Friday practice - selected driver quotes 06 Oct 2006
Dull, damp morning conditions at Suzuka finally gave way to afternoon sunshine, allowing the Renault and Ferrari drivers to shine. They and their 25 Friday rivals report back on the opening day of the Japanese Grand Prix meeting. Times and positions refer to practice two.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (1st, +1m34.337s):
The conditions meant we didn't do many laps today, but I think we are in good shape. The car felt good to drive on the intermediate tyres, and while we had a bit too much understeer on dry tyres at the end, the times were still competitive. It was a good feeling to be quickest on the track each time I ran today, so I am feeling very confident for the rest of the weekend.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (2nd, +0.071s):
Overall, a positive day. We didnt run much because of the rain, but towards the end of the second session, once the track conditions allowed it we did a series of laps on dry tyres. Id say the data we have seen looks quite promising. I am reasonably happy with the balance of the car and the behaviour of the Bridgestone tyres in these conditions. All this means I reckon we can be competitive in both qualifying and the race.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (3rd, +0.228s):
All we have got is a flavour of the situation and so it is hard to judge. The car and the Bridgestone tyres seem to be behaving well and there were no problems of any sort. The weather forecast is supposed to steadily improve and that can only be good for us. The team is in very good spirits, concentrating on our work and everything seems to be going well. As for qualifying, I think we will be fighting Renault for the top places on the grid. The race? I hope it goes well for us!
Fernando Alonso, Renault (4th, +0.526s):
On the track, this was a normal Friday for me. We did very little running because of the conditions, but the R26 felt good, although there was a bit too much understeer everywhere. Off the track, I was surprised by the strong reaction to what I said yesterday in the press conference. I expressed very clearly that these were only my personal feelings, and that I completely understand and accept the team's decisions. Last night, I explained that to the team and to Fisi, and there is no problem. Every single person at Renault is fighting to the maximum to win the championship. I don't know what people see from the outside, but within the team, we have a fantastic atmosphere right now. And we are determined to come out on top.
Anthony Davidson, third driver, Honda (5th, +0.569s):
"Once again, the conditions were difficult for everybody today. It was very wet this morning but I had a good session nonetheless and I ended up fastest, finding a nice balance for the car in the wet. When it dried out this afternoon, it was the first lap I have ever done at Suzuka in the dry and it was a really good experience for me. I didn't get the best out of the tyres that I was on for the last run but it was still a really good fun day and I felt confident in the car."
Sebastian Vettel, third driver, BMW Sauber (6th, +0.575s):
The circuit is stunning, especially the first sector. In this mornings first free practice it was all about learning and evaluating the track with extreme wets as well as intermediates. In the second session I drove 19 consecutive laps at the start, and it was a good experience. When the track dried at the very end we managed two outings on grooved tyres. I had an awful lot of fun on this race track, and I really hope we can continue with this good momentum.
Jenson Button, Honda (7th, +0.665s):
"I didn't get much running in the session because of the weather, but it's good to have Anthony out there putting mileage on the car so that we don't have to compromise engine mileage. We also don't get that many sets of new wet tyres. We didn't do any running until the track started to dry out, then I got one run in at the end. At that time, practically every car was on the circuit and because of the traffic it was hard to get a good lap time. However, the car is feeling reasonably good so generally we've made a positive start to an important weekend."
Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (8th, +0.727s):
"Due to the wet weather conditions we took the decision to conserve the engine and tyres, so we limited our running to only six laps at the end of the second practice session. Despite this the team worked very efficiently to gain good tyre comparison data. We expect weather conditions to improve tomorrow."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (9th, +1.006s):
"That was a difficult session because it was damp at the beginning and then dried out. Towards the end the track began to dry as the weather improved and we managed to do a few laps on dry tyres in the last few minutes but there is very little we can say about the session due to the conditions. Thanks to the rain this morning we only completed one installation lap in first practice. We had a new engine in the car today after our retirement in China and that looks like being a little step forward, hopefully it will help us. As this is the team's home race, we expect to put up a strong challenge and I hope today is the start of a good weekend."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (10th, +1.030s):
"A first practice day where nothing really happened due to the wet weather conditions. There was no use in doing anything other than some set-up and tyre evaluation work as the track conditions were not ideal for detailed results. Tomorrow's free practice will hopefully give us a better opportunity to prepare for qualifying and the race."
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (11th, +1.038s):
"The session went well, we had no real problems. Obviously due to the wet conditions at the start of the second practice session we had to wait before we could get a lap in. Early on the track was a bit damp but it got better and better as the sun came out. The car seems to be handling well but consistency was not really possible in the changing conditions. It is a bit difficult to know what tyre we should go for tomorrow as we have had so little time on a dry track but hopefully we will have a better idea of that after the practice session tomorrow. I think our home fans can expect a strong performance but we will have to wait and see exactly where we end up. I still think our car is capable of finishing on the podium in the right circumstances but we have to push hard and get all the elements in place."
Michael Ammermuller, third driver, Red Bull (12th, +1.096s):
It was a lot easier to drive the car here than in Shanghai, as I know it better now. The only thing I had to learn quickly was driving in the rain, but I think it went quite well and it didnt take me too long to get into a good rhythm. Overall, we were quite good in the dry and only one second off the pace, which I was pleased with. There are a number of quick corners here, which makes it great, though Im sure it would be even better if it was a little bit drier.
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (13th, +1.191s):
"It was one of those days when everyone runs just a little bit because that is all we can do in the weather conditions we encountered. We had no car issues but it's difficult to see where we stand yet. We will just have to study the data this evening and hope for more good steady progress tomorrow."
Mark Webber, Williams (14th, +1.529s):
The weather in practice today was changeable, but at least we were able to get a few laps in dry conditions so we have more information to go through tonight. It wont be easy to make the tyre decision, but its the same for everyone. It looks like we have some work to do on our pace, but we worked our way through the entire programme so were happy.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (15th, +1.839s):
Suzuka is a great circuit, no doubt about it! Its not easy to learn, I must say, but the balance of the car to start with was already quite good and I felt comfortable from the beginning. It all went quite well today; although its been a bit more difficult for me to learn all that I wanted to because I didnt get that many laps on a dry track.
Christijan Albers, Spyker MF1 (16th, +1.843s):
I think the short outing everybody had on slicks today was good, it means nobody really knows what they have got. I was quite satisfied in the end with what we achieved with dry tyres. It was a shame that it was raining most of the day but we have to see what we get tomorrow. I am happy and hopefully tomorrow we will find some more time on a dry track.
Alexander Wurz, third driver, Williams (17th, +1.897s):
We tried our full range of settings and tyres today: full wet, wet and then dry tyres towards the end of the session. It has been a productive testing day, we may not have looked great on the time sheets, but thats because we tested many different things. In the last eight minutes of session two, when the track was quicker, I couldnt actually do any fast laps because we were checking something, which proved to be a good improvement in the end. We have gathered quite a lot of useful information for tomorrow, so Nico and Marks job will be easier.
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (18th, +1.962s):
The track is very challenging and difficult but nice. We have only done three laps on grooved tyres, so we need to do a bit more running as the conditions were not good. Also I spent these laps watching where to go and which lines to take.
Franck Montagny, third driver, Super Aguri (19th, +3.017s):
"It was quite a good day. We tried the different tyre options and know which one is good for us. Because of the weather conditions this morning we worked on the wet tyres which gave us some good information. I think that we should be stronger here this weekend as the car was performing well today, with no real problems, so it was a good day for us I think."
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (20th, +3.104s):
"Not a bad day, allowing for the fact track conditions were changing every 10 minutes. But the car responded really well in the wet and we will see how it goes in the dry tomorrow, when we will have a lot of work to do in a short space of time."
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (21st, +3.164s):
"It's my first time here and although it was easier to learn than I expected, doing so in the wet is not ideal! It's a great track, like Spa and its cool that I've had the chance to race here. With only a couple of laps in the dry, the car seems quite well balanced but its too early to have a clear picture of anything."
David Coulthard, Red Bull (22nd, +3.259s):
In changing conditions, you have got to decide which set of tyres youre going to scrub off. If you run a set of intermediates, you lose them, so I chose to save them and run on the slicks at the end of the second session. It wasnt the cleanest of laps, I didnt optimise the lap time on the fuel level and engine load, but the car felt quite slow overall anyway, so we need to see if there are any issues with the car.
Tiago Monteiro, Spyker MF1 (23rd, +3.365s):
It has been a mixed day with wet conditions this morning when we had some technical issues. We knew it was going to dry out this afternoon so we managed to get a couple of laps completed on dry tyres. We left it a bit late and needed longer on track to really show what we are capable of so the times look worse than they are. I have no worries or problems waiting for tomorrow.
Neel Jani, third driver, Toro Rosso (24th, +3.404s):
"I was happy with this morning when I was second quickest, having never been here before and also never having driven this car in the rain. The afternoon we got through a good work load with a race simulation although the last laps were full of traffic."
Robert Doornbos, Red Bull (25th, +3.451s):
It was a boring day actually! Ive been sitting around more than any other driving day today. We didnt run this morning and this afternoon we were waiting for it to dry out a little. In the last ten minutes everyone went out on the track and trying to find a clear lap and amongst the traffic it was quite difficult. We have a reasonable idea where we are, Michael (Ammermuller) racked up some miles so we can look at his data. Its a narrow circuit here, which makes it good fun to drive, so Im looking forward to tomorrow.
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (26th, +4.196s):
"Basically we completed our wet and dry runs during the changing weather conditions, which made it very difficult to evaluate the different car set-ups and meant that we could not do our back to back tyre test. However we were able to collect a lot of useful data. The car was working well with no problems today, so it has been a good start and it is great to see the incredible support from our fans from day one."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (27th, +4.442s):
I almost didn.t drive today, and in the first session in the morning only did one installation lap. In the second session in the afternoon I went out right at the end, basically to make sure all the systems were working. At the very end when everyone was on dry tyres obviously there was a lot of traffic, therefore, I didnt manage to set a good lap time.
Sakon Yamamoto, Super Aguri (28th, +4.618s):
"Firstly, I am very happy to drive at Suzuka Circuit, it was really a fantastic feeling this morning when I went out on to the circuit - I felt that this is really my home track. During the morning session we had a rain shower and in the afternoon the circuit conditions changed a lot, so obviously it was a bit difficult to prepare and understand the car's situation. Every time we went out the track conditions were different, but on the last run we were able to use the dry tyres and get the feeling of the track and car with the dry tyres. The information we collected is going to be useful data because I have heard that tomorrow is going to be a dry day. I can still improve on my lap times because my last lap, which should have been my quickest, was compromised. I hope that I will be able to improve by one or two seconds tomorrow morning, but even so, I still have quite a good feeling from today."
Adrian Sutil, third driver, Spyker MF1 (29th, +9.557s):
It has been wet for most of the day so we have been trying to find the precise time when it is best to change tyres. In the end I found the balance getting better and better through wing and down-force changes but unfortunately just when I was about to go on to dry tyres we encountered an engine problem. Its disappointing as I know I was able to achieve more today and I was really beginning to feel the track.