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Thu, 21 June, 2012Europe: Team personnel preview quotes

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Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren-Mercedes (Team Principal):
“Victory in Montreal last weekend was extremely satisfying, and, while you're only as good as your last result in F1, it's done nothing to quell our determination ahead of next weekend's 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 1's newest races. Given that the delta between ourselves, Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG and Red Bull Racing is so narrow, we'll 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] laptime benefit to each race, and we're 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. It's certainly feasible that this year's 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.”

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, Mercedes (Daimler):
“The European Grand Prix will be the third consecutive race on a temporary circuit after Monaco and Canada. Seven corners are taken below 100 kph but straight line speeds are similar to Canada, and the cars brake from over 285 kph to under 100 kph 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.”

Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Sauber-Ferrari (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.”

Mark Gillan, Williams-Renault (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.”

Mark Smith, Caterham-Renault (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-Renault (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.”

Luis Pérez-Sala, HRT-Cosworth (Team Principal):
“We're 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.”

John Booth, Marussia-Cosworth (Team Principal):
“It's 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.”

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 won't be many big surprises to emerge. We've 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.”

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