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China preview quotes - Virgin, Lotus, Force India, HRT & more 15 Apr 2010

Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 15 April 2010 Lucas di Grassi (BRA) Virgin Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 4 April 2010 John Booth (GBR) Sporting Director Virgin Racing. Virgin Racing announce that they will enter F1 in 2010 re-branding the Manor F1 Team. Louise Blouin Foundation, London, UK. 15 December 2009. Nick Wirth (GBR) Virgin Racing Technical Director 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 26 March 2010 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 4 April 2010

The Shanghai International Circuit’s stunning architecture, high-speed straights and winding turns, mean the teams are more than happy to spend a little more time away from home to enjoy the chance to race in China. Here senior team personnel and the drivers contemplate their hopes for the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, and explain why they count this track as one of their favourites…

Timo Glock, Virgin
2009 Qualifying - 19th, 2009 Race - 7th

“It goes without saying that the last race in Sepang was disappointing for me, ending almost before it began. Until that point, things were looking very good and we seemed to get most things right during the Free Practice and Qualifying days. I hope this weekend in China follows a similar pattern, but with a different result to end the weekend on race day. Shanghai International Circuit is a great track for so many reasons, but from a driver’s perspective it is mainly the technical challenge that this race provides. It’s a fairly typical Tilke design in that it has a huge range of corners and features a long back straight leading into a hairpin. It’s the most exciting part of the track because cars reach around 300km/h on that section and you’re at full throttle for a long time, which can take your breath away. With hard braking down into the hairpin, this is probably the best overtaking spot on the circuit. I hope we can make use of it! I’m looking forward to making up for lost time in Malaysia, so we’ll be working very hard towards what I hope will be a good race to end the first part of the season.”

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

“Malaysia was a great race weekend as we finished ahead of the other newcomers. Now we need more of that kind of result. I went back to England to use the Simulator so I could practice on the Shanghai circuit, as I have never been there before. For us right now, it’s all about hard work and we’re all doing a lot of that to try to keep moving us forward. I’m looking forward to China. From the work I’ve done in the simulator, I know it’s a really technical track that tests all your skills as a driver. The weather is much cooler than the previous race. It’s always a difficult race to prepare for but with the knowledge that getting things right through the weekend could lead to another strong race performance.”

John Booth, Virgin team principal
“This week we head back to pretty much where we just came from, after spending a week back in the UK between the Malaysian and Chinese Grands Prix. This might seem a little odd, but we’re in a constant development cycle - not just technically, but also in terms of moulding the team, so it’s important that we get back to home base, regroup and keep ourselves focused on the job in hand. At the same time as maximising our chances for China, we’re headlong into preparations for the European races, a big part of which will rely on having a solid infrastructure on the road with us for the European rounds. I’m delighted to say that our new race preparation building in Dinnington is nearing completion and this will help us enormously for the five months of European races that lie ahead, where we can look forward to a more fluid turnaround operation in between races.”

Nick Wirth, Virgin technical director
“Since our first race finish in Sepang, we've been working to improve the VR-01 further, and we plan to bring improvements to the aerodynamics, mechanical package and transmission, as well as modifications to the fuel system to help with low-fuel pickup. These should allow us to improve our low-fuel qualifying performance and also help our race-pace. Shanghai itself looks like it will be significantly cooler than the last two races. As we will again be using the harder compounds in these lower temperatures, we’ll be watching for tyre warm-up issues. The long, low-speed corners dominate this track, so the focus will be on maximising our performance in these. Our aim for the weekend is to build upon the clear improvements we demonstrated at Sepang.”

Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus
2009 Qualifying - 12th, 2009 Race - 5th

“I feel really good coming into the Chinese Grand Prix - I’ve had a few days of solid training and a bit of golf since leaving Malaysia and I love coming to China. We have some great fans out here - they wait at the hotel all night just to get an autograph and always give us really good presents to take home. Last year some girls took a taxi and followed us to the hotel with a Finnish flag hanging out the window all the way! The country has great food and a deep culture; every time I come here I see something new. The Shanghai track itself is a good challenge for the drivers. The two straights both provide overtaking opportunities and there are some nice high speed sections. The hospitality area has a fantastic atmosphere and it looks like nowhere else on the calendar, so all in all I’m very excited about being out here.”

Jarno Trulli, Lotus
2009 Qualifying - 6th, 2009 Race - DNF

“China’s one of my favourite races on the calendar - I’ve not had the best luck at the track over the years, but I like it as it rewards a well balanced car and encourages you to push hard, particularly in the high speed corners. We’ve proved we have good reliability in the car so I’m looking forward to bringing it home and giving the Chinese fans something new to cheer for. The fans here are great - they’re very passionate and I’ve always had great support here, and now with Lotus Racing they have a British team with an Asian core to cheer for so I’m expecting even more support over the whole race weekend."

Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
“I’m delighted we’ve arrived in China and can’t wait to see the fans’ reaction to us here. It’s an honour to be in Shanghai as China is the home of the new world and has been a very important market for AirAsia, so it’s somewhere I’m always excited about coming to. We are thrilled that we are bringing Lotus Racing, a uniquely Asian-British team, to the Shanghai Grand Prix, particularly as we have a number of people within the team with Chinese heritage who are very proud to see our team here for the first time. I know the whole team will work hard to put on a good show on and off track, and I hope that this demonstrates that we can provide a very good platform for universities, commercial partners and future drivers across China to work with a team whose heart beats close to our Asian home.”

Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
“It’s just a couple of weeks since Malaysia and the last of the early season fly-away races so we’re focusing on getting both cars across the finish line here before we turn our attention to the upgrade package we have planned for Barcelona. The guys back at the factory have worked very hard on the parts we sent back, and have done a great job to turn around everything in time and get it sent back out here. Our car’s race pace has been good so far, and I think we’ll see that again in Shanghai - it’s a technical circuit that will bring out the best in both our drivers, and I think their experience will see us build on the solid start we’ve had so far.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India
2009 Qualifying - 18th, 2009 Race - 17th

“The next race in China will be a bit different but there are some similarities to Malaysia as well. The circuit layout is different, of course, but you need a good top speed, which we have, and you need a little bit of downforce for the mid sector, for the slow corners so I think it should suit our car really well. I don't think we should be concerned about our performance at the moment, we are strong and we can fight in the top 10, and that's very encouraging at this point of the year. I'm confident, definitely. It was encouraging in Malaysia, and also the last races in Bahrain and Australia. I think we can show a very similar performance in China. Temperatures will be a bit cooler, but there is a long straight and you need to be very fast on that, and that's what our car can do. It has also the downforce required for the slow speed corners. My feeling is that we can perform well again in Shanghai.”

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

“We are pushing to try to bring some more steps forward for the car. I have been in the simulator and we are pushing to bring updates to China as we want to be ready to score points again and not let our momentum slip. For sure it's one of the circuits that I like, and I've always had good results there. In fact my best result in F1 was at that circuit - in 2007 Sebastian Vettel and myself finished fourth and sixth for Toro Rosso. We go to China pretty positive about our potential. It was good to finally get into Q3 in Malaysia and from there we have to hope for a good race. In Malaysia we were quite comfortable in the car and I have to hope that the luck stays with me this time and we can get some more points. It's pretty similar to Malaysia. There are a lot of high speed corners, and it's quite technical, especially Turns One and Six and Seven. It's got a flow as a circuit and there are some technical corners, and it's always a crazy race because there can be some different weather conditions. So overall I'm looking forward to it! More points are the aim and we can do it, for sure.”

Paul di Resta, Force India third driver
“It went relatively well in Malaysia. It was always going to be a difficult task as I hadn't had any running in the simulator beforehand so it completely new to me and very different conditions. With the high temperatures and the different behaviour of the tyres it was an uphill curve but I felt I moved forward, I improved and I got some good experience. I am now getting a feel for how Tonio or Adrian want their base set-ups, but in terms of the programme it is entirely the same as the race drivers. At the moment I'm still conscious it isn't my car so I have to be careful to build up gradually, be controlled and constructive and get the data for weekend. The Shanghai International Circuit will be new again to me and I won't have any simulator running beforehand so it will be starting from the bottom, learning the new track. At least I have now got some experience on this type of wide, Tilke track so it should just be a case of making steady progress again.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
“At the start of the season I said we wanted to be regular points finishers and here we are, three races in, with three points' finishes. It's very pleasing when you see just how far we've come in one year: after three races in 2009 we had no points and were tenth. The difference, I believe, has been keeping the focus on what we want to do. We've kept our heads down, got on with the job and to a certain extent kept out of what the other teams are doing - we've focussed on our own game. It's a real credit to Mark Smith and his team that we've got the points we have. The team at Brackley and Silverstone are tight-knit, efficient and the results are now coming through. The grid is very tight as we saw in Malaysia and Australia and there's no clear delineation between the front and the midfield. The most important at this stage is that we are still up there fighting. Renault look very strong right now but there's still a lot more races to go this year and we have a clear direction about where we are going that will keep us with them, or hopefully leapfrog them. The drivers are confident and the team is working well so I think fifth is still realistic.”

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

“I’m looking forward to the China Grand Prix and I am certain that I will enjoy China. But firstly, I need some laps there in free practice as I have never driven in China yet. The circuit looks smooth with a difficult first corner very similar to Malaysia’s first corner. So let’s see how I can build on our past results.”

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

“I am looking for another great achievement for our team for our fourth Grand Prix start. I have never been to Shanghai before but raced in Zhuhai. After Melbourne, I am not too worried learning a circuit even if it will take a few laps to understand fully our car. I want to build on my good race with full fuel load in Malaysia. Hopefully we can get some more performance and gather good data for the start of the European season in Barcelona.”

Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
“We reached our next goal with our two cars making it to the finish in Malaysia after a tough race on a demanding track on our third ever race week-end. Now, not only HRT F1 Team, Hispania Racing want to hit a new target and finish again with both cars but we are also working to get reliability with the cars and get more experience including react in different conditions including possible wet weather. We will see good progress in consistent driving.”

Robert Kubica, Renault
2009 Qualifying - 18th, 2009 Race - 13th

“It's not my favourite Grand Prix of the year, but all the races are just as important as each other with the same points available. The track is quite interesting because there are some unusual corners, such as turn one, which is almost a full circle and is quite difficult technically. The circuit has a similar layout to Sepang with both high and low speed corners, so I think we can be competitive there. And we will have some more updates for the car to help us continue closing the gap to the front.”

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

“I've raced there in GP2 so I don't need to worry about learning the track. It's a challenging circuit with a lot of different corners, which makes it a very technical circuit and difficult to find the right set-up. There are lots of long corners, such as turn 13, where your car understeers and it's hard to get on the power, which always feels frustrating. Of course, I've only experienced the circuit in GP2 and I'm sure it will be even more challenging in an F1 car. The priority is to try and finish the race and get the experience of a race distance. I also want to get closer to the top ten and hopefully fight for points in the race. I also need to continue working hard on my qualifying performance so that I can make it through to Q2, and hopefully Q3.”

James Allison, Renault technical director
“The biggest difference we can expect in Shanghai is that it will bring much cooler conditions than Malaysia and Bahrain. We will have to ensure that we can make the tyres work well in the cool temperatures. We hope to take another small step towards the front in Shanghai and I think a realistic goal for the weekend is to get both drivers to bring home points.”

Cosworth, engine suppliers to Williams, Lotus, Virgin & HRT
“The Shanghai International Circuit is not one of the most severe on the engine, but does offer two notable straights which place a premium on outright engine power. Cars tend to run medium to high downforce settings to cope with the circuit’s combination of slow corners, which in turn puts greater loads on the engine along the two straights. Unusually, the back straight is the longer of the two at over 1km in length, leading into a slow speed hairpin which demands excellent braking stability as cars brake from close to 320km/h down to around 70km/h. Only a relatively low percentage of the lap is spent at full throttle with just over half of the lap demanding maximum power output from the engine. This means that the circuit is not too tough on fuel consumption. China is expected to be the coolest event of the year so far with ambient temperatures not likely to reach above 20°C and a distinct chance of rain, more akin to the conditions experienced in pre-season testing. This is beneficial from an engine cooling point of view. After three races of the season, there is now greater variety in individual team strategies when it comes to engine selection with different life cycles registered on the CA2010 units across Cosworth’s four teams. The fact that Shanghai is not too demanding on engines may prompt teams to run engines with higher mileage in the race.”

Rubens Barrichello, Williams
2009 Qualifying - 4th, 2009 Race - 4th

“Shanghai is a really interesting circuit. It has a good combination of corners and that really long straight at the end of the lap which is perfect for overtaking. To hook up a quick lap, the car requires more aero strength, rather than mechanical, but an exact blend of the two which is always quite difficult to achieve. Together with the fact that the lap is also quite long with lots of different variables, setting up the car perfectly is hard work. I won the first race at Shanghai which is very special for me. I will always remember that win as it makes me think I can always do it again.”

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

“Like Malaysia, I’ve previously raced in China; two seasons ago in A1 GP. It’s good to go to a Grand Prix with experience of the track. You can do as much training in the simulator as you want, but it doesn’t beat real, on track experience. The circuit isn’t one of my favourites, it’s very impersonal, but it does have a very long back straight which will be a good place for overtaking. Keep an eye out for that during the race as there should be some good action round that part of the lap. I am flying out to China on Monday, there’s no need to go out to this race early to acclimatise, but I do want to check out some of the sights as the city is quite cool. I’ll definitely be taking a trip to the Bund and the Oriental Pearl tower in nearby Pudong Park.”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“After the issues we faced in Malaysia, we’re heading to China with a clear target of improving our performance. There are several key areas which we obviously need to concentrate on. Firstly, we need to ensure that both drivers make it into the top ten again in qualifying in order to give them the best possible chance of scoring some needed points in the race. We also need to work on our starts. We have resolved the problem that Rubens had on the grid, and we will be carrying out a series of starts practices during the Friday sessions. In terms of car developments, we have been working hard on producing some aero improvements for the front and rear wings for Shanghai.”

Jenson Button, McLaren
2009 Qualifying - 5th, 2009 Race - 3rd

“Last year, they moved the race from the end of the season to the start, and the weekend was quite a bit colder and wetter than it had been before. The weather forecast doesn’t currently suggest this year’s event will be any different - but I’m optimistic that we’ll have a dry weekend and a more straightforward race than we did last year. Nonetheless, it’s a track I enjoy: it’s a typical modern circuit - it has a real mix of corners, but it manages to combine some quite precise and technical sections with some faster corners and long straights. It’s a good drivers’ circuit while also being a place that benefits from a well-balanced car. I think I’ve made some real progress in that area, though. I wasn’t completely happy with the balance of the car in Malaysia, so I spent a day back at the McLaren Technology Centre looking at how we could have done things differently in Sepang while also looking ahead to Shanghai. Along with my engineers, I think we’ve developed an even better understanding of the MP4-25. We know how to fine-tune the car’s balance and how to develop it over a race weekend. Of course, it’s a continuous process, but the overall feeling is that we’re moving forwards - which, again, is always a positive.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2009 Qualifying - 9th, 2009 Race - 6th

“It’s hard to believe that we’re heading into the fourth race of the year - the races have gone by so quickly. After Malaysia, I had a little bit of time to reflect on the year so far, and I’m pleased with the results that Jenson and I have been able to achieve in some challenging circumstances. And I’m really looking forward to an uninterrupted weekend in China so we can focus on racing and competing with the other leading teams in the championship. I really enjoy driving here - I drove one of my best races here in 2008, winning from pole position. After three races, we’ve been satisfied with our race pace, and we feel comfortable that we’ll be up at the front. Overtaking is possible at this circuit, particularly at the end of the long back straight, so I’m pretty confident we’ll have another competitive weekend. Finally, of all the places we visit around the world, I think the Chinese fans are some of the most passionate and dedicated. They’ve really supported me over the years and I look forward to meeting them again when I arrive in the city.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“By our own very high standards, we’ve not fully met our very high expectations in the first three races, despite having what we feel is the necessary race pace to compete at the front and despite having won the Australian Grand Prix. That might sound overly self-critical, given that we are second in the constructors’ championship, and given that Jenson and Lewis are both close to the top of the drivers’ championship, but that’s merely a reflection of the fact that we at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes aim to excel at all times. So I regard that objective as a positive: it’s our desire to improve and to eliminate mistakes from the operation that will make us stronger championship contenders. There’s no denying that our successes - Jenson’s integration into the team, his win in Melbourne, and some of the greatest drives of Lewis’s career - have given us a great early-season boost. Now we are looking to establish ourselves as consistent challengers at the front, and to pick up the maximum available points on a regular basis. One of the greatest qualities of this team is its considerable strength in depth. After establishing a strong and solid start to the season, we’re confident that we’ll become an even more formidable contender as we head into China and then the start of the European season.”

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP
2009 Qualifying - 7th, 2009 Race - 15th

“Shanghai is a good track which is an enjoyable challenge for the drivers. The two long straights provide some decent overtaking opportunities and there’s a great mix of corners, particularly the high-speed sections. The weather will be colder in Shanghai than at the previous three races and can be quite unpredictable so it should be an interesting weekend. The fans in China are so enthusiastic and Shanghai itself is a great city so I always enjoy our annual visit. Achieving my first podium with the team in Malaysia at the last race was fantastic and I’m looking forward to continuing our consistent run of good results in China next weekend.”

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

“The enthusiasm for Mercedes-Benz and the support of the fans is very big in China so we have an attractive race ahead of us in Shanghai next weekend. I am confident that the fans will not leave the race disappointed. We looked quite reasonable in Malaysia at the last race and maybe things will play into our hands again in Shanghai. I am looking forward to the race and fully enjoying the competition again. Admittedly the last two races have not been very fortunate for me but I am very much aware of the reasons for it. I know how things go in F1 and if you look into the detail of the two races, I think everything is still going according to plan. You can only improve step-by-step and I am confident that we are achieving this.”

Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
“Achieving our first podium of the season with Nico was very rewarding in Malaysia at the home race of our title partner Petronas and a timely boost for the team. Michael also had a strong weekend and is getting more up to speed with every race although circumstances beyond his control limited his race performance in Melbourne and Sepang. We hope to continue these signs of improvement in China and it would be particularly good for Michael to be able to have a clean race and show the progress that he has made since the start of the season. On an operational level, the team has performed very well over the three races and did a good job during Nico’s race in Malaysia to record one of the quickest pit stops of the season. Our car has been reliable, with the exception of the wheel nut problem in Malaysia, and I am very pleased with the performance of our drivers. We’ve achieved a reasonable set of results which are in line with the car’s current pace but we have to be realistic and acknowledge that we are not quick enough to compete right at the front at the moment. This is obviously not a situation that we are happy with and we are working as hard as possible to close the gap.”

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“The Chinese Grand Prix has taken place since 2004 and is one of the most recognised events on the Formula One calendar. The circuit located outside of Shanghai features lots of challenges for the car, drivers and team. There are fast curves as well as tight corners and two hairpins, one close to the start and finish of the lap. For Shanghai, the long-term weather forecast doesn’t predict a probability of rain as was the case for the last race in Malaysia. But one way or the other, we will try to achieve a good result and in addition to improve our technical package step by step for the next races.”

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

“The Shanghai Circuit is one I really like and enjoy. The last time I raced there was in 2006 and I finished fifth. It is a good track with a very long straight and nice overtaking opportunities. Overall the circuit has a great variety of corners, including hard braking for a hairpin and other corners which flow nicely. We are working hard on improving the performance of our car. There are 16 races to go, so the season isn’t over by any means. Looking at the reliability I’m quite relaxed. What happened in Malaysia was extremely unlucky and will not happen again.”

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

“I’m very excited to be racing in Shanghai for the first time in Formula One. I had a good weekend there with GP2 Asia in October 2008. I was second on the grid, set the fastest race lap and just missed winning after a safety car period. The circuit is very nice and the grandstand is really impressive. Actually I like the hard braking before the hairpin after the long straight. I feel it will be difficult for us in Shanghai, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I generally like racing in Asia, and with Japan not being that far away I usually see more fellow countrymen there than in Europe. Shanghai as a city is an exciting place too, but unfortunately we don’t get to see much of it as the track is pretty far away from its centre.”

James Key, BMW Sauber technical director
“I’m looking forward to the first race with the team. I arrived in Hinwil after the Easter weekend and met a lot of people. I got a very good impression of what’s going on. There is obviously work to be done, but the spirit within the team and the motivation are very high. What is now beginning to emerge is the direction we need to go in. Everyone is pushing very hard, and we are making plans at the moment on the direction we should go in the future to keep developing. I haven’t been to the track this year, so it’s going to be interesting to see how things are run, learn a bit about the tyres and talk to the drivers. It will be the first time I see the C29, so it will be good to have a close look at it along with Willy Rampf and go through it in detail. As far as the circuit is concerned, it’s a fairly similar downforce level to what we have experienced on the past three circuits. It’s another purpose built track with some interesting features. There’s a very long straight, therefore downforce is a compromise. It’s a fairly high grip track, which might mean taking a little bit of wing off. Braking stability and traction are very important, and you have those two snail like corners which are tricky for the drivers. We have to see how the cars and the tyres deal with it. We hope for the best and will try to get some points.”

Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"Shanghai International Circuit is severe on tyres. There are very high lateral forces and we expect to see graining on the front left tyres, especially caused by the increasing radius turn two and the banked Turn 13. We could also see graining on the rear tyres here too. We are a step harder in our allocation for this year compared to 2009 because of the heavier cars and the severity of this track. The circuit layout means that a medium downforce set-up will be used, as there are two long straights, but a large percentage of the track is also very twisty and technical. For the teams and drivers, finding the correct set-up to make the best use of their tyres will be a big challenge. Last year the challenge was the weather, and we saw our wet tyres used for most of the race. It was not the first time we have had wet conditions in China so the sky will be a strong consideration for this weekend."