Williams is bidding to get back on the pace at the N?rburgring this weekend, scene of three past victories, three pole positions and a brace of fastest laps for the Grove-based concern.

Indeed, two years ago Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber lined up first and third on the starting grid, with the German going on to take the chequered flag in second position in the race. After switching from BMW engines to Cosworth power for 2006, however, Webber and new team-mate Nico Rosberg could only manage 19th and 22nd spots in qualifying, a dramatic fall from grace the squad is evidently keen not to suffer a repeat of in 2007.

"Ever since I can remember, the N?rburgring has meant something special to our family," reminisced Alex Wurz, hoping to get back among the points-scorers again for the first time since his rostrum finish in Montreal last month. "My grandfather used to take my father on trips there from Austria to watch the races on the legendary Nordschleife, so there was always lots of talk about this crazy race track in our family.

"During my days in German F3, I lived just a few hundred metres away from the circuit for two years. The new track layout requires a neutral set-up and, as a driver, you need to find a good rhythm in order to get the best lap time. It's going to be a great race and I hope that in the post-Schumacher era the German fans will still be as excited about Formula 1 as they were before."

The undulating 5.148km lap takes in a variety of slow, medium and high-speed turns joined by several straights. What's more, overtaking is a distinct possibility, particularly in the stadium section, at the exit of the final chicane and entering the first corner. Unpredictable weather conditions in the mountainous Eifel region can also play a prominent role over the course of the weekend.

"The N?rburgring is a track at which we are looking forward to seeing the performance of the FW29," added Williams technical director Sam Michael. "It benefits from a good circuit layout, and there are some great overtaking places. The last chicane always provides opportunities on the entry - and exit, if someone gets it wrong!

"With such sustained lateral loading on the car, the tyres always get a hard time around this track. The Bridgestone Potenza tyres we will have in Germany will be the medium and soft versions, two tyres we have plenty of experience with. Teams will either use a one or two-stop strategy in this race, and the gap between everyone is now so close that every half a tenth really counts."

 

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