Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 03 Apr 2009
Ferrari, Williams and Red Bull all made an impression on the timesheets during the first day of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend. The leading teams and their rivals reflect on their early progress at Sepang
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:36.646, 6th; P2 - 1:35.707, 1st
This morning we had a problem with the KERS, which cost us a bit of time, but we managed to make up for most of it in the afternoon. We had felt that the situation here could be different to Melbourne, but it is still too early to say where we are up against the opposition. What we can be sure of is that when the car runs trouble-free, we are competitive. We hope we can do a good job in tomorrows qualifying.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:36.561, 5th; P2 - 1:35.832, 2nd
The situation seems different compared to Australia, at least in terms of how the tyres operate. There is more grip and the softer tyres work well, even over a long distance. At the start of the long runs, I had a bit of understeer in the high speed corners and oversteer in the slow ones, but towards the end, the handling of the car improved continuously and I could set some great times. Clearly, looking at the time sheet today, theres a slight feeling of relief, even if it has to be treated with caution: we are very motivated and the whole team will be trying its best.
Luca Baldisserri, sporting director
This morning we experienced a short circuit in the kinetic energy recovery system fitted to Kimis car, which cost us a bit of time, but it didnt compromise our completion of todays programme. The main aim was to understand how the two types of Bridgestone tyre we have here perform, both over a single first lap and over a distance. From what we have seen today, the situation seems very different to what we experienced in Melbourne, especially when it comes to the consistency of performance from the softer compound. From this point of view, its been a good day, but we have to work very carefully on every detail when it comes to the reliability of the car.
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:36.260, 1st; P2 - 1:36.015, 4th
We had a very good day and made a lot of set-up changes, and made good progress in finding a way forward. We also completed a good tyre test which is important as I think we now have a good idea of what is going on with the tyres for this circuit. Everything worked out well today and of course we all had our first sessions driving in the heat, but I think my fitness preparation over the winter has helped a lot.
Kazuki Nakajima, P1 - 1:36.305, 2nd; P2 - 1:36.290, 8th
Today was a very positive day and we have carried over our competitiveness from the last race. Whether we are as quick relatively as we were in Melbourne remains to be seen, but certainly we are far further ahead than we were here last year and well keep pushing on tomorrow and see what more we can find.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:36.747, 9th; P2 - 1:35.954, 3rd
The heat in Malaysia is always a surprise, even if youre here for a couple of days before you jump in the car. Its very hot with the suit and everything and, no matter how much you prepare, the first outing is always a bad surprise - but, you quickly adapt. Today went well, with smooth running. We ran through our programme, did a lot of laps and got a lot of information about our tyres. There were no major problems with either car, so it was a good day.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:36.703, 8th; P2 - 1:36.026, 5th
Today was a lot better for us in terms of reliability than Friday in Melbourne, so it was a big step forward. Both cars ran well and obviously its a big challenge for the cars around here with the heat, so thats good. We got all of our programme completed in plenty of time. Performance wise, were not too bad here. We have a bit of work to do tonight, but in general it was a pretty good day for the team and for me.
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:36.430, 3rd; P2 - 1:36.254, 7th
"We completed some useful running today to work on improving the balance of the car. My biggest problem was that we are locking the tyres and brakes very easily so we need to have a good look at this. We're not quite there yet but we are going in the right direction and I'm confident we will achieve the optimum set-up ready for qualifying tomorrow."
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:36.487, 4th; P2 - 1:36.161, 6th
"We achieved a good day's work today on a challenging track where it is always difficult to find the right balance with the car and tyres. Our evaluations with the prime and the option tyre were particularly useful and although we still have some work to do on the balance, overall it was a positive day."
Ross Brawn, team principal
"The practice sessions in Malaysia today have been our first experience of higher track and air temperatures so we made the most of the available running to learn how the car, tyres and engine work in these conditions. We struggled a little with the balance of the car and at the moment it is not performing quite as well as in Australia last weekend. However I am confident that we are on the right path and with some hard work overnight, we should be in a good position for the rest of the weekend."
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:36.669, 7th; P2 - 1:36.515, 11th
Clearly, we still need a bit more grip but our balance, particularly through the high-speed stuff, felt good. The car felt stronger than I expected.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:38.483, 20th; P2 - 1:36.397, 9th
The track grip was immediately good, and less dusty than in Australia. Weve made some good progress with the cars development. As we started pushing, the car started to move around quite a bit and was more difficult to drive. But our consistency over the long runs looks quite promising. I just need some aircon in the car - its totally boiling!
Martin Whitmarsh, team principal
Once again, we fully utilised the track time during both Friday practice sessions to refine the bodywork developments we are making to MP4-24 and focus on set-up ahead of Sundays grand prix - a race we anticipate will be one of the hottest and most demanding of the year. MP4-24 continues to evolve, and todays programme underlines the encouraging progress we feel we are making with the car.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
We compared both tyre compounds and posted consistent laptimes. After today, I would not say that we made a step forward but at least it looks as if we are headed in the right direction. The team improved quite a lot since the team test in Barcelona less than a month ago. But everybody inside Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is aware that we still have a lot of work ahead of us until we will be back at the top.
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:36.982, 11th; P2 - 1:36.516, 12th
"Today went fine and it was a very standard Friday session for us. The track was a bit slippery this morning but it cleaned up quickly and by the second session it was fine. We went through our programme and tried a few things with the set-up and the tyres to improve the car. If you look at the timing sheets we don't look as competitive as I expected before coming here but I think the car is definitely there and it is just a matter of getting the right direction on set-up. The soft tyres seem to be pretty competitive and they were faster but the hard ones were a little bit too hard."
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:36.980, 10th; P2 - 1:36.639, 14th
"It has been quite a tricky day for me today. The car this morning didn't feel quite right and I had some trouble with the stability, then at the beginning of second practice I was getting some oversteer and the car felt light. But we worked on some different set-ups and by the end of the day it was feeling better. We still have plenty of work to do before qualifying but we had a similar situation in Melbourne and we made a lot of progress so I am still optimistic."
Dieter Gass, chief engineer race and test
"It was a pretty normal Friday for us. We concentrated on tyres and trying to find a balance for the cars. We struggled a bit today getting a perfect balance and we still have some work to be done on both cars overnight to fine-tune the cars in order to get the best out of the package we have. In terms of the tyres, we seem to be in a different situation compared to Melbourne, much less at the limit and both tyres seem to be working reasonably well. The timing sheets are very close together so we're not worried about the final positions at the moment."
Nelson Piquet, P1 - 1:37.199, 14th; P2 - 1:36.401, 10th
We had a good first day with no major problems and so things look a bit better than they did in Melbourne. There is still a lot of work to do, but Im happy we improved the car between the two sessions. It will be a tough race with these temperatures, but I look forward to it.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:37.395, 16th; P2 - 1:36.640, 15th
We tried not to do too many laps today as I wasnt feeling one hundred percent. Its a very demanding weekend in terms of the heat because we sweat so much, but it was important that we still got enough information. I hope what we have learnt today will be useful for tomorrow and allow us to work on improving the set-up. Hopefully I will recover more this evening and feel better tomorrow so that I can give my maximum in qualifying, which I think will be one of the most important parts of this weekend, so we need to be ready for that.
Pat Symonds, executive director of engineering
The track was quite slippery this morning, probably due to the heavy rain yesterday. The balance of the car is slightly better than we had in Australia, but we would still like to improve stability on the brakes. The hard tyre here in Sepang has never been used before so it was a learning process for all of us, however the tyres seemed satisfactory. Nelson went off this morning after a wheel failure and we are still investigating exactly what happened. Fernandos performance and programme today has been compromised by the fact that he isnt feeling well. For the rest of the weekend we have to improve our performance from Australia and early indications are that we can.
Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:37.039, 13th; P2 - 1:37.267, 17th
Today we concentrated totally on race preparation, and particularly on tyre comparisons. The specifications that Bridgestone have brought to Malaysia are very different from the ones we used in Melbourne, and obviously Sepang also has different characteristics. In addition, the track temperatures were much higher here, so it was a new situation. We gathered a lot of data and have the basis to use the tyres to their full potential during the race. While we were doing long-runs today, tomorrow we will focus on the single lap performance.
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:37.640, 18th; P2 - 1:37.930, 20th
Certainly the results dont look good, but in Melbourne it was a similar picture on Friday. Nevertheless we do have some work to do in order to improve the balance of the car. In the first session I was running with the KERS and in the second I didnt use the device. Using it makes a huge difference to the cars balance, but without it there is the loss of the boost. This was the experience we wanted and why we took it out for this session. Now we will throw everything into the mix - lap times, data and my feelings - and then decide whether or not to use the KERS here.
Willy Rampf, head of engineering
We stuck to our planned programme today, and concentrated on race preparation. One focus point was the tyre comparison on the long-runs. Apart from that we tested two different options with Nick today - in the first session he drove with the KERS and in the second without. We did this for two reasons: On the one hand we wanted to get a direct comparison and on the other hand we wanted to practice changing in between the two sessions. We did not have any technical problems.
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:37.634, 17th; P2 - 1:36.628, 13th
"I drove here last year in GP2, so I know the track. It's different of course in an F1 car but no problem. The heat is not bothering me and you just have to make sure you drink a bit more to cope with the sweating. Today, the track remained pretty consistent which meant we were able to try several things on the car. I am quite happy with what we have seen. In terms of tyres, it doesn't look as though the difference between the two types is a great as in Melbourne and the degradation appears to be less. Our speed seems reasonable, but we still have a lot to do. Q2 tomorrow? Who knows? It might be wet, so let's wait and see."
Sebastien Bourdais, P1 - 1:38.022, 19th; P2 - 1:37.278, 18th
"As was the case here last year, the track improved a lot between the start and finish of the first session and then again in the second. It was a dramatic change and the few drops of rain that fell did not help us in understanding the situation. In the afternoon, we tried something on the car which took us down the wrong route. It's still a case of finding out what works and what doesn't on the car. I felt there was a big difference in terms of grip from the prime and option tyre so I did not get the most out of them. A long run on the options was quite satisfying and I was fairly happy with the balance compared to what I had on the shorter runs, so that is encouraging."
Giancarlo Fisichella, P1 - 1:37.025, 12th; P2 - 1:37.432, 19th
We are still finding the best compromise under braking as there is front locking and poor grip and traction so we have to work a lot to make the balance work for us. Over the longer runs it doesn't look too bad however. It's a shame about the accident in the afternoon - I just went a little bit wide as there was some graining on the tyres and I lost control of the car. It was just unlucky to go onto the gravel and into the barriers.
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:37.241, 15th; P2 - 1:36.875, 16th
It was a good day today overall. We got through all our work and had no problems with the car. We have some work to do with the set up, it's still a bit understeery in the high speed corners and we can still make some improvements in this respect. The soft tyres seem to work quite well, but the hard tyre at the moment is really hard and never seems to come in. Overall it was a pretty productive day to set us up well for the weekend.
Simon Roberts, chief operating officer
We managed to get through most of the programme today in both sessions and had some good runs on the softer tyres in the second session, so we now have a good data point. Unfortunately Giancarlo came off the track in the closing stages of the afternoon and damaged the car, but I think we have got a good basis to move forward from now. Looking forward to tomorrow and the race I would hope that we are in a similar shape to last weekend, or even a slight improvement.