Friday practice - selected driver quotes 31 Mar 2006
Honda had both the quickest third driver and the quickest race driver in Melbourne on Friday, but is it too early to draw conclusions? The men at the wheel report on day one at Albert Park
Anthony Davidson, third driver, Honda (1st, 1m 26.822s):
"I've had a very positive day today and I'm pleased to be top of the times again. It's been quite a difficult day in terms of traffic because none of the teams get to drive this circuit outside of the Grand Prix weekend, so there were a lot of cars on track at one time, especially when the circuit evolved towards the end of the second session. I think we've done a good job on tyre evaluation and overall we're looking good. There's definitely more to come though so if we keep moving forward like we have today we should have a good weekend."
Alexander Wurz, third driver, Williams (2nd, 1m 26.832s):
Conditions were not so easy today. It was cold, windy and it was difficult to know where to put the car on the circuit. Now we need to think about our tyre choice and the strategy for tomorrow and Sunday and we have some good ideas.
Robert Kubica, third driver, BMW Sauber (3rd, 1m 27.200s):
After the engine problem this morning we had a pretty good second session. We tried some promising aero solutions and were able to do consistent times in our long run. On my last outing I had some traffic, otherwise I would have been even quicker, but that is less important in a free practice session.
Jenson Button, Honda (4th, 1m 27.213s):
"It's been a positive start to the weekend and so far, so good. The circuit had very low grip but we ran through everything we intended to and, most importantly, it's good that Anthony completed all his test items."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (5th, 1m 27.443s):
We seem to be in good shape. The conditions were quite windy out on the track and the grip levels are poor at the moment, but I am quite happy with the car even so. The grip levels will improve as more rubber goes down on the track, which will give all the drivers the confidence to attack more. But at the moment, the Renault feels nice to drive, and our pace is good. I think we are in a similar position to the other races so far this season aiming for the top positions in qualifying, and hopefully on Sunday as well.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (6th, 1m 27.658s):
Things went pretty well, apart from a bit of traffic stopping us from getting through 100% of our planned programme. One variable was the wind, which occasionally made for unpredictable handling. On one lap, I ended up running a bit wide in a corner when a gust of wind pushed the car from behind, when I had no more room to brake. As for the tyres, it will be important to always ensure they are up to temperature. There are no other problems, partly because over the winter we ran in much colder conditions than this. Tomorrow, I hope to be a front runner and be able to start the race from as near to the lights as possible.
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (7th, 1m 27.773s):
"A good start to the weekend where we went through everything we wanted to including our tyre evaluation with Michelin. It was a bit cooler than we expected but no problems, and I guess the temperature will stay pretty much the same for the rest of the weekend. I had a small off at one point which is what happens sometimes when you try different things, and I'm expecting the track surface to improve further as more cars run."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (8th, 1m 28.075s):
"I have had a much better Friday today than at the past two races. We had a little problem this morning so it's good that we got some good running this afternoon but I'm definitely looking a lot more competitive. I hope we can continue like this through the rest of the weekend and it should be a better race for me."
Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (9th, 1m 28.200s):
"We completed our planned programme with no problems, and I'm pleased with the data we have achieved from our Michelin tyre evaluation. However, we still have to see how everything develops during this weekend once the track gets more grip."
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (10th, 1m 28.227s):
It was a good days work. We concentrated mainly on finding the best setup. My final time does not reflect my real performance level, because on my last run I had a lot of yellow flags in the final sector of track and I had to keep lifting off the throttle. I am satisfied, because the car is well balanced and we improved constantly throughout the day. I am confident for tomorrow and Sunday.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (11th, 1m 28.280s):
It was a bit of a difficult day for me. The cold temperatures meant the car was understeering a lot, and we had just started to improve the balance when I felt something strange with the engine. I brought the car back to the garage slowly, and we found the fuel feed problem after the session. On the positive side, Fernandos times showed that the car is quick at this circuit so I think we will be in a strong position.
Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (12th, 1m 28.440s):
The car seems to be competitive. One issue so far has been warming up the tyres, which should not be a problem in qualifying now that we can run more than one lap, or in the race, but it will be critical to be competitive then because of the penalty I will get for needing an engine change. Thats a pity, because the balance of the car is very good, and Im really happy with its speed.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (13th, 1m 28.531s):
We had a productive day, as we were able to take advantage of the fact that wed only done ten laps in Malaysia. As a result, my engine is 50 laps in credit, which means we could do more than normal today and get up to speed in case the weathers wet tomorrow. I wasnt evaluating tyres today, as were saving our allocation for tomorrow. Other than that - not much else to report, until we get into the tyre evaluation tomorrow.
Mark Webber, Williams (14th, 1m 28.860s):
I had a little bit of a fright on my out lap as I thought there was a problem with the car, so I did the first third of the lap in first gear. But when everything got up to temperature, the engineers told me to push on and everything worked fine afterwards. As usual for a first run, we have a lot to do tonight on the balance, but its good that weve got some runs in. We have beaten the weather and we have got some good data to go through from Alexs car as well.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (15th, 1m 29.053s):
I dont like these Friday sessions so much. This morning I just did an installation lap, and this afternoon just one outing with only a few laps. However, the car wasnt too bad and was definitely better than the lap time suggests; I had traffic in the second sector and there were yellow flags in the third.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (16th, 1m 29.138s):
"That was a normal Friday of tyre testing, set-up work and trying to find a good balance for the car. We still have some work to do to get more grip if we want to be more competitive so we have to work on some solutions to that over the course of the weekend. We spent today collecting as much data as we can for the next two days but being a street circuit the track here always evolves a lot during the course of the weekend. We will have to wait and see how much we can improve in the next two days but our target is to make the points on Sunday."
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (17th, 1m 29.196s):
The out lap this morning felt intimidating as it was very, very slippery out there. Then, after I saw Neel (Jani) go off, I thought oh man, this looks like a recipe for disaster. So at first it was difficult to push hard enough to keep the temperature in the tyres. So that was intense. Then, this afternoon we made very good progress, our speed looks quite good and I reckon we can be competitive.
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (18th, 1m 29.379s):
"Today's practice sessions made for a difficult start to the weekend here. We are again struggling to find general grip, so that is something we need to find for tomorrow to be in a decent position. The circuit always starts out dirty here so the grip of the tarmac will improve as the weekend goes on. We have some different tyres here that we hope will help us to solve some of the problems we have had with tyre temperature at the first two races. We already looked better in Malaysia so we hope to be able to continue to improve our set-up. Of course it is relatively cool here this weekend and the weather forecast is not very good. But if everything runs according to plan then we should aim to score points."
Tiago Monteiro, Midland (19th, 1m 29.713s):
In the morning, we didnt do any performance runs; we just checked out all the systems to make sure everything was working properly. We had a lot of work planned for today and we managed to get through it all without any issues. We solved our problems pretty early on, so that allowed us to focus on improving the car in the second session. The team did a fantastic job - the more I drove, the better the car felt. I like this kind of track, so I felt confident right away and was able to push hard. We know where our weak points are, so were going to work on that tonight. But obviously, compared to our opponents, today was a pretty good day. Its still too early to get overly excited about the times, but its good to know were making progress with the cars pace and that we know how to get even more out of it.
Robert Doornbos, third driver, Red Bull (20th, 1m 29.876s):
I really, really enjoy this circuit, and its a lot of fun in a Formula One car here. This morning we started off really well. Everyones very positive after last years Australian result, and to start in the top two this morning, trading places with Anthony (Davidson) for first place, was really cool. In the afternoon, we were doing longer runs and my times were pretty consistent. That will help the guys make a judgement regarding the tyres and I wish them good luck for the weekend - Ill be cheering them on.
Christian Klien, Red Bull (21st, 1m 29.879s):
I had a new engine for the race weekend, so was limited on distance today. I went out just for one run in the first session. The track was very dirty and there wasnt much grip, you could see a lot of cars spinning off the circuit. In the second session, I did two runs on a heavier fuel load to enable us to get a decent set up for Sunday. Its good fun to drive here, as its almost like a road circuit.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (22nd, 1m 29.933s):
This track is perhaps a little bit more difficult than I expected in terms of finding its particular characteristics in order to go quick. We also had some technical problems and I made some mistakes throughout the session which limited my ability to improve. So not so good today, but we still have some track time tomorrow. After my first runs, I think this is a nice track and I like it, but I just need some more laps to enjoy it properly.
Neel Jani, third driver, Toro Rosso (23rd, 1m 30.686s):
I ended up having to learn the track this afternoon after crashing this morning when I locked the rear brakes. I had problems all day long trying to find a brake balance that suited me. So, unfortunately, I was not that much help to the team today. Not a great day for me.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (24th, 1m 30.734s):
I chose to do just two laps to get a taste of the track this morning. This afternoon, I found I had understeer in the high speed corners. I messed up my entry to the chicane and that put me wide at the exit and so I spun. That was the end of my day. Im really pissed off because I lost a lot of track time.
Christijan Albers, Midland (25th, 1m 30.830s):
I have to say we had a really good day today. The first session went really well, and the second session had a promising start on the same set of tyres. Then, when we changed to a new set of tyres that just didnt suit me, I had a lot of problems with understeer and raising the temperature. I also had a little spin near the end of the session, which was a shame, because that spoiled what was otherwise a very productive day. But well be all right tomorrow. Im sure well find a solution and make the right tyre choices.
Markus Winkelhock, third driver, Midland (26th, 1m 31.260s):
I think it went pretty well today. During the first practice, I had to learn the track, as everything was new. I was very careful in the beginning because the track is narrow and the walls are quite close to the track. The surface is also pretty bumpy, so I had to search for all the bumps before pushing hard. In the second session, we changed something on the car, which made it much more balanced and easier to drive. I was feeling much more comfortable toward the end but I encountered some yellow flags when I went out on a new set of tyres, and I also made a small mistake, so thats unfortunate. But I think weve got enough information to make a good tyre choice for the weekend, and thats the most important thing.
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (27th, 1m 32.556s):
We had a difficult start to the weekend today as we suffered a few minor problems and could not complete as much of our planned programme as we had hoped. However, we did complete our Bridgestone tyre comparison, which is very important, and on a more positive note we have made a good step forward with our aero package as the new front wing is working well. Now we have to work hard over night to conquer some of our issues so that we can make more progress during our running tomorrow morning.
Yuji Ide, Super Aguri (28th, 1m 34.224s):
It was my first time driving at this track so I concentrated on memorising the layout during the first practice session. Unfortunately a flat-spot on one of my tyres during the afternoon session meant that the car was not so easy to drive and I also spun on a new set of tyres when I was running on quite a good lap, but in the end I was able to complete quite a long run and my time was okay. We will be working hard tonight as I want to be able to set up the car properly and improve my driving style for tomorrow.