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Friday practice - selected driver quotes 19 Aug 2005

Ricardo Zonta (BRA) Toyota Test Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 19 August 2005 Jenson Button (GBR) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 19 August 2005 Christian Klien (AUT) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 19 August 2005 Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, 19 August 2005

All the speculation came to end today as the drivers finally got to sample the all-new Istanbul Park circuit for real. So what was their verdict? The consensus of opinion seems to be that it is Hermann Tilke’s greatest track to date...

Ricardo Zonta, third driver, Toyota (1st, 1m 25.583s):
"The Istanbul Park is an enjoyable circuit to drive and that was a good day. It's an anti-clockwise circuit, but it doesn't feel too hard on the neck because the toughest left-handers are downhill, unlike Interlagos. There was a lot of traffic and yellow flags but I eventually found a clear lap at the end of the session. The lap time is a lot quicker than we expected because the track surface is better. Of course the grip improved throughout the day, and we also saw some tyre graining, but we have plenty of data to look at tonight. It's looking good so far."

Pedro de la Rosa, third driver, McLaren (2nd, +0.613s):
“Despite the fuel pick up problem this morning we were able to complete our planned programme. On this demanding track it’s not easy to find the right set-up and consequently it took some time. I hope that I have made a good start for my team mates to continue working from. Our Michelin tyres are working well here and the circuit is suiting the car.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (3rd, +0.942s):
“It seems like the new track is pretty good, and they have done a very good job in creating such a venue. The car and our Michelin tyres are working well, but we all have to expect a hard race on Sunday. Michelin have brought a very good and consistent tyre for this event which is a definite advantage for us. We will keep on working tomorrow morning on making further improvements, and I look forward to the rest of the weekend.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (4th, +1.691s):
“The new track is quite interesting and my first impressions are positive. The guys back at base have done a lot of work preparing for this weekend and as a result we seem to have arrived with a good basis. It’s still possible to improve the balance even more but so far so good. It was a bit slippery out there particularly as there was a little bit of rain which seemed to affect the grip levels a lot. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, but I think we are in good shape.”

Jenson Button, BAR (5th, +1.763s):
"I enjoyed my first real taste of the new circuit and I think it has a very good layout. There are certain areas that are a little bit bumpy - especially braking into Turn 12, the last complex of corners - but generally it feels quite exciting to drive. It will certainly be interesting in racing conditions, when the weather is expected to be much hotter than we've experienced here today. We completed our entire planned programme today and our performance was reasonably good, so I think that we should be able to expect a promising weekend ahead."

Vitantonio Liuzzi, third driver, Red Bull (6th, +1.995s):
“Turn eight, the high-speed corner, is really fantastic to drive. The section of track after the corner is so long that you really start feeling the G force, which squishes you a bit in the car. As a driver, that’s an awesome feeling. It’s such a great corner – you know you’ll get into it okay, but you don’t always know if you’re going to get out so well on the other side! During the first session on an in-lap, I tried something a little different, but cut too much of the kerb and went off the track. It was only an in-lap though, so it wasn’t really much of a drama.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault (7th, +1.996s):
“It was good that we were able to run more laps than normal today, after saving the engine a bit in Hungary, so that I could really get to know the track properly. I felt very comfortable out there, and really enjoyed the sessions today: the circuit is challenging, with blind entries to corners at turns 1 and 3, plus a really unusual, difficult corner at Turn 8, which is different to any other track. The car felt quite good today, with a nice balance but like everybody else, we were lacking some overall grip on the new, dirty surface. Even so, I am quite pleased with our work today.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (8th, +2.090s):
“I didn’t do as much running as I would have liked this morning, but we made up for it in the second session with lots of laps. My first impression is that the track is a really good challenge - it is quite hard to find the right line through the corners, and it is not easy to learn; in fact the only thing I might change would be the last three corners, which are too slow! This is place where you need to feel really confident with the car to push, and I could only do that properly this afternoon - but the balance felt quite stable when I did, and the lap times were OK, so I think we are in a good position so far.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (9th, +2.381s):
"This is an interesting circuit, and very different from what we usually see. There are some ups and downs and turn 8 is a challenging corner. We made it through the two sessions without problems so that was a decent day of practice for us. I lost a bit of ground in the morning and early in the afternoon because I was struggling to get the tyres working properly. But as soon as we changed them the balance came in and I was able to do a more consistent long run."

Takuma Sato, BAR (10th, +2.498s):
"It was a good session today and it was exciting to be on a new and quite challenging circuit. I think that they have done a very good job with the track design. We ran through our usual Friday programme with no issues, so it is now important for us to look at the data and discuss with Michelin where we go from here. We had relatively strong pace today which is a good sign for us for tomorrow, so I am really looking forward to it."

Mark Webber, Williams (11th, +2.537s):
“A pretty good Friday for us, during which we managed to work through everything we had planned. First of all, I have to say well done to everyone involved in making this event happen. They’ve done such a good job with the track, the layout is fantastic, and it’s very, very demanding for the driver. It’s definitely a track I’m enjoying at the moment. We’ve done our on track tyre comparisons so now we can go through the data with Michelin. Like all the other teams, it’s the first time we’ve been here so we’ll have to work carefully with Michelin to make sure we choose the right tyre. Today was mostly about tyre selection, but we also worked on some smaller things like gear ratios and the suspension.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (12th, +2.652s):
“The track was pretty bumpy and the car was too low for the first few laps, so we increased the ride height and things improved after that. Although I drove the circuit in a road car when I visited the city a few weeks ago for a PR event, the experience of driving in an F1 car is so different that it didn’t really help me today. It’s always a challenge to come to a new circuit and as the track rubbers in we will see lap times continue to improve. It’ll be good to see what we can do here over the weekend.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (13th, +2.710s):
“I think the impression I formed of this track after riding around it on a scooter yesterday was misleading. I thought it did not seem that difficult, but now in the car, with a much lower seating position, it looks very different. It is not particularly difficult to learn which way it goes, however it has its own unique character. Some corners, such as Turn 1, have a blind exit which makes it very interesting. Turn 8 is another challenging corner as it has several possible lines. As usual, for the first day on a new track, we have to adjust the car to suit the circuit and we have to improve in this area because the car is still sliding too much in some corners. There is still a lot to do."

Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber (14th, +2.821s):
"This is a great track! It's got a nice flow to it and is really good to drive. Of course, it was quite dirty still today but I think it was better than it would have been if it was really hot. The balance on my car was good, and overall this was pretty similar to the other Fridays we've had this year."

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (15th, +2.877s):
“I had a difficult day because I could not find the right balance, even though I worked a lot on the car. It improved a bit towards the end of the day, but I am still far from happy. There is still a lot of work to do to make the right tyre choice and to find that balance. I like the track very much even though it was a bit dirty today. There are some fantastic corners and I think that, physically, it will be a hard race, especially on the neck muscles."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (16th, +3.058s):
"The Istanbul Park is a challenging track, the layout is unusual and something which we haven't seen in a long time in F1. It's a very smooth circuit with very few bumps and lots of run-off areas so it's very safe. For set-up we need to compromise for the low speed corners while maintaining speed along the straight. Tyre choice will be crucial here but the car feels okay and Ricardo's lap time shows that we should be competitive here and aim for another strong result."

Felipe Massa, Sauber (17th, +3.098s):
"My car was quite consistent in both sessions and we are more competitive than I thought we would be. The handling was very good on both of our tyre options, so we need to think very carefully before we make our final choice. It's not a clear one. We are in good shape, I would say. As for this track, it's a fantastic place! Lots of different corners, and a real challenge. I love driving here."

Christian Klien, Red Bull (18th, +3.245s):
“During the second practice session, I went a little bit too quickly into Turn eight. The car was touching the floor and it was just enough to mean I lost the rear and spun off. There was no damage from the incident though and I was able to continue. We then changed the set-up of the car to improve its balance. This was needed as the track was changing throughout the session as it offered more and more grip. At the end of the second practice, I made a few mistakes and didn’t set such a good lap time, but in the long run, when I had good balance in the car, the lap times were better, so it’s looking promising for tomorrow.”

Nick Heidfeld, Williams (19th, +3.376s):
“As predicted, this is a nice, challenging circuit. It just has a lot more bumps than we expected, especially in the high speed sections, which is a bit unusual for a new circuit. In this morning’s session, I had a problem with the traction control which was not working properly and I wasn’t particularly happy with the grip or balance. This is normal though because we are at a brand new circuit and we still have to learn it and find the right set-up, which I hope we will do by tomorrow.”

Tiago Monteiro, Jordan (20th, +5.043s):
“It was a good first day. It is always exciting to go to a new track. I was really looking forward to driving here. As I expected I really enjoyed it. The layout in general is great and there are some really fast corners. The car had the right balance from the start so we just had to fine-tune the set-up. The tyre decision is not easy but I am sure we will make the right choice.”

Robert Doornbos, Minardi (21st, +5.045s):
"It's great to be in Turkey, and at an amazing circuit. To drive it is very exciting, as there are corners where you can really make a difference as a driver, and you feel the adrenalin pumping as a result. Initially, it went really well this morning, as I started with a four-lap run and set a reasonable time. Unfortunately, a problem then developed with the pressure in the gearbox, which was a bit of a shame, as it meant I wasn't able to do any more running in that session. The guys did an amazing job to get the car ready for me to go and play again in the second session, however, so many thanks to them for all their efforts. I then pushed hard because I wanted to try and set a good time just in case it rained. In the end, I was quite happy with my time, so we're looking good for tomorrow, and we'll hope any misfortune is now out of the way."

Christijan Albers, Minardi (22nd, +5.147s):
"I think this morning we had a good first practice session. The speed was immediately there, so I was happy with that. The second session was also quite good, but then we fitted new tyres and I just couldn't get the most out of them, the result of traffic and a few mistakes. We definitely learned from today, however, and we'll now use the information gained to plan our strategy for Saturday."

Nicolas Kiesa, third driver, Jordan (23rd, +5.301s):
“I had a good day today. This morning was a bit challenging, as the circuit is quite difficult to learn and there are many blind corners, but I have learnt the layout faster than I expected. After five or six laps I could start to push. We have had two good practice sessions. I had a small problem in the afternoon so I lost some 20 minutes. However, to be honest, I could not have done much with the time as I was struggling again with my neck. This is an anti-clockwise circuit and even the race drivers, who have done more than 20,000km this year, were having a hard time too. Since I started with Jordan in Hockenheim, I have done only 350km so I expected it to be really tough.”

Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan (24th, +5.316s):
“I like the circuit a lot here at Istanbul, apart from the last three corners, which are less flowing. The organisers have done an excellent job. In some corners, for instance corner nº8, you have to be really committed. The track was a bit dusty in the first session but it got much better in the second one. It is a pity I had a gearbox problem in the afternoon, as I was quite quick in the morning. The circuit is quite technical to learn but I have really enjoyed driving here.”

Enrico Toccacelo, third driver, Minardi (25th, +7.230s):
"I'm really happy because it is my first time in Formula One, my first time in this car, and like all the other drivers, my first time at this circuit. I think we did a good job with the car today, and I'm particularly pleased to have established a good relationship with the team and the guys already. I'm also confident for the upcoming events, as we're going to Monza and then Spa, which are tracks I know well, and this will make it easier for me. I also hope to get to the factory before Monza in order to have a new seat made, as I'm quite tall and haven't found the ideal position in the car yet. I'd like to thank Paul Stoddart, for this opportunity, and also to my sponsors, for their ongoing support. I have confidence for the future, and really hope to be able to help the team and the other two drivers in the coming races."