Joined: 23 Jan 2005 Posts: 15661 Location: Tying the antenna to the tallest tree I can find.
Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 2:24 pm Post subject:
Webbo, pondering aloud as he and Briatore share a spartan meal somewhere in France, " hmmm, haven't seen much of Nico, lately, not after Lap 1 anyway. Wonder what the kid will do at Silverstone" _________________ The Mountain is a savage Mistress.
Selected Team and Driver preview quotes (as they become available):
Renault - Denis Chevrier
Q: How demanding a circuit is this for the V8 engines?
We now spend over 70% of the lap at full throttle, and that's a big change compared to last year ? one of the biggest we have seen between the V8 and V10 engines. That means there are a lot of high speed corners taken either flat out, or at almost full throttle, which makes life tough for the engines. It is a difficult circuit for the chassis too. We run high downforce levels here and with the high speeds, the car is under heavy loadings for much of the lap. Of course, it's also a big challenge for the drivers. They need to maintain their pace and rhythm during a long, demanding race.
Q: What is the health of the two V8 engines going into the Silverstone weekend?
Giancarlo will be using a fresh engine, so there are no issues for him. Fernando's engine completed the Monaco weekend without any problems ? and although Monaco poses some unusual challenges, it is not a demanding circuit in terms of pure engine performance. So Fernando's V8 is in good condition for the weekend ahead. The next three races are all demanding in terms of engine performance, and all the teams will need a reliable specification capable of withstanding the rigours of those races. We are confident that we have it in the RS26.
Q: You tested at Silverstone in April and many drivers commented that the circuit was very different. Can you explain why?
The circuit is certainly very different now with the V8 engines, to how it was last year with the V10. We have a lot of high-speed corners at Silverstone, and even though this year's cars have less power, there is more grip thanks to the softer tyres. That means we are much quicker in the corners, and a lot of the first part of the lap is now nearly flat out. Certainly, this is the biggest difference we have felt so far between the V8 and V10 engines.
Q: We have seen the balance of power between the leading teams swing back and forth according to which tyre manufacturer had the upper hand. Will this be a ?Michelin' track?
The Michelin tyres were very good when we tested in Silverstone a couple of months ago, and I am very confident that they will be strongest this weekend. But we have to run, to wait and see the conditions, before we make too many predictions. At the last races, we have seen the balance of power shift between the first day of practice and the race itself, so we will have to see how the track evolves, and what the tyre performance is like on Sunday afternoon.
Q: You have taken victories in the last two races: can you make it three in a row?
I am feeling very confident ahead of this race. We had a good test at Silverstone and we know that the characteristics of the circuit are good for the R26, so there is no reason to think we won't be fighting at the front. There is no point making big predictions, saying we will definitely win. Ferrari will be very strong, McLaren maybe as well if they can maintain their speed from Monaco. It will not be an easy weekend, but I certainly think we can be fighting for the win.
Q: You are third in the world championship as we arrive at the eighth race of the season. What is your verdict on the season so far?
I think it has been a good start to the season, and I am in a much stronger position than at the same time last year. When I have a clean race, without problems, then I finish on the podium. And even when incidents like we had in Monaco mean I have to start down the field, I am driving aggressively and making up positions ? I overtook five cars on the track in Monte Carlo! I am driving better than ever, and it is great to be arriving at Silverstone, one of my favourite circuits in the whole season.
Q: What do you need to be quick in Silverstone?
It is a track where you need efficient aerodynamics, and a car that has a stable balance so you can carry speed through the quick corners. You need to feel really confident with the car to attack properly, and the R26 lets us do that. Once you have the confidence, then you can put the car on the limit, keep the momentum in the first part of the lap and do some good lap-times.
Q: Monaco was a difficult race for you. Are you optimistic that you can have a strong race this weekend?
I was quickest there when we tested in April so for sure, I expect to be right up at the front of the field. I think this is one of the circuits for our package. Ferrari will be the main competitors, I think, and probably very close in terms of performance. But I think we have the performance to win the race this weekend.
McLaren - Martin Whitmarsh
Whilst Silverstone is a completely different racing environment to Monaco, placing different challenges on the car and drivers, Team McLaren Mercedes is determined to keep the momentum of our performance step at Monaco going into our home Grand Prix. However, the test at Barcelona was a key exercise in the build-up to the British Grand Prix, because as with Silverstone, the Circuit de Catalunya is a demanding track on the car as a whole and we are aware we still have improvements to make to our competitiveness. At the test we focused on front and rear suspension and aerodynamic developments, alongside the Michelin selection process for the British Grand Prix, we had a solid week and completed over 2,300km. Silverstone demands peak performance from both the car and driver, and with the quick sections such as Copse and the Maggott complex aero efficiency is once again vital.
The British Grand Prix is one I really want to win, as with Monaco it is another of the legendary races on a great track, and of course a home race for the team. Overtaking is possible, so pole position is not so important as in Monaco. I think there will be some different strategies come race day. When we were testing here in late April, the lap times were quicker than in 2005 because we are faster through the corners this year, most of the time has been found in the mid corner performance. This is partly because the smaller V8 engines allow new aero opportunities and also improved Michelin performance from last year. Where this had the most effect was at Copse, which is even quicker now than before, as it has always been one of the fastest we race through. You have to be flat through the right hander, otherwise you lose a lot of time, however because it is now quicker than before you have to be very precise, it has made the corner more of a challenge.
Juan Pablo Montoya
It was great to be back on the podium at Monaco and everyone in the team has continued to push hard since to try and find more performance in the car for the British Grand Prix. Silverstone is a great track, with some really exciting corners, I love to race at it and I hope we can repeat the result from last year when I took my debut victory for the team in front of our home crowd. It is such a contrast to the streets of Monte Carlo, it is all about super fast corners and pushing the limits of the car. The Maggots ? Becketts ? Chapel sequence at the start of the lap is awesome, you have to push really hard through here, so long as you have the good balance you need, and are changing direction so quickly, hooking up the apexes, it is great fun! In addition to needing good balance, it is important to find a set-up compromise between high speed stability for much of the track and good grip to ensure we are also quick for the slower corners at the end of the circuit. Silverstone tends to be quite hard on the tyres, the left front sees the greatest wear because of the fast right hand corners.
Honda - Gil de Ferran
This is Jenson's home race as well as a home race for the team, since our Brackley base is just a few minutes down the road. Needless to say we all enjoy this Grand Prix and a lot of our team members and their families will be in attendance. For Jenson in particular this will be a highly charged weekend. We come to Silverstone hoping to have a better race than in Monaco. We have done a lot of set-up work in preparation for this weekend bearing in mind the special high speed requirements for this track.
The British Grand Prix is my home race and it's a very emotional weekend for me. I'm very patriotic and having the support of all the British fans, to hear them chanting your name, is such a fantastic feeling. Silverstone is a very special circuit, it's incredibly fast with a long complex of high-speed corners which quite literally takes your breath away. The change of direction is so quick there that you really feel the speed of the car. You need good aerodynamics at Silverstone so this is where all the hard work in the wind tunnel before the race pays off. We've also done a lot of track testing at Barcelona, which is a high-speed circuit, to prepare for this race. We're aiming to get both cars in the points this weekend, it's going to be tough for us as we're just not on front-running pace at the moment, but I'm sure we will get the maximum possible out of the car.
Silverstone is just a fantastic circuit. It's a high-speed track with some challenging corners, and although overtaking can be a bit difficult around here, it's a track that I really enjoy driving. I've spent a great deal of time both testing and racing at Silverstone since I was young, so it holds some special memories for me. Of course the most special of those is my win from pole position back in 2003. We had a solid test in Barcelona last week to prepare for Silverstone, looking specifically at the car set-up and the tyres for this race, so I'm feeling fairly comfortable going into the weekend.
BMW Sauber - Mario Theissen
Our team will be buoyed up for the next grand prix because the World Championship points we earned in Monaco have shown us one thing above all: our fledgling team can handle pressure and unforeseen problems. We were dogged by a problem with the electronics during practice and qualifying, which affected set-up work, and that put us some way back on the grid in qualifying. But thanks to a concerted effort on the part of the team and drivers, Nick managed to advance from 15th to 7th place in the race. Those two points were hard-fought. We have now managed to take home points from five out of seven races. That is also our goal for the race at Silverstone.
Silverstone is a classic in the racing calendar and a circuit that all the drivers and teams know very well because a lot of testing is done there. At the end of April we spent three days there with the BMW Sauber F1 Team. It?s a challenging track with a couple of fast corners. The Becketts combination, in particular, is great fun. But you also feel the wind there, which sometimes blasts in across the flat terrain. The other thing I like about this grand prix is the well-informed fans. England has a lot of genuine motor sport enthusiasts. They aren?t so much interested in the personalities as in the sport itself.
Since Monaco I have been busy. Not only have I done two days of testing, but I also found time to get married! This has been a very happy time for me and Johanna. We were married in front of our close family and friends and it was very special for both of us. We have also received many great messages, but now I have to concentrate on the race ahead, which I am looking forward to as I have won the British Grand Prix twice at Silverstone. There is always a big crowd, a great one, and it is a passionate one, so that makes it fun. It has gone better for us recently in the race than in qualifying and it is the type of track I like racing on, although I am not a big fan of qualifying there for some reason. Maybe it is the way we set the car up. Compared to other tracks, there are a lot of high-speed corners at Silverstone where we carry a lot of speed into them without braking. It is difficult to overtake on and quite a physical race. At the test we had there we were not extremely competitive, but the track has some fun corners to drive, even though I am not that fond of the two chicanes. Turn one can be fun and this year it will be flat out in qualifying for a few laps, so that could make it fun.
Williams - Sam Michael
After our strong car performance in Monaco was let down by two exhaust failures, we have been busy testing at Barcelona with a series of changes to avoid a reoccurrence. Now on to Silverstone which is a high speed circuit with fast changes of direction and three straights that reward power. There is a slow speed section at the end of the lap where good mechanical grip is important. As always, aero efficiency is a key factor and, as such, the set-up is tuned towards improved high speed stability.
We have some small upgrades for the British Grand Prix, with the main difference being a return to a normal downforce level after Monaco. Strategy is now becoming interesting again as the first stint fuel load is normally affected by how close the cars are to each other in qualifying trim. Overtaking is difficult, but still possible here.
Although I wasn?t involved in this week?s test at Barcelona, I know part of our programme was to try a few different things to help our performance at the British Grand Prix. Barcelona is not dissimilar to Silverstone and, based upon our performance there in the Spanish Grand Prix, we have a lot of improving to do. Unfortunately, our Monaco pace will have no relevance whatsoever to next weekend at Silverstone as it requires totally different characteristics from the car.
Of course, having lived in England for the past six or so years, Silverstone is almost like a second ?home? Grand Prix for me. It?s good to be able to go home each night and enjoy the familiar comfort of my own house, and also being able to share the weekend with friends and family which I don?t often get to do. Being a British-based team, this race is always an important one for WilliamsF1 too, both in terms of entertaining sponsors and enabling the factory-based members of staff to be a part of the weekend.
Silverstone is a very exciting track. I already have quite a lot of experience of it as I have done lots of testing there, especially with the V10 engine last year. I don't think we are going to be as strong there as we were in Monaco, but I think we can still score some points. During the intensive test in Barcelona last week, we managed to improve many things, Cosworth, in particular, have made another good step forward with the engine.
Toyota - Pascal Vasselon
After winding our way around Monaco last week, Silverstone will give us a better chance to assess the performance of the TF106B on a high speed circuit. The track is similar to Barcelona in terms of technical characteristics, with many long high speed corners. So that leads to the same kind of compromise with the aerodynamic package. We run fairly high levels of downforce but have to avoid the drag penalty down the long straights. Barcelona does not have such high speed changes of direction as we see at Becketts, though, so we need some front end understeer in order to achieve stability. Like Barcelona we will also be looking at the harder end of the Bridgestone range of tyres - but in Britain we also pay closer attention than usual to wets! We can get a good idea of the temperature range a week before the event but we will be avidly checking the weather forecast for cloud coverage between now and Sunday.
You can't really talk about the British Grand Prix without mentioning the weather. Indeed, the fact that we are racing at Silverstone in June - a month earlier than its traditional July date - means that it is an important factor in our preparations. The team will spend more time than usual looking at wet strategy. We also have to leave our options open for set-up as the weekend progresses because there is always a chance of a shower. But even in the dry the wind can be a factor because the surrounding area is so flat. The first half of the lap is particularly prone to wind changes and that can affect a quick lap. It was difficult to assess the TF106B around the twisty Monaco circuit. But we should have a clearer picture at Silverstone and I'm sure we will have better results.
Silverstone is a long and demanding circuit from both a driving and an engineering perspective. Finding a set-up for the entire lap is a challenge because the track has every type of corner. You need traction out of the slow corners and efficient aero through the faster corners. Becketts is the most fun part of the circuit but a driver needs to be committed everywhere to get the most out of the lap time. So a well balanced car is crucial to respond to the range of features on the track and to let the driver push to the limit. Monaco was not the right place to judge the TF106B but the car behaved well in the race. It has also showed promise during testing so I'm confident the car is a step forward but we can't yet say how much. We'll head to Silverstone hoping for a stronger weekend. After my difficult run this year I'm ready for a change of luck!
From the Thursday press conference for the British Grand Prix
Q: Can you take us through the first series of corners based on the tests you?ve done. Am I right in thinking you don?t really use the brakes until the other side of Stowe?
I think in my case, I use the brakes for the last part of Becketts, but I believe some people were flat in the test here, but that depends on what fuel level you?re running. I think if the conditions are right, in qualifying through turn one, you can go flat through Becketts, maybe lifting for the middle part then down a gear for the last part. It?s fairly impressive now because this V8 formula arrived at a slightly lower top speed along with the development in tyres has seen much less difference between straights and corner speed. It?s quite impressive even somewhere like the swimming pool in Monaco. I was over 20 kph quicker over the chicane than the previous year because you don?t have to take so much speed off and the balance of the car is therefore less effected because of the pitch, so it?s definitely an impressive place to go and watch cars go quickly.
We were dabbing brakes off the maggots chicane ? the left-hander there we were tapping the brakes, but even Stowe you?re not tapping the brakes so hard because you?d scrub off too much speed. The first place you really hit the brakes is into Club.
I think they?re all pretty similar really. It?s always been quick at Silverstone, but now it?s really fast, and as DC said, you have to be pretty accurate as well. It?s a good challenge.