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Friday practice - selected driver quotes 08 Oct 2004

Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, 8 October 2004 Takuma Sato (JPN) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, 8 October 2004 Robert Doornbos (NED) Jordan Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, 8 October 2004 Mark Webber (AUS) Jaguar R5.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Suzuka, Japan, 8 October 2004

Not the most productive start to the Japan weekend

The first day at Suzuka was a total washout, and the second looks set to be even worse. How did the drivers cope in the tricky conditions and do they think it will be safe to continue tomorrow when Typhoon 22 is expected to hit the circuit?

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st, 1m 45.388s):
“Overall, it was an interesting day running in the rain here at Suzuka. Because of the weather, we could not do as much running as we would have liked, but at least we managed to do a bit of work on the car. Now, we have to wait and see what happens tomorrow with the weather. Already today, it was almost impossible to drive and if conditions get worse, which seems likely, I don’t think we could go out on track. If that happens, maybe I’ll play football or backgammon…”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (2nd, 1m 46.102s):
"The whole package - car, engine, Bridgestone tyres - is really good, and I was consistently able to run second all day to Michael. The track conditions were very bad, with several rivers running across the circuit and a lot of standing water all round the lap. It was an easy day to make mistakes, but for me it was also important to be quick and to push. I'm very pleased with the way things went, and I think we are in good shape."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (3rd, 1m 46.749s):
"Obviously very tricky and constantly changing conditions today. The circuit had lots of water on it, which made it very difficult to do any real set-up work. Nevertheless it is a start and at least it's encouraging that I'm the fastest Michelin runner. Now we wait to see how the weather will develop tomorrow and how the predicted typhoon will affect the rest of the weekend's running."

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (4th, 1m 46.874s):
“It has been a difficult day because, as much as I like driving in the wet, today’s conditions have made it almost impossible to do any meaningful work. I was not even pushing on the straights as it was not worth it. I feel sorry for all the Japanese fans who came today. Hopefully, Sunday will be a better day and we and the fans will be able to enjoy ourselves.”

David Coulthard, McLaren (5th, 1m 48.033s):
"We worked on set-up for wet weather today as there is a good chance that the rainy conditions will remain tomorrow. I had a late start to the first practice session as the team decided to change my clutch as a precaution since some data showed that it might have developed a problem. We didn't want to take that risk in the rain. However it didn't really affect my programme as we gathered enough data in the second session."

Timo Glock, Jordan (6th, 1m 49.277s):
“It didn’t go too badly today given the extremely rainy conditions. It was a bit difficult for me to start with as I don’t know the circuit and it’s hard to learn it in the rain. But after a few laps it was okay; I found a good rhythm in the wet and the car was not feeling too bad. At the end I was quite happy with both sessions although the rain got so heavy we had to stop before the session finished. The car was quite good in these conditions so I hope we have a wet qualifying and race!”

Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (7th, 1m 49.286s):
“It was quite a satisfying day today looking at our positions. Obviously it was very difficult for everybody with these weather conditions and the forecast for tomorrow looks even worse. We did a few outings but stopped before the end because it simply got too wet and we would not have been able to assess the changes correctly.”

Takuma Sato, BAR (8th, 1m 49.370s):
"We could do nothing about the weather today but it meant the conditions were very difficult for everyone. It's frustrating and I feel so sorry for the fans that have been sitting here in the rain all day and have not seen much action from the cars. From a performance point of view, the heavy wet conditions meant that we had some issues with aquaplaning and the car was tricky to control. Despite the weather getting worse, we had to continue running in the second session to get as much information as possible. When you were following another car, you really couldn't see anything in front of you which can be very dangerous. Unfortunately if the weather continues, we will have no chance of qualifying tomorrow and I really hope that on Sunday we will see better weather to allow the race to go ahead."

Anthony Davidson, BAR (9th, 1m 49.598s):
"The constant rain made life very difficult for everybody today. We weren't able to work through our planned programme at all and we were limited on laps because most of the time the circuit was undrivable as we were just aquaplaning. It is very disappointing for me not to have achieved any dry running on one of the best tracks in the world and be able to get a real feel for it. I think Jenson and Takuma's equally frustrating start to the weekend is likely to continue through to the race on Sunday."

Jacques Villeneuve, Renault (10th, 1m 49.672s):
"There is no point in talking too much about our work today: the conditions were very poor and the car was aquaplaning a lot, which meant it was actually floating on the track surface and the driver had no control. However, we managed to complete a small part of our programme and given that it was my first time driving this car in the wet, I was pretty pleased. The R24 is quite easy to drive and predictable in these conditions.

"In terms of driving Suzuka in the wet, there are a few things you have to watch out for. The asphalt is old, meaning that the rubber that has been laid down on the racing line becomes very slippery in the wet and must be avoided. Equally, the cambered corners encourage you to take a wider line as water can collect on the inside. But overall, when the grip is inconsistent, the most important thing to be able to do is adapt quickly."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (11th, 1m 49.712s):
"We didn't learn much today: it ended up being a case of just getting used to driving the car again after two weeks. The conditions were very hard, and there was too much water on the track, which meant we were aquaplaning in lots of places. It was the same for everybody, but with bad weather forecast for the rest of the weekend, it didn't really help any of us either!

"When you are driving an F1 car in the wet, it always feels very light and you don't have a good feeling. At the wheel, the best thing you can do is to follow the wheeltracks of other cars, because that is where the most water has been cleared from, so the grip levels are best. Whatever you do, though, you must remember that the optimum line is changing lap by lap, and react to it."

Ralf Schumacher, Williams (12th, 1m 49.736s):
“Not much to say due to the amount of water on the track and the large amount of aquaplaning we had today. I would hope we could get some better work in tomorrow, but unfortunately it doesn’t look this way at the moment. It would be more sensible not to run at all, tomorrow.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (13th, 1m 50.060s):
“I cannot say much about the car really, because I had very little running today and we couldn’t really work on anything. But it’s the same for everyone. The track was massively wet at first but it wasn’t too bad after a few cars had been running. Still, if the rain keeps increasing as it looks like it will, I’ll be surprised if we will be running tomorrow. With the prospect of a dry race it will be interesting, very interesting!”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (14th, 1m 50.386s):
"It was a difficult debut for me today, although I think we can be pleased to have done some meaningful running in tough conditions. I have never driven the TF104B in the wet, so it was useful to get some experience. On the other hand, I took it comparatively easy today because the conditions were very dangerous and I didn't want to spin or go off the track and damage the car. The positive thing is that we have done some laps and gained some beneficial experience for the rest of the weekend, which at the moment looks like it could be quite tricky with the weather."

Mark Webber, Jaguar (15th, 1m 50.666s):
“Today has not been as productive as we would have liked, but the weather conditions have been so bad that we had no choice but to curtail our programme. This circuit can be quite difficult in the rain as there are many rivers that appear on track and this can cause aquaplaning. We did what we could today and I tried to test my new chassis the R5b-06, however given the amount of water on the track we have not really had an opportunity to learn anything and so I will be using my usual race chassis on Sunday. It’s frustrating for all of us to have prepared so much for this weekend and then to be limited to so little running on track. The weather forecast is not looking good for tomorrow either so we will just have to make the most of any running that we can”.

Robert Doornbos, Jordan (16th, 1m 51.007s):
“I think it went great as it was my first time ever driving a Formula One car in the wet and I had to learn the circuit as well. If I compare how to drive F1 in the rain with F3000, the difference is unbelievable. The Bridgestone tyres gave an amazing amount of grip. I really enjoyed it and found the pace right away. I did a good job and I’m looking forward to more laps in Brazil.”

Christian Klien, Jaguar (17th, 1m 52.232s):
“It’s been a really wet day here at Suzuka and we have been badly affected by the rain. The conditions have meant that we have only managed a small amount of running on track and this has not helped me familiarise myself with the layout as much as I would have liked. The track does seem like good fun though and it reminds me of the Spa layout. It seems quite challenging and given the number of rivers running through it at the moment, also quite difficult! There is a typhoon due to hit Suzuka tomorrow so I am not too sure what it going to happen to qualifying, could make it all very interesting!”

Bas Leinders, Minardi (18th, 1m 52.942s):
"This was my very first experience of driving in the wet with an F1 car as well as my first time driving on the Suzuka Circuit, and I am very pleased with what I discovered. The car seems to have quite a lot of grip in the wet, and I really enjoy driving in the rain anyway. I'm not at the limit of the car yet - I would need more mileage to arrive at that point - but it has been a good start to building my knowledge of driving in the wet in Formula One."

Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (19th, 1m 53.194s):
"It was not a very good day, as I didn't have the possibility to drive enough. I did just one proper run, but the balance in the wet was quite good, as my lap times show. Now we can only see what tomorrow holds."

Jenson Button, BAR (20th, 1m 53.482s):
"The first session was very wet and the start of the second session was equally wet, but it was drivable. You wouldn't want to race or test in those conditions, given the choice, as we had quite a bit of aquaplaning but at least we could keep it on the track. As we got further into the second session though it was really wet, the circuit was drenched and it was very dangerous. There was no visibility; you couldn't see the car in front until you were one and a half car lengths behind. It looks like it will be just as bad tomorrow - if not worse - so I would definitely support a move to run qualifying on Sunday morning, when the rain is expected to ease up a little."

Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (21st, 1m 54.703s):
"The weather situation today was a bit unfortunate in terms of having an opportunity to learn the track. Generally, the car balance was good, but we were struggling with the huge amount of water on the track. In fact, when I spun during the second session, it had started to rain even harder and the conditions were pretty much impossible."

Felipe Massa, Sauber (no time):
"I spun in this morning's session, and again this afternoon, and both times it was because of aquaplaning. When I went out this afternoon it began raining very heavily at the start of the lap so I had already decided to come back in and was going relatively slowly, and even so I spun at the top of the hill after the esses when the car just got away from me on standing water. An unlucky day for me."

Olivier Panis, Toyota (no time):
"The huge amount of rain made it very difficult today. In the first session, I completed an installation lap and wanted to wait to see what everyone else was doing. When we saw there was no improvement, we opted to stay in the garage, as we would not achieve any decent set-up work in such conditions. It made sense for Jarno to do some running, but not for me because I already know the behaviour of the car quite well in the wet. In the second session, we had the same situation, so we just did a launch and pit stop practice to be sure that everything worked on the electronics side. The track was so wet, I felt that I was driving a boat, rather than an F1 car, but at least we could complete a lap to check that there was nothing wrong."

Bjorn Wirdheim, Jaguar (no time):
“We have a limited number of wet tyres with us this weekend and I have been trying to help the team today by not running. Usually I am doing the opposite and trying to do as many laps as possible but given the really wet conditions that we are experiencing it is important for Mark and Christian to have as many spare extreme wet-tyres for the race as possible.”

Ryan Briscoe, Toyota (no time):
"Due to the restriction of extreme wet weather tyres, I was unable to do any running today. The conditions were simply too bad to even consider going out on intermediate tyres. I am disappointed that I couldn't have the chance to drive at the Suzuka circuit and not to participate in Toyota's home grand prix weekend."