Abu Dhabi preview quotes - Virgin, Force India, HRT, Lotus & more 11 Nov 2010
The visual drama of the Yas Marina Circuit at twilight is already so embedded in our minds that its hard to believe the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is only in its second year. Last season it debuted, this season it hosts the championship decider - the first four-way title showdown in Formula One history. The men involved in this weekends season finale discuss their prospects
Timo Glock, Virgin
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
This is a new experience for me as I missed last years race as a result of my leg injury. Its always great to learn a new circuit, but we already have a good idea from the simulator so it wont be too much of a challenge. The circuit itself is a typical modern circuit, quite different to the track at Interlagos with its changes of elevation, and in general there arent many high-speed corners. Its obviously the last race of the season so our final chance to show what the VR-01 can do, and Im looking forward to that, but also to next season which isnt that far away!"
Lucas di Grassi, Virgin
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
Its hard to believe weve already reached the last race of my first season as a Formula One driver. Im looking forward to racing at the Yas Marina circuit with its change from daylight into darkness. Im well prepared for it after driving it on the simulator, our target is to be the best of the new teams and we wont give up until the last lap is over.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
So here we are at the final stage of our journey through the 2010 season, Virgin Racings first in Formula One. Im very proud to look back and see how the team has developed into a cohesive unit, dealing effortlessly with challenges like moving all of our equipment from Brazil to Abu Dhabi in such a short space of time. Were looking forward to this race as an opportunity to show how we can perform in Brazil we were a little unlucky at the start and our race was compromised. So here we are looking for a good performance both in qualifying and in the race to give everyone a true impression of how we can perform. It will be our last race on Bridgestone tyres, and Id like to thank them for all of the support and the great tyres that they have given us throughout the year. After the race we wont be resting, well be going straight into tyre testing with Pirelli as well as the young driver tests, before heading home and concentrating on next years car.
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2009 Qualifying - 18th, 2009 Race - 17th
I was really pleased with our race performance last weekend in Brazil. The pace was good and I enjoyed the race. We could move up 10 positions and I was setting lap times that were pretty similar to the top ten so we showed that the performance is still there, we just need to work on qualifying. Abu Dhabi is a very impressive venue to have a race. The city is ultra modern and there's always something new being built that's bigger and better than anything we've seen! The Yas Marina circuit is similarly very high tech, with one of the best paddocks we visit in terms of the facilities and the style. The track has a lot of the Tilke trademarks such as the hairpins and long straights so there's a few overtaking places. With the championship being so close we are sure to see a very exciting race. I'm really motivated to help the team to sixth in the championship now, the best result we've had in a long time. I also want to get back into the top ten in the drivers' championship ahead of Rubens (Barrichello). Michael (Schumacher) seems to be quite far away now but I think we can take Rubens for tenth. We made some good progress on the car in Brazil with the development parts and have some further bits to test in Abu Dhabi so it's very positive going into this final round of what's been a great season so far.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India
2009 Qualifying - 17th, 2009 Race - 15th
Abu Dhabi is going to be a really exciting event for everybody - there are so many battles up and down the field that it's going to be a great race to watch. Certainly for us it's going to be interesting as we are fighting with Williams for sixth place in the championship. We fell one point behind in Brazil but that is a slim margin with so many points available. The Yas Marina circuit is a fantastic facility, quite unlike any of the other tracks on the calendar. The paddock is very impressive and the atmosphere was good last year. The circuit itself is quite a typical modern layout with right angle corners and longish straights leading into tight hairpins. It's not the most challenging we visit but there are still some interesting features, including the fact that we run under the lights. We start at sunset and finish in the dark, but as in Singapore the organisers have done a good job to install a fantastic light system. Last year we had a difficult race and only finished in 15th, but this year we have to look to finish in the points to take the fight to Williams again. The last race in Brazil was positive from the pace point of view but unfortunately I didn't finish as something broke on the car and we crashed about two thirds of the way through. We've looked into why and are confident it won't happen again this race so we can fully focus on sealing our best-ever result in the championship.
Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
I'm very proud that we are going to the final round of the 2010 championship fighting for sixth position in the constructors' championship. When we look back to where we were 12 months back, and when I think we only created Force India three seasons ago, we've progressed a great deal. We've built a very competitive car that has been in the points 15 times, four of which in the top six, been in Q3 nine times and has matched the pace of the larger and more established teams. It's a credit to the hard work of the team in Silverstone and Brackley who have worked so hard on a tight budget with relatively small resources. We've really earned our stripes this year and deserve to show that in the final standings. Abu Dhabi would be a fitting place to secure our highest-ever finish in the championship. The event was fantastic last year, a really impressive facility with great atmosphere and the sight of the cars under the lights was, for me, one of the highlights of the year. There's a huge Indian community in the country and we had a lot of support last year so it would be a fitting place to finish the job.
Bruno Senna, HRT
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
Im really excited for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix because its one of the circuits I know and like even if I have never raced there before. I did some laps with a two-seater F1 car and it is a good circuit with some demanding technical sections. There is a mix of slow camber corners and some interesting long straights that could allow overtaking. The car must be set up well for corner exits and slow corners. Following Interlagos, where we had a very competitive race, we expect to finish the season on a high here in Abu Dhabi, competing with the other new teams again.
Christian Klien, HRT
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
Im looking forward the last race of 2010 in Abu Dhabi. Its my third chance to compete for the team this season and Im getting more and more used to the car and the crew. I hope we can achieve some great results and have a clean weekend. It will be my first time at this modern racetrack that combines very long straights with a technical slow part with not many runoff areas. There are basically two very different sections, so you need a good top speed for the long straights as well as some downforce and mechanical grip for the slow section. A further difficulty is the visibility, as the race starts at 5pm. We should have a similar pace to the one in Brazil, so I think we can be a challenge for the other new teams.
Dr Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
We are pleased to come to the finale of our first season in Formula One. The race in Abu Dhabi takes place at the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit, which features a street section, the marina section and a high-speed section around the colour-changing Yas Hotel. The exit from the pit lane through the tunnel is quite tricky and could easily cause a traffic jam. After a tight hairpin, the drivers encounter one of the longest straights in F1 and can reach 320km/h before braking hard for the chicane. After a positive result in Brazil, we are eager to keep on closing the gap to the other new teams and fight for positions with them.
Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus
2009 Qualifying - 13th, 2009 Race - 11th
Abu Dhabi is a great track and I like the fact we race in the fading light. I think it will be a good fight up at the front, and for us its the end of a very long, but so far very rewarding season. Everyone in the team has done really well all year, pushing us along to where we are now, and this weekend is all about maintaining concentration and giving it one final effort before we start focusing entirely on next year. Im excited about the race and I think well be in good shape to keep up the pressure on the guys around us.
Jarno Trulli, Lotus
2009 Qualifying - 6th, 2009 Race - 7th
Its the last race but for me its still all about getting my car across the finish line with Heikki so we can tie up tenth place. The track isnt a huge challenge - its not as rewarding to drive on as somewhere like Brazil, but well be ok there as our car should be pretty much as far ahead of those around us as we have been in the last few races.
Fairuz Fauzy, Lotus test and reserve driver
Im looking forward to getting back in the car and I think it will be a very special atmosphere, on track and in the garage. The twilight running obviously makes the race very interesting, but as Ill be going out in FP1 the real challenge for me is to try and push on what will be a very green track. Ive spent a bit of time in a simulator to prepare for the run on Friday, but it will obviously be different when I get out on the real thing.
Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
As we approach the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix I feel a great sense of accomplishment and delivery. In just one year we have delivered a team that has presented itself and behaved like one that has been racing for a long time. We made the bold decision to bring in two experienced drivers who have helped us push our way up as quickly as possible, on and off track, and from the earliest days of our team we have respected the heritage of Colin Chapman and his family and treated them both with the honour and style they deserve. It will be an incredible feeling to see the culmination of our first season back at another track where the Lotus Racing dream took shape. We came to the 2009 race, and while I hoped then that we would be where we are now, I could not have predicted we would have come quite as far as we have. Our future is extremely exciting. We have everything in place to take a big step forward next year, and I truly believe we have already exceeded our own expectations in our first season. For a team that had only five months to build our first car, as well as an entire race team and factory, we can hold up our heads up high to our fans, the Chapman family, the paddock fraternity and most importantly, to ourselves. There has been a huge amount of discussion about Lotus re-entering Formula One for the first time since 1994, but we spent this year looking ahead and not engaging in the talk about bringing the Lotus brand back. We went about our business in our own unassuming way, letting our actions speak louder than our words, and we will continue to do just that. We have a unique style and will always stay true to that as we move forward, up to the ultimate position of one day being world champions."
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
Down to the last race and I dont think we could be going there in any better shape. Abu Dhabi should be another track where we can take the fight to our nearest rivals, and all season long we have seen that the investment in experience throughout the whole team has held us in very good stead in our first season. You could see in Brazil that both Heikki and Jarno were able to pull away from Timo throughout the race, and that is down to excellent work all year by the team at the track and the factory, and in the two cockpits, and we are aiming for that to be repeated at the last race. The goal is obviously to finish tenth, and we would like to do that in the same style we have shown all season - by beating those around us, so everyone will be putting in one last big effort to repay the faith shown in us by our fans all year and everyone who has helped us reach this point of the season.
Robert Kubica, Renault
2009 Qualifying - 7th, 2009 Race - 10th
The Abu Dhabi track has an amazing appearance and it comes across very well on television. The hotel that is lit up in different colours looks spectacular and you can tell that a lot of money has been invested in this facility. When I walked the track for the first time last year, I thought it would offer a lot of overtaking opportunities, but actually there was a lot less action in the race than I expected. Having lots of wide run-off areas definitely doesnt help overtaking because its much easier to defend your position. You know that even if you miss your braking point, you wont lose anything because you can cut the corner and stay ahead. Of course, you cannot do it every lap, but if there was a wall or a gravel trap instead, it might give the driver behind a better chance to overtake. But it can also work the other way, too, because the guy who is attacking can risk much more in the braking zones knowing that he has an escape path if the manoeuvre doesnt work out. So its a very tricky track.
The race starts in the early evening, so you have to change your visor strip to be ready for racing at dusk. The other issue I remember from last year was that we had all three practice sessions in daylight and then both qualifying and the race took place at dusk. That made it hard because the temperatures dropped and the track conditions were completely different, which had a big impact on car balance. But now we have the experience from last year and we know to make set-up changes to prepare for running in the evening. Although Abu Dhabi is the final race of the year, it doesnt mean were all going on holiday as soon as its over. A few days after the race all the teams will remain in Abu Dhabi for the first test on the new Pirelli tyres as we begin our preparations for 2011.
Jenson Button, McLaren
2009 Qualifying - 5th, 2009 Race - 3rd
Obviously, it was disappointing to be ruled out of the drivers championship in Brazil last week, but I was very pleased with my race, which was a lot of fun, and Im already looking forward to another good performance this weekend. Last year in Abu Dhabi, I had a similarly great result Id lifted the pressure of the championship from my shoulders at the previous race so I was free to race hard once again. I had a great drive, enjoyed a brilliant battle with Mark right up until the very last lap, and finished on the podium. Ill be hoping for another strong finish this year. Most importantly, it will be my final race with the world champions number one on my car, for this year anyway! Its been a great privilege and honour to carry that throughout the entire year, and I want to make sure I give it the best possible send-off this weekend. Im looking forward to a really great race and, hopefully, a spectacular conclusion to the world championship.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2009 Qualifying - 1st, 2009 Race - DNF
Ive been in the hunt for the world championship at the final race of the season on two previous occasions, so I know all about the pressure you feel when the title is almost within touching distance. This year, it feels a little different - although Im still mathematically in with a shout, Im fully aware that, being 24 points behind, Ill not only need to win the race on Sunday but see the championship leader finish outside the points. And, even then, that might not be enough. So Im not feeling the pressure in quite the same way as I did in 2007 or 2008. Thats not to say Im going into the race weekend feeling any less determined or motivated: weve seen before that this championship can be unpredictable and volatile - and I think this last race of the year could be even more unpredictable than normal. I know from personal experience that the championship isnt over until you cross the line on the final lap - so Ill not only make sure Im up there at the end, but pushing hard until the very end. Its going to be a brilliant spectacle, and a great event for Formula One fans around the world - I absolutely cant wait.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
While it was deeply frustrating for every single one of us to finally be ruled out of the hunt for the constructors championship in Brazil last weekend, were all absolutely determined to hold on to second position, and to extend the gap over third-placed Ferrari. Both Jenson and Lewis drove absolutely superb races at Interlagos, and the reality is that another double points-finish would likely push us beyond the reach of our closest rivals. Even more importantly, we are still in the hunt for the drivers championship with Lewis, albeit by the very narrow margin of a single point. Nonetheless, we all know that Lewis is a fearsome competitor and is absolutely fired-up to secure a second world title. Indeed, lets not forget that Lewis has gone into the final round of the season in the hunt for the title in three of his four Formula One seasons - a quite incredible record. And, knowing Lewis as I do, he will be absolutely determined to drive a relentless race in order to pressure his rivals as much as possible in order to maximise his position. For this final race, the teams role is simple: we must provide Lewis with the support he needs to sustain his title challenge - that will call for faultless reliability, a slick and decisive strategic plan and perfectly executed pit stops from his pit crew. It may sound like a long-shot, but Im absolutely convinced that Lewis, Jenson, and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, will all be players in what promises to be an absolutely enthralling world championship showdown.
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP
2009 Qualifying - 9th, 2009 Race - 9th
"I really enjoyed our first visit to the Yas Marina Circuit at the end of last season. The track is interesting to drive with a unique layout with the unusual pit lane exit and the day/night programme makes a change from the usual format of a race weekend. It was good to be back in the points in Brazil last Sunday and we hope to finish the season with another good result here before looking ahead to next season which will definitely be stronger for us."
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"We had quite an encouraging weekend in Sao Paulo, even if it did not show too much to the outside, as our pace in qualifying and the race was satisfying. The final race weekend in Abu Dhabi will be exciting for me as I will be driving this impressive circuit for the first time. Obviously the main focus of the fans and the media will be on the championship fight so we will be able to work calmly and concentrate on our own weekend. I'm sure that everyone in the team is motivated to deliver a good last performance of the season."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"The final race of the 2010 season takes us to the home Grand Prix for our Abu Dhabi based shareholders and partner Aabar. We were extremely impressed with the Yas Marina Circuit on our first visit and look forward to an exciting weekend which will see the battle for the drivers' championship concluded. For the Mercedes GP team, on the back of our double-points finish in Brazil, we would like to finish this challenging season on an equally strong note before turning our attentions fully to next year."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"We are all looking forward to a thrilling final race of a great season which still sees four drivers with a chance of competing for the championship. Abu Dhabi is one of our team's home races as our shareholder and partner, Aabar, have their headquarters here. Our team will not be taking anything for granted and our target is to achieve the best possible result with our current technical package. As in recent races, we want to be right there if a driver in one of the currently faster cars should have a problem. It would be a nice reward for the team to conclude this very long and tough season, which saw everyone give their all, with a reasonable result."
Mark Webber, Red Bull
2009 Qualifying - 3rd, 2009 Race - 2nd
The track has a good layout and the twilight aspect gives it a different atmosphere - its a good event. I think we have a great chance to go there and get a good result. There is a chance of the team getting another championship, which is an exciting proposition. There are lots of possible outcomes that could still happen, Fernando (Alonso) is in the best position of all of us, but we still have a chance, so lets see what happens.
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2009 Qualifying - 2nd, 2009 Race - 1st
Obviously I have good memories from Abu Dhabi and I will be hoping to get another good result there this year, but lets see. Theres still everything to play for in the drivers championship. Abu Dhabi is a good track; its fantastic to drive under the hotel bridge with the lights on the roof changing every time you go past. The people are very friendly and Im looking forward to the race.
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"Last year was the first time we visited Abu Dhabi and we learnt a lot about the circuit on that first weekend. The track layout is certainly challenging with a long straight which presents a good overtaking opportunity heading into Turn Eight. The desert location meant there was a lot of sand on the surface at the beginning of the weekend, and this was a contributory cause of graining. The asphalt was very new, meaning that it was very smooth and dark. It will be interesting to see how the surface has evolved in the 12 months since we were last there. Track temperature was an interesting factor last year. In the heat of the sun it reached over 50 degrees Celsius, but after the sun set in the race the temperature dropped by seven degrees meaning it is important to monitor the tyre temperatures as this occurs."
Hiroshi Yasukawa, director of Bridgestone Motorsport
"We are proud to have participated in this wonderful sport for the past 14 years and I would like to thank all our fellow participants and Formula One fans for embracing us and the Bridgestone brand in this period. I can clearly remember our first Grand Prix in Australia in 1997 where we also saw the first championship points achieved with our tyres. Since then there have been many more points, pole positions and wins with exciting championship battles along the way and it has been hugely rewarding to participate. Abu Dhabi is an appropriate location for our final Grand Prix as it represents the strength and appeal of this fantastic sport with the superb Yas Marina circuit. The Middle East is an important area for our business development and I think we will leave a lasting impression here. Although we are leaving Formula One we retain our respect and appreciation for this great sport."
Kamui Kobayashi, BMW Sauber
2009 Qualifying - 12th, 2009 Race - 6th
Abu Dhabi was only the second race in my Formula One career. It was the first time I scored points, so I have good memories from this place. Its a nice circuit. Last year the tracks grip level improved a lot during the weekend as more rubber was laid down. It was the first twilight race in Formula One history, which was very special. It will be a big challenge for everybody to manage their tyres during the race, because the track temperature changes significantly. Of course, my goal is to score more points in order to finish the season with a positive result.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2009 Qualifying - 8th, 2009 Race - 5th
Last year I liked the circuit in Abu Dhabi at first sight. The same as many of the modern tracks, it has long straights which should allow overtaking. At the same time, you have some nice winding sections and the tunnel at the pit lane exit is something special. In 2009, at the inaugural event there, I came fifth, which was quite a good result. These points helped to move the team one place up in the constructors championship. It was an extraordinarily emotional Grand Prix, because after BMW had pulled out nobody knew what the future would be for Peter Saubers team. After the race he presented me with a Formula One car. This was unbelievable. I didnt expect it at all, and I want to say thank you again. Something else that should be noted about this Grand Prix is it starts in daylight and finishes in darkness - similar to the Korean Grand Prix this year! On a personal note, a potential highlight for me would be making it to the Prince concert.
James Key, BMW Sauber technical director
We are already at the end of the season, with the last race at Abu Dhabi seeming to come round very quickly. But obviously the focus is on the event, and we look forward to going to the spectacular setting where the track is. For us it will be a case of running the C29 in its last race, but looking to optimise the set-up down the straights, in the slow speed last section and then the chicanes. Its a compromise between straight line speed and braking stability. We are looking to continue our trend of scoring points. I hope we can enjoy a successful last race.
More to follow.
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