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Friday practice - selected driver quotes 05 Mar 2004

Michael Schumacher (GER) 
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 5 March 2004 Jenson Button (GBR) BAR.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 5 March 2004 Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 5 March 2004 Olivier Panis (FRA) Toyota TF104.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 5 March 2004 Christian Klien (AUT) Jaguar.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 5 March 2004

Friday's practice sessions in Melbourne were the first of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship. They were also the first under the new one-engine-per-weekend regulations and the first with third drivers. So what did the participants make of it all?

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st, 1m 24.718s):
”I am happy with the performance of the car which has matched our expectations after winter testing. But we should not read too much into the lap times, as it is too early to say if this is a true picture of the order among the teams: in fact, I doubt that it is. Today, we worked mainly on adapting the car’s set-up for this circuit. I went off the track three times during the course of the day, which was mainly due to the wind, which was strong and not consistent and it can catch you out in terms of judging your braking point.”

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (2nd, 1m 24.826s):
“I am very happy with the car. We still have some more work to do on the set-up, but the car shows great potential. So I think there is more to come from it this weekend, which is encouraging. The car is still quite new for me, as I only got one and a half days running in it in dry conditions, so I am still learning. We went through our normal work schedule for a first day of free practice, keeping in mind the new rule regarding engines. We must not read too much into today’s result, but it is a good way to start the season.”

Jarno Trulli, Renault (3rd, 1m 25.757s):
"In general, it was a good trouble-free day for us. We completed our programme on the set-up and the tyres, and I am pleased with the results. So far, the car has been reliable and I think we have a solid base for further improvements. I am confident we can keep making progress as the track improves, and am looking forward to the new format qualifying session tomorrow."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (5th, 1m 25.853s):
"From my point of view, it was a pretty good day. We still need to improve in terms of the car's balance, and particularly work hard with the data to make the correct tyre choice. We did lots of laps, which allowed us to improve the set-up quite significantly, and I think we ran a good programme."

Jenson Button, BAR (4th, 1m 25.786s):
"It’s been a very interesting start to the new season. It felt quite strange leaving most of the driving to (third driver) Anthony (Davidson) but he’s done a great job of obtaining information for myself and Taku for the second session. He’s going to play a key role in the way our race weekends shape up this season as Taku and I preserve our engines. We’re working really well together, exactly as we do in testing, and there isn’t any learning curve for us as a driver line-up, which is going to be a significant advantage. The car feels strong and we have some good tyre options, so I’m feeling positive about the race debut of the 006. The conditions are improving all the time as the circuit cleans up and I’m looking forward to more set-up work tomorrow morning in readiness for what is likely to be a very interesting qualifying session."

Takuma Sato, BAR (12th, 1m 26.967s):
"It’s great to be back competing in a Grand Prix again but it is quite a challenge to adapt to the new format. I’ve had very little track time so it is difficult to choose the right tyre in such a short space of time. We’re working very well together as a team though and it is encouraging that all three drivers seem to be following the same direction. I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the weekend shapes up now."

Anthony Davidson, BAR (15th, 1m 27.516s):
"I'm very pleased with the way things have gone in my first day of race weekend running with BAR Honda. It was fun to see my name up there with all the other drivers and I feel that we have achieved a lot in support of the two race drivers. I'm pretty happy with my times and I have adapted to the track very quickly. All the work I have done over the winter to learn the new circuits certainly seems to have paid off today. Of course, it's great to be here as part of an established driver line-up. It's just like being at a test with them really, so I feel very comfortable. I think the new Friday format will work well and will be a very important part of moving the team forward."

Ralf Schumacher, Williams (6th, 1m 25.882s):
“We could complete our programme today and, most importantly, we made our tyre choice, as the new regulations require. We didn't have much running in the morning also because of the poor conditions of the track, but I am quite confident we can improve even if the gap to Ferrari is seemingly very big.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (7th, 1m 26.206s):
“Probably not the result I was looking forward to achieve in this first practice. I was expecting poor grip in the first session, due to the dusty track, but then the situation didn't improve that much when the track became cleaner, since the balance of my car was not ideal. We've now got some work ahead of us to close the gap to the Ferrari drivers, who have been very quick today.”

David Coulthard, McLaren (8th, 1m 26.215s):
"Like the majority of the other teams, we ran a limited amount of laps as a result of the one engine rule. However we went through our set programme, which was aimed at establishing where we are on tyres as we have to make the decision by Saturday morning. We will now concentrate on tomorrow which is when the action really starts."

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (10th, 1m 26.579s):
"We focused on trying to find the right tyres for the weekend and went through our planned programme. I'm not too happy with the set up of the car at the moment, but we will work on it overnight and hopefully improve for tomorrow."

Mark Webber, Jaguar (9th, 1m 26.312s):
“It was fantastic to finally get out in the R5 today and to get a feel for the track. We worked steadily through our test programme and we successfully completed our tasks. Having (third driver) Bjorn (Wirdheim) out there today meant that I could focus on my car set-up and balance while he did a lot of the tyre work, it makes a big difference to me having him with us on a Friday. I am really pleased with how today went and I am now really looking forward to qualifying. The track is of course slightly green in a few places but generally it feels good and I always enjoy driving here. The R5 is of course different to the R4 that we had here last year so it's important to work as much as we can setting up the car in preparation for tomorrow and the race. Overall, so far, so good.”

Christian Klien, Jaguar (17th, 1m 27.724s):
“Well, I think the time I spent in the simulator at the factory practising in Albert Park was time well spent but there is no substitute for the real thing. It was exciting to go out there this morning and it certainly took me by surprise how much bumpier it was then I expected. The balance of the R5 was good but it still shakes you around and as I soon discovered it was also greener on track than I realised when I had a little spin at Turn 4. Learning the track today was really my priority and I feel that I achieved this. I did spend some time working on the R5 set-up and of course my tyres as I need to make this decision tonight. Having Bjorn work on the tyres too takes some of the pressure off and lets us focus on the cars.”

Bjorn Wirdheim, Jaguar (20th, 1m 28.781s):
“I spent most of today working on tyres for the team and I also focused on learning the track. After my thirty laps I certainly feel as if I am starting to know my way about. The tyre work is of course vital to the team although it is disappointing to not have a great lap time, but that is not why I am here! It's been a really positive day and I hope that I have helped the team in some way. I completed the planned programme so it’s been a good start.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber (11th, 1m 26.601s):
"It was quite a good day, and I did my best laps during a long run. The balance was getting better with each lap, and we know which direction to take to improve the car further for tomorrow. We also have a clear tyre choice. It's going to be difficult to get into the top 10, but we'll do our best."

Felipe Massa, Sauber (13th, 1m 26.969s:
"This morning I lost all my track time when my car stopped early on with a fuel pressure problem, but this afternoon I did a long run and the balance was getting better and better as the track improved, and the Bridgestone tyres felt consistent. The car was very good, and I could easily have gone half a second faster, but towards the end I got traffic on each lap. I'm happy with what I achieved, though, especially given what happened this morning."

Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (16th, 1m 27.710s):
"I only completed twenty-or-so laps today, so it isn't easy to draw too many conclusions from the practice sessions. In the first hour, the track didn't have much grip and we decided not to run much. In the second session, I experienced some brake problems and I was ultimately forced to stop due to a puncture. Not the best start to the weekend, but on a positive note (third driver) Ricardo Zonta did a lot of tyre comparison work today, so we were able to collect some very useful data for the weekend."

Olivier Panis, Toyota (18th, 1m 27.807s):
"I had a difficult first day in Australia today. We were unable to complete many laps and I am not yet happy with the set-up of the TF104 for the Albert Park track. We will sit down together this afternoon to work on it and find some improvements before tomorrow's two practice sessions."

Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (14th, 1m 27.165s):
"In the first session, the track was quite slippery and so I didn't push so much. The conditions improved as the session went on and I began to find the limits. In the second session, we did a back-to-back tyre comparison. We did a long run with the best set we found and the performance was quite consistent. We also found a good balance on the car, which should benefit the race drivers tomorrow. I am very pleased to be back driving during race weekends again and I hope my work today has helped."

Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (19th, 1m 27.826s):
"It's good to be back out on track and we did our tyre evaluation programme but I'm a bit frustrated that we weren't able to carry out a set-up change I wanted to make after the morning session, and now we have limited time available. Otherwise, I think I'd have been a bit further ahead in the timing sheets. If it had given me an extra tenth I would have been within range of Toyota and Jaguar, a good starting point at our first race."

Giorgio Pantano, Jordan (23rd, 1m 29.708s):
"I enjoyed my first day of Grand Prix driving and I'm concentrating entirely on learning as everything here is new for me. We are making every effort to do our best and I think in preparation for tomorrow we can make changes and improve, for sure."

Timo Glock, Jordan (24th, 1m 30.291s):
"It was great today, a lot of fun doing laps with the rest of the Formula One field. During the second session the car felt really good and the times weren't bad but quite early on in the afternoon we had a problem - maybe the gearbox - and my session stopped there."

Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi (21st, 1m 28.991s):
"It was a good day for me. We did both short and long runs, which helped me to learn the circuit and to find a reasonable balance for the chassis. I was pleased with my time on new tyres, but also happy with the longer run we did on worn tyres. I feel sure we'll go better on Saturday as a result of the information we have picked up today."

Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi (22nd, 1m 29.708s):
"It was generally okay today, but we still have to find a better balance in the chassis. I wasn't so happy with my last time because I couldn't really use the new tyres to best advantage. Even so, I think we made good progress. We ran hard all day, and I am now getting used to the car and the circuit. Tomorrow, I hope we can improve and get closer to the others."