Friday practice - selected driver quotes 29 Sep 2006
Third drivers dominated the opening day in Shanghai, with five clocking times fast enough to make the top ten. Further down the order, McLarens Kimi Raikkonen was among those to fall prey to the slippery conditions, while Mark Webbers afternoon was marred by a hydraulic fluid leak. All 29 drivers report back on their progress. (Note - times and positions refer to the days second session).
Alexander Wurz, third driver, Williams (1st, 1m 35.539s):
It was a good day today and driving was a lot of fun out there. I have never driven this circuit, and I attacked it right from the beginning. The car responded very well which means the aero update we have brought here is definitely a good step forward. In addition to this, both tyres we have chosen for this race are good and I think the tyre choice is going to be difficult for us, depending on how we apply our strategy tomorrow and on Sunday.
Sebastian Vettel, third driver, BMW Sauber (2nd, +0.040s):
The second session was much better than the first, as in this one the track was extremely slippery. The practice sessions for the support races obviously put down rubber and increased the grip, and we also made a clear step forward with the car. Therefore, in the second session the car felt more familiar and the consistency was back. The circuit itself is very complicated, especially the first corner and the hairpin after the straight, however, I feel comfortable. Now we have to see how the track conditions develop.
Anthony Davidson, third driver, Honda (3rd, +0.175s):
"It's been quite a good day generally. The rain in the second session made it a bit difficult to work with the tyres but it was the same for everyone out there. We're competitive, the car felt nice to drive and we are looking good on the long runs as well so it's a case of so far, so good. We'll have to wait to see what the weather brings over the weekend but I think we're in reasonably good shape."
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (4th, +1.060s):
There is little to say as this was not a good day for me. I did not go out on track this morning and then in my second run this afternoon, I had a problem with the engine and had to come back to the pits, where our engineers realised the unit would have to be changed. Its a shame, as the car seemed to be well balanced right from the start and I had been able to do some good times. Of course, dropping ten places on the grid will make my race much tougher but I believe I can still put on a good performance.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (5th, +1.102s):
Its nice to be in China and I am particularly happy to see the enthusiasm the fans here seem to show for me. Compared to last year, we are much more competitive and we hope to be able to pay back the fans with a better result than back then. The fight with our closest rivals seems to be very tight, even if we have not yet had time to take a close look at all the data. It is difficult to make predictions on tyre performance given todays weather. I like driving at this track: it is very tough with a big variety of corner types.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (6th, +1.200s):
We had to adjust our programme a little bit because of the rain in the afternoon session, but we have a good baseline to work from with the car. It felt comfortable to drive straight away, so while we need to fine-tune things overnight, I am quite happy at the moment. This is a track I always enjoy, especially with the good memories from the championship win last year, and even with the V8 engines and the other changes since 2005, it still felt very good to drive today. I think we need to be a bit cautious analysing the times, because the conditions today are quite different to what we expect for the race. So we will wait for tomorrow until we get a final judgement for the tyre performance, but so far the Michelins seem to be working well.
Franck Montagny, third driver, Super Aguri (7th, +1.739s):
Today was quite a good day from a performance point of view and for a sick man! Well, this morning I was really not happy about the car, more from a tyre point of view, because we had a lot of degradation but I think it was the same last year. We worked quite a bit on car set-up and then this afternoon we did our long runs and tyre comparisons. The car started to be quite okay so I was happy with it and when we started to do performance runs the lap time started to be quite good straight away. It was not an easy day because the temperature changed quite a lot and the track conditions also changed. There was a little bit of rain which made the track a little different again, a bit more slippery, but it was quite good fun.
Michael Ammermuller, third driver, Red Bull (8th, +2.139s):
The first session was quite difficult, as I was still learning about the car and this track is not easy to drive. I spun in the morning, there wasnt too much grip on the track and my experience was not so much in the car. But, the second session went a lot better. The balance of the car was very good and I hope I did a good test for Red Bull to help the two drivers.
Tiago Monteiro, Spyker MF1 (9th, +2.159s):
"It was a weird day because of the weather conditions that haven't really allowed us to be sure of what we`ve got. I think we did a pretty decent job in the end but we need to keep our feet on the ground as the weather was strange and we basically only did ten real laps. We have some data to work with and starting the day with a top ten is good all the same."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (10th, +2.179s):
This was a promising start for me today. We improved the car a little bit during the session, in spite of the changing conditions owing to the rain, and the performance felt good. I didn't put together a full clean lap, so the lap-time could have been better, but the car felt consistent straight away and the tyres seemed good as well. It is hard to be certain in the judgement so early in the weekend, but I have a good feeling so far.
Jenson Button, Honda (11th, +2.322s):
"We've achieved a lot of work considering the weather conditions and I think we're looking reasonably competitive so far. This afternoon, the conditions were pretty poor which made it difficult to conduct any meaningful tyre comparison work."
Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren (12th, +2.483s):
"We went through our programme with the Michelin tyres to gain some data to help us make the correct tyre choice. We decided to postpone our running until the second session, which was then affected a little bit by the rain which made it more challenging to evaluate the data. However we are confident that we will make the right tyre choice for the rest of the weekend. I like this track which I know from being the third driver on Fridays last year, and I look forward to the rest of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend."
Mark Webber, Williams (13th, +2.506s):
It was obviously a pretty short day for me! We only had two runs planned anyway, but we couldnt get out for the second run because we had a hydraulic fluid leak. It didnt really cost us a huge amount and we still have plenty of work to do tonight to check how we can improve for tomorrow. The drizzly weather today also meant the track wasnt in its best condition, so Im quite happy to pick up some additional running tomorrow.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (14th, +2.523s):
In the first session I only did an installation lap. In the second session, after the track had been declared wet, I scrubbed a few sets of tyres and towards the end I decided to continue for an extra couple of laps. The conditions were odd as I could see the rain drops on my visor but the grip was still there.
Alexandre Premat, third driver, Spyker MF1 (15th, +2.559s):
"I am very happy about today and it was really amazing to drive an F1 car once again. During the first and second session it was really exciting; the team did a great job with the new tyre even though it was not very easy to drive in the afternoon. I think the team can make the right decisions with what I achieved today in the car."
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (16th, +2.737s):
"I had a very strange day today because my car had a balance this morning and then it was changing this afternoon. So the car feels very different from run to run and we need to find out what is causing the problem. Apart from that I'm very confident that the tyres should do a good job. It's a great circuit and I think we can continue to improve here throughout the weekend so I'm reasonably happy at this stage."
Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (17th, +3.349s):
"Given that we had very little time available for running before the rain arrived, that was a reasonable afternoon of practice. We obviously have less data than usual, but it's the same for everyone. Tomorrow morning will be busy but hopefully we can still chase a good result on Sunday. Monza was a disappointing weekend for us but apart from that we have shown consistent improvements throughout the season. We have some updates on the car here and if we can return to the level of performance we had in Turkey I am optimistic for the last three races."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (18th, +3.420s):
"There's not much to say about today's session as I only had time to complete one long run. The track was quite dirty so we had a lot of graining, but that should improve as the weekend goes on. We still have a lot of work to do on set-up tomorrow morning but I remain pretty confident because our car has improved a lot over the course of the season. We will now aim to achieve our best results of the year over these last few races but we still have to see how competitive we can be here. If our pace is consistent then we can hope for a good race on Sunday."
Scott Speed, Toro Rosso (19th, +3.541s):
"I drove this track two years ago in Formula Renault, but honestly today felt like my first time here as I dont remember anything and of course its very different in an F1 car. But the track is not so hard to learn. Im not sure if I would describe it as fun to drive, but its definitely interesting and very understeery. Getting through the usual Friday programme was tricky today, trying to get enough running in the dry in order to be able to analyse everything properly. But I think we are on the right track."
Neel Jani, third driver, Toro Rosso (20th, +3.579s):
"I was happy with the performance in the morning, but on my quickest lap I nearly hit Kimi, missing him by just a couple of centimetres. Then in the afternoon I concentrated on long runs and race preparation. Towards the end, my car just stopped running and I had to park it at Turn 3. At the moment, we have not yet had time to find out what was the problem. Overall, not too bad, but it is hard to judge our performance at the moment."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (21st, +3.640s):
"A quiet start to practice today. The rain halfway through the second session did affect our programme slightly as we planned to run towards the end of that practice. However we obtained some initial useful data and will continue our work in tomorrow's practice after which we have to make our Michelin tyre choice. I had a small spin on my first run in the morning's session, but these things happen - it was just a bit slippery."
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (22nd, +3.678s):
Its a new track for me and I did a handful of laps this morning and then the same this afternoon. It seems okay, although we have a bit of work to do on set-up. This morning the track condition was not very good, but it was better in the afternoon despite the rain. We have to see how the track is tomorrow, and perhaps we will make some set-up changes. The track has some nice corners, with the first part difficult, especially corners one and two as you cannot see the apex and they are long corners. Generally it is a low grip track and we are sliding, but it is the same for everybody.
Nico Rosberg, Williams (23rd, +3.983s):
It was interesting out there, especially because of the weather conditions and also because I was learning the track as it is my first time racing here - its a nice track, really good fun. Tyre choice is going to be quite tough and we will have to study everything we have learnt today to see which way we will go.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (24th, +4.031s):
"A so-so day. In the first session, everything was fine, even though I did not do many laps. In the second hour we worked on finding the right trim for the car for a long distance run. The car did not feel too bad, but the conditions were difficult because of the rain that came and went during the session. It could be a tough weekend."
Sakon Yamamoto, Super Aguri (25th, +4.097s):
We had a hydraulic problem with my SA06 this morning so we did not have much time on the circuit and I was only able to complete eight laps. But I pushed quite hard during this session as I wanted to get to know the car and circuit better. Although we did not have any problems in the afternoon I did not feel very comfortable with the car and so I didn't have the chance to find a set-up I was happy with. Franck did a good job, so we will compare data and speak to the engineers about how we can improve on this situation for tomorrow.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (26th, +4.616s):
There was a surprising amount of grip during the second session, considering the wet weather. Its tricky when the weathers like that as the rain on the visor doesnt always correspond to the water on the track. You think its wetter than it actually is.
Robert Doornbos, Red Bull (27th, +4.675s):
For sure that was a different Friday than Im used to and a different approach to the weekend. We followed Davids programme, trying to find a good set up with the car. It looked like the rain might mess up the session, but it actually wasnt too bad. Im looking forward to tomorrow. Ill be able to wake up and get back in the car, which is a really great feeling.
Christijan Albers, Spyker MF1 (28th, +4.780s):
"We had quite a tough day and we stayed on one set of tyres for both sessions. We need to do some fine-tuning for the race set-up but I think we are going in the right direction. Tomorrow we will see what`s going on; I think there is much more speed in the car as I had some traffic in the last couple of laps so couldn`t do a quicker time. But hey it`s only Friday!"
Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (29th, +5.776s):
Unfortunately today my running was very limited due to a gearbox problem. It seems that every outing I suffered some related issue and so I couldn't evaluate the car set-up much today. This morning the car worked well straight away, but this afternoon I only completed a few laps, so it was not a very good day. The session tomorrow morning will therefore be extremely important, so let's hope we have a better day tomorrow.