Friday practice - selected driver quotes 17 Mar 2006
As usual, third drivers dominated the opening day at Sepang. Look beyond their times, however, and we discover another close fight between the likes of Renault, Ferrari and McLaren.
Anthony Davidson, third driver, Honda (1st, 1m 35.041s):
"Obviously I'm pleased to end Friday at the top of the timesheets for the second race in a row. It hasn't been quite as straightforward a day as we hoped, due to the problem I had with the rears locking. This caused me to spin and lose a lot of time in the second session. Overall I think we ended the day in better shape and have some good information to work with to improve the car."
Alexander Wurz, third driver, Williams (2nd, 1m 35.388s):
We had two very interesting sessions and I choose the word interesting because they were not easy, nor straightforward. We will have to analyse our data as well as the information from Bridgestone. But it will not be straightforward for the competition on tyre choice either and as a consequence, not straightforward on chassis balance. For us, at the end of the day, I think my long runs looked good and I hope I have prepared a good car for the team for Saturday and Sunday.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (3rd, 1m 35.806s):
We did our job today and the R26 seems competitive. Sepang is a great circuit to drive, one of my favourites, and I was very happy to be out there this afternoon. The heat is really difficult - not just in the car, but in the garage when you stop and there is no ventilation while you are in the car. We have made the usual modifications, but as a driver, you just need to be ready for it, and well prepared. The car is easy to drive here, but we still need more grip and some small changes to the balance. But I think we have a good starting point for the rest of the weekend.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (4th, 1m 35.924s):
I think it went very well. We worked for the race by doing quite a few long runs.
The car went well both with used and new tyres and I am very pleased with our race pace. In my opinion we have a good car for the race. Qualifying will of course be a bit difficult for me because I have to pay the price for the engine change, but considering the pace we had during the long run, I think were in good shape for a good result on Sunday.
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (5th, 1m 36.132s):
I am happy with the set up of the car and we managed to complete our programme today despite the small problem this morning with the data logging, where the team decided to cancel my run, whilst there was nothing wrong with the car. The Michelin tyres are working well and I think we look strong compared to our main rivals but we will have to see what happens tomorrow.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (6th, 1m 36.182s):
I didn't put a clean lap together on new tyres today, but the car was very consistent indeed on the long run this afternoon. We made some adjustments during the second session, and we have got more to do tonight, but we are definitely moving in the right direction. The car is very stable in the high speed corners, but we need to eliminate a little oversteer in the slower parts. Overall, though, the Renault is consistent and quick here. I am happy this afternoon.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (7th, 1m 36.617s):
In general were pleased with the way things went during free practice. Towards the end of the session we managed to improve the balance of the car. As far as times are concerned, apart from what the third drivers do, who do a different job compared to the others, I think that the situation is quite clear. I could have been a bit quicker with my new tyres when I went out on my first run, but I lost a lot of time in a corner of the third sector. The consistency of the Bridgestone tyres looks pretty good, which of course is very important. The actual time recorded is of less importance at this stage because the times improve as the weekend progresses. I reckon that were competitive and that, like in Bahrain, here in Malaysia we can fight for pole position and for a win on Sunday.
Jenson Button, Honda (8th, 1m 36.661s):
"A pretty straightforward day for us in terms of our set-up and tyre programme. There's still a lot more to come from the car and some work to be done to nail the set-up, as Anthony's problem demonstrated. Hopefully we can solve our problems for tomorrow."
Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (9th, 1m 37.045s):
It was a pretty good start for us today. To be honest, much better than I expected. The balance of the F1.06 was really good, which is very important so early in the weekend. I had a completely trouble-free day and it was fun to drive with the high level of grip available.
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (10th, 1m 37.270s):
"We still have some work to do on the braking - I'm still struggling with that a little from Bahrain. There's still a lot of work to do on the set-up but it was positive to see where Anthony ended up today."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (11th, 1m 37.317s):
"We spent the two sessions trying to collect more data on our new package. Our grip level is not yet there and although we look slightly more competitive than in Bahrain we still have work to do. Our challenge is to get the car and tyres working together. For that we need to carry out a detailed analysis, but of course there has been no chance to test since Bahrain so we will have to continue that work this weekend. I am sure we have not seen the true potential of our car yet. We understand the problem but the solution is not straightforward. We are obviously looking to have a better race than we had in Bahrain but the important thing for us is to spend these early race weekends getting to the root of the problem."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (12th, 1m 37.418s):
Our first day of practice was fine, so Im quite happy. This afternoon it wasnt necessary for me to do a lot of running, because the balance of the car felt good straight away. Sepang is a circuit I really enjoy, driving is so much fun here.
Robert Kubica, third driver, BMW Sauber (13th, 1m 37.457s):
We gathered plenty of data today, especially this afternoon when we did some race simulation, and obviously that is the most important thing on a Friday. Sepang is quite a difficult circuit, with a lot of long corners with different lines, but I think after five laps I felt quite familiar with it.
Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (14th, 1m 37.463s):
I am pretty happy with the car this weekend. This morning we completed one run to see how the car felt and this was pretty good. This afternoon we concentrated on the race set up. There is still a little bit of work to do tomorrow with understanding the car a little better, but the whole package has improved from last weekend. Despite stalling at the end of the grid in the second session and a spin later on we managed to complete our programme and we will see if we have done enough in qualifying tomorrow."
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (15th, 1m 37.590s):
I am very happy with todays work. This morning we did not do too many laps, just enough to get the hang of the track. Until today, I had only done one days running last year, as Red Bull Racings third driver and I like the track. This afternoon, we established quite a good car set-up with which to run in tomorrows qualifying. The car is responding well. The heat does not bother me too much, but I tell you, its like getting a sauna free of charge out there today!
David Coulthard, Red Bull (16th, 1m 37.603s):
A normal Friday really. Restrictions apply to the overall mileage, even though its a fresh engine so we didnt do so many laps today. Its much harder on tyres here than in Bahrain and, as we were trying to save tyres for tomorrows qualifying and the race, we only used one set today. Therefore it was really just a balance evaluation day. The balance seems a little bit better than it was at the last race, so Im optimistic as to what tomorrow can bring.
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (17th, 1m 37.695s):
"Today we completed more running than usual because we are still trying to find out how to make the most of our package. We've been struggling for grip and the Bahrain weekend showed us we still have a way to go. But today the car felt much better and the grip level has increased quite a lot. The traction and the tyres seem to be working better with this track surface and the heat. I was caught in traffic on my last run so we could have further improved our time. Our aim this weekend has to be to collect information for future races but we have already collected some useful data. So that's an encouraging start."
Neel Jani, third driver, Toro Rosso (18th, 1m 37.831s):
Today was the first time I have driven a Formula One car at this track, having raced here in A1. But it still took some getting used to, as you brake much later in the F1 car. I tried the different tyre compounds and I think we have decided on the right one for the race. I am feeling more at home in the car here than I did in Bahrain, because, even without doing too many laps, I think I have got a better understanding of the tyres. My lap time was quite good at the end, so Im happy with today.
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (19th, 1m 37.926s):
Its my first time here and I like the flowing nature of the track: a bit like Spa was, which means you can experiment with various different lines through the corners and a lot of high speed corners that feed into each other. I now feel I know the track, but I reckon it must be difficult to pass here. I had some problems at the back of the car, but we definitely made progress through the day and I am quite happy with our race pace. Im not worried about the heat and Im sure Im one of the fitter guys in the paddock.
Mark Webber, Williams (20th, 1m 38.081s):
I only did three fast laps today, but we have collected a plenty of data with Alexs car. His programme went well which is good for the team. Now well go through the data this afternoon and well take it from there. The car isnt quite perfect, but addressing this is our job for now.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (21st, 1m 38.205s):
Even though I have never driven on this circuit before, it was easier to learn this track than it was in Bahrain. Its my second race weekend in Formula One, but already I feel adapting to the tracks is easier. The car felt quite good and it has been a positive day in general. We just need to make some changes in the cars balance for tomorrow.
Giorgio Mondini, third driver, Midland (22nd, 1m 38.256s):
"It was great, absolutely fantastic, but my neck let go toward the end of the second session. I did a good run, and I wanted to do a better one - and to be honest, I believe we could have gone even faster - but my neck just couldn't handle it anymore. No amount of training can prepare you for those kinds of loads. I mean, it's fine, it's fine, it's fine, and then - bang - it just lets go, and it's impossible to recover from that. But the team is just amazing, especially my engineers. They really make things easier, because they take time to explain everything. Overall, I think I did a good job. I can go to sleep tonight knowing I helped the team."
Christian Klien, Red Bull (23rd, 1m 38.644s):
I only used one set of tyres today. They were graining a lot which caused a lot of understeer. It wasnt really such a good day for me. We have to look at the data tonight and see what we can improve for tomorrow. One thing I can say - its bloody hot in the car! We only did a few laps today and then the heats not so bad. Its during the race that you start to get really hot, it begins in your body and then moves up to your head. Last year during the race, I had to open the visor of my racing helmet a little to try and get some air in!
Christijan Albers, Midland (24th, 1m 38.918s):
"This morning, we were a little bit off the pace, but the team did some good work during the break and we managed to come a little bit closer to the rest of the field. I think there's still room to improve, but we made some big steps and put up reasonable times in the second session. We have to see where we can make further gains, and hopefully have a good race."
Robert Doornbos, third driver, Red Bull (25th, 1m 39.105s):
We had a busy programme this morning, which was when we did all our tyre testing. Its really important here to chose the right ones. This morning we were gathering data and doing long runs, which was different to the programme I followed in Bahrain last week. Its all good experience and Im loving it.
Tiago Monteiro, Midland (26th, 1m 39.416s):
"It went OK, generally, because I think we improved the car. At least we're going in the right direction, I think. I had limited running in the morning session, so I wasn't able to gather as much information about the tyres as I would have liked. As a result, I was dealing with a little bit of understeer at the beginning of the second session and we had to spend some valuable time getting on top of that. But at least the T-Car put in a lot of laps, so we should have some good information to analyse from that."
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (27th, 1m 41.459s):
It was another solid day for the team and we did not encounter any problems. We completed our planned programme, which included an intensive tyre test, and so we have been able to collect some very valuable data to help us decide our set up for tomorrow. It has been a very good start to the weekend and I am pleased with what we have been able to accomplish today.
Yuji Ide, Super Aguri (28th, 1m 43.164s):
"I am pleased to have completed more running today however during both practice sessions the car suffered from understeer. We tested two different Bridgestone tyres as part of our programme and our choice during this afternoon only increased the balance problem I had, so we need to find out the cause and solve it as soon as possible. I want to qualify as well as I can tomorrow and be able to finish the race on Sunday."