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Friday practice - selected driver quotes 10 Mar 2006

(L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) Honda Racing F1 Team talks with Anthony Davidson (GBR) BAR Test Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 10 March 2006 Ralf Schumacher (GER) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 10 March 2006 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.06 Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 10 March 2006 Tiago Monteiro (POR) MF1 M16.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 10 March 2006

There were an incredible 28 drivers in action for the opening day of the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix meeting. All of them report back on their progress in the weekend's opening two sessions.

Anthony Davidson, third driver, Honda (1st, 1m 31.353s):
“It’s great to be fastest on the opening day of the season but I wanted more from today, not just for me but for the team. It was disappointing to lose the first session to a gearbox problem but we made the best out of the situation this afternoon and completed most of the tyre programme. Our focus was on the long runs and we achieved a good result, so coupled with the information we got in testing here a few weeks ago, we have a lot of information to work with this evening. The conditions here are very different though; it’s been quite windy today and there’s a chance that may continue. However we achieved a reasonably good balance by the end of the session so generally we’ve made a good start.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (2nd, 1m 31.751s):
“It’s been a fairly positive day for us. We’ve completed the programme that we had planned for ourselves and we worked well, so I’m obviously satisfied with the way things went. I think that, compared to the other teams, we are looking competitive but in order to see whether we really are quick enough to aim for the top, we need to wait till everybody is running on low fuel and with new tyres. I still reckon that there are four teams capable of winning even if today perhaps some of them didn’t want to reveal all their potential: what is clear however is that Renault seem to be very quick straight out of the box which gives them an edge.”

Alexander Wurz, third driver, Williams (3rd, 1m 31.764s):
“It’s the first Friday of a new season with a new team, so today was quite a busy day for me. We are very happy with the work we achieved because it was what we were aiming to, in terms of tyre choice, mechanical set-up and electronic set-up. I think we have done quite a good job and the lap times reflect this. I was quite happy with my long runs. We will have to wait until tomorrow to see how competitive we are.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (4th, 1m 32.175s):
“Towards the end of the second practice session I managed to find a good set-up for the car. In the first session and during the first part of the second one we were not really able to extract all the potential out of the car. I think that I could have set an even better time but on the whole I’m satisfied with what we’ve achieved so far because I feel that we now have a good foundation on which we can build in preparation for tomorrow’s qualifying and the race on Sunday.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault (5th, 1m 32.538s):
“We had a good first day. The track conditions will be changing a lot throughout the weekend, and I expect them to get a lot better because it was quite low grip today. The car feels like it did in winter testing: it is comfortable to drive and consistent, so I am quite happy with our situation. It was nice to get back to the emotion of the races today, to check the lap-times and to be back in competition. Also, it was a special moment to go out on the track this morning with the number 1 on the car. In terms of performance, we always see the third cars high on the timesheets on Friday, because they can use more revs and tyres than us. Even so, we are P5, so I think we can have a competitive weekend.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (6th, 1m 32.703s):
“I’d say my good time was down to the fact we did four days testing here last month and also I managed to do 33 laps today. It was a straightforward day and the car responded well to the changes we made. It’s the first time we run with the new car here. In the morning, it was just a case of getting to grips with the track. Then in the afternoon, we began making progress in terms of set-up and tyre work. I am not sure what our qualifying pace will be tomorrow afternoon, but overtaking is tough here, so we need to aim high. I am confident we can do well even though I am not particularly fond of the technical nature of this track. But we’ve got off to a good start, so fingers crossed.”

Robert Doornbos, third driver, Red Bull (7th, 1m 32.926s):
“Well, my first day in the office with Red Bull! I already feel really welcome and part of the team, we had a long winter and I was really looking forward to today. We started off with some technical problems, which was frustrating, as the third car needs to complete a lot of laps on Friday. So, we lost the first half hour this morning, but I think we made up for it this afternoon. We completed all the work scheduled and I feel I made the right tyre choice for the race guys.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (8th, 1m 33.215s):
“This was a very normal Friday for us, with nothing unusual and no incidents. The car got better through the day as we ran more and made some changes to the set-up, and we are still feeling optimistic for the rest of the weekend. It is special to think back to ten years ago today, and starting my first race. Then, I was happy to be there, and now I am aiming for the title - I have come a long way. But I don't think I have changed. Well, I am older of course, but stronger too!”

Jenson Button, Honda (9th, 1m 33.226s):
“Not a bad first day. Having said that it’s disappointing that we couldn’t achieve as much data as we’d hoped for after losing all of the morning session. The track conditions are quite different to those we encountered in testing here three weeks ago so we have some work to do this evening with today’s data in order to keep improving for qualifying.”

Robert Kubica, third driver, BMW Sauber (10th, 1m 33.244s):
“I think we had a good day, and I managed to do a lot of tyre testing. I picked up a puncture at one stage, which interrupted progress, but we still collected a lot of useful information. My impression is that the circuit is easier to drive with the V8 engine, because the two quickest corners are flat out now.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (11th, 1m 33.557s):
“We had to save the engine so we only completed three short runs today, one in the first session and two in the second with just a few laps in each. The car felt not too bad, but that’s often the way when you’re running new tyres. It’s when you complete longer runs that the problems start to occur. I drove on used tyres this afternoon, saving the fresh ones for tomorrow. It’s well known that we’re limited on reliability testing, but the car seems quick over one or two laps. We’ll have to see how it is over a race distance on Sunday. ”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (12th, 1m 33.557s):
“We didn't do too much in the first session, and then this afternoon we were carrying out Michelin tyre comparisons. Unfortunately I stopped on track due to a suspected electrical problem towards the end of the last session, which meant that we did not manage to complete our programme, so we will have to wait and see where we are tomorrow.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (13th, 1m 33.726s):
“The normal Friday tyre evaluation work. I am still not satisfied with the outcome of the first practice day, so we will have to continue our work in tomorrow's free practice session to improve our package in order to be in with a chance of a good qualifying result. The race should be a different story."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (14th, 1m 33.848s):
“It's great to get going properly at last, and I really enjoyed the second practice session. The morning was kind of boring, because I just did one installation lap. On a technical level, the car worked well, and we were able to collect a lot of data from the third car for analysis this afternoon.”

Neel Jani, third driver, Toro Rosso (15th, 1m 33.900s):
“So that’s my first ever free practice session at a grand prix weekend. I enjoyed myself and I learned a lot, especially about the tyres as this is the first time I have been really been involved in this sort of work. I hope it will be useful for the two drivers over the rest of the weekend. I feel very comfortable in the car, even though I had only done one and a half days testing before today.”

Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (16th, 1m 34.284s):
“It sure feels a lot different coming here with the new car after we tested at this track with the old one. This one definitely handles differently. I’m still coming to terms with it at the moment. I think everyone is seeing quite a bit of oversteer at the moment as the track is dirty and difficult. But you have to be careful not to chase the track in terms of your settings as it’s going to get better tomorrow.”

Mark Webber, Williams (17th, 1m 34.333s):
"Doing a few laps at the end of the session is not easy in terms of getting yourself into the right position. I had a little bit of traffic in the first lap and then there was a yellow flag, so I got very little clear running. I know it's the same for everyone, but my only clean lap was probably the last one. That said, it's good to have Alex here doing the work for us and the race cars went out just to make sure everything is working ok and we'll get some more mileage tomorrow. We have a lot of work to do in terms of balance and other things, but all-in-all, it was a very good day for Williams and Cosworth, our overall reliability was good and we did everything we planned."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (18th, 1m 34.384s):
“Today the focus was on Anthony and the data he could achieve in the third car. The running that I completed this afternoon was useful although I didn’t really get a clean lap due to traffic and also the balance of the car was very different to the test here. We have some work to do to get the right balance on my car for tomorrow morning but right now I’m more enthusiastic about what we have been able to achieve with the third car today.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (19th, 1m 34.432s):
“It’s still uncertain as to where we are after those two sessions, as we were lap limited. This is due to both available mileage for the total weekend, and also as we were saving tyres for tomorrow. We’re having a few problems with front-locking too.”

Tiago Monteiro, Midland (20th, 1m 34.459s):
“I was pretty happy with my day, actually. We had no major problems and the car felt better and better as the day went on. I got held up in the second session by a few yellow flags, so I’m pretty sure I could have gone about four-tenths faster on the fuel load I had. We also know where we can make improvements, so that’s also pretty encouraging. But you never know where you are compared to everyone else - this is only practice, after all. Tomorrow’s qualifying should provide more answers.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams (21st, 1m 34.953s):
"At last, I could finally drive today! I found it is quite different out on the track compared to competing here in GP2, especially in terms of finding your way and identifying your braking points. It's just a matter of settling into it, really and initially I made quite a few mistakes over the few laps I drove. Other than that, I am quite pleased with the work we have done today."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (22nd, 1m 35.170s):
"This year we no longer have Ricardo Zonta driving on Fridays but my free practice programme is not hugely different. We didn't do much running in the first session while the track was at its dirtiest but we got through our programme without technical problems in session two, collecting some useful data. Our lap times were not to the level of some but we are still learning how to make the most of our package in warm conditions. We have a lot of changes on our car from last year and all our testing so far has taken place at lower temperatures. We will analyse the data tonight to make our tyre choice for the next two days."

Markus Winkelhock, third driver, Midland (23rd, 1m 35.686s):
“Both sessions were actually quite OK. In the first session, I had first of all to learn the track, because I’ve never driven here before. By the end though, I felt comfortable with the car and with the track, although I wasn’t pushing too much. In the second session, the car was feeling quite good - we made some noticeable improvements. But at the end, I was somewhat unlucky, as I went out with new sets of tyres twice and didn’t get to really make the most of them. The first time I spun, and the second time there was a yellow flag because of someone else. So, a bit unlucky, but in the end, it was quite useful to find some good tyres for the races and for qualifying. Overall, I’m happy with the way things went.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (24th, 1m 35.898s):
"It was a pity that I was not able to complete my afternoon's work today. The Sakhir circuit was initially very dusty and dirty so like many teams we did most of our running in the second session. I was in the start of a long run for tyre comparison when I suffered an electronics problem which brought my session to a premature close. Not the best of days, then, but at least we have some data to work with overnight in preparation for tomorrow. It will be a brand new system of qualifying but the approach will be the same, to put together a quick lap when it matters."

Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (25th, 1m 36.264s):
“I only did a few laps today just to get a feeling for the car. For most of the time I was out there, there was a yellow flag. We just started working on the set-up and we have a fair bit left to do tomorrow.”

Christijan Albers, Midland (26th, 1m 36.314s):
“Today was a tough day for me, as I encountered some difficulties with the car’s electronics. But then again, we know what the problem is so we should be able to address it before tomorrow’s practice. It’s difficult, not being able to go as fast as I’m capable of, but that’s what practice is for - ironing out problems. Tomorrow is another day, and I’m looking forward to showing what I can do. Believe me, you haven’t seen the best of me yet.”

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (27th, 1m 37.588s):
"It was a busy day being the first time the team has run in a race-weekend situation. Obviously we were limited because of the amount of work we have to do today, but we have been able to collect very valuable data as this is really the first time that we have run the SA05 with our 2006 aero package. So this is a good step for our first day and there is a lot of work to do regarding our performance, but we shall work hard overnight to ensure another good day tomorrow."

Yuji Ide, Super Aguri (28th, 1m 39.021s):
"I am always happy to be in the car but today was a very special day for me. We had a little mechanical problem but I am glad that I was able to test the new tyres during my running time. I think that we had a good practice session. It was a good testing for me. I am looking forward to driving tomorrow and will do my best to learn more about the track when I am in the car again tomorrow."