Friday practice - selected driver quotes 05 May 2006
An interesting first day at the Nurburgring, with impressive performances from Robert Doornbos - fourth fastest for Red Bull - and Adrian Sutil - tenth quickest on his Grand Prix debut with Midland. Heres how they and their rivals summed up Friday's progress
Note - all positions and times refer to practice 2.
Alexander Wurz, third driver, Williams (1st, 1m 32.675s):
This morning it was quite slippery and very dusty, resulting in low grip levels, but the circuit conditions improved and changed rapidly throughout the whole two sessions, which makes the setup work quite difficult. Nevertheless, the more rubber went down, the better our package functioned, so I think that will play into our hands. I was pleased with my performance, especially with the first lap of the long runs, where I was really quick, and in the end I was the fastest overall! With regard to tyres, I am happy with the choice we have brought here from testing, but the better the choice to bring to the race weekend, the more difficult it is now to choose between the two compounds - it will be a very tight decision.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (2nd, +0.904s):
We had our normal Friday: systems checks in the morning, then some runs to get a feel for the tyres and try and improve the balance. The grip level was very low, as is quite usual for a Friday. That makes the car a bit inconsistent to drive but we will make some changes tonight and, as the circuit grip improves tomorrow, I am sure things will come together. The pace looks quite good but the times are very close, and we need to do more running to get a clearer picture of who our rivals will be.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (3rd, +0.944s):
We had a good day and I am reasonably happy with the car. We are more or less where we expected to be. Looking at the times, the situation seems quite good. I opted for just one type of tyre for this first day of free practice, working only on this and the choice seemed to be the best one. Our main rivals also seem very strong, so I think it will be a very close fight. We are confident and from what we have seen, we are also competitive here. If we can put all the pieces of the jigsaw together then we can fight for the win.
Robert Doornbos, third driver, Red Bull (4th, +1.124s):
I raced on this track in Formula 3 and F3000 and in both series had a podium finish. I was with Christian Horners team when I raced in F3000 and almost won the race, until the last couple of laps. I eventually came second. I havent done any Formula One testing here, but the track obviously suits me well. I went round here in the RS4 yesterday doing taxi rides for guests, so maybe that gave me a chance to learn the racing lines a little! Im glad to have been in the top five in both sessions, so Im happy.
Anthony Davidson, third driver, Honda (5th, +1.195s):
"We've had an uninterrupted day today and covered a lot of laps. The car was reliable and we've managed to find a good balance for short runs in the morning and long runs this afternoon. We have gathered a lot of data to look at from the long runs regarding the tyre decision and generally we are happy with our day's work."
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (6th, +1.208s):
"It was good to be back at the Nurburgring and the weather here was surprisingly good considering how this region is always so unpredictable. Overall, today's preparations went relatively well. We finished our planned programme of set-up and tyre work on my car. We are still searching for grip and pushing to get more out of our package, and although the tyre performance is improving, it is difficult to say on Friday how the weekend will unfold."
Jenson Button, Honda (7th, +1.245s):
"We've had a pretty straightforward Friday in terms of what we've been working on - set-up and tyre choices. As usual Anthony has been doing much of the running to enable Rubens and I to preserve our cars for the race. This is always a very strange circuit to get a good balance on because of the camber changes but the car is working reasonably well. There are a few balance issues that we need to solve and it's just very low grip out there, that's the biggest issue. I guess we will see how we can improve on that for tomorrow."
Robert Kubica, third driver, BMW Sauber (8th, +1.316s):
They were good sessions and we concentrated mainly on longer distance runs to see how the tyres would perform in the race, as we struggled a lot in Imola. We wanted to see which are the best tyres. The choice was not easy, but we did lots of laps and have lots of data. We were not really looking for the lap times, but regards the pace I think we are consistent. It could be better, but we are not looking that bad compared to the other third drivers. We have to improve quite a lot of things.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (9th, +1.355s):
The low grip was the main difficulty with the car today, but we still managed to make some good changes on the set-up: some worked, some didn't, but we collected plenty of information to analyse tonight. The consistency was good when I did a longer run this afternoon, so we need to look at how to find first lap performance tomorrow, and to improve the balance of the car to feel completely confident. So far, though, it doesn't look too bad.
Adrian Sutil, third driver, Midland (10th, +1.504s):
"That felt really good, and it was getting better and better all the time. In the beginning, we struggled with low grip, but we just kept improving the car until it felt right. The tyres got better, as well, by the end. I couldn't see my lap times, but I just did my job as I normally do, trying to push the maximum out of the car and, yeah, it was a good lap. The car certainly has some potential. It helps that this is one of my favourite tracks, for sure, but to be in the top 10 on my first Friday is unbelievable. Like I said, it felt really good, and I can't wait to do it again."
Nico Rosberg, Williams (11th, +1.540s):
Today went quite alright. I put more laps than usual under my belt, and even if I know this track very well, having extra running time is helpful as driving here in a Formula One car is very different to my previous experience on this track. We have learnt several things from Alex and all three of us have tried a few variables on the set-up, which proved positive.
Christijan Albers, Midland (12th, +1.797s):
"We struggled this morning a little bit, testing different tyre compounds. I was having a hard time finding the right set-up, but the team did a great job over the lunch break to fine tune the car and get it ready for the second session. Bridgestone also gave us a great set of tyres, and I think we can make further gains tomorrow, because if you look at the times set by our third car and by my car, we can put together a solid race strategy. But it was the same thing heading into Saturday in Imola, so let's just hope we have some good luck in qualifying. But it's great to be there, in 12th place, ahead of Raikkonen. The nicest part is that we weren't playing any games with the fuel loads; we just did our jobs and came by some honest-to-goodness speed. It's nice for our fans, and hopefully we can go even a little bit quicker tomorrow and give them a good reason to be optimistic for the race."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (13th, +1.861s):
"We have completed our programme as planned and have a good idea on which Michelin tyres we are going to select. The car's balance has not been great today and we have suffered a little from understeer but we are confident that we will find a solution and see further improvement in tomorrow's session."
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (14th, +1.871s):
As usual, today was spent mainly comparing the two types of tyre Bridgestone has brought here for us and on finding the best set-up on the 248 F1. Michael and I split the work load, each trying a different type of tyre. Overall, I am reasonably happy with the way things went this afternoon and we now have a lot of data to study. We know we have a good potential and we have to try and improve the car for qualifying and most of all, for the race.
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (15th, +1.956s):
"The day was trouble free in the sense that the car worked okay. The car feels very limited with both front and rear grip to be honest. We're not worried about the performance on new tyres, we just have to keep working for the race, which is our main target."
Mark Webber, Williams (16th, +2.150s):
The pace is obviously there, we look okay here, but I am not happy with the car at the moment, so we have some more work to do tonight on the balance of the car and the tyre comparisons and get ourselves ready for tomorrow.
Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (17th, +2.293s):
"We struggled a little bit throughout both sessions with a lack of grip which tended to make the car too understeery, but even so we made progress throughout the session. Otherwise we are comfortable that we will be more competitive tomorrow going into qualifying and the race."
Christian Klien, Red Bull (18th, +2.391s):
That wasnt exciting today. We did some balance work this afternoon, but Im still not happy. Theres potential in the car, but the balance is definitely something well have to think more about overnight.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (19th, +2.566s):
I think were likely to stay where we are for the next two races, but this time last year we really struggled on Thursday in Germany and yet on Sunday we had one of our best races ever in terms of competitiveness. It wasnt just that we got fourth place, but we were actually within five or sixth tenths of the quickest time, so Ive got an open mind ahead of the weekend. Although its pretty difficult today, with track evolution and things like that, things will change.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (20th, +2.633s):
Although we had no technical issues, I was not happy with the balance of my car. The rear was very nervous. However, we have practiced today, we now have the information and the data, and for tomorrow we have to improve the car.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (21st, +2.731s):
This morning we did little more than just some installation work, but this afternoon we made some progress. I am pretty happy with the handling and we made some good progress on the setup front. But tomorrows qualifying will be difficult for us; Nurburgring is not an easy track, but Im still positive because overall the car was not too bad and I think we are making a little progress generally.
Neel Jani, third driver, Toro Rosso (22nd, +2.804s):
On my last lap, my time was up by about four tenths, until I was blocked for a couple of corners by Montagny. So the fact it was looking better means I think the general performance is not too bad. As usual at the Ring we are fighting with lack of grip and too much understeer and although my work is over for the weekend, I think the data we got today means we can move forward tomorrow. Of course, the problem is so will everyone else!
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (23rd, +2.994s):
Its difficult to say where we are today. The track is still quite dirty so it is hard to judge where we are in terms of our pace, although you dont have to look too closely to see its not looking too good, although we did get over the worst of the problem early in the afternoon session.
Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (24th, +3.013s):
I am not that sure how things really are because on the last run there was a lot of traffic and I did not do a proper lap. The car is sliding a lot so we need to work hard on the set-up. Actually it was not too bad. It is nothing to worry about yet, but for now the cars are not that competitive.
Tiago Monteiro, Midland (25th, +3.227s):
"Once again, we struggled a bit with our tyre choice. It's good to see that the car has potential - that's very positive, very motivating for the team. I just need to find out what we're doing wrong with the number 18 car. There's something, obviously, that we're doing wrong, or maybe I'm doing wrong. There's something wrong with the set-up on my car somewhere, so we'll work hard with our engineers to find out what it is and hopefully be on the pace tomorrow."
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (26th, +3.580s):
We completed our planned programme with no problems, which is a good start to the weekend. We have a further aero update for this race which worked well and has improved the balance of the car. We struggled with low grip at the beginning, but towards the end of the sessions both the grip and balance improved. Obviously looking at our lap times we will continue working to step up our pace, but overall it was a good day for the team.
Franck Montagny, Super Aguri (27th, +3.990s):
"My morning session was not too bad, but unfortunately I had a hydraulic problem in the afternoon and made a small mistake on my fastest lap. Overall there was nothing to worry about and I think that the car was getting a little bit better as the track improved. The car was not as slow as I had expected so I was pleasantly surprised! I have spent today getting used to the car and team and I believe that tomorrow will be another good day.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (28th, no time):
"This is like our home race because it is close to the factory, so we have hopes to perform even better because we have a lot of supporters and employees cheering us on. The practice sessions today turned out to be quite difficult because we had some issues with my car and therefore I could only complete a few laps. We could not solve the problem during practice in time for me to go out and do some meaningful running, but the team will take the car apart completely to find the source of this concern."