Following an improved performance at the British Grand Prix, and the successful completion of an all important test session at Jerez this week, the Williams team heads to the German Grand Prix with a fresh sense of optimism to produce a strong performance on home soil for engine supplier BMW.

For the second of the German races, the team will continue to run revised components on the FW26, as well as having a new face in the cockpit. While Ralf Schumacher continues his convalescence, the team's second test driver, Antonio Pizzonia, will join Juan Pablo Montoya in the search for further points towards the constructors' championship.

Pizzonia topped the final two days of summer testing at Jerez, and has impressed the team with his performances since returning to the fold after an abortive sojourn with Jaguar last year. The Brazilian replaces Marc Gene in the #4 car, after the Spaniard failed to break into the top eight at either Magny-Cours or Silverstone.

"I am very happy to have been given this opportunity by the team, and I will do my very best to assist them in scoring some points," Pizzonia said, "My total concentration is now on the forthcoming race weekend, and I have a clear preparation plan prior to Hockenheim."

Montoya is the reigning German GP champion, having romped to a dominant victory at last season's race. Such was the Colombian's front-running pace that eventual world champion Michael Schumacher suffered the indignity of being lapped in front of his adoring fans.

"My last victory was in last year's grand prix at Hockenheim, so it would be good to win again this year," Montoya admitted, "It would also be a great boost for the team, and increase our points tally, but we know that it won't be easy as our competitors are more aggressive than ever. Nevertheless, we have always performed well at this track and that gives us more confidence.

"No matter what the weather conditions will be like at Hockenheim, they can't be as unpredictable or as cold as they were at Silverstone two weeks ago, so this should make our job a bit easier. The team will have an all South American driver line-up next weekend, and I wish Antonio all the best. I'll also be doing my best to score points and to help him do the same."

Hockenheim hosted its first Formula One grand prix on 2 August 1970, with Jochen Rindt winning. Following the decision that the Nurburgring Nordschleife was too dangerous to run grands prix on, the German round of the championship moved to Hockenheim in 1997 and has remained there almost indefinitely, only returning to the new N?rburgring once, in 1985.

Two years ago, Hockenheim celebrated its 70th anniversary with a new design and a new name - the 'Hockenheimring Baden W?rttemberg'. The long forest straights were replaced with new sections in order to accommodate increasing spectator numbers and, where cars previously disappeared into the woods, the circuit now takes a sharp right turn into the long, sweeping, high-speed Parabolica left turn. This culminates in a hairpin taken in first gear with the steering wheel virtually at full lock. Following this hairpin, a right-left-right combination takes you back to familiar territory - the Motodrom 'stadium' section.

"Hockenheim is a great track for overtaking, particularly on the long straight from turn two down to turn three, which also has the added advantage of a large, tarmac run off area at the end," commented technical director Sam Michael, "The layout is a good example of how circuits can contribute to improving overtaking opportunities in Formula One.

"The circuit itself is dominated by slow and medium speed corners, which dictate the set-up of the cars and, as always, traction will be an important factor. We will have some additional aero and mechanical improvements on the car in Germany, which we hope will help us make some progress up the grid. Last year's race showed how severe the track is on tyres, so making the correct tyre selection with Michelin will be of paramount importance.

"Strategy will be the most important factor of the weekend, as well as the efficiency of the pit crew. The crew was critical in helping the drivers gain positions at Silverstone, so we are confident that we can produce a strong showing in Germany."

Up until the changes were made for 2002, Hockenheim was a paradise for powerful engines. However, the subsequent modifications to the track saw the removal of the long forest straights which rewarded engine power. Compared with other circuits, however, Hockenheim still ranks in the top third in terms of the challenge it poses for powerplants.

"Last year, we registered a full throttle ratio of 62 per cent, while a top speed of 332kph also puts the circuit profile into the upper middle sector," BMW's Mario Theissen revealed, "Last year's race at Hockenheim was one of the hottest of the season, with temperatures reaching 37?C, but, this year, we are still longing for summer. Time and again, the BMW engine has proved particularly resilient under high thermal loads, while our Michelin tyres have also performed repeatedly well in similarly high temperatures.

"After the race at Silverstone, it was very important for the team to be able to finally carry out some intensive testing on the numerous new components we have on the car, particularly as the forthcoming testing ban means we won't have another chance to do so until after the Hungarian Grand Prix in mid-August. Simulations can not entirely replace testing on the track, especially for the chassis and the car's aerodynamics but, during the test at Jerez de la Frontera, we gathered a large amount of data that should help us with the set-up of the car in Hockenheim's free practice sessions."

To date, Williams has claimed nine victories at Hockenheim - Alan Jones scored the first in 1979, while Montoya secured the latest last year. The Colombian also holds the current lap record of 1min 14.917secs, which he set during last year's race.