaking and then there’s Turn Eight - a triple apexer where we’ll hit speeds of 250km/h. It’ll be challenging, but I can’t wait to get going. It’s certainly not as glamorous as Monaco but I quite like that! The one thing I don’t like, though, is the traffic! As usual, I won’t be going out much. I’ll stick to my team hotel and have some quiet dinners with my trainer and the mechanics and focus on the job in hand.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 11th, 2008 Race - 8th

“Turkey is usually a good track for us and we should be able to score points there. I like the circuit, and it’s a completely different proposition to where we’ve just come from. There are definitely some good overtaking opportunities around the lap as the track stretches to about 20m wide at one point and there are lots of large braking zones. We’ll have some upgrades for Turkey, so I really hope that maybe we can make a step forward and pick up points. It’s so difficult at the moment though. There are teams that have come from behind us and are now in front, like Ferrari, and then teams like Red Bull, Brawn and Toyota are still ahead of us. It’s going to be very challenging for us to score points, but I really hope that we can beat one or two of those cars with the upgrades we’ll have. We need to keep getting a handful of points from each race. I really enjoy going to Turkey. It’s a great cosmopolitan city and I enjoy visiting its different elements, like the bazaar, the cool restaurants or even some of the very ancient sites. I also love my photography and it’s a perfect place to take some pictures.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2008 Qualifying - 7th, 2008 Race - 6th

“Istanbul Park is a fun circuit with good overtaking opportunities, especially Turn 12 at the end of the back straight, which leads into the final complex of low-speed corners. There are also fast sections and some special corners like the long left-hander of Turn Eight, which is one of the most exciting of the year. The challenge of Istanbul Park is to find the right balance so that you have a responsive car that works well in the fast and slow sections. It's clear that we need to take another step forward. We will have new developments for the car over the next few weeks and that should help, but I'm not expecting to jump to the front of the grid in Turkey. However, I still believe that later in the year we can be back fighting for podiums and winning races, just as we did last year. We know it won't be easy, but the whole team is extremely motivated and determined to get back to the front.”

Nelson Piquet, Renault
2008 Qualifying - 17th, 2008 Race - 15th

“I do enjoy driving at Istanbul Park as it's quite a varied track with some slow and fast sections. Turn Eight is the high-speed corner that everybody talks about as there's nothing else like it all season. It's a very physical corner which feels like it goes on forever and that makes it tough for the tyres. We will have less aero grip this year, but with slicks tyres I think we will still be able to take it almost flat- out. My priority is to try and score some points to help the team in the championship. The track should suit the car and we will also have some new updates this weekend which should give us some extra performance. We need to qualify well, hopefully in the top ten, and choose an aggressive strategy so that we can move forward in the race.”

Pat Symonds, Renault Executive Director of Engineering
“As always the primary focus is on aerodynamics and for Turkey the attention has been on the front wing and the end plates with updates in those areas. The front wing is such an important area of the car because it's the first part to meet the air and the flow that comes off it determines the aerodynamics behind it. So that's where our focus is, but we aren't ignoring the other areas as we're continually working on the suspension and will do so again in Turkey. These won't be huge updates, nor changes to the geometry, but they focus on the fundamental way we set the car up in combination with the aerodynamics so that we can get the two to work in harmony. The car continues to improve and we've seen from the published apex speeds that we seem to be quite strong in the medium and high-speed corners. Turn Eight in Turkey is the really challenging corner and I think our car will be good through there. It's a quick corner and was almost taken flat last year so we'll have to see what it's like with reduced aerodynamics this year. Certainly Istanbul Park is a circuit that we go to with confidence.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 3rd, 2008 Race - 2nd

“I love racing in Turkey: it’s a real challenge because you need to attack the lap to get a good time, but you also need to be careful with your tyres - if you push too much, particularly through Turn Eight, then your tyres are going to suffer. It’s all about finding the perfect balance in practice and being disciplined in the race so you don’t overdo it. I also love the fact that it’s a new circuit that has really captured the flavour of some of the older, classic tracks - it’s got a bit of everything and is fantastic to drive. Also, as it’s anti-clockwise, it gives your neck a bit of a workout - but you just need to make sure you’ve exercised the left side of your neck a little more than usual before getting in the car.”

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 2nd, 2008 Race - 12th

“Turkey is all about Turn Eight - the high-speed, four-apex left-hander. On a good day in qualifying, it’s flat-out - and that’s a pretty good feeling when you get it right. It’s also very important to look after your tyres through Turn Eight - you put a lot of load through the tyres, particularly the fronts, so it’s a good idea to look after them during the race. The best place to overtake here is into Turn 12, the corner at the end of the back straight. You can get a good tow and slipstream past - with KERS we should hopefully see some exciting racing.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“The Istanbul Park circuit is one of the most challenging modern circuits - for both teams and drivers. Firstly, it’s a real set-up challenge - you need to find a handling balance between the high-speed corners, the slower, infield section and the long straights. In addition, tyre-wear - particularly to the heavily loaded front-right through Turn Eight - is a crucial factor in determining overall strategy. For the drivers, a combination of multi-apex and blind corners adds to the challenge. We go to Turkey in the knowledge that the track characteristics are a bit less likely to suit our package than Monaco, but we are improving all the time, have several minor upgrades for MP4-24 and look forward to assessing our competitiveness against our rivals.”

Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President
“The layout of the circuit is challenging and, in Turn Eight, comprises the longest and fastest corner on the calendar as well as very slow corners where good braking stability and good traction are needed. KERS should again be a good support to improve our lap times, but nevertheless the Turkish Grand Prix will be a demanding challenge for us.”

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 9th, 2008 Race - 5th

“I hope our dismal performance in Monaco proves to be a glitch and that it was down to that particular circuit being unsuitable for our car. After all, there were signs of a forward trend at the previous race in Spain, and the next update is ready for Istanbul - also including a double diffuser.

"The Istanbul circuit has some extremely good sections, particularly Turn Eight, of course, which is quite a challenge - very long, fast and with several apexes. For the long straight with the right-hand kink you need a good top speed. It’s a vast city, very international and fascinating.

"I’ll be there on Wednesday already for an event with our partner Intel. I’m staying at a hotel on the European side again and will take a motor scooter to carve my way through the congestion over the bridge to Asia.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 5th, 2008 Race - 4th

“The track in Istanbul is totally different to Monaco. It is a very modern race track with a couple of high-speed corners. The most famous high-speed corner there is the left-hander Turn Eight. Of course, we hope to perform better in Istanbul than in Monaco.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director
“Ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix our results are quite sobering. Nobody in the team expected the season to pan out as it has so far. After taking a forward step in Spain, we were clearly off the pace in Monaco. To regain our competitiveness we will have to ramp up our development speed significantly. In Istanbul we will have the next step of our development ready and will be using a multistage diffuser for the first time. After three successful years, this phase is our first setback. We can deal with it. After all, it was the same team in Munich and Hinwil that ensured our progressive advancement since the BMW Sauber F1 Team was founded. We are all determined to get ourselves back among the front runners again.”

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering
“We’ll be lining up in Turkey with a new development package, which also features a double diffuser. Since the F1.09 concept was not designed for this, we had to make a number of aerodynamic adjustments. There are modifications to the front wings, side bargeboards, rim shields and the rear part of the engine cover. We expect this to take us a step forward, although we know that our rivals are not standing still. After the race in Monte Carlo we also had an in-depth look at the tyre problems. For the race in Turkey, Bridgestone is providing the soft and hard compounds, which are hugely different. The harder of the two compounds in particular will pose a challenge for the engineers. The Istanbul Park circuit is run in an anti-clockwise direction and it’s as varied as it gets. It has slow sections where good traction is crucial, but there are also fast parts such as the spectacular Turn Eight with its four sections, which has to be taken in a single line at around 250 km/h. Overall, the track makes stringent demands on the car’s balance. After the disappointing outcome in Monte Carlo, we hope to come away with a positive result here.”

More to follow.