European GP Williams preview

The Anglo-German BMW WilliamsF1 Team has three home Grands Prix. The European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring is BMW's home race, while the winner of the San Marino and Canadian Grands Prix, Ralf Schumacher, grew up in Kerpen, only an hour's drive...

The Anglo-German BMW WilliamsF1 Team has three home Grands Prix. The European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring is BMW's home race, while the winner of the San Marino and Canadian Grands Prix, Ralf Schumacher, grew up in Kerpen, only an hour's drive from the circuit. Ralf's win in Canada was the19th anniversary of the engine manufacturers' debut victory in Grand Prix racing at the Montreal circuit with Nelson Piquet in 1982 - it now has 11 victories. In fact it was the same combination of driver and engine that won the first European Grand Prix in Brands Hatch in 1983. Although a BMW engined car has never won a Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, a WilliamsF1 chassis has achieved two of its 105 victories there in 1996 and 1997 - the '96 one being Jacques Villeneuve's first win for the team.

Ralf Schumacher
"This is my home race and there is always a great atmosphere, which makes it very special. It would be nice to have a similar success at home to Canada, but the Nurburgring will be more difficult for us than Montreal, so my realistic target is to collect as many points as possible. The circuit has very high safety standards but, typical to many modern circuits, it lacks character and there are no big challenges except the chicane if it is wet."

Juan Pablo Montoya
"I have raced there once before, so I know the circuit, but probably not as well as some others. However, it has good memories for me as it was here in '98 where I won the Formula 3000 Championship, starting the race from pole and finishing third. I hope we have a good race there because it is the home of BMW and I am looking forward to finishing a Grand Prix again."

Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer)
"With a victory in Canada we are going to Nurburgring with confidence but we are also realistic because it is a very different circuit to Montreal. Nurburgring is usually quite cold and that presents a significant challenge to Michelin and the team in selecting the best tyre compounds. Having not tested here either makes the tyre selection even harder, especially if it rains. We will have a setup close to maximum downforce, while also paying particular attention to slow and medium speed corners. There is only one high speed corner so it doesn't dominate the lap. The chicane at the end of the lap is an important consideration for suspension setup and also highlights an overtaking opportunity that has been used in the past. I am sure we will see some interesting strategies on Sunday because most of the passing at this circuit is done in the pits."

Gerhard Berger (BMW Motorsport Director)
"After a victory it is natural to head to the next GP full of confidence. Even though the track lay out of the Nurburgring doesn't suit us as well as Montreal, a forecast is difficult especially as the teams have not tested at the track. However, what makes me pretty optimistic for the next races is the way the BMW WilliamsF1 Team improved its performance step by step during the Montreal weekend. Of course, Ralf has excellent knowledge of the Nurburgring and has had some good races there. Juan Pablo is also familiar with the circuit from Formula 3000, and looking at the BMW crew of course everybody is extra motivated for the home race in the Eifel."

The Nurburgring Circuit is one steeped in history with the old circuit, known as the Nordschleife, an amazing 14.19 miles (22.83 kilometres long). The last time the old circuit was used for a Formula 1 race was the German Grand Prix in 1976 when Niki Lauda's horrendous accident, that nearly claimed his life, caused it to be taken off the calendar. The new circuit was then built alongside it, and the sound of Grand Prix cars were not heard there again until1984. This was the first European Grand Prix to be held at the track. The following year the German Grand Prix was back there. To date this has been the last of the 23 German Grands Prix held at the Nurburgring. In total five European Grands Prix have been run there and two Luxembourg Grands Prix .

The circuit, in the beautiful Eifel mountains, at 2.831 miles (4.556 km) long is over nine miles shorter than the original one, where fans can still drive round in their road cars. The 67-lap race gets underway at 14.00 local time (12.00 GMT) on Sunday, 24th June. A total race distance of 189.705 miles (305.235 km) will be covered.

The lap record was set in 1997 by Heinz Harald Frentzen in a WilliamsF1 Renault FW19 with a time of 1m 18.805s (129.325mph/208.128km/h) and the fastest lap last year, in a rain interrupted race, was by race winner Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari in a time of 1min 22.269s (123.879mph/199.365km/h).

- Williams

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Williams