Europe preview quotes - Virgin, Lotus, Force India, Williams & more 24 Jun 2010
After the streets of Montreals Ile Notre Dame, Formula One racing heads to the streets of Valencia. But in place of the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuves high-speed, low-downforce layout, come the Spanish tracks demanding twists and turns. There are a total of 25 corners (11 left and 14 right), which test the drivers to the maximum. They and senior team personnel look ahead to the forthcoming European Grand Prix
Timo Glock, Virgin
2009 Qualifying - 13th, 2009 Race - 14th
Im really looking forward to Valencia this weekend. Its a track I quite enjoy and I got the fastest lap here last year, so I have only good things to say about it. Its a circuit where you really have to keep your eye on the ball - a bit like Monaco - because the fast straights together with the barriers mean that you can easily get caught out. It can be very hot here but this year the race is slightly earlier and so the temperature should be cooler. Canada was a tough weekend in terms of setting the car up and managing the tyres and I hope we can have a smoother ride of it this weekend. As always our objective is to challenge our immediate competition to be the best of the new teams.
Lucas di Grassi, Virgin
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
Its great to be back in Europe again - and to be back in Spain where the fans are all very supportive. Ive raced here in GP2 before but Im really looking forward to my first time out here in an F1 car. Ive done some work in the simulator to prepare and we have some new parts which should help us in terms of setting the car up. Montreal was a tough race for us but we got there in the end. I hope we have fewer difficulties this time round and we can get the weekend off to a better start and fight for the position of best of the new teams at the end of it.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
Despite enjoying our debut Canadian Grand Prix experience, its good to be back on European soil where we can now establish a good rhythm for the next six races - and remain in the same time zone. Apart from the usual turnaround challenges following a long-haul race, weve actually found some time to draw breath since Canada and this has provided us with a good opportunity to reflect on the last few races and look to the period ahead. Its hard to believe that the mid-point of the season is almost upon us and of course we have our home race at Silverstone to look forward to in a couple of weeks. I think we are in good shape for part two of the European season and we hope to get things off to a good start in Valencia this weekend.
Nick Wirth, Virgin technical director
Now that we are back in Europe, the whole team is gearing up for a big push forwards in performance, which starts in Valencia. We have been working very hard on the areas of the cars performance that we know we need to improve, and we will give a track debut to some mechanical performance parts that are the result of a long development programme. In all aspects of our research, both virtual and in R&D testing, it has looked a promising step, so we expect it to help the cars behaviour and improve our lap time. The aim for this race is to get experience of it ahead of the new aero package which comes at Silverstone. As ever, well also be focused on having a smooth and reliable weekend.
Jarno Trulli, Lotus
2009 Qualifying - 18th, 2009 Race - 13th
"Im really looking forward to Valencia. Its a circuit I like, and I enjoy the race there - Its always warm, and its a beautiful city. Im in the new chassis (T127-04) from this race, and hopefully that will bring me some better luck over the race weekend - in Canada I was really flying until the retirement, so I hope I can carry that through to this weekend and see the chequered flag. Thats obviously important, but this weekend is also all about the 500th race for Lotus. Itll be very special to help take that famous name to such a milestone, and Im very honoured to be part of it. I met Hazel Chapman on Sunday at the Classic Team Lotus Festival, and that was very special for me, particularly as I had the chance to drive Elio De Angelis T91 in front of the crowds, and that felt great.
Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus
2009 Qualifying - 2nd, 2009 Race - 4th
The last few races have been very positive for our team, weve been making progress every weekend and the plan is to carry on pushing. For Valencia, and for the rest of the season, were not looking back at the other new teams - we lapped them in Canada so were looking to keep taking the fight to the guys ahead, and I think we can do that. This is obviously an historic weekend for Lotus, and for Lotus Racing, and I think were starting to do justice to whats gone before us - its fantastic that we can celebrate such a great milestone in Valencia, and itll be an honour to be part of that. On the race itself - the track is a street circuit, but there is quite a lot more room on track than in Monaco or Singapore, so its more of a semi-street circuit. You can hit the kerbs harder, and find a better balance between the straight-line speed and the grip in the corners, but this makes finding the right downforce level crucial. Its always hot there, and getting the best out of the tyres will be important - we have the super-soft tyres there so well work on getting the best out of them on Friday and Saturday. I think well put on a good show, and give Clive Chapman and his family, and all the Lotus fans something to cheer for!
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
Im really looking forward to this weekend, and am excited about both celebrating the 500th race Lotus has competed in, and helping add another chapter to one of motorsports greatest stories. Weve already come a long way this season, and have much further to go until we can add more glory to the Lotus legend, but I and the whole team are very proud to be in a position to help the Lotus name reach this landmark moment, and itll be great to celebrate that with Clive, Tony and the whole team. For the race, we have a few more updates to the car to help us keep pushing forward, so were not letting up on the challenge to take the race to the cars in front. Im confident well put on a good performance in Valencia - weve got the right drivers to cope with the demands of the circuit itself, and the car keeps improving with every new step we take, so I think this will be another chance to pressure the midfield, and make good on the promise we showed in Canada.
Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
Celebrating the 500th race will be an absolute honour, and will obviously be very special, but were only nine races of the whole Lotus story. Really, this weekend is all about celebrating Colin Chapmans history, and thanking Clive, his Mother Hazel, and all the people that have helped shape the Lotus legend. Im thrilled that some of the people that were part of the original story are with us today, and Im proud weve been able to take the total number of races Lotus has taken part in to 500 and beyond - hopefully well be celebrating 1,000 races one day, and can look back on a legacy that pays true homage to that were celebrating this weekend the legacy of Colin Chapman, his family, his cars and his team.
Clive Chapman, son of Lotus founder Colin Chapman
Of course the 500th Grand Prix for the Lotus marque is a significant landmark, and it was nice that Lotus Racing thought to invite my mother to attend - after all, Hazel Chapman is the person with the closest association to the Team Lotus history. Much as she wanted to accept, regretfully she decided against it, so Ill be there with my family representing Classic Team Lotus and my fathers legacy. The fact my mother wont be in Valencia this weekend made it all the more special that she was with all the Team Lotus cars and the Lotus Racing T127 at the Classic Team Lotus Festival last weekend at Snetterton. It was a great moment for my family and me to see my mum and their grandma standing at the front of the 35 Lotus cars, and then to be joined by the Lotus Racing drivers. The Valencia installation lap conducted at Snetterton by the T127 was another highlight of the day for everyone there.
Much as it is nice that Lotus Racing is celebrating 500th Grand Prix, I am sure the most important thing about the weekend for the team is that it is another race and the next opportunity to continue to make progress towards the established teams. It was exciting to watch Montreal qualifying, when Heikki almost pipped the Sauber, and I for one would swap the 500th landmark for the landmark of outqualifying an established team in normal circumstances. Fingers crossed!
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2009 Qualifying - 12th, 2009 Race - 10th
Valencia is not my favourite circuit as there's not so much of a challenge for the driver. Even though it's classed as a street circuit, it doesn't really feel like it as there's no challenging corners: it's just braking into hairpins, then flat out. You just don't get the thrill you have on a standard street circuit like Monaco or Singapore. The last complex is a little bit more challenging as there's a left-right chicane taken at high speed followed by another right hander. Then it's just flat out with a few corners into the last turn, which is actually one of the trickiest as we're braking while turning in so it's easy to overshoot the corner and lose it in the exit. Grip levels can be quite low, particularly off line, so you have to judge any overtaking manoeuvre pretty carefully. That said, the track is also very wide with a lot of run off areas so you're not worried about touching a barrier. Over one lap it's not a classic but the racing there can be quite tight and with the cars being so close this year it could produce a good race. Valencia needs a medium to low downforce aero configuration and we've shown that we can perform well on this type of track. We were strong in Canada and I believe we can be quite good in Valencia as well. We've also got some new parts coming for this race that should further improve our performance, including a new front wing and some smaller bodywork changes, plus a few minor suspension component developments. I think it looks promising. We've not had the best luck in Valencia in the past but I hope that the good basic foundations of the car, plus the solid developments we've had over the past races and leading into this one will put us in good shape to get some more points on the board and close the gap to Renault.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
I have never driven in Valencia as it came onto the calendar in 2008 when I was the test and reserve driver at Force India, but I've been working hard in the simulator this week and I think we can have a good pace there. I like street circuits and I can go well on them as I showed in Monaco and Canada. I've also got a bit of a head start there as well as I've been at the last two events and have had access to all of the last years' data, which helps with the preparation. The team also did very well there with Adrian and Giancarlo (Fisichella) finishing in the top 12 and it was really where we started being closer to the points. I know it will be tough but we were mixing it with Mercedes and Renault in Canada and, with our new upgrades to the front and the rear of the car, I'm pretty hopeful we can repeat our performance of Montreal - hopefully without the first lap accident this time!
Paul di Resta, Force India third driver
I'm really looking forward to getting back in the car again in Valencia, particularly as it's been a few months since I was last out in practice in Spain. Valencia is quite a good circuit to get back on track as it's fast and smooth and looks pretty easy to learn as a layout. I'm preparing myself for it with the usual simulator work and then we'll walk the track on the Thursday to pick up the smaller details like the kerbing, bumps and any changes from last year that might affect the baseline set-up we run on Friday. Tonio and I will be in pretty similar positions in that we've never raced on the circuit before so we'll work together to get as much information as possible for the rest of the weekend. I've also had a weekend off since Canada - which is pretty unusual this year! - so I feel rested and relaxed ahead of the event.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
Valencia was really where our performance started to show through last year so we are all looking forward to going back there. Our technical team and the drivers are confident we'll go well there as it's medium to low downforce and the performance we showed in Canada demonstrated that we have a strong package on this type of configuration. Additionally we have some new upgrades scheduled for introduction that should keep us abreast of the other teams. It's a development race now and rather than introduce major new upgrades we're doing it as and when ready to keep the momentum high.
Cosworth, engine suppliers to Williams, Lotus, Virgin & HRT
Valencia was the scene of Cosworths first laps of 2010 in a preseason test session with the AT&T Williams team at the Ricardo Tormo circuit back in February, marking its return to Formula One as an engine supplier after three years. Although the European Grand Prix will be its second trip to Valencia this year, it will be Cosworths first visit to the citys temporary street circuit, which has hosted the European Grand Prix since 2008.
"Valencias positioning as a street circuit incorrectly conjures up comparisons with Monaco or Singapore, but in reality its characteristics couldnt be more different. A combination of 25 corners with average speeds around 200km/h and regular top speeds in the region of 300km/h makes Valencia a faster track than the more typical street circuits. The stop-start nature of the track requires good corner exit speed and engine torque particularly when exiting the lower speed turns like Two, 10 and 17, as well as the final left-hander heading back onto the main straight.
"For two of Cosworths teams, the Valencia race will hold particular importance. It is the home race for Hispania Racing, while it will be the 500th Formula One race participation for Lotus. Cosworth has had a long and distinguished Formula One relationship with Lotus since the mid-1960s which has been reignited in 2010 with the partnership with Lotus Racing. Cosworth is proud to be supplying engines to Lotus for its 500th race, which will be the 614th Formula One race to feature Cosworth engines."
Rubens Barrichello, Williams
2009 Qualifying - 3rd, 2009 Race - 1st
I have great memories of Valencia. I won the race there last year, it was my tenth win so it was great fun. It was also significant because it really pulled me back into contention for the championship. Cosworth is doing well to improve its consistency and the team are bringing some more upgrades to Spain so I'm looking forward to seeing where their combined efforts put us. The challenge in Valencia is to get into Q3 and score some points.
Nico Hulkenberg, Williams
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
Valencia is a great track, I really like it. I know it well from racing there in GP2 last year and I'm very much looking forward to driving it in the FW32 because its a circuit I feel quite comfortable on. Like Monaco and Montreal, there are walls everywhere but the tracks a bit wider and I like the challenge. We'll have more new parts for this race but well have to wait and see what improvements they bring to the car. We are inching a bit closer to the top ten, as we showed in qualifying in Montreal, but we have to continue pushing and gain more tenths to get into the top ten consistently.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
From Montreal we're moving back to Europe and to the fourth street circuit of the year. Valencia has been a welcome addition to the calendar since it joined the schedule in 2008. The 5.4km lap is made up of 25 corners, which should conspire to make a tight and twisty track, but instead the drivers actually get into quite a good rhythm around Valencia. Speeds tend to average out around the lap at around 200km/h.
As a street circuit the teams do face certain challenges over the weekend. The track provides little grip at the outset, the multitude of corners place some considerable stress on the tyres and the coastal location can whip up some sea breezes which can affect the balance of the car. As overtaking opportunities are also limited around Valencia, a good grid position is important. We've secured points at each of the two races in Valencia, and that is our aim again this time round. We will have further upgrades on the FW32, including the development blown rear wing.
Bruno Senna, HRT
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
I am really looking forward to the Grand Prix in Valencia because it is a circuit where I had a good performance in GP2 Series in 2008. The circuit is difficult with some very technical corners but the biggest challenges are the bridge, which is very narrow and bumpy, and the last corner, into which you arrive at very high speed. Then, you have to slow the car down turning into the hairpin. On this circuit, it is very important to find the right setup for tight slow corners and good traction. As it is not a very high downforce circuit, we may be able to have a competitive weekend again and I hope we will continue having good races.
Karun Chandhok, HRT
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
It is the second home race this year for our team in Valencia and the atmosphere there is normally quite good and very special. I am looking forward to the event on this circuit and I already raced there in GP2 Series. The track is not a traditional street circuit as it is very wide and has a lot of run-off areas unlike Monaco or Montreal. There are long straights and low speed corners where you have to jump the kerbs to be quick. You will need good stability on the brakes, compliance on the kerbs and good traction. For Valencia, we hope to show a good performance like we did the races before.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
There is a special atmosphere at the Valencia Street Circuit because it is situated around the harbour. It is not easy to find the right setup for the car because of the track layout with high speed straights and low speed corners. You need low downforce on the straights but high downforce and traction for accelerating after slow and slippery corners. Due to the coastal location of the circuit, a strong sea breeze can also cause balance problems. The drivers have to be concentrated during the 57 laps of the race and due to normally high air temperatures it is going to be a physically tough race. After our good performance in Canada, we are aiming to fight for positions with other teams again.
Robert Kubica, Renault
2009 Qualifying - 10th, 2009 Race - 8th
I know a lot of other drivers dont think the same way, but I enjoy driving there. Its quite an interesting circuit because its half-street circuit, half-modern circuit. The characteristics are quite similar to Canada, because most of the corners are slow speed, so you concentrate on braking stability and good traction - which should suit our car because we are strong in these areas. We run a higher level of downforce than in Canada, but you still need good aerodynamic efficiency because the speeds are high at four points of the lap.
The main difference will be with the asphalt: in Montreal, the track surface was new and very slippery, whereas I think the grip levels will be better in Valencia - but that will be the same for everybody. Its still a street circuit, so grip levels will be low on Friday morning, but they should improve quickly throughout the weekend, especially because we will have more categories racing and putting rubber down than we did in Canada.
I enjoy the first sector, because it has two chicanes where you have to jump over the kerbs, and the walls are very close. The other fun section for the drivers is the final part of the lap: they are taken flat out, or with one small lift, but you really get into the flow from one corner to another and then, for the last corner, you have to brake while there is still a lot of lateral load on the car. Its very tricky to find your braking point for that corner, which makes it even more challenging.
Vitaly Petrov, Renault
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
I won the GP2 race there last year. I know all of the tricks in terms of the braking points, the line, where you can use the kerbs and even how the tyres will perform and degrade during the race. Of course, it will be different again in an F1 car, so it will still be a big challenge to put together a good performance all the way through the weekend, but I will be starting from a better baseline than in Canada. Ive been living in the city for three years because its where my GP2 team was based, so I know everything here. Its not like having a home race in your own country, in front of your people, but its a good feeling because you know the place already, you feel comfortable there and feel good.
Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
Weve got quite a nice upgrade coming (this weekend), with a new front wing and a new floor, which we believe will take us another step further forward. We have certainly seen an incredible rate of development this year. If we take the gap to pole position as a measure of how much weve improved, weve seen the gap steadily reduce race by race as weve developed quicker than some of our competitors. And with the updates we have planned for this weekend, that trend will hopefully continue.
The circuit has all the typical street circuit characteristics because its not used throughout the year and will be very dirty at the start of the weekend. The car went very well at Monaco, the last proper street circuit, so were optimistic of another strong showing this weekend. We will have the same tyre compounds that we had in Canada, but I dont expect anything like the same problems we encountered with degradation and tyre management.
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"From a riverside street course in Canada we now head to a seaside street course in Europe. In common with the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the Valencia Street Course has several high speed sections, however it has more corners. The layout and track surface is more aggressive to the tyres than in Montreal so we do not expect the same challenge for teams to get maximum performance from the medium and super soft compounds as in Canada. This year's European Grand Prix takes place in June, as opposed to the late August date of the first two Grands Prix in Valencia but we don't believe the date change will present us with radically different weather."
Pedro de la Rosa, BMW Sauber
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"I'm certainly looking forward to my second home race this year, although it will be quite a busy weekend. It is a great achievement for Spain to have two Grands Prix and we do have a fantastic crowd. A little bit of a downer for the spectators is the fact that on both Spanish circuits overtaking is very difficult. Usually you don't see much overtaking in Barcelona or Valencia. Turn Two should be the best option for overtaking, but I have not driven the Valencia street circuit yet so there might also be others. In the two races I have finished this year I have been fighting for the points until the last few laps of each race. We will be bringing several new parts for the car so I expect a step forward here."
Kamui Kobayashi, BMW Sauber
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"From what I have seen so far the Valencia street circuit doesn't seem to be the most exciting track, but I only know it from two GP2 races and racing there in Formula One will be different. I like driving over the bridge, which makes the track quite distinctive. It might not be as hot as last year when the race was two months later, but I still expect rather high temperatures, which is fine for me. It is another race in Spain, and in Barcelona we had one of our better weekends in terms of performance, so I hope we can achieve a positive result."
James Key, BMW Sauber technical director
"For Valencia we return to a higher downforce level, similar to what we had in Istanbul and a step up from what we had in Canada. The fact that Valencia is a street circuit with small run-off areas can make for an eventful race, so you have to stay away from the walls. The circuit is very stop-and-start, which means acceleration and braking performances are important with relatively slow speed corners in between each straight. We have a new aero upgrade for the European Grand Prix, which should make the car more efficient and a little bit easier to set up. This is the first of our mid season updates. We have to see how we go in Valencia. We are looking to bounce back after a difficult weekend in Canada."
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes GP
2009 Qualifying - 7th, 2009 Race - 5th
"This will be Formula One's third visit to Valencia and I'm really looking forward to the weekend. The city is pretty cool and the Spanish fans are always enthusiastic so there should be a good atmosphere around the marina. Valencia is a really good track and not what you would usually expect from a typical street circuit. There are a lot of corners but it's quite fast and flowing which combined with the barriers that line the circuit means that you have to keep your concentration levels high. The last race weekend in Canada was quite a tough one for us but I was pleased to finish in sixth and score decent points after being in thirteenth place on the first lap. Our pace was quick in the race and I hope that the upgrades we have for Valencia will bring further improvements."
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP
2009 Qualifying - n/a, 2009 Race - n/a
"Valencia is a track which I have never raced on before so it will be another new experience for me but one which I am very much looking forward to. I always have been quite good in adapting quickly to new situations and I strongly expect that to be the case in Valencia. I like going into new experiences like this and having detailed discussions with my engineers about the challenge. We will bring further updates for our car which should help to improve the performance. We have already seen that the car has improved steadily over the last few races and in Canada, the pace was better even if unfortunately that did not show in the results. That's why I look forward to travelling to Spain a great deal."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"Our car was well suited to the circuit in Montreal and our pace during the race was encouraging. Unfortunately qualifying was a disappointment and we placed well below our potential which compromised our weekend. Nico was clearly one of the quickest cars during the race and his climb from the midfield to sixth place was a very impressive performance. Michael showed good promise but damage to his front wing on the first lap and then the puncture put him out of the running and we were too ambitious with the use of the option tyres which left him struggling for pace. Looking ahead to Valencia, the circuit is similar to Montreal in many ways with long straights connected by slow corners which should suit our car. We have an upgrade package which will be another good step in our development towards competing at the front of the field. With the new points system this year, we are still within striking distance of the championship leaders and we will continue with our efforts to become more competitive. We have a number of the basics right and the difference between winning and losing is small. We need to close that difference."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"The track at Valencia's harbour side, where the America's Cup took place in 2007, is not a typical one on the Grand Prix calendar. It consists mainly of slower corners with the last sector then being quite fast and presenting some quicker turns. The lap is close to 5.5 km which is above the average length of most circuits. We are planning to introduce some important upgrades to our cars in Valencia and are looking forward to making a step towards the top of the field."
Jenson Button, McLaren
2009 Qualifying - 5th, 2009 Race - 7th
As a team, weve taken maximum points in the last two races and it feels like weve really gathered considerable momentum. The team really is functioning as a single unit, so I think we head into Valencia next weekend hopeful of being able to once again capitalise on that determination and ambition. Even though its a street circuit, its got quite a different feel to other street tracks like Monte-Carlo or Singapore. For a start, its quite a bit faster - there are some low-speed corners with some fairly unforgiving walls at the apex, but there are also some high-speed changes of direction and some long straights, so its quite an interesting place set-up-wise. Its not as if you completely rely on downforce, theres a trade-off, and that should suit our package.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2009 Qualifying - 1st, 2009 Race - 2nd
Im really looking forward to racing in Valencia. I had a great, attacking race there last year - but Ive finished second for the past two seasons, so I feel like I have some unfinished business! I also think its good for the championship to have a variety of circuits - weve just come from a fast, flowing road course in Canada, to a tight street track in Valencia. And, next month, well be at Silverstone - one of the fastest tracks of the year, and a circuit with incredible history. As a driver, that sort of variety makes the racing exciting and unpredictable, which is all you can really ask for. The last few Grands Prix have had some fantastic racing - it would be great for all the Spanish fans if we can have a great race here too. Its not a circuit where weve seen too much passing in the past, but I think this year could be different - the grid is so tight, there were battles all through the field in Montreal last week, so I think we could have a close and exciting race this year.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
After two consecutive one-twos, it certainly felt like Bruce McLaren himself was looking down on us and smiling, particularly after we recently commemorated the 40th anniversary of his death. Im sure Bruce would also have appreciated the relentless and dedicated approach we have taken to the engineering and development of MP4-25 - I think weve shown in the past two races that we lack nothing in terms of hunger and motivation. And with our car being constantly developed, I believe we can continue to be a threat at the majority of remaining races on the calendar. Of course, were no strangers to relentless development - its one of the teams greatest strengths - and were absolutely committed to maximising every last component in the search for performance. Nothing is too small to be overlooked, and its that holistic approach that really brings rewards, allowing us to eke out performance in every single area of the car. Its also an approach were increasingly focusing on with the team, too: were looking at pit stops, engineering, strategy - and were seeing practical and material benefits in those areas, too.