British Grand Prix - team and driver preview quotes 16 Jun 2009
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...
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"Last year's race was wet and we have often seen changeable weather here so it could be interesting. Silverstone has an abrasive track surface and it does dry quite quickly from being wet. We have not used our new intermediate compound in a wet race yet. It is a soft compound but we are confident it will work well, even at an abrasive circuit like Silverstone. The low speed section of the track, before the start-finish straight, is a breeding ground for graining so we expect to see quite a lot of this here, especially at the beginning of the weekend. The majority of a lap at Silverstone is very fast so cars require good fast corner stability and the tyres need good heat and wear resistance. The last sector is lower speed so a good set-up has to work well here as well as in the high speed sections."
Jenson Button, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 17th, 2008 Race - DNF
"The British Grand Prix is always an amazing weekend and I can't wait to race at Silverstone in front of our home fans on Sunday. To be leading the championship going into my home Grand Prix is something that I've never experienced before and it puts a smile on my face every time I think about it. I've raced at Silverstone from some fairly tough positions in the past but the fans have always been so supportive and I'd love to give them a performance that they can really enjoy this weekend. We took a good step forward with the balance of our car in Turkey but know that our closest competitors are going to be good in the high-speed corners so it will be an interesting weekend. If we come away with a good result, I'll be so happy on Sunday!
"The layout of Silverstone makes it one of the classic racing circuits and along with Suzuka and Spa, it has to be one of the best tracks out there. Every driver who races here loves the place as it's so fast and you can really push the car to its limits. It's a great circuit for the fans as you can see just how amazing the cars are from the speed, the change of the direction and the braking. I particularly love the section of the track around Becketts which is one of the best complexes in Formula One and a great place to watch the race. I have so many memories of Silverstone going right back to Mansell's win in 1987 and my first Formula One race there in 2000 when David Coulthard won and I finished fifth. It's strange to think that this might be our last race at Silverstone and I can't imagine not having a British Grand Prix so we'll be going all out to put on a fantastic show."
Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 16th, 2008 Race - 3rd
"Silverstone is one of my all-time favourite circuits and I absolutely love racing there. The track is fantastic as it is one of the few remaining on the calendar that are high-speed, fast-flowing and really allow you to let the car go through the quick corners. It is also a very safe track and that's important from a driver's perspective. Becketts is probably the most impressive corner with a 290km/h bend which leads into a challenging complex. Overtaking can be pretty spectacular if you get it right in one of the high-speed sections although the best opportunities are probably the slower corners at Vale and Abbey.
"I have some amazing memories from Silverstone over the years and it feels really sad that this might be the last time that we race there. I spent so much time testing and racing at the circuit when I was younger that it almost feels like a home track and the crowds are always supportive, even if you aren't British! My win here in 2003 was really special and it's fantastic to be returning this year with a car that has the potential to compete for the victory. There's a lot of expectation going into the weekend as our team's home Grand Prix but we will remain calm and just focus on doing the best job that we possibly can."
Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal
"The British Grand Prix at Silverstone will be a particularly special weekend for our team this year. Our base in Brackley is just eight miles from the circuit and we are very proud, as a British team, to be going into our home race leading the constructors' and drivers' championships. I have been fortunate enough to have been on the winning team at Silverstone in the past and it is an extremely special feeling that I would love to share with this team. We are holding a family day at our factory on Sunday for everyone who is not working at the track and it would be fantastic to head back there in the evening with a great result to celebrate what should be a very memorable weekend. Whilst it is very sad that this may be the last race at Silverstone as it is such a wonderful race track, the most important thing is that we retain the British Grand Prix for the future."
Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2008 Qualifying - 9th, 2008 Race - 13th
On paper, this weekends British Grand Prix takes place at a track with some similarities to the last race in Istanbul, where we were not so competitive. This weekends track also features fast corners, flowing sections and a final slow sector and we will have the same two types of tyre from Bridgestone, but that doesnt mean I think we will struggle as much as we did a fortnight ago. For a start, the new components we have on the car this weekend, including a front wing and a lighter chassis, should make us more competitive. But, more importantly, in Turkey we went backwards over the course of the weekend, after being very competitive on Friday and on Saturday morning. We now know why that happened, which is the most important thing: we believe that with the very high track temperatures, we ran too low on the downforce and should have run with more rear wing, because as the temperature rises, the grip from the tyres went down and we needed to compensate for that. As the temperature gradually got higher, our cars were running slower and slower in the first sector of the track; the one where you need the most downforce. In other words, the problem we had was related to the way we worked, rather than any specific fault on the car.
So I think we can be more competitive this weekend, with these changes to the car. Apparently this is the last time we will race at Silverstone and I have to say that I have always enjoyed racing here, even if my track record is nothing special, especially in the wet and if you think back to last year, I had a terrible afternoon in the rain. All the same, it is a nice track and I hope that where we go next for the British Grand Prix will be as good as Silverstone in terms of its layout and the pleasure it provides in terms of driving.
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 15th, 2008 Race - 8th
Silverstone is one of the older tracks we race at and has kept much of its original layout which has made it one of the few remaining true drivers tracks. As youd expect, its therefore very demanding on the cars and the drivers, but mainly on the tyres. All the high speed corners put a lot of load onto the tyres so we have to be really careful with them. We also have to watch the weather. Everyone knows how unpredictable summer can be in the UK so anything can happen. Silverstone is also exposed to quite strong winds which can affect the car and which we have to take into consideration in the set-up process. I really enjoy going to Silverstone. As Ive lived in Oxford for a few years now, the British Grand Prix is kind of a home race for me after Japan. The British fans seem to really love Formula One and make a big weekend of it, so it should be a bit more lively than Turkey! Williams has a lot of history at Silverstone, winning our first race there in 1979 and then our 100th as well, so its also a bit of a special weekend for the team.
Nico Rosberg, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 20th, 2008 Race - 9th
Silverstone is a great circuit, one of the few remaining tracks that really challenge a driver. It has quite a varied layout but really is dominated by the fast corners. Our car is much better suited to these types of circuits this year, so Im going to Silverstone with more optimism than I did last! As well as taking into consideration the high speed corners for set-up, you have to consider the relatively slow sector three. We have to work quite hard to make sure we get the optimum balance on the car to hook up a competitive lap time because of those extremes. Overtaking isnt easy at Silverstone, so qualifying is also really important here. Even though Im German, it still feels special racing in front of the British fans when you drive for a British team. The atmosphere is amazing at Silverstone, and I know that lots of people come for the weekend who are based in the factory. As a reward for all their efforts this year, it would be amazing if we could deliver a really good result on Sunday.
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 18th, 2008 Race - DNF
The team is based about 400m from the main gates and Silverstone feels like a second home to me now as I go there so often. The race is a very special one, not just because it's the home race, there is something about the atmosphere that has a buzz unlike anywhere else. The British fans love their motorsport and it's not just for Lewis or Jenson, you really feel their enthusiasm for the sport in general. The track is also a very good one. It's very fast and there are some great sections such as the Copse to Maggotts section that you have to take quickly but be gentle on the gas and on the brakes - I know, I've had some offs there in the past! The final complex slows the lap down a bit and you lose your rhythm slightly but the final turn on Woodcote can be tricky to get right. The walls are very close!
We have a new aero package at Silverstone and I am really looking forward to driving it. We've looked at the numbers back in the factory and it shows a clear improvement so I am keen to get my hands on it and really try and mix it up in the midfield. I had quite a good race in Turkey and could fight with both the McLarens and also a Brawn so just a little bit more performance could see us in the hunt for points. But it's so competitive out there we have to be right on top of our game right through from free practice.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 19th, 2008 Race - DNF
Silverstone is such a historic track and the atmosphere is always great that racing there is always a special feeling, but for sure I do feel something more now I'm with Force India. The whole team work so hard and quite often for little reward in terms of points and results, that I really hope I can put on a good show while they can see it. With the new upgrades coming through I'm pretty confident that would be possible. For me, it's one of the best circuits of the year. The first part of the circuit, from Copse to Becketts is very high speed, taken nearly flat. We slow down just a little bit at the end of the pit straight, then we go flat again. We lift the throttle pedal just a little for four at the middle of the complex and then back on it again for five. Even turn seven, Stowe, is another nice, quick fourth gear corner before a hairpin in turn eight, Vale. Through Club it's quite difficult as the car is sliding around on four wheels, with the rear end very nervous. Under the bridge is now quite easy, but a few years ago it was much more difficult. The last corner through the complex is typically understeer but you need to have a good exit as then you're across the start finish line. If this year will be the last race at Silverstone, I'll be sad to see it go.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal
We have a fairly large upgrade scheduled for this weekend. We will introduce changes to the front wing, bodywork and floor with one or two detail updates elsewhere as well. It's a significant step forward and I am very pleased that the team has been able to explore, build and then get this on the car before the summer break. Our rate of development has, I would say, been quite impressive given the small number of people and the limited budget we have available and I hope the overall package will take a step forward this weekend.
Because it's home to us Silverstone is special, and we're unveiling a new package for Silverstone. And hopefully we'll get the improved performance out of the car and get to Q2 without difficulty. The World Twenty20 is on as well, so all my cricket friends are in the UK. Kevin Pietersen will probably attend - as you know he plays for my team. There will be a lot of people from India and South Africa, so I am looking forward to a good mix of all my business interests!
Fernando Alonso, Renault
2008 Qualifying - 6th, 2008 Race - 6th
I remain optimistic and determined to get a better result at Silverstone. The R29 has always worked well in high-speed corners and so we should be more competitive this weekend. We will also have some new developments, which should give us some extra performance. In terms of the track, it's a great place to drive a Formula One car and as this is probably the last time we will race at Silverstone, I will make sure I enjoy the experience.
Nelson Piquet, Renault
2008 Qualifying - 7th, 2008 Race - DNF
It's a track that I love and hopefully we can go there and get a good result. It's the local race for Enstone and so we always have good support there and the British fans are really enthusiastic about Formula One. It almost feels like a home race for me as I've been living in the UK for five years now and it's a track where I raced a lot earlier in my career. As I've already said, qualifying will be crucial, especially due to the high-speed layout of the track which makes overtaking very difficult.
Bob Bell, Renault technical director
We've got reasonably high expectations for Silverstone, although we're remaining realistic because we know we're not suddenly going to be fighting for the podium. The high-speed nature of the track should suit us and the R29 will work well in the quick corners. Our braking performance is probably an area where we are losing out at the moment, but Silverstone is not especially demanding on the brakes and so we go there confident of delivering a better result than we did in Turkey.
We have a development to the diffuser, which is a reasonable step forward, as well as an upgrade to the front wing package. We explored some developments to the front wing in Turkey and will be running it again in Silverstone with further enhancements that we believe will improve the car. We also have some mechanical changes, more to do with functionality than performance, but they're still important and should help us.
It's a very special race for all the teams based in the UK as it's a focal point in the middle of the season. Usually a lot of staff from the team go to the race and there is always a special atmosphere which all the teams enjoy. We go to every race determined to do the best job we can, but we'd love to put on a good show in Silverstone.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 14th, 2008 Race - 7th
"It was very satisfying to get back on track with our strong result in Turkey. I believe we belong at the front of the grid this year and it was important to bounce back and show how competitive we really are. The team has pushed hard with development and we must continue to do this to close the gap on the cars in front of us. I expect our car should go well at Silverstone as we have been very competitive on circuits with similar characteristics, so I am fired up to fight at the front again. Silverstone is a special place to race because of the passionate fans and the history surrounding the track. Personally I am not a huge fan of Silverstone and it hasn't always been kind to me, although I was one of the fastest cars last year in the wet. But it is an important circuit to Formula 1 and it will be a loss. If this is the last Grand Prix at Silverstone for a while, I hope I can leave there with some happy memories."
Timo Glock, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 12th, 2008 Race - 12th
"I am looking forward to the British Grand Prix and I think we have a great chance at Silverstone. It's an enjoyable place to race because the fans are so enthusiastic about Formula 1 and it's a really exciting lay-out. So it is a pity the Grand Prix is leaving Silverstone but then again new venues can be exciting too. The main feature of Silverstone is speed because there are some fantastic fast corners which are really good fun for a driver. This year I am particularly looking forward to this race because our car should be strong at this type of track. We were really competitive in Turkey with some new parts on the car and we expect to build on that this weekend. It was unfortunate my qualifying didn't go as planned in Istanbul because I could have been up with Jarno in the top six but I am really motivated to make sure everything goes to plan this weekend. The front of the grid is pretty close at the moment so if we get the maximum from our package then we can be battling with the fastest cars."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota senior general manager chassis:
"We expect to be strong at the British Grand Prix because the lay-out should suit our package. So far this season we have been extremely competitive at tracks which require high aero efficiency so we have high hopes for Silverstone. With the exception of Monaco we have been strong at all tracks and Turkey was a return to form for us. Even though we are in the top three in terms of performance we are still missing a little in order to be systematically contending to win. That is our target and we are working hard to close the gap. We expect to build on our Turkish performance and deliver a genuinely competitive car this weekend."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 5th, 2008 Race - 2nd
"I've always really liked driving at Silverstone and I've been there many times. I first raced at the track in Formula 3000 and then did a lot of kilometres there in my early days as a Formula One test driver. I've always enjoyed competing at the circuit but, despite the number of laps I've covered there, for some reason it has never been one of my showcase tracks, unlike Budapest or Suzuka. Last year's race in Silverstone was great. In the middle of all the chaos caused by the weather we opted for the right tyres, and I was able to pull off several good overtaking manoeuvres and finish second. The whole opening section at Silverstone is fantastic - very fast and unmistakable. I would be really disappointed if Silverstone did end up being taken off the calendar. I've never found the circuit outdated - traditional yes, but not antiquated. In addition to the wonderful corners at the track, the very special atmosphere generated by the fans would be a big loss."
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 10th, 2008 Race - DNF
"I always like to go racing at Silverstone. The British fans are amazing. It is a historic motor sport place and you can always feel the special racing atmosphere there. Usually the weather is quite unpredictable at Silverstone. Wind plays an important role. Especially in the high- speed corners it can have a big effect on the car's behaviour. From a driver's perspective the circuit is quite challenging. The first sector is very fast and has a couple of real high-speed corners. I think Silverstone might be a track that suits our car."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director
"Going into the British Grand Prix we are well aware that we still have a serious amount of work to do. However, we can now build on our performance in Istanbul. We fitted a double- decker diffuser for the first time in Turkey and the effect was clear. Our car was fast enough to score points thanks to our own performance. Of course, nobody within the team is satisfied with the result, but we will use it as a platform to put the next steps into action. We have increased our speed of development and will arrive at Silverstone with another package of new components. From now on we will introduce significant improvements to the car at two to three-race intervals, and these will include further development stages of the double-decker diffuser. We are a long way away from writing off the 2009 season."
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering
"To be quick at Silverstone you need to have a car with a lot of downforce, but above all one with very good balance. The track is characterised by its many medium and high-speed corners, and it is critical that the drivers carry a lot of speed out of them. Maggots-Becketts-Chapel is one of the best and most challenging combinations on the Formula One calendar. The track surface is pretty rough, which means that tyres come in for a good deal of punishment. Bridgestone is bringing the same two compounds to Silverstone which did such a good job in Istanbul. We used the double-decker diffuser for the first time in Turkey and took a step forward as a result. This was certainly pleasing, but we are still far from satisfied with the situation. Our intention is to introduce improvements to the car at short intervals. We will be running a further developed front wing at Silverstone with the aim of improving the balance of the car. I am confident we can continue our upward trend."
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 4th, 2008 Race - 1st
The two greatest things about racing at Silverstone are the fans and the track itself. Its great to see and meet people from all across the country and the world who have made the journey to Silverstone for the Santander British Grand Prix. When Im in the car, I can actually see the fans around the circuit waving banners and cheering. Its as if they were racing every lap with me - incredible! Driving the track is incredible too. I love Silverstone - its an amazing place to drive. Copse, Becketts and Bridge are all absolutely fantastic, flat-out corners that really show you the power and grip of a Formula One car. Its a perfect place for the race, so lets hope its not the last time we race at this track.
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 1st, 2008 Race - 5th
Silverstone: what a fantastic circuit! I got my first Formula One pole position here last year and I remember how great the car was to drive on the limit. I love fast corners - its when a Formula One car really feels at its best and your whole body is just on the limit. While we know our car wont be at its best through the fast corners, the challenge as a racing driver is to push to the limit so Im just going to try my hardest. After a couple of disappointing races, it would be fantastic to get back into the points in one of the teams home races.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Our home race has been highly successful for us in the past. Weve won the British Grand Prix on 14 occasions - 12 of those wins coming at Silverstone. The most recent, of course, was Lewiss fantastic victory in the rain last year - which stands as one of Formula Ones greatest-ever wet weather drives. For this year, we come off a difficult race in Turkey, determined to do better in front of our home crowd.
Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President
Silverstone is a great track with a unique layout. We have fond memories of this traditional circuit with Lewiss superb victory in the rain, more than a minute ahead of the second finisher last year, certainly being the most memorable moment. One year later, however, we will not be in a position to win. Since the beginning of this season we are in a catching up process. This is because we have not yet managed to get the best technical package out of the new rules in contrast to what we achieved with the old regulations in previous years when we built a winning car which we fought for the world championship with and won it.
Nevertheless, everybody in the team is highly motivated to further reduce our gap to the top - particularly on fast circuits. We are currently experiencing tough times, but this is not new for us: after a year without victories in 2006 we missed our target to win the title by one point in 2007 and then, a year after, we clinched the world championship with Lewis in 2008. We all work in a calm, focused and concentrated way to get our job done. And we will manage to do so - but certainly not overnight.
More to follow.