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Malaysia preview quotes - Lotus, Williams, Virgin, Force India & more 01 Apr 2010

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 26 March 2010 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Lotus.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 25 March 2010 Fairuz Fauzy (MAL) Lotus. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 17 February 2010. Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 1 April 2010 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 1 April 2010

After the unexpectedly cool and damp conditions in Melbourne, the season takes us back to searing heat this weekend and the Malaysian Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur. The drivers and key team personnel discuss their chances of success at the challenging Sepang International Circuit…

Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus
2009 Qualifying - 14th, 2009 Race - DNF

“I’ve always looked forward to the Sepang race. It’s a technical circuit, one that puts heavy demands on your fitness level and pays you back if you find a good rhythm. I trained well over the winter and am feeling really good, physically and mentally, so I’m looking forward to the challenge, and after Bahrain and Melbourne my confidence levels in the car continue to grow, so basically I’m looking forward to getting on with it. I’ve also had the chance to play a bit of golf on Wednesday, so for me it looks like this will be a great week!”

Jarno Trulli,Lotus
2009 Qualifying - 2nd, 2009 Race - 4th

“I was obviously disappointed not to start in Melbourne, but that makes me even more determined to do well in Malaysia. I know the team and our suppliers have been putting in the hours to fix the problem we had, so I just want to get back on track and push. Sepang’s a hard race for sure - the heat and the humidity can make it pretty uncomfortable, but it’s the same for everyone and maybe my experience helps me cope with it better than some. I like the track itself - finding a decent setup is a challenge as it’s pretty hard on brakes and tyres, and it’ll be interesting to see how the car behaves with full tanks around here, but I’ll do my best and we’ll see what happens.”

Fairuz Fauzy, Lotus test driver
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a

“First of all I’m very pleased to be back home, and I’m very happy to have been given the opportunity to drive on Friday - it’ll be a good chance to test the track and the driving conditions, and I feel very happy to be back in F1 driving for Lotus Racing in my home country of Malaysia after my last run in Barcelona. The car is much improved from the past two races and I hope we can continue the good development.”

Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
“We left Australia with mixed feelings - delighted that Heikki finished and showed, again, that our initial focus on building a reliable car is paying off, but sorry for Jarno that he didn’t have the chance to start the race because of a failure that was out of our control. We go into this weekend determined to give both drivers the chance to maintain our good start to the season - we’ve finished three out of four so far and I want to make it five out of six at Sepang. On a personal level it’s great to be back in Malaysia and give the fans the chance to show what we’ve been working on since September last year. I spent a lot of time here with Tony, Din and Nasa when we were putting the entry together, and when we launched the team, and it’s just great to be back here with two races done, and to show that the dream we had, and the hard work we’re all putting in, is starting to pay off. The race this weekend will be another tough one for us – the temperature and the weather will obviously play a big part in our strategy for the weekend, but I’m confident we’ll be able to build on the solid start we’ve had so far, and put on a good show for our Malaysian fans.”

Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
“It’s difficult to put into words just how happy I am to see Lotus Racing in Malaysia, and to see the reaction of the fans to our arrival here. It proves to me that I’m right about chasing your dreams. Just over six months ago I said we’d be here, and quite a few very experienced, very clever people said it couldn’t be done - you couldn’t build an F1 team from scratch, literally from just an entry, to not just racing, but racing professionally, like we’ve been here for many years, in just six months, but we’ve done it and we’re here. I’m so proud - not just of everyone in the team for the hard work they’ve put in since September and continue to do so every day, but also of every single one of our fans around the world, and particularly here in Malaysia, my home and one of the homes of Lotus Racing. We are British and Malaysian, united, and I want Lotus Racing to be accessible to anyone, anywhere, globally. We’re here to show you that if you want to achieve amazing things you can. We’re living the dream right now and I’m just really pleased that everyone in Malaysia can join us in doing so.”

Rubens Barrichello, Williams
2009 Qualifying - 8th, 2009 Race - 5th

“I like Malaysia very much. Physically, it’s one of the toughest races on the calendar and you have to go there expecting it to be really hot. One year I lost something like 1.3kg during the race. Because of the heat, you have to be well prepared, physically and mentally, but we all do a lot of training to make sure that we are. I enjoy the layout of the circuit. It has a good mix of corners, high and low speed, and it flows well. It is also quite wide which will give us some overtaking opportunities around the lap. A strong set-up is crucial in order to get a good lap time around Kuala Lumpur so having a productive practice on Friday will be really important.”

Nico Hulkenberg, Williams
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a

“I obviously don’t have experience of Sepang in an F1 car, but I raced there when I was competing in A1 GP so I know the circuit already which will be helpful. Melbourne was really frustrating for me so I’m happy that this is a back to back race and I can get back in the car again quickly. We’ll be pushing hard to try to get a better result. Malaysia is not a favourite track of mine, but it’s ok. Turns five and six are really quick, about 250km/h, so that part of the circuit is my favourite. It’s going to be hot, but I spent a few weeks in Malaysia in January to do some training so I feel well prepared. I’m looking forward to getting there and to a good race.”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“The team heads to Malaysia with the target of getting both drivers into Q3 and improving our position in the Constructors’ Championship. Sepang is quite a different circuit to the two previous tracks we’ve visited in that it has a lot of high speed changes of direction. We will have some improvements on the FW32 for this race, mostly relating to the aerodynamics and we will also have some upgrades to help gearshifting. Both drivers will be working hard on our starts over the course of the weekend to get back to our usual standard.”

Timo Glock, Virgin
2009 Qualifying - 3rd, 2009 Race - 3rd

“For me, Sepang is a good track when the weather is dry. The heat and humidity are quite punishing and we would normally have two weeks to fully acclimatise to be ready for track and cockpit conditions of over 50 degrees Celsius. Plus you have the additional factor of humidity, which can be around 70 percent, so the cockpit can be a pretty uncomfortable place to be. It’s one race where you don’t want your drinks bottle to run out, although it’s a bit like drinking English tea anyway because, try as we do, we can never get the liquid to stay cool. When we have weather like we saw last year through the practice sessions, it’s impossible to prepare well and obviously if it rains during the race on that scale, you’re just a passenger in your own car. It will be interesting to see how different it is to race here with the heavy fuel, especially through the nice quick corners, although there are mix of low, medium and high speed corners which make this a challenging track generally. Apart from that I’m hoping we can have a better weekend. Everything was going well until I had my suspension problem, and we are starting to get on top of our issues as they arise. We have good pace and if we can continue to improve our reliability then I’m confident we will be in a better place by the time we get to Europe. In the meantime, every session at every race weekend counts and we have some good developments to evaluate here in Sepang this weekend.”

Lucas di Grassi, Virgin
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a

“Last weekend was disappointing for me because of the reliability problems we had. However, we have to move on and focus on better things to come. The guys are pushing really hard and we are improving all the time, sometimes in ways that may not be visible to anyone outside of the team because the problems are what other people see. Our obvious target here is to finish the race and we will be doing everything possible through the weekend to work towards achieving that. It will be an interesting challenge for the car and for me, as it’s a real test of what heat and humidity can do to both of us! On my side it’s the tougher races like this that make all the physical training worthwhile and it really brings home to us why we push ourselves so hard. For the car I think Bahrain was a good test of the cooling and we don’t expect any problems. I’m looking forward to my first Malaysian Grand Prix.”

Nick Wirth, Virgin technical director
“We’re looking forward to Malaysia as it provides us an early opportunity to put to the test our continual development of the VR-01. It’s been quite a challenge with the quick turnaround from the Melbourne race - for instance we had just five hours to strip the cars and the garage after the last race before the freight departed, which meant that we had to work quickly to diagnose the issues. Nevertheless, we’re ready to start Sepang with further revisions to our car to cover the recent problems, with the total focus on getting to the chequered flag, via a smooth weekend on both cars. The track itself is very different to the first two races with a different demand on car performance, so it’ll be interesting to see how we get on in this respect. As ever, we’ve prepared our drivers well on the Wirth Research Simulators, although their driving skills may well be tested to the limit with the prospect of afternoon rain for qualifying and the race.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2009 Qualifying - 19th, 2009 Race - 17th

“Malaysia is always a good event, very tough physically, but there's a variety of corners and also some overtaking spots so it's an event I look forward to. The weather, as we saw last year, always throws up some interesting challenges. This year we don't have to pray for rain as we have done in the past, we can deal with the conditions whatever they are. I really want to get some points on board in this race, I've had two races where I should have scored, so I want to finish the job now. Malaysia is such a tough event with the heat and the humidity. You can lose up to four kilos over the race so fitness and concentration is absolutely key. The night after the Australian Grand Prix I flew straight to Malaysia to acclimatise and I've also spent three days in Langkawi training, doing a lot of running, swimming, sea kayaking and so on, really just getting used to exercise in these type of conditions. I feel really good, very relaxed, and confident in the team and the car now so I can't wait to get back out there.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a

“I think it will be a very interesting race for us, although it will be really hot and really difficult! But the track should suit more the characteristics of our car, so I think we'll be in an interesting position. I've got to work on my qualifying performance and try and get into Q3 for the first time and then, of course, keep those points coming.”

Paul di Resta, Force India third driver
“I feel I can give a bit more in Malaysia so the team can learn even more. I can't wait. The team has been very welcoming to me and has encouraged me to ask as many questions as I can and learn so they can themselves meet their own targets. The goals they have set for themselves are quite high but they are realistic and at the moment everything seems to be on schedule. It's great for me to be part of that and I'll be looking to give them what they need when I get in the car in FP1 in Sepang. This time I'll be replacing Tonio so I'll be working with him to understand what information he and the team needs. As per last time that's more important at this stage than going for the times.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
“I think we have every reason to be confident. The cars are clearly capable of being in the top 10. I just hope we don't have any bad luck in terms of extraordinary events or incidents. If both cars get a good, clean race I think both should be in the points. We're on target.”

Jenson Button, McLaren
2009 Qualifying - 1st, 2009 Race - 1st

“It was a tremendous achievement to score our first win of the season in Melbourne last week, and it’s given every single member of the team even greater enthusiasm for this weekend. Even so, I think we travel to Sepang mindful that the characteristics of the circuit probably won’t suit our car as well as it will suit some of the others - but I’m confident that, once again, we’ll be fighting at or near the front. We’re only two races in, but I think the development race will already be starting to have an influence on performance. It’s the rate of improvement that will most influence the battle at the front. And I’m confident we can deliver in this area: it was something I watched the team doing throughout 2009, and it was one of the key reasons for deciding to hold talks with the team. I’m convinced we have the firepower to develop faster than our key rivals. Sepang is an awesome circuit, one that I love driving, and I think that I’ll be able to further develop and improve my relationship with the car here. It’s a circuit that not only requires smooth and precise input, but it also needs real commitment through some of the high-speed stuff. I think it’s a circuit that every driver loves.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2009 Qualifying - 12th, 2009 Race - 7th

“Sepang has some of the best high-speed corners on the entire calendar. And, this year, I think we’ve got a car that will be far better suited to the circuit than we did last year, so I’m heading to Malaysia optimistic of a good result. It’s a fast circuit, that requires a well-balanced car with a good level of downforce. In some ways, it’s quite similar to Barcelona, where we tested well before the start of the season, so I’m optimistic that we’ll be competitive this weekend. However, I still think it might be difficult to make up the difference that’s needed in qualifying. Hopefully, that’s something that we’ll be able to solve as soon as possible. Last year we saw what could happen here once the weather took over. While I’m hopeful that this year’s race will be run in the dry, you can never discount the threat of rain. Either way, I think we’ll be competitive.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“Every single member of this team worked tirelessly to put us in a position to win the Australian Grand Prix - and we were tremendously buoyed by both Jenson and Lewis’s incredible performances. As a result, we travel to Malaysia keen to maintain the level of competitiveness we demonstrated in Melbourne. We’re under no illusions that the regular pacesetters will once again be up at the front, but I think we’ve now shown that we’re a match for the competition - particularly with our race pace, which is up there with the very best. On a broader note, it was very satisfying to see Formula One deliver such an invigorating and exciting race in Melbourne, and I hope that this weekend’s race can continue that trend. It’s a circuit that delivers natural spectacle and is one of the best places in the world for watching Grand Prix cars at high-speed. It looks like we have all the ingredients for a classic season.”

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP
2009 Qualifying - 4th, 2009 Race - 8th

“It's fast and challenging with a nice layout and a real variation of corners which makes Sepang an exciting track to drive. I have generally qualified well there, starting from fourth on the grid last year and third in 2006. Although we didn't quite achieve the qualifying and race results that were our full potential in Australia, we made good progress on the set-up of our car over the weekend. Sepang is a different type of track to Albert Park but these developments should benefit us and it's a good circuit to see exactly how quick each team is at the moment. We will hope to continue our run of points-scoring finishes and stay within reach of the leaders in the championship. It's the home Grand Prix for our title partner Petronas and before the race weekend gets underway, I'm looking forward to our demo runs at the Petronas Pit Pulse on Wednesday."

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a

"I have taken a lot of positives from the race weekend in Melbourne. Whilst that might not be evident at first sight, when you look into the weekend more deeply, we did make some real improvements and have good reasons to be satisfied, just not from the actual result obviously. Analysing qualifying, both Nico and I could have been two or three places higher and with hindsight, my set-up was too conservative and too much focused on the race. Those better positions would have enabled us to fight closer to the front on Sunday. All of this means that we are not too far away and I am quite confident that there will be more to come. Going to Malaysia this weekend, we know that we have clearly improved our pace since Bahrain which is a good feeling. It was a lot of fun fighting it out on the track in Melbourne, even if it was just for one point, and I will enjoy fighting again in Sepang."

Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"Malaysia will be a very special week for the team as the home race of our title partner Petronas, who are also the official sponsors of the Malaysian Grand Prix. In the first year of our partnership together, we are looking forward to working together here in Malaysia this week and it would be very nice to achieve a special result at one of our home Grands Prix. Before the race weekend gets underway, our drivers will be performing demo runs at the Petronas Pit Pulse site close to the Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur and making various appearances at the event. The Pit Pulse programme looks set to be spectacular and we hope to welcome many of the team's fans there over the next few days. Looking ahead to the race, the team performed well in Melbourne, even though we do not yet have the pace to be competing right at the front of the field. Four points finishes from the first two races puts us in third place in the constructors' championship and we need to keep this momentum going and keep scoring points whilst we work on improvements to the car."

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"The race in Malaysia will be the second Grand Prix within eight days and for our team, a really special event. Malaysia, with its capital in Kuala Lumpur, is the headquarters and the home of our title partner Petronas and thus the Malaysian Grand Prix is a new 'home race' for Mercedes GP. The track layout at the Sepang International Circuit is significantly different from Albert Park in Melbourne which hosted an extremely thrilling Formula One race last weekend. The circuit, just outside the Kuala Lumpur city limits, features long and fast corners, tight hairpins and long straights. As usual for this race, we have to expect extremely hot and humid conditions, usually accompanied by torrential rain showers every now and then - a race in sauna conditions, virtually. This climate is the greatest challenge for the teams, cars and drivers. It is our target to score more points in Malaysia and to create the basis for further technical improvements. It would be particularly nice to achieve a good result at Petronas's home race."

Bruno Senna, HRT
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a

"I'm looking forward to the Malaysian Grand Prix. I am very excited to go to Malaysia as I have driven there in GP2 so I know the track well. This will free my mind and I hope we will have a better race in terms of performance. So let's see what I can do in Sepang."

Karun Chandhok, HRT
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a

"I am really looking forward to my third F1 race. I have already driven a number of times in Malaysia and even won on the track with Renault V6. I was on the front row with iSport in GP2 Asia and also raced there many times in Formula Asia. My good winter preparation paid off and I was very fit after my full Australian Grand Prix and have not even felt sore after the race. This is a good sign for Malaysia where conditions are usually hot and demanding. I am looking for another great achievement for our young team."

Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
“We reached our goal with one of our two cars making it to the finish. Now we want to hit a new target and finish with both cars. From there on, we will be focusing increasingly on improving the car's overall pace and performance."

Robert Kubica, Renault
2009 Qualifying - 8th, 2009 Race - DNF

“I don’t think it will be an ideal circuit for us, but on the other hand we discovered in Australia that the car performs better in warmer conditions and the heat in Malaysia might help us. It’s a demanding track because there are lots of different corners and it’s so wide that it gives you the confidence to really push and find the limits. Recently the high-speed corners haven’t been too challenging, but I think they will be more demanding this year with the heavier fuel loads. There’s also a high risk of rain storms, and with the race starting late on Sunday afternoon, we could have another wet race.”

Vitaly Petrov, Renault
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a

“The car is generally well balanced, consistent and stable in the corners, which makes it an easy car to drive, but we still need more overall downforce to get closer to the front. There will be some more aero updates on the car in Malaysia, which should give us a bit more performance.

“It’s a track I know already from GP2 so I won’t have to spend time learning the circuit on Friday, which means I can concentrate more on finding a good set-up and evaluating the tyres. I really hope I can finish the race, which has to be my target because it’s important for me to get more miles in the car and experience a full race distance. Robert’s result in Melbourne has shown the car has potential and hopefully I can score my first points soon.”

Steve Nielsen, Renault sporting director
“As a team we have enjoyed some good races there, including a one-two in 2006, so it’s somewhere we return to with fond memories. It’s also a track that produces good racing and there are some decent overtaking opportunities. The climate means there’s a good chance of heavy rain showers, which may only last for a few seconds, but completely soak the circuit. It’s another factor we have to take into consideration and it has created some exciting races in the past.”

Pedro de la Rosa, BMW Sauber
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a

"The Sepang circuit is one of my favourite tracks. It has a lot of rhythm with many flowing corners which reminds me a little bit of the Circuit de Catalunya. The track in Malaysia is physically extremely demanding, especially because of the humidity and the heat. I like driving there a lot! It is important to be fit for there. For a driver it is by far the toughest race on the championship calendar and it is also very demanding on the car. I think if you are quick there you are quick everywhere, and, as I said before, it is a bit like Barcelona and both are very representative of what we find at other circuits. This means it is a good test bench for the drivers and the cars."

Kamui Kobayashi, BMW Sauber
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a

"I have good memories of Sepang as I won a GP2 Asia race there in 2008. It is a pretty nice track - I like it. The heat is tough, but that's the same for everybody. I don't mind the heat, but I hope we don't get the same weather as during last year's Grand Prix when the race had to be stopped because of the heavy rain. Malaysia is not too far from Japan and, hopefully, I will meet some Japanese fans there. The last corner before the main straight is my favourite. You have to brake very hard and get the corner right to accelerate down the straight. It has a lot of influence on the lap time, because if you don't get this one right you really pay for it."

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber technical director
"Sepang is a very demanding circuit which asks a lot from the chassis and the set-up. It has corners with very quick changes of direction in which stability is crucial. At the same time you need good traction to accelerate out of the slow corners, which in some cases lead uphill. The right hander before the back straight is especially tricky with its tightening radius.

"We expect ambient temperatures of around 35 degrees Celsius and accordingly track temperatures over 40 degrees. Therefore you have to take care of the cooling, and this is something you also have to take into account for the set-up to avoid excessive tyre wear. The weather is rather unpredictable with the chance of rain in the late afternoon high, which certainly would make for an exciting race."

Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"Sepang is relatively severe on tyres as it has many different corner types and two heavy braking zones after long straights. This means the energy going through the tyres over a lap is considerable. Drivers will have to be careful not to lock their brakes, especially when they have heavy fuel loads and cool tyres in the early laps. The section between turns seven and eleven are very important at this track as they give a very good illustration of a good overall car set-up. Being strong here is crucial for a good performance at Sepang. High temperatures are usually a factor in Malaysia and this could mean more tyre degradation than we've seen so far this year, particularly given the severity of the track. Last year illustrated that you never know what to expect in Malaysia."

More to follow.