Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 27 Mar 2009
Williams, Brawn and Toyota had all looked quick in pre-season testing, but no one was quite sure how it would translate come Melbourne. On Friday we got the answer. The leading teams and their rivals reflect on their early progress at Albert Park
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:26.687, 1st; P2 - 1:26.053, 1st
In both sessions sector two was working particularly well. There are only two real corners in the sector, but its really interesting and it feels good in the car. The FW31 is well balanced all round the track, but seems even more so there than in any other places. After a winter of testing, its good to get out on a new, fresh track and we seem to be in a better position than we thought.
Kazuki Nakajima, P1 - 1:26.736, 2nd; P2 - 1:26.560, 7th
Sector two is my favourite here at Albert Park. It includes a complete variety of corners, from the medium speed in turn 6 to the slow speed corners like 9, while 11 and 12 are the quickest. It makes it hard to establish a rhythm, but sector two certainly keeps your attention!
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:27.226, 4th; P2 - 1:26.157, 2nd
"To be here in Melbourne is a real achievement for the team and it feels good to be back in the car and working towards a race weekend strategy again. Despite the limited testing time that we were able to do before this race, we have proved that we have a competitive car and were achieved some good work today. We evaluated both tyres and are happy with the overall performance so I think we have a good chance of a strong qualifying performance tomorrow."
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:27.467, 6th; P2 - 1:26.374, 5th
"It was great to finally get the season underway today. We had a good first day of practice and the long run performance looks competitive, particularly on the harder tyre. We still have some work to do on the softer tyre so that will be a priority for tomorrow's practice session. I had traffic on both of my new tyres runs at the end of the day which was a shame so we don't know how quick we are over one lap yet but there is plenty of time to find that out tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, team principal
"The circuit at Albert Park is very different to the tracks that we used for our limited pre-season testing programme so our focus today has been on setting the car up to suit the conditions that we have here and the preferences of our drivers. Track conditions improved considerably in the second session however we are clearly not alone in finding the experience of running slightly later in the day less favourable than anticipated. It is a useful indication of what we may find when the race runs at a similar time on Sunday. The car performed well and we are pleased with the day's work experiencing only minor issues which are to be expected with our limited testing mileage. A good start to the weekend."
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:28.142, 12th; P2 - 1:26.350, 3rd
"It was a tough day because we covered quite a few laps and had a lot of things to work on. In general we have worked really hard to understand the tyres and find the right set-up, which is not easy. I am still not completely happy with the car balance and, even though when you look at the timing sheets things look pretty good for us, the car isn't completely comfortable to drive. Now we have to work on improving the set-up and the balance for tomorrow when it is most important. Anyway, I have to say it's great to be back at a Grand Prix because I love being behind the wheel with the atmosphere and excitement of a race weekend; this is what I live for."
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:27.710, 8th; P2 - 1:26.443, 6th
"In the end I am satisfied with our day but I have to say the first session went better than the second session for me. In the first session I had a good feeling from the car and things were running well but then later on I suddenly had a few problems because the car was a bit nervous and didn't feel as stable on the long runs. The behaviour of the car seemed to change between the sessions so we have to look at the data to understand why that happened. So we still have some work to do but that is the purpose of practice and we will work hard on the car set-up before qualifying tomorrow."
Dieter Gass, chief engineer, race and test
"It was a reasonable day for us. The track evolution was different compared to previous years but that was probably connected to the later start for practice. As usual it was dirty to begin with so that affected the grip and then in the second session it seemed the track began to drop off at one stage. The biggest issue we have to follow up is the tyres because the behaviour is not quite as we expected, but apart from that it was a pretty smooth day with both cars. We didn't have any significant issues so we completed quite a lot of laps and got through our full programme of looking at set-up and studying the tyres. It is only Friday so it's not easy to judge relative performance but we are looking quite competitive, even though we will focus on improving our long-run performance before the race."
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:29.081, 17th; P2 - 1:26.370, 4th
"It's great to be back in Australia. I'm proud of the Australian GP; they put on an excellent show here for everyone and it's good for the local people. They've had a tough few months recently with the fires, so I hope they enjoy the weekend. My day today was a bit hit and miss to be honest, as we had a few technical problems with the car.
"I didn't get many laps in during the first session, but the second was a lot better. We completed more laps and tried both types of tyres, so we've got some good stuff to go through tonight. It was quite interesting to see how low the sun was through the trees towards the end of the second session, it was good to run with that to get used to it for Sunday."
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:32.784, 20th; P2 - 1:26.740, 8th
"We had a bad session in this morning's practice and didn't get too much running, due to a hydraulics problem. In the afternoon we were able to get some laps in, but unfortunately I made a stupid mistake towards the end of the practice, so we couldn't run through our programme.
"Nevertheless, it's looking alright with what we've done compared to the time we had on the circuit, so let's see how we go tomorrow. Like always on Fridays, it's a bit difficult to interpret everyone's lap times, but I think we can be happy."
Christian Horner, team principal
"After the off-track activities of the last couple of days, it was good to get the weekend under way. There were a couple of issues in the first session - a hydraulics leak with Sebastian and a driveshaft problem with Mark limited our run-time.
"In the second session both drivers showed good pace and we worked through our programme. Unfortunately Sebastian had a small off, which ended his day early, but both drivers seem comfortable in the car and their pace was respectable."
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:27.993, 9th; P2 - 1:27.040, 9th
I hope this is representative of where we are, but it is still very early on in the weekend. We had a good session in the afternoon and could do some quite promising runs. I was pleased with the car, we had no real problems. The balance depended on the tyres. In the second session we did some race runs and struggled a lot with the softer tyre, but I think once the track rubbers in the tyres will grip better, but overall it was OK and a good position in the end. I think we can be happy with where we are right now.
Giancarlo Fisichella, P1 - 1:28.603, 14th; P2 - 1:27.282, 13th
It's a bit too early to say how we can perform this weekend. The car is better under high speed but so far I am struggling with the rear locking and I'm not 100 percent comfortable just yet. We're in better shape than last year for sure though. We will see tomorrow but at least we know there is potential to improve over night.
Simon Roberts, chief operating officer
It's been a promising start to the weekend today. I've been really pleased with the team and the overall performance. We managed to get everything we needed to completed and, apart from a couple of niggles in the first session - really just early season teething problems - it was a good team showing.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:27.642, 7th; P2 - 1:27.064, 10th
"We are more or less okay with the set up, although there is still room to improve the performance. I was not able to do a time on the soft tyres in the second session as I made a mistake because of oversteer: in this phase we had a different balance on the car compared to when we had used the hard tyres, which proved not to be the ideal choice. On top of that, towards the end of the session, the wind got up a bit, which definitely did not help. Tomorrow, with everyone on the same fuel load, we will see what the situation is."
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:26.750, 3rd; P2 - 1:27.204, 11th
"This morning, the car went well, while in the afternoon, we didn't manage to find a satisfactory set up, even though we tried various solutions. I think there is every chance we can improve our performance, but I can't say by how much compared to the others. Today, it's difficult to say where we are compared to them and we will see after tomorrow's qualifying."
Luca Baldisserri, sporting director
The first Friday of the season always throws up some surprises and that is even more than usual the case this year, given the numerous rule changes. Today, we did a lot of running and had no technical problems: reliability will be one of the dominant themes of the championship and it will be vital to try and pick up points every time. In these three hours of free practice, we saw that our performance over a long run seems to be very consistent but we have to see how to improve outright performance for tomorrow's qualifying."
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:28.123, 10th; P2 - 1:27.232, 12th
At last, after lots of winter testing, expectations and predictions, we have started the 2009 season. Today we concentrated on car set-up in hot conditions without being too concerned by what our competitors were doing. We now have lots of valuable information and, as usual, we will go over that this evening. We are missing some grip but we have some ideas about how we can overcome these issues. So Im still confident. We should deliver a better performance tomorrow.
Nelson Piquet, P1 - 1:29.461, 18th; P2 - 1:27.828, 19th
"That wasnt an easy day. I struggled to find a good balance on a green track with little grip. However, the settings that we worked on today have still helped us explore some interesting developments for tomorrow and I remain positive.
Pat Symonds, executive director of engineering
As always in Melbourne, there are lots of support races and the track was in reasonable condition when free practice began. Having said that, the sessions took place quite late in the day and the asphalt tended to cool down and we had to take this into account. The car was not as well balanced as we would have liked. We encountered lots of oversteer today and reducing that is what we are concentrating on.
"The harder tyres are rather difficult to get up to temperature. The soft tyres give a good level of performance from the first lap, but they then suffer from quite significant graining. We encountered an electrical problem on Fernandos car this morning and that limited his track time a little bit. Other than that, the R29 has not had any problems. Our goal is to focus on the balance of the car in order to overcome the oversteer on this demanding circuit.
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:28.137, 11th; P2 - 1:27.317, 14th
"It was great fun to drive here today. It was high time the season started. We had no technical problems and completed our entire programme - with the usual tyre comparison and long runs. The Albert Park circuit isn't a permanent race track and, therefore, naturally has a very low grip level at the beginning of the race weekend. It improved a little during the two practice sessions but even in the end it wasn't good."
Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:28.511, 13th; P2 - 1:27.398, 15th
"It was the first Friday of the season, but, apart from that, it was the normal work improving the set-up and evaluating the tyres for the race. We collected a lot of data which we have to analyse so we can make more progress. Overall we are lacking grip, and we have to find out why."
Willy Rampf, head of engineering
"At last the new season has started! We did not have any technical problems today, KERS also worked without any difficulties. We were able to complete our full programme. The focus was the set-up work for the race, but so far we are not satisfied with this. The decisive factor will be to use the tyre performance perfectly for both specifications. We will concentrate on this in the third practice."
Sebastien Bourdais, P1 - 1:29.499, 19th; P2 - 1:27.479, 16th
It was good that we had a trouble free day and were able to get on with our work, even if we knew we were not going to be quick enough, as we are lacking some development parts, which at this early point in the season always make a big difference. I was fairly happy with the balance of the car on the super soft tyre, apart from a bit too much oversteer at high speed. Overall, its not too bad, but we will do the best we can even if I think we will struggle to make it into Q2 tomorrow.
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:28.785, 15th; P2 - 1:28.076, 20th
My first F1 practice session and I had a lot of new things to learn and to deal with. It was not too bad, we tried various changes and improved the car lap by lap. The second session got off to quite a good start, but later we had some difficulty with finding the right set-up. Given our lack of testing with this car, today was like a test session which we used to learn more about the car. Its my first time at this circuit and I still need to get used to it and I learned a lot, but there is still plenty to do to improve tomorrow.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:27.453, 5th; P2 - 1:27.802, 17th
Although the track was very green and slippery, the car felt good from the start of the session. Our balance was good, particularly in the high-speed corners, and KERS deployed well, working smoothly throughout both sessions. A reasonable first day - even if the times dont properly reflect that. We saw some decent pace and made some progress which was pleasing for the new guys on my car this year.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:29.042, 16th; P2 - 1:27.813, 18th
The first session didnt prove too productive for us. We worked hard to get the prime tyres to operate effectively, but the track conditions and our set-up made it difficult to get them to work, and it didnt give me the confidence to push hard. The changes we made after P1 made the car feel much better. Were still working to refine the balance - and we have a number of issues still to address - but we are heading in the right direction.
Martin Whitmarsh, team principal
We arrived in Australia fully aware that wed be facing a tough start to the season. But we adhered to a disciplined programme today, focusing on tyre durability work, and werent swayed by a desire to post flattering times. Equally, were now focusing on implementing the performance steps weve planned for the next few races. Overall, then, weve made good progress recently but are well aware that weve still got a lot of work to do.
Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport vice-president
After the winter tests, we knew that we would have a difficult start into the season. While our car has improved since the Barcelona test, we still have a lot of work to do.