European Grand Prix - team and driver preview quotes 18 Aug 2009
Last year saw Valencia host its very first European Grand Prix, and following a lengthy summer break, the drivers cant wait to get back behind the wheel and race around the Spanish citys streets. They and senior team members discuss their prospects...
Jenson Button, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 16th, 2008 Race - 13th
"It's going to be great to get back racing again after the summer break and everyone at the team is looking forward to Valencia. I've kept pretty busy over the past few weeks with the London Triathlon at the start of the month and then some time to relax with my family and friends but it's seemed like a long time without a race! Valencia is a beautiful city and the track is quite fun when it goes round the edge of the marina and over the bridge. It's quite challenging for the drivers with so many turns and the added factor of being surrounded by barriers means you have to maintain your concentration. There's been a lot of work going on at the factory following our shutdown and with the cars at the front being so close at the moment, it will be an interesting weekend."
Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 19th, 2008 Race - 16th
"Valencia is a cool city and proved to be a great venue for the European Grand Prix last season. The challenge of a new circuit is always exciting and even more so this year as we should be in a much better position to challenge for a good result this time. The first part of the lap is quick with the long pit straight followed by a curved right-hander before the slower section leading up to the bridge over the marina and then you're down onto another curved straight. The second half of the lap feels more like a street circuit as you head away from the water and the third long straight ends with a tight hairpin at Turn 17 which is the best overtaking opportunity. The final part of the lap is quite fast with some sweeping corners before the tight left-hander which takes you back out onto the pit straight. It's a very different type of circuit to the classic image of a street track such as Monaco."
Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal
"Valencia presents an unusual engineering challenge as the circuit is quite different from anywhere else on the calendar. It's not the type of street circuit that we have been used to racing around in Monaco; it's much more open and quite fast flowing with higher top speeds. The tall barriers give the lap the feel of a street circuit but the run-off areas are quite generous compared to Monaco, helping to improve safety and giving the drivers some margin for error at certain places of the lap. Traction is important here and the sectors of the lap which have a stop-start nature make Valencia tough on the brakes. Cooling is also a consideration in the high ambient temperatures but we do not expect to encounter any issues. The team has been working extremely hard since returning from our summer shutdown and everyone is looking forward to the racing getting underway again this weekend."
Nico Rosberg, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 9th, 2008 Race - 8th
This will only be our second trip to Valencia and Im looking forward to going back as the organisers have built a really good track. Unlike what you would normally expect from a street circuit, Valencia has a lot of corners but they arent tight and twisty, but quite fast and flowing so the whole lap is quite quick. Combined with the temperatures, it can be a demanding race, but Im prepared. Valencias a cool city. The Spanish are really enthusiastic about Formula One, so the atmosphere is usually buzzing. The paddock is in the harbour, right next to the sea, so its a little bit like Monaco, maybe not quite as glamorous, but a really nice location for a Grand Prix.
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 11th, 2008 Race - 15th
Ive spent lots of time on our simulator preparing for Valencia over the course of the year so feel I know the circuit quite well. Its not a typical street circuit, but you have to be really careful around the lap as there are no run off areas. I think the biggest challenges over the weekend are grip levels as it was quite green when we arrived last year as well as cockpit temperatures. I enjoyed the trip to Valencia last year and am excited about going back, more so this time round because it feels like a long time since the last race and I want to get back into my car! I never explore much while Im at a race as I prefer to concentrate on the job in hand, but Xevi, my engineer, is Spanish so Im sure we will head out for some local food one night.
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2008 Qualifying - 4th, 2008 Race - DNF
Our performance varies according to the type of circuit and the type of tyre we have, so it is hard to make predictions. If we get everything running the way we want and 100 percent, then maybe we can fight for a podium finish. But as usual, we will have to wait at least until Fridays practice to get a better idea. The track here has some similarities with Monaco and Hungary, so it should be quite a good place for us. We will try and improve the car as much as we can, but we cannot do too much more with this car as we have to look also to next season. KERS has helped us all year, otherwise we would not still be using it and I am sure it will give us an edge here also, although I have not yet seen the precise data on this.
Luca Badoer, Ferrari
2008 Qualifying - N/A, 2008 Race - N/A
I am very motivated to make the most of this opportunity, even if I know I am facing a tough challenge, especially during the first couple of days in Valencia. It will effectively be a test session for me, but I will be trying my best to secure a good result. I have to say, my first thoughts when I take to the track will be for Felipe (Massa), because I got a real fright when I saw his accident. I am delighted that he is making a good recovery and I hope he will be back racing as soon as possible. I have to add that I am also thinking of Michael, because having trained with him over the last few weeks, I know how much he wanted to make this comeback and how much effort he was putting into his preparation. Even though his decision has provided me with this great opportunity to race for the Scuderia, I feel sorry for him, because not only are we friends, but I am also an admirer of his. And finally, I repeat how grateful I am to Luca di Montezemolo and Stefano Domenicali for giving me the chance to make my childhood dream come true.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 18th, 2008 Race - 14th
I had a fantastic break with my family. There's a lot of travel in the second part of the year so it was nice to spend some good time with them while my kids were on holiday. We took my boat over to Sardinia and spent some time there and also went down to Corsica. I also did some training and preparation for the end of the year. We're looking good as a team now so I want to be ready for every opportunity. The Hungarian Grand Prix was quite a tough race but I was able to have a good, quick middle stint and fight with Kubica and Barrichello, so I hope I will be able to do the same, if not more, in Valencia. Last year it was quite a good race for me, one of my best, as we were genuinely fighting for positions. I quite like the track. For sure it's not the most challenging but if you are fighting for position there are some chances to overtake, which has got to be a positive. We also have a new upgrade for this race, the same step as we had in Silverstone, so I hope we can have a good race and score some points. To keep where we are and score some points. There are some good opportunities coming up in the second part of the year and some tracks I really like and have gone well on. There's my home race in Monza, Singapore and Suzuka, which have also been good races for us, and then Interlagos, where I got my first win in F1. There's a lot of reasons to look forward to this next part of the year.
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 20th, 2008 Race - DNF
I've taken some time off to relax and train for the second part of the year, which is going to be pretty busy for us with a lot of races in a short amount of time and lots of travelling. I went to Bali to spend some time with my family, then returned to Switzerland to get ready for the European Grand Prix. I feel very refreshed now and I am looking forward to getting going again. As nice as it is to have four weeks off, I really want to get back in the car. We were going well before the break and I can't wait to get started again. To be honest, Valencia isn't one of my favourites. It's a street circuit but it doesn't feel like it as the roads are so wide and it's really just fast straights into a hairpin, accelerate out and then another hairpin so you don't get the adrenaline you would at Monaco. This year it could be quite good for us though as we have a big new upgrade. Every upgrade we've introduced so far this year has really made a difference so I have a lot of confidence that this will move us forward as well. The car is getting better and better to drive and with another upgrade I hope we will really be in the midfield now and in the hunt for points. We have this new upgrade that we hope will cement our Q2 positions and from there we should be regular midfield contenders. I'm looking to be reliable and avoid any mistakes and let's see where we go from there. We have some more parts coming for the flyaway races as well so it should be a very strong end to the season.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
We have a major aerodynamic upgrade coming for Valencia, which includes a new floor, bargeboard area and front wing. We're looking forward to it as we had a very successful aero test with Tonio (third driver Vitantonio Liuzzi) in the week before the summer shutdown. With this knowledge I hope we're able to maintain, if not improve, our relative position on track. F1 is more competitive than ever now so we need to keep these upgrades coming through and staying ahead of the others, who no doubt will be improving as well. We should definitely be Q2, maybe even the top of Q2 in Valencia and beyond. I'm quite optimistic as we're also working on more upgrades for the final races of the season so fingers crossed we should be able to maintain our momentum. There's more to come for Singapore as well in the latter part of the year so if we continue on our trajectory now we're looking quite good, on target with the goals we set at the start of the year.
Dominic Harlow, Force India's chief engineer
The European Grand Prix will be our first race after the summer shutdown, so hopefully the team will return refreshed and ready for a very busy end to the season. Before the factory closure Force India worked very hard to finalise and test another aero upgrade that will be introduced this race. The changes include some new details on the front wing, floor and further bodywork refinements that we hope will accelerate the upward trend in our performance. Valencia is a modern city street circuit. Although it shares a waterside layout with Monaco, in contrast it's relatively wide and fast. Long straights link five hairpins and three medium speed chicanes that provide some overtaking opportunities, and work the brakes and engine hard. The bridge across the harbour is a special feature, as are the old port buildings that form the pit garages. Much to everyone's surprise there was no safety car in the F1 race last year, despite frequent deployments in the support events, so perhaps this year there could be an added dimension to the race strategy.
Fernando Alonso, Renault
2008 Qualifying - 12th, 2008 Race - DNF
I think the break was good for everyone and the team has come back refreshed and ready to push hard for the final part of the season. I also have a new team mate this weekend and I'm looking forward to working with Romain who I'm sure will do a good job for the team. I already have a good relationship with him and hopefully he can help us score some important points for the championship. Racing at home is always special and Valencia is a beautiful city and a great place to have a race. I've always enjoyed racing on street circuits as they have a special atmosphere and the whole city gets involved in the race. Also, as it's a home race for me I know that there will be amazing support from the fans and I really want to reward them with a good result. As I've said, I would love to fight for the podium, but the main priority is to score points this weekend.
Romain Grosjean, Renault
2008 Qualifying - N/A, 2008 Race - N/A
Valencia is a mix between a street course and a normal circuit because in some places the track is narrow and tricky and in other places it's really wide with lots of run-off. It's not the easiest place to make your debut, but I've always liked street races and enjoy the atmosphere of being in the middle of a city. I've tried to make my preparation as normal as possible, although I have been training my neck muscles more than usual because Formula One is more demanding than GP2 on this part of the body. I've also taken some holiday time during the summer break to make sure I am fresh and 100 percent ready for Valencia. I've only driven the R29 in straight-line testing so my first race will be a learning experience. It's difficult to set myself an objective so my first priority will be to get comfortable with the car, build my confidence over the weekend and do the best job I can for the team.
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering
The R29 has shown recently that it's a good car in all types of corner and so I'm confident that we can be competitive in Valencia. Like any street course, it rewards brave and capable drivers and we've certainly got that in Fernando, who will have home advantage and massive support from the fans this weekend.
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"This is an interesting track. It has the high speed configuration of a permanent circuit, however the track surface gives away that this is only a temporary facility. There are numerous turns, yet there are also many high speed sections and we see speeds of around 300kph five times during the course of a lap. There are low-speed corners too, so some heavy braking does take place. On the slippery surface that accompanies a street course it is difficult to find grip off line. Last year we saw a lot of circuit surface evolution over the weekend and it was very much a learning process for everyone who attended the race. I think that everyone will continue to learn more about this venue when we visit it this season. We also found last year that the infamous gap between the bridge surface and the road surface presented no difficulties for our Formula One tyres. Last year our visit to Valencia was a momentous one as it was here that we celebrated our 200th Grand Prix participation since our entry in 1997."
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 2nd, 2008 Race - 2nd
"It's great to be getting back to business after the four-week break. I'm still buzzing from the win in Hungary and I'm hopeful of being able to carry that pace into the Valencia weekend - particularly with our new upgrades to the car. It's a very demanding circuit, the kind of place that punishes any mistakes hard. It's quite tight and relatively slow, so it should suit our package. It's also very difficult to overtake, as we discovered last year - but, with our KERS, Mercedes-Benz has proved that anything can happen and I'm once again hoping that it will provide the difference in the race."
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 5th, 2008 Race - 4th
"Having driven the fully updated car for the first time in Hungary last month, it was very encouraging to be able to feel just how much progress the team has made developing MP4-24. We've now got a car that's much easier to drive on the limit, and which really rewards your input. So I'm really looking forward to the European Grand Prix, which, while it won't suit us as strongly as the Hungaroring, should be another strong opportunity for us to score some more points. After the summer break, I think the whole team is really looking forward to the second half of the season. We're all refreshed and united. I think there's a lot of potential for the remaining races."
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
"While the summer break has meant we've had four weeks to enjoy Lewis's victory in Budapest, it's very important that we are able to maintain that winning momentum into this weekend's race. Fortunately, I we have made a structured effort to bring further improvements to the car in Spain and the whole team has been buoyed by that win and is really looking forward to another strong set of results this weekend. I've no doubts that we'll certainly hit the ground running on Friday. The Grand Prix also marks the 250th race of our team partnership with Mercedes-Benz, it is pleasing to have reached this important milestone off the back of a win and we are all focused on continuing this form here in Valencia."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President
"Last year, the race in Valencia had been held for the first time and it is a welcome addition of the Formula One venues worldwide. The European Grand Prix is already the 250th one for McLaren and Mercedes since the beginning of the co-operation in 1995. The street circuit in Valencia is not considered to be the most challenging one for the drivers; however, just this kind of track can turn out to be even trickier. We finished last year's premiere with Lewis Hamilton's second place and will try this year to adhere to our form of Hungary. Despite Lewis's victory there we don't regard ourselves as favourites yet."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 7th, 2008 Race - 5th
"I am really glad to be racing again; it's great to have some time off to relax with my family but my passion is racing so it's good to be getting back to the track. It seems like a long time since the last race so everyone in the team is fired up to come out fighting this weekend. Valencia is not such an exciting circuit for me but that doesn't matter so much if we are strong, which we were last year on this track. Unlike somewhere like Monaco, Valencia is actually very fast for a street circuit so that should suit our car pretty well. In fact, it doesn't really feel much like a street circuit at all because it is so much faster than other city tracks. We were in the top six last year in Valencia and that is my target this season. It was good to have both cars in the points in Hungary. The Valencia track has a different character so it's difficult to predict at this stage but my target is to score as many points as possible."
Timo Glock, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 13th, 2008 Race - 7th
"I really enjoy street circuits and I generally perform very well on them. Valencia was tricky last year for me because I had a bad cold and it was a real challenge just to finish the race, so I didn't enjoy the weekend as much as I could have. This year I am determined to really have fun in the car and hopefully finish even higher than I managed in 2008. We know from last year that overtaking is very difficult on this track so qualifying will be particularly important, which is a similar situation to the previous race in Hungary. After finishing in the top six from 13th on the grid in
Budapest, my goal this weekend is to start as high as possible and give myself the best chance for a good result in the race. I had a relaxing time over the summer break but I also did some fitness work as well and I never stop thinking about racing so I am well prepared for this race."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota Senior General Manager Chassis
"Valencia is by definition a street circuit as the track is based on public roads but in many ways it is different to more typical street circuits like Monaco or Singapore. It is a relatively high-speed track with very long straights; therefore the aerodynamic efficiency requirements are completely different to other street tracks. Unlike Monaco or Singapore, you are not aiming for high downforce, we are looking in the middle of the range, and it is extremely tough on brakes. But in other ways it is still recognisably a street circuit as the barriers are quite close so there is little margin for error. We are confident for this Grand Prix because the circuit corresponds to what appears to be the best aerodynamic efficiency window for our car and we went well there last year. So we are really looking forward to racing again after the summer break and we expect a positive result."
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 3rd, 2008 Race - 3rd
"I really enjoyed the Valencia circuit a lot. I like the character of stop-and-go tracks. In Valencia you have a lot of long straights followed by narrow corners and long straights again. That means a lot of heavy braking. It was very hot there last year as the track is between concrete walls and there is not a lot of air. These conditions are very tough for the car's cooling. Last year I performed quite well in Valencia."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 8th, 2008 Race - 9th
"Valencia is a street circuit, but it doesn't drive like one. In fact it's just like one of the modern race tracks. You're not right up against the buildings, there isn't the tightness you usually get at street circuits, but there are run-off areas. I'm excited to find out what effect the latest modifications will have on our car. Valencia is a great city, of course, and I'm looking forward to going back to a fine restaurant which I discovered on my last visit."
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director
"Clearly we're all disappointed about the decision to withdraw from Formula One. The team had established itself at the top in just three years and we would love to have shown that the poor results we've had this season were just a blip. Now our work is focusing on the next few months. While efforts are continuing behind the scenes to find a solution for the team, everybody is aware that putting in good performances at the circuits is the best way to advertise their abilities. We want to get back into the fast lane, and so the development packages for Valencia and Singapore will be put into practice as planned."
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering
"The race in Valencia was a new addition to the calendar last year and represents a real gain for Formula One. The track, which is built into the port area of the city and has 25 corners, boasts a unique character all of its own. It is a street circuit, but cannot really be compared with Monaco, for example. Indeed, it is wider and allows a much higher average speed. Plus, there are generous run-off areas at practically all the potential trouble spots around the track, which guarantees a high level of safety. Despite the two-week summer break, during which the factory in Hinwil was closed, we will bring a development package to Valencia headed by numerous aerodynamic parts."