Europe preview quotes - Ferrari, Force India, Caterham & more 21 Jun 2012
After crossing the Atlantic from Canada, the Formula One calendar returns to the teams home continent - and HRTs home country - for the 2012 Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe this weekend. The Valencia Street Circuit is made up of long straights and slow corners; overtaking is a difficult challenge; and there isnt much grip, especially towards the beginning of the weekend. The high temperatures are another key factor. Those involved discuss their prospects
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
2011 Qualifying - 4th, 2011 Race - 2nd
It would be nice to win here in Spain, but in a championship as tight as this, second place would also be good. On the track, I particularly like the final sector while off the circuit, I would say the atmosphere is one of the best with plenty of activities for the public, with concerts and so on and of course the beach is only 100 metres from the paddock!
Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2011 Qualifying - 5th, 2011 Race - 5th
I like the track and even if people say its a street circuit, its not, because the major part of it is more like a permanent circuit, quite wide and not too tight. It always puts you in a positive frame of mind coming to a place where you have won before. So, I hope we can have another good weekend this time, especially given the fact our car is now more competitive in the races and also in qualifying, because we know how important your Saturday afternoon performance can be for the Sunday. You can overtake at Valencia, especially with the DRS, but starting from the front, being able to run at your own pace immediately right from the beginning, changes everything. It means you dont get stuck behind cars that are quick in qualifying but slower in the race, which can carry a high price.
Paul di Resta, Force India
2011 Qualifying - 12th, 2011 Race - 14th
Its a mix between a street circuit and a normal track and its got a lot of corners to go with it - maybe the most corners of any circuit on the calendar. The track is very smooth but its tricky to get on top of the set-up and if you dont find the sweet spot it can make quite a big difference to your lap time across such a long lap. The main challenge is to be strong in the low-speed chicanes and also through the high-speed end of the lap. There are some big braking zones too followed by big traction zones, so the degradation rate is quite high, which is why its hard to manage the rear tyres through the race. Its a fun place to visit. The city has nice architecture, some great restaurants and we stay next to the beach so I sometimes go for a jog in the morning. City races usually provide a good atmosphere on race day and there are always lots of British fans who come along and show their support.
Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
My race there in 2010 was not a particularly happy one. There was some bodywork burning away and I eventually had to retire. Im looking forward to going back to Valencia because I like the track, even though weve seen how difficult it is to overtake there. The track has are a few special corners in the final sector of the lap and its enjoyable to drive. Its also quite a long lap with 25 corners so it can be quite difficult to get a perfect lap together.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
The teams that we have been comparable with in the past few years like Sauber and Williams have been on the podium, and Im sure our time will come, as long as we get things right. Its something we need to do sooner rather than later because we are quickly approaching the midway point of the season. I hope we can recapture our form in Valencia, return to the points and demonstrate our potential.
Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham
2011 Qualifying - 19th, 2011 Race - 19th
Next up it's the European Grand Prix in Valencia. The track isn't my favourite one of the season but it's another great city to go to and another venue that makes the most of having F1 in town for the whole week so the atmosphere is around the whole event is great.The track itself is another temporary circuit, a sort of semi-street circuit. The track surface is very smooth and the kerbs aren't really an issue but it is pretty stop / start, so you need to quickly find a good rhythm to manage the series of long straights that end in tight turns, and pay attention to brake wear rates and cooling. The brake cooling options we have for Valencia are similar to Canada but the track in Spain evolves much more over the race weekend than in Montreal so we'll be looking closely at setup options that mean we can manage tyre degradation levels right through the whole weekend."
Vitaly Petrov, Caterham
2011 Qualifying - 11th, 2011 Race - 15th
It's always good to get back to Valencia. It's a city I know well as I lived there for a couple of years while I was racing in GP2 and I have good memories of racing there as I took my first GP2 win in Valencia in 2007. My F1 results so far have not been quite that good, but it's always a good challenge and one I'm looking forward to getting back to with Caterham F1 Team. I think the Valencia race and the next one at Silverstone could be pretty positive for our team. We have a few updates coming onto the cars at the next two races, and we keep seeing how the gap to the teams ahead is closing, little by little. That is the aim this year - work as hard as we can to get to the point where we're racing a couple of cars ahead and then see where we go from there. We were closer than ever to Q2 on merit in qualifying in Canada, so let's see what the upgrades we're bringing to Valencia and Silverstone help us do."
Mark Smith, Caterham technical director
The Valencia circuit presents us with a few technical challenges that are similar to a couple of the other tracks we race on. As a temporary street circuit it obviously has big grip evolution over the weekend but the track surface is pretty abrasive, so deg levels are reasonably high throughout every session on track, particularly in FP1 when the surface is very dirty and what we call green. This means we not only need to manage tyre usage, so we have enough sets of new tyres for race day, it also means we have to work very closely with Renault Sport F1 on maximising traction and giving the drivers setup options that mean they can attack the traction zones after each braking point with confidence. With DRS engaged I suspect we will see similar levels of overtaking to 2011. The difference this year for us is that we expect to be much closer to the cars ahead than we were last year, giving us a chance perhaps to put one of our cars into Q2 and giving the drivers a real chance to race on Sunday. We have a couple of quite significant updates coming in Valencia and Silverstone we will take a look at a number of new aerodynamic elements in Valencia as well as some minor modifications to the floor, and even though we will not know exactly what they will give us until we get out on track, we are cautiously optimistic they will help us keep edging ever closer to the midfield.
Tony Fernandes, Caterham team principal
These are very exciting times for everyone associated with Caterham F1 Team and the wider Caterham Group. At the next two F1 races, in Valencia and Silverstone, we will see the fruits of the hard work being done by everyone at the factory with a number of important upgrades on the cars. While we are honest enough with ourselves to know that these upgrades alone will not be enough to force our way into the midfield pack, we do know it is a statement of our intent to join the group just ahead that we are updating the car at the same rate or even more quickly than our rivals. We have the people and resources in place to achieve our goal of scoring a point this year, and we are edging ever closer to a group of cars that is now tantalisingly close. The F1 team can take inspiration from our GP2 team who had a slightly slow start to the season, but have forced their way into fifth in the teams' championship and have helped to put Giedo van der Garde into third in the drivers' standings after he became the first GP2 driver to record a podium in both races in Monaco. They are working incredibly hard in a similar fight to their F1 colleagues, taking on established teams in a series that reqards experience, precision and risk-taking, and their recent run of success is just reward for the efforts the whole team is putting in."
Timo Glock, Marussia
2011 Qualifying - 21st, 2011 Race - 21st
Valencia is another street circuit, one that is different to Monaco but which is still very special in its own way in my view. Its been a great track for me; I think Im still the lap record holder and it would be nice if it could stay that way a bit longer. Canada was not the best weekend for us and we have to start to get on top of things and have a better weekend. This is normally a very hot race so its a tough one for the drivers, but we should all have the fitness level to cope with that aspect of the challenge. Im looking forward to the weekend ahead and hopeful of a better outcome.
Charles Pic, Marussia
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
The Valencia Street Circuit is a track I have performed well at in GP2 and last year I achieved pole position there. I am optimistic that this will give me a good headstart this weekend, despite this being my first time round in an F1 car, so I should be able to spend less time learning the track and more time focusing on fine-tuning the car balance. I like the track; its very interesting and challenging, and although its another street circuit, they have all been very different in terms of the characteristics, which has been quite fun. I feel that weve had a bit of bad luck in recent races, but I am hoping that Canada marked a turning point and we can look forward to some improved results from here."
John Booth, Marussia team principal
Its good to be back in Europe and to be embarking on the next batch of important races. Two of these are home Grands Prix - Silverstone for the team and Hockenheim for Timo - and generally we are working hard to improve our performance level before the official summer break creates a natural hiatus for all of the teams. We took a step back in Canada, where our low downforce package was not working well for us. Having spent a great deal of time poring over the data from Montreal, we are hopeful that we can regain some of that ground in Valencia this weekend, starting with an improvement in our qualifying performance in respect to our race pace, in order to improve our prospects on race day. This is by no means a straightforward race. The combination of the requirement for good braking stability and traction, coupled with the higher temperatures we typically experience and the significant level of track evolution over the course of the weekend all present an interesting but tough challenge. Both drivers have performed well in Valencia in the past and seem to have the measure of the track, so we hope they will be able to reap some of the benefits of that experience this weekend.
Pastor Maldonado, Williams
2011 Qualifying - 15th, 2011 Race - 18th
Valencia is a challenge for the drivers because it combines a street circuit thats used by regular road cars throughout the year with sections of regular race track so it can be tricky to achieve the ideal set up. The layout is quite quick with some long straights but there are also some slow corners so finding the right balance will be crucial to doing well. Were constantly developing the car and it is showing good long run consistency at the moment and hopefully we can improve on the last couple races and pick up some good points.
Bruno Senna, Williams
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
Street circuits are always challenging for a driver and Valencia is certainly no different, requiring decent straight line speed combined with an efficient braking system to cope with the heavy braking areas. Our pace in Canada was not really reflective of the cars potential, but weve been working hard to understand the reasons why and hopefully we can put that behind us and gain a stronger result here.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
Following the last two sets of race results we are keen to continue to demonstrate our team's improvement and ensure both cars come home in the points. Valencia proves a difficult track for both driver and car and with the expected large track evolution throughout the weekend tyre management will once more be crucial. Pirelli bring the medium and soft compounds to this race, a pairing that was last used in Bahrain. The track layout places a lot of stress on the braking system and the high ambient temperatures, coupled with a lower than average mean speed, forces one to open up the cooling package.
Remi Taffin, head of Renault Sport F1 track operations
Its actually a big challenge to get the engine mapping right for Valencia as the corners are so similar. Ten corners are taken in first, second or third gear, and if you get one corner wrong then you will be at a disadvantage for the rest of the lap. Typically delivering this driveability at low torque and mid revs is one of the strengths of the Renault engine as our engineers are adept at tuning drive maps to deliver torque smoothly to help the driver control slip ratio and tyre wear.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
Valencia could not present a bigger contrast to the street circuits that have come before it: the track is faster and the temperatures higher, with plenty of energy going through the tyres. What it has in common with the others is the difficulty of overtaking, which will put the emphasis on qualifying. So we are expecting a fairly straightforward race, with either two or three stops depending on which tactics the teams use - although one team tried a one-stopper last year as well. The weather should be consistently warm throughout the weekend, which should lead to fewer variables in terms of temperature, so there probably wont be many big surprises to emerge. Weve used the combination of soft and medium tyres more than any other line-up so far this year, as it has shown itself to be a perfect compromise between performance and durability, allowing drivers to show their speed when they need to but also benefit from longer stints in the race.
Jenson Button, McLaren
2011 Qualifying - 6th, 2011 Race - 6th
Canada was just one of those weekends where things didnt come together - after some difficult races, I really needed the track time on Friday to find a clearer direction with the set-up, and, unfortunately, that didnt happen due to a number of technical issues. And I think that set the tone for the rest of the weekend: we lacked the data we needed to tackle the race and we struggled. Still, there were important lessons to be learned from those issues, and we addressed everything back at MTC once wed returned from Canada in a bid to get a clearer direction for Valencia next weekend. A day like that is enormously productive and I think we covered a lot of ground. The last few races havent delivered the results Id like, but there are still 13 races to go. Weve had seven different winners and no clear championship leader has emerged, so Ill be looking to get a decent result under my belt next weekend in order to get my title bid back on track. I know just how strong Vodafone McLaren Mercedes can be. Valencia is a track I really enjoy; Ive already won on a street circuit this year so Im definitely optimistic about having a great weekend and picking up the momentum again in the title fight.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2011 Qualifying - 3rd, 2011 Race - 4th
My win in Montreal was obviously an extremely satisfying moment for me - but, actually, it does very little to alter things in the world championship. Firstly, while its always pleasing to be leading the championship, Im only two points ahead of Fernando [Alonso] - which is nothing, particularly when there are a handful of really strong drivers all separated by a couple of points, so theres still everything to play for. Secondly, the intensity of this years championship means theres so little breathing space - we may have won in Canada, but theres an enormous amount of pressure to keep racking up good results at every Grand Prix. I think that consistency, rather than individual strong results, will be the key to winning this world championship, so we need to back it up in Valencia with another strong result. The circuit is quite tough - its a very technical track, with lots of slow- to medium-speed corners that require good traction and set-up as well as lots of precision. Towards the end of the lap, the track gathers speed and opens up, the sweepers leading to the pits are actually incredibly fast, and theyre all about correct placement of the car to ensure youre well placed for the following corner. Thats probably the most satisfying part of the lap. People are always asking me to predict what will happen at the next race and I always tell them its really difficult to make an accurate prediction - but Ill be heading to Valencia feeling super-motivated to get another strong result and maintain my momentum before we head into Silverstone and the Santander British Grand Prix.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Victory in Montreal last weekend was extremely satisfying, and, while youre only as good as your last result in F1, its done nothing to quell our determination ahead of next weekends European Grand Prix - which has traditionally been an extremely tough event. The city itself is an exciting edgy blend of the classical and the ultra-contemporary, and, as such, a perfect locale for one of Formula Ones newest races. Given that the delta between ourselves, Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG and Red Bull Racing is so narrow, well once again be pushing hard on both our operational and technical fronts to ensure we stay at the front. As always, we aim to bring at least an additional one-tenth [of a second] lap time benefit to each race, and were pushing hard to ensure we can over-deliver on that on as regular a basis as possible. It may sound like a negligible increment, but it could prove to be the difference between winning and losing the world championship. Its certainly feasible that this years title could be won by a driver who scores only two or three Grand Prix wins, but who reinforces those victories with the most consistently solid approach. So, whereas in previous years, there was an emphasis on the big results, this year it seems that minor points placings could provide a decisive edge in the title battle.
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
Valencia is a street circuit, but the layout is not like Albert Park, Monaco or Montreal. Its definitely the fastest track of these four. Its likely to be hot and we seem to go well in warm conditions so thats what well be hoping for. Qualifying is going to be very, very important again here. Obviously, there will be an advantage to starting on the clean side of the track as the streets are only used as a circuit once each year. Its not an easy place to overtake and well have to see how much help the DRS will be. Valencia is all about being very consistent. Its so easy to lose time with small mistakes. I love winning and thats what Im always trying for. Ive never won in Valencia, so its a good target. Last time I raced in Valencia I finished in third after starting from sixth on the grid which was not too bad.
Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
I made my Formula One debut here in 2009, so it brings back good memories and its a circuit I like anyway. Theres always a great atmosphere too; the city centre is obviously very close, and the Americas Cup harbour is a really nice place to go. The track itself it quite interesting; there are a few second / third gear corners, some high speed sectors, heavy braking zones and usually good weather too so on paper its a circuit that could suit us quite well. Hopefully this will be the case!
Strategy will be quite different here I think; it wont be one stop like in Montreal thats for sure! Its usually been very hot here in the past so combined with the rough track thats often led to a three-stop strategy. Hopefully well have consistent conditions throughout the weekend so we can get as much experience as possible before the race.
I had a podium in the first GP2 race here in 2008 and was leading the second race until somebody took me out! Then I managed to win in 2011, so its a circuit Im comfortable with for sure. It definitely helps to know the track already as it usually takes less time to get up to speed and you have a rough idea of where the braking points, turn ins and so on will be. Of course, Formula One is always a bit different but at least I have some guidelines going into the weekend.
We have to go into every weekend aiming for a win; approaching a race in any other way is like putting yourself on the back foot from the start. Im mainly hoping for an improvement in qualifying, a good start and then well see what happens from there. Its great to be fighting at the front and thats always what we want to do, but were in a tight battle this season so of course the most important thing is to score some good points again for the team. If we have a strong weekend from the start then I think we are capable of fighting for a podium or even a win. Well see after qualifying where we are; hopefully we can get another good result!
Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal
The tyres will be different, with the soft and medium compounds available. Well have to get used to these again. This said the track temperature should be high, the surface is more abrasive than Montreal, and there are also more corners per lap. All this could suit the E20 quite well. This said, we need to improve our qualifying pace and also the way the car performs when the temperature drops. Weve got some ideas already. Some of them will be implemented in Valencia and well see how it goes.
James Allison, Lotus technical director
Valencia is not exactly famous for challenging corners, but it definitely has a few more than Canada. The tarmac on the streets of Valencia is a little big rougher and it tends to be roasting hot at this time of year; these are all factors which tend to suit us. Montreal was one of the circuits I had concerns about in terms of playing to the strengths of the E20, but we ran pretty well there. Hopefully with Valencia being more in our direction we can produce another good result. Were generally looking forward to the summer, but having said that its not as if we need the temperature to be scorching. Forty degrees track temperature, as wed expect to see in Valencia, is not a roasting hot track by any means; it can get a lot warmer than that. I honestly dont believe theres been a race this year where weve been incapable of getting a podium on merit. Lets hope Valencia proves to be the same.
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2011 Qualifying - 1st, 2011 Race - 1st
In Valencia, we drive an average of more than 200kph, which means its one of the fastest street circuits in Formula One. Overtaking is possible, but only with some risk. The reason is that the air turbulence created by cars driving closely behind each other doesnt disappear as it normally would due to the high walls around the track; you lose grip and, in some extreme cases, you have to lift the throttle. The start-finish straight in Valencia is special because its not very long, it turns into a fast right corner which we take at 290kph.
Mark Webber, Red Bull
2011 Qualifying - 2nd, 2011 Race - 3rd
Obviously its very difficult to predict how we might go in Valencia, as weve clearly seen with seven winners and plenty of different podiums. Our main goal is to improve our positions in both championships, so personally for me in the Drivers Championship and of course the team is looking to keep a good margin in the Constructors. I know everyone in Milton Keynes has been working incredibly hard in between the two races.
Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber
2011 Qualifying - 14th, 2011 Race - 16th
In Valencia it is usually very hot. I personally like that, but it is difficult to say what it means for the car and the tyres. It will be tough, that much is certain. Tyre management will be the key, together with a good race strategy. The street circuit also requires a decent amount of downforce for the car. You are always quite close to the walls, but after our last two races in Monaco and Montreal this is nothing new. Overtaking is not easy but not impossible either. In 2010 it was actually good fun. Valencia as a city is a nice destination by many measure, I would happily choose it for my holidays. By the way, you can also get the best fresh squeezed orange juice there. However, my target is a strong qualifying as well as a strong race.
Sergio Perez, Sauber
2011 Qualifying - 16th, 2011 Race - 11th
I enjoyed the Montreal result very much and I want more of that. I like the track in Valencia a lot and also the atmosphere during the race weekend, as we are quite close to the fans. I dont have the best memories of my Formula One debut race in Valencia, as it was last year and a very difficult one for me. I was returning to racing after my heavy shunt in Monaco and, in hindsight, I have to admit I dont think I was fit enough. I didnt feel well at all. The Valencia street circuit has quite long straights with hard braking into the corners, and what we have learnt from Montreal will be important for that.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
Valencia is a street circuit, but not a typical one, because the surface is very smooth, and the kerbs are not very high. In addition, the aerodynamic efficiency is significantly more important than, for example, in Monaco or Singapore, and there are proper run-off areas. Most of the corners are slow, but you cannot ignore the level of top speed. As a result of this layout, braking stability and traction are very important. In Valencia we have to expect high temperatures at this time of the year, so the tarmac can get very hot. Pirelli is supplying us with the medium and the soft compound tyres, which have changed a bit since last year and may need us to look at a slightly different strategy for them. Rear degradation could be an issue. Overtaking is not easy on this track, therefore qualifying is of particular importance. The car is basically unchanged since Montreal, however, we might run a higher level of downforce.
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying - 8th, 2011 Race - 17th
"Our entire focus is now on the race in Valencia, and I am sure that everybody's motivation is even stronger because the weekend in Canada didn't go as well as we had hoped. Our motto in the last few days has been to roll our sleeves up and focus on the job in hand; everybody in the team has taken that approach to heart, so we can travel to Valencia in an optimistic mood. The harbour area is particularly nice and, given its location, the circuit is also really interesting, so let's see how we can perform there. You can still feel some of the atmosphere from the America's Cup in Valencia, which makes this race a special event that we always enjoy taking part in."
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying - 7th, 2011 Race - 7th
"Valencia is a pretty cool city and it's always nice to visit there. The track is another street circuit but it's quite a unique one as it is quicker and has a more open feel than somewhere like Monaco or Singapore. The layout is also kind of like Montreal so it should be a circuit which suits our car. I was at the factory this week and I know how hard everyone is working to improve the car, so we will hope for a strong weekend in Valencia to repay all of their efforts."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
"The calendar returns to Europe next weekend with our visit to the Valencia Street Circuit in Spain. The performance of our car and our tyre management were generally good in Canada, however our competitiveness was compromised by reliability problems and mistakes.
This is a disappointment that is deeply felt by everyone in our team, and we have been working hard to ensure we understand the reasons and deal with them. Achieving zero-defect reliability is our highest priority. The opportunities available if we can give both drivers a reliable car and a clean weekend are clear."
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"The European Grand Prix will be the third consecutive race on a temporary circuit after Monaco and Canada. Seven corners are taken below 100 km/h but straight line speeds are similar to Canada, and the cars brake from over 285 km/h to under 100 km/h on five different occasions around the lap. The weather is usually hot and sunny, which is naturally reflected in high track temperatures. Nico's race and his lap times in Canada, where track temperatures exceeded 40 degrees, showed that our car can cope well with such extreme conditions when running the appropriate set-up. Our priority for the next race is to achieve the same standard of reliability for Michael's car that we have seen so far this year with Nico's, who has completed all racing laps so far this season. Since his win at the Chinese Grand Prix on 15 April, no other driver has scored more points than Nico. The target is to continue that trend."
Pedro de la Rosa, HRT
2011 Qualifying - n/a, 2011 Race - n/a
"Just like in Barcelona, Im really looking forward to racing in front of our home fans in Valencia. At the Valencia Street Circuit we will encounter high air and track temperatures so the brakes will be put through their paces once again, but were confident we can make the necessary modifications to overcome the problems we experienced in Canada. Valencia has long straights but overtaking isnt easy and it is a high-downforce track. I think we can do quite well here, although its not as favourable to our car as Canada, because there are a lot of braking areas and slow corners which are good for us. Were looking forward to putting in a good performance in front of our fans and we want to continue with our progress from the last few races, where weve been at a good standard, but here we want to confirm this improvement in the race.
Narain Karthikeyan, HRT
2011 Qualifying - 24th, 2011 Race - 24th
"Valencia will be our third street circuit in a row, and our teams second home race. It is our second visit to Spain in just about five weeks but the circuit is as different as it could be compared to Barcelona. It shares some characteristics with Montreal and Monte Carlo, like emphasis on low-speed traction so I expect our car to do well here. Apart from that, it is a beautiful place and weather is pretty hot, just like India, but the track itself isnt a huge challenge. Yes the walls are close but the adrenaline factor isnt close to Monaco or even Montreal. But on the back of the promise we showed in Canada, Im looking forward to the race and hopefully well have a chance to build on it this time.
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
"Were looking forward to racing in Valencia, as it will be the second time we do so at home this season. In Canada we were quick and performed well but were unable to finish the race. In Valencia we want to confirm this progress and achieve a good result, plus doing so in front of the Spanish public is even more special. I think that the characteristics of this circuit adapt well to our car and I hope we have good reliability and finish the race with a positive result.
More to follow.
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