Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 17 Apr 2009
Although McLarens Lewis Hamilton and Williams Nico Rosberg made an impression on the timesheets, Brawn GPs Jenson Button continued to dominate the field during the first day of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend. The leading teams and their rivals reflect on their early progress in Shanghai
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:37.450, 2nd; P2 - 1:35.679, 1st
"The balance of the car really improved over the last couple of runs today after we had been struggling a little to find the right set-up early on. We completed a great deal of work with the two very different tyre compounds to establish what condition they would be in after longer runs. There seemed to be a lot of traffic on track today so my main concern was finding some clear air. It was a useful first day of running but we still have some work to do tomorrow to be happy with the balance for qualifying."
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:37.566, 3rd; P2 - 1:35.881, 3rd
"Another positive Friday and we achieved some good work today which will set us up well going into the weekend. Our main focus was on the tyres and evaluating the best way of looking after the softer option tyre and it was very useful to find out what the tyres are capable of. We tried various things but I did struggle for grip with my last set of tyres this afternoon. There are a lot of marbles on the track at the moment but it should clean up going into the weekend."
Ross Brawn, team principal:
"We have had a productive day which has enabled us to complete a thorough evaluation of the prime and option tyres ahead of the weekend. Our main focus was on the softer option tyre and establishing the best way to work with this compound in qualifying and the race. Although we are not quite satisfied with the balance yet, the car worked well in the cooler temperatures that we are experiencing this weekend with the race taking place six months earlier than usual."
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:37.860, 7th; P2 - 1:35.704, 2nd
Its been an interesting day for us. Weve learnt a lot, particularly about the tyres and how to get the best out of them here. The one major thing for us at the moment though is that this season we have consistency from one track to another. Were now going to a race and not getting any big surprises as we seem to have learnt from our mistakes from last year.
Kazuki Nakajima, P1 - 1:38.730, 19th; P2 - 1:36.377, 7th
It was a bit difficult out there for me today. The tyres were behaving strangely this morning but they did improve a little this afternoon. I was also struggling to find a good balance. I now need to see where I can improve for qualifying tomorrow. Well see how we go.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:37.334, 1st; P2 - 1:36.941, 13th
"The car instantly felt a bit better. I can feel more stability and downforce from the front. Weve definitely made a step forward for this race. The car feels much stronger through the corners and I think weve got a very positive baseline for the rest of the weekend. My first run on the options felt quite consistent. The drop-off definitely feels manageable. This was a good day, although we still need to work on MP4-24s medium- and high-speed balance.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:37.672, 4th; P2 - 1:36.674, 9th
Im very impressed by the performance upgrades for this race. We still need to do more work to find the best balance, but our car definitely feels more stable here.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
The team, both at the track and back in the factory, has done a fantastic job to get these bodywork upgrades to Shanghai - and initial analysis would suggest that they have contributed to a slight uplift in our overall competitiveness. We are still working on MP4-24s overall balance, but nonetheless concluded some productive tyre evaluation work. Heikkis day was compromised by a hydraulic system problem which failed to adjust his front wing flaps correctly, a fault that distracted both him and his engineers from their regular programme.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
Seeing Lewis in P1 after this mornings session brought back some good memories - although we are aware that the teams package is not yet competitive. Still, the improvements we have made to the car - which are particularly relentless at the moment - should see us making another encouraging step forward. Sundays race will be greatly influenced by the performance over a stint of the Bridgestone super-soft, but our consistency on both tyres looks quite okay at this early stage of the weekend.
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:37.764, 6th; P2 - 1:36.217, 6th
"That was a busy Friday for me. This morning we had an electrical problem which cost us a bit of track time but we recovered to complete our programme of work on set-up and tyres. The track surface wasn't in fantastic condition this morning but it improved during the day. In general I'm still not happy with the car's balance and pace so I hope we can analyse the data tonight and aim for better tomorrow. Then we can target another strong result on Sunday."
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:37.894, 8th; P2 - 1:36.548, 8th
"So far things are going okay for us. The track was quite tricky this morning because there wasn't much grip. I was sliding around on the green track and had to find a way to get the car together. But over the course of the day we sorted out a lot in terms of the set-up. The second free practice session was better and the car felt more together. So we have more work to do to get the car in the right direction for tomorrow. But overall this has not been a bad start to the weekend."
Dieter Gass, Toyota chief engineer race and test:
"We made it through our programme without major issues on the car so that was a solid start to the weekend. Jarno did have a slow in-lap this morning with an electrical problem but it didn't unduly affect our programme. That included a test of some new aerodynamic and suspension development parts which we completed successfully. The consistency of the tyres doesn't seem to be as much of a drama as we were expecting, so that is good news for the race on Sunday. The lap times seem to confirm our good form from the first two races so we are confident for the rest of the weekend."
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:37.752, 5th; P2 - 1:36.105, 4th
We did the normal tyre comparisons today, which are important ahead of Sunday as they might be quite a challenge here. The guys did a great job and the car ran faultlessly, which is always a benefit on a Friday. Weve dried out from Malaysia and, instead, we had perfect driving conditions today, so well see how we go tomorrow. I enjoyed it out there.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:38.274, 12th; P2 - 1:36.167, 5th
Overall, it was a quite good day. Unfortunately, in the second practice we had a problem with the rear suspension, it was going to take too much time to fix so we had to stop earlier than planned. Nevertheless, we got some useful information from the car. The main task here for all the teams and drivers is to manage the different tyre compounds. As you can see, graining is the main issue, but thankfully I have my helmet and visor, which protects my eyes as the rubber is coming off!
Sebastien Bourdais, P1 - 1:38.195, 10th; P2 - 1:36.800, 10th
Our weekend seems to have started off quite well. We have made progress in terms of understanding the car and using it to its best. There is still some work to do, specifically in terms of making better use of the option tyre. Actually I was quite surprised to see how well they are holding up and they definitely have more than one lap in them. Im not saying well run them for 30 laps, but its much better than expected. We can definitely see that the small updates we have on the car since Malaysia are working well.
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:38.307, 13th; P2 - 1:37.219, 15th
Its my first time here and beforehand I spent a lot of time on the Red Bull technology simulator and it was definitely a big help and I plan to use it more in the future. It is difficult to quantify, but for sure it helps. I had a technical problem in the morning which cost me some time, but everything was back to normal this afternoon and we were able to make a step forward. We look more competitive than in Malaysia and we are definitely improving. I didnt get a perfect lap today, so I think I can do a lot better tomorrow. I like the track; its very big, very new, very everything!
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:38.223, 11th; P2 - 1:37.054, 14th
"The balance of the car isn't bad and one doesn't feel the lack of KERS. The point is that we are too slow compared to the teams currently at the top of the order. We must try and improve the car: at the moment, we are not able to fight for the title. We must not give up the fight because, with the whole team working hard, we can get back into a winning position. It's not an easy time, but our group is strong and we know what needs to be done to get out of this situation. The softer tyre seems to work better than it did in Australia."
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:38.418, 15th; P2 - 1:36.847, 12th
"We are in a difficult situation on the technical front, but when one thinks of what happened to those who we are close to and in the daily life of the people of Abruzzo, everything else takes on a different perspective. I hope that having the Abruzzo nel cuore (Abruzzo in our hearts) message on the cars, as requested by President Montezemolo, might help to make these people feel less alone. As for the track, I can say our fight for the championship is ever more compromised. Here we are also running without KERS and as a result, we are losing even more performance, in addition to not having as much aerodynamic downforce as the best cars. We must try and push as hard as possible on the development of the car, but we know it will be very hard to catch up. The only recipe for getting out of this difficulty is to work."
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
President Montezemolo was keen to give a sign of support for everyone who lived through this tragedy and we are proud for our cars to carry the name of a region of Italy which is very close to our hearts, especially at a time like this. As for today's track activity, I can say it turned out much as we had expected. We will have to run a few races on the defensive and try and do the best we can. Clearly, without KERS, we lose a bit of performance and initial indications are that we are not seeing any improvement in the balance of a car that, let's not forget, was designed to carry this system. We are in a difficult situation and we must try and stay calm and work hard on all fronts."
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
We worked mainly on evaluating the two types of tyre made available to us here by Bridgestone, in terms of Sunday's race. Here, the softer tyre seems to work better to what we saw in Australia, while the harder one has performed as we had expected. We had no technical problems during the three hours of practice and we were able to evaluate new aerodynamic solutions, that, today, were fitted to Felipe's car. Tomorrow, they will be used on both cars."
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:38.089, 9th; P2 - 1:37.638, 19th
"Although we are at the bottom of the timesheets, I don't think we should be too worried as we concentrated more on race configuration today. Tomorrow morning in the third free practice session we will be preparing for qualifying and so I think we can remain optimistic for the rest of the weekend. We need to try to reach Q3, as we did in Malaysia, and aim to score as many points as possible. I think overall today we struggled to find the right set-up, but even looking at the times, we still have high hopes for this weekend."
Nelson Piquet, P1 - 1:38.825, 20th; P2 - 1:37.273, 16th
"The track conditions were quite poor early on but later in the day things were a bit better. We improved the car between the two sessions, but we still need to find more performance and I'm still not totally happy with the set-up. So we still have a lot of work to do tomorrow morning to make sure we get the most from qualifying."
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
The track was a bit dusty this morning to start with, but it soon picked up. The car has a little bit of oversteer, but we worked on the balance of the car and made some improvements. The super-soft tyre is performing better than we expected. The medium tyre still remains the better race tyre. Clearly there is work to do but we have more improvements to fit to the car tomorrow. So we are hopeful of moving up the order.
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:38.319, 14th; P2 - 1:36.829, 11th
It is a change to be here at this time of year. We are used to having around 30 degrees here so with the cooler temperatures it's much easier to drive although the tyres take a bit longer to warm up. The medium tyres are okay over the longer run, but very hard over a single lap. The supersoft on the other hand is fine for one lap but not as bad as we expected over the longer runs. Overall it went okay, we completed our work and the general balance is good. I'm pleased with the position so I think it was a good start.
Giancarlo Fisichella, P1 - 1:38.460, 17th; P2 - 1:37.750, 20th
I'm not particularly happy with how today went. I am struggling with the car balance at the moment. It's not consistent just yet and I don't feel entirely comfortable. At the moment we don't have a problem with the tyres - in these temperatures we are pretty much okay. We have some ideas of what we can do so I think we will improve for tomorrow.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
This weekend is going to be all about how we use the dry tyres and our Friday programme reflected this. We tried a lot of different things in a structured test and the VJM02 has been reliable and responsive to changes so far. The track was quite green today and hence low grip but it will evolve over the next two days and that will be something we have to account for as we approach qualifying and the race. It will be another tight qualifying session tomorrow.
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:38.456, 16th; P2 - 1:37.544, 18th
As is normal for us on Fridays we focused on tyre evaluation for the race. They do not really work as we would like them to. We now have to try to improve the balance of the car.
Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:38.463, 18th; P2 - 1:37.491, 17th
We completed our standard Friday programme and tried to learn more about the nature of the track and to understand the tyre compounds. While the option tyres are quite fragile, it is difficult to make the prime tyre work. Additionally, this was the first time I was running KERS at a Grand Prix weekend. There were a lot of tests to do. Now we have to check and evaluate the data.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
Our concentration today, as usual, was on race preparation and, as expected, we completed the full programme. At the moment we are not satisfied with the results.
For the first time both our drivers used the KERS. The positive side was we did not have any technical problems.