Thursday practice - selected driver quotes 22 May 2008
BMW Saubers Nick Heidfeld on his early engine failure; Williams Nico Rosberg on a positive first day; and Toyotas Jarno Trulli on falling foul of Monacos twists and turns. All 20 drivers report from Monte Carlo (note - positions and times refer to practice two)
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (1st, 1m 15.140s):
"I simply love Monaco and enjoy every single moment I get to spend on the track. The car felt great almost immediately and I was able to show a good pace from the very beginning. As the circuit evolved throughout both practice sessions we made some good progress with both the set-up and tyre evaluation. I spent the first session on the same set of tyres. There is a long way to go, but I enjoy this so much and we will work hard to continue making progress."
Nico Rosberg, Williams (2nd, +0.393s):
First of all, its really nice to be driving here again because its just a really fun track. I was looking forward to this weekend because I thought we were going to have a good car here and it now looks like weve arrived with a good set-up. I was going well all day and felt comfortable in the car. I am also able to push quite hard so Im hoping that I can keep it up do a good job in qualifying and then have a good race. We worked on a few set-up variants today. We didnt finish the session using our optimum set-up, but we know where we need to go and we still have some reserves up our sleeves, so I am pretty happy with how things are looking.
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (3rd, +0.432s):
"I would say this was a normal day of free practice. We went quite well, especially on used tyres in the morning. But we struggled a bit to do a time on new tyres in the second session and now we have to look at the data carefully to understand how to improve. There is plenty of time to do that and so I am not particularly worried, at least at the moment. A wet race? It would make matters complicated but it would be the same for everyone."
Felipe Massa, Ferrari (4th, +0.729):
"Our rivals are very strong here, even allowing for the unknown factor of fuel loads. I wasn't able to do a good lap on the soft tyres, but things went well on the hard ones: we have to study the situation calmly and try to get all the details right. If we compare today with the same time last year, I think we have made a step forward. We have changed the settings on the car compared to the past and now we hope we will see the benefits of this choice."
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren (5th, +0.741s):
"A positive start to the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, and I am confident there is still more to come. Towards the end of the second session when I put on a new set of tyres we had made some set-up changes which were not as positive as we thought they would be. In addition I wasn't pleased with my lap, so I am confident that we will continue to improve in Saturdays practice session. Its always great to drive around this track, and its almost impossible to describe what it feels like. I cant wait for the rest of the Monaco Grand Prix."
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (6th, +1.156s):
The two practice sessions were quite okay today. It was a very busy Thursday and we covered a lot of laps. We now have to see how we can improve the car for Saturday.
Fernando Alonso, Renault (7th, +1.170s):
"Overall the two sessions have gone well for us. The track was very dirty this morning, but we made good progress with our programme and the car reacted well to the changes we made. We seem to be on the pace in the long runs, but we must now improve our performance over a single lap because qualifying here is vital. That is where we will put our efforts."
Jenson Button, Honda (8th, +1.211s):
It's always very exciting to be back in Monaco and out on track for the first day of running. We had two good opening sessions and I had a reasonable balance right from the start, particularly on the harder tyre. This afternoon has really been about getting the long runs in, getting used to the balance and making some improvements. We have a lot of useful information from the two sessions today, however as always there is still work to do. We are not quite where we would like to be yet, and as qualifying does not take place until Saturday, I have plenty of time to work with the engineers. I'm confident that we will be in a good position for qualifying and also well prepared for any changes in the weather conditions."
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (9th, +1.232s):
It wasnt an easy day for me, but I think weve made some improvements when it comes to understanding the car and Im getting used to the track as well. Because of the free day tomorrow, we have lots of time to go through todays data which will help us prepare for qualifying.
Rubens Barrichello, Honda (10th, +1.278s):
"Our programme today was focused on the set-up of the car as the track improves a great deal here over the sessions. We completed a good part of our work as the car feels competitive this afternoon, so I am happy with what we achieved. As always, we don't really know where we stand in terms of the competition yet as everyone will have been running different set-up and fuel programmes."
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (11th, +1.286s):
In the first session I realized the engine was losing power, so then looked to find a good spot to stop. Of course the failure cost us running time and data, but we still managed to make several changes to the car for the second session. It was a general improvement. Taking into account it is Monaco, I would say my car is very driveable.
Timo Glock, Toyota (12th, +1.548s):
It was an interesting experience to drive around Monaco in a Formula One car. This is a special event as there is no other track like it and the circuit is fun to drive. You are quite busy out there and you have lots to do. So far I am happy with the car but we still need to improve a few things to make it a bit quicker. I still need a bit more experience to get the most out of the car but it was a good start. Overall it was a good free practice - no damage and we made it through the whole programme. Now I hope to push hard for a better result at the weekend.
Mark Webber, Red Bull (13th, +1.954s):
We got through all our programme, but there is still some work to do, assuming we are looking at a dry qualifying and a dry race. At the moment the car is not suiting the track that well, but we know what we need to do to sort it out.
David Coulthard, Red Bull (14th, +1.991s):
I lost some track time this morning with a throttle actuator problem and its never good to miss out on any track time, especially here in Monaco. It meant we had to adjust our programme for this afternoon, to make sure I got more laps in and got myself back up to speed. I think Ive recovered reasonably well, but in Monaco, the time you have the most knowledge of the track is on the last of the 78 laps on Sunday afternoon. So, not the best of starts, but I think we are now in good shape for the rest of the weekend.
Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault (15th, +2.106s):
"Monaco is a difficult circuit and so I spent the day learning and familiarising myself with the track. We were able to evaluate some different set-ups, but I am still missing a bit of speed and I did not feel totally comfortable in the car. I hope that by Saturday I can make some progress with my engineers, so that I can make the most of the final free practice session. Then I need to approach qualifying calmly, especially as it's more important here than anywhere else."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India (16th, +2.111s):
"I was quite happy with today and am looking forward to qualifying on Saturday. Apart from a small problem in the last session that stopped me from doing my new tyre run, I was quite happy with the set up and the balance. We're working well around the track but we will have to see what happens over the weekend as the weather could change and the track conditions too."
Jarno Trulli, Toyota (17th, +2.239s):
That was a difficult day for me. This morning I made a mistake and touched the wall on the way into the tunnel. That broke my rear suspension so I missed some running. Then in the afternoon we had a problem with the floor that made me lose a lot more track time so it is hard to draw too many conclusions so far. It's difficult to make predictions here because anything can happen. We are expecting to see a wet track during the weekend which will make things especially tough. So there are a lot of variables that make this a unique place to race but the atmosphere is always special.
Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso (18th, +2.441s):
"This morning when I woke up, I thought, 'this is it, I'm finally going to drive Monaco in an F1 car!' It was a case of finding out about the new car which was always going to be difficult on this demanding track. We always ran with a heavy fuel load so we should not read anything into the laptimes. We are not where we want to be but I don't think we are as far behind as it might look. However, I was expecting us to be in slightly better shape than this, which means Saturday and Sunday are going to be interesting. We are lacking a bit of grip, maybe because we lack a little downforce in this maximum downforce set-up, which our top speeds would also suggest. At least my past experience here has been a help and this morning I got into a rhythm quite quickly."
Adrian Sutil, Force India (19th, +3.036s):
"It was interesting free practice. Obviously the track is a street circuit so you take some time to get used to it and also for the track to get some rubber back on it. In general it was okay, but we have a few problems with the understeer on the car again and the same procedure with the tyres as in all the previous events - it is very difficult to get the tyres to work well. The long runs are quite quick and I am quite happy about it but over the shorter runs we have to work with the tyres a bit more. I think though with a bit of work we can be quite competitive over the weekend."
Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso (20th, +3.085s):
Certainly not the best first two sessions of a race weekend. It is the first time we have had the new car at a race, so it was always going to be difficult to know what to expect and I seemed to struggle a lot. I was fighting with the car on a circuit that I have always liked in the past. I have nothing against street circuits; quite the opposite in fact. We were struggling to find the right direction to go in, but by the end of the second session we made a step forward but it is not yet enough."