Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 24 Apr 2009
While McLarens Lewis Hamilton took charge during Fridays morning session, Williams Nico Rosberg led the field in the afternoon. The leading teams and their rivals reflect on their early progress at Sakhir
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:34.227, 4th; P2 - 1:33.339, 1st
You can only ever compare your performance to other race weekends so, relatively, I think we are looking ok. Weve done a lot of set-up work today and I am quite happy with everything so weve made good progress. The team brought some new parts to Bahrain and they seem to be working well so thanks to our aero guys for their continuing hard work in developing the car. I am really convinced that we will be able to do something positive at this race and to get the points that the car is worth.
Kazuki Nakajima, P1 - 1:34.880, 11th; P2 - 1:33.899, 10th
Today didnt go too badly but we are lacking some pace compared to Nico. Ill now de-brief with my engineers to try to find out where Im losing that time so I can make it up in tomorrows qualifying. The circuit is getting better and better the more laps we do, which is good. Its also really hot out there, but fortunately its bearable.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:33.647, 1st; P2 - 1:33.994, 11th
Weve definitely got a very well-balanced car around here. The track felt very grippy from the start of the session and our work on the prime tyre was very consistent. Both sessions were consistent and very productive. The whole field looks very tight, but we are definitely taking steps forward. While we havent made significant progress - we didnt bring anything new here this weekend - our goal remains to score some more points.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:34.502, 6th; P2 - 1:34.764, 19th
The track was surprisingly grippy at the start of practice, but the pitlane was quite dusty and slippery, making it easy to lock wheels. I feel more comfortable with the older-spec front wing, but maybe we still need to evaluate it. We once again made progress and have made improvements to the car since Shanghai. The big stops and long straights of this circuit really suit our package. My KERS stopped towards the end of the final session, which meant my times werent as competitive as they could have been. But I definitely think well be more competitive in qualifying.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
We are satisfied with the progress we made today. Given MP4-24s performance deficit, we run these sessions with considerable discipline to ensure that the improvements we make to the car are very rigorously tested in the field. Our times in first practice were a little flattering but our afternoon programme was encouraging. Having only raced in Shanghai last week, we dont have too many upgrades for the car, but we have succeeded in finding a decent balance for MP4-24 and that certainly gives us a good foundation for the rest of the weekend.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
This was a productive first day and we did a lot of running posting reasonably quick and, more importantly, consistent laptimes. The order in the afternoon reflects, in my view, not the right picture here as was equally the case with Lewiss P1 in first practice. Our KERS is helping quite a bit around this circuit and our plan is to use it here tomorrow and on Sunday - being the only team to do so with both cars in all the races so far.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:34.938, 12th; P2 - 1:33.661, 4th
"So, obviously its back to normal now. Last weekend was fantastic, but we have to carry on as theres a lot of work to do! So, our minds are now set to focus on Bahrain. It was a normal Friday, we were more or less able to do our full programme and had no issues with the car. Performance wise, its difficult to comment, but the car feels alright. We were struggling to find a good balance this morning, but it was better this afternoon. Now we have to look at the data and try to improve for tomorrow. I think everyone was surprised how hot it is when you leave the pits in the car, its like someones blowing a heat gun in your face. Its better with the visor closed than open, otherwise you just get more hot air blowing at you.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:34.827, 9th; P2 - 1:33.676, 5th
Its obviously different conditions here, compared to when we drove on Sunday in Shanghai. We have very dry conditions and, as usual, Bahrain throws up its challenge with car balance. We had a productive Friday, running on both tyres and the car ran faultlessly. In terms of pace its always hard to say whos where on Friday - but hopefully were in good shape again to get some good results on Sunday.
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:34.434, 5th; P2 - 1:33.694, 6th
A pretty standard programme for us today on what has been a very hot Friday in Bahrain. We have successfully completed our scheduled test items and evaluated a number of set-up options to find the best balance for our car around this track. The heat is intense however we are well prepared for this and looking forward to the novelty of a dry race weekend. The pace looks good from our initial evaluations and I am sure it will be a closely fought battle in qualifying tomorrow."
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:34.531, 7th; P2 - 1:33.885, 9th
"We had different set-ups running on both cars today to gather as much information as possible and compensate for our lack of testing before the season began. It's very hot here in Bahrain obviously and it was quite difficult to find a good balance today but overall I am comfortable with the work that we have achieved. We are running quite competitively but have further work to do before qualifying tomorrow as other cars around us were also quick."
Ross Brawn, Brawn team principal:
"Whilst the super soft and medium tyre compounds that we are using for the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend are familiar to us, the unique conditions found at this circuit mean that they are working in a very different range. The track is always very dusty at the start of each session and the track temperatures today are by far the highest that we have experienced this year. We have therefore focused our efforts on understanding the behaviour of the tyres and are happy with the progress made through the two practice sessions. The intense heat here ensures that on-car temperatures are closely monitored and although we do not have any concerns, it will be a challenging weekend for the drivers."
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:35.348, 18th; P2 - 1:33.530, 2nd
We had very hot track and ambient conditions today - even hotter than we had in Malaysia. We therefore concentrated on evaluating the brake cooling for race conditions and also compared the tyre compounds to make sure that the tyres work well in these temperatures. We're happy with the work we have done today and managed to complete our programme."
Nelson Piquet, P1 - 1:34.974, 13th; P2 - 1:34.411, 15th
"I've had a solid start to the weekend and ran with the new diffuser for the first timetoday, although it's difficult to know how much extra performance it gives the car. I think we still need to improve the car in the final practice session tomorrow, but we managed to get some good data today. I hope I can have a strong qualifying session tomorrow, but I think it will be tough to reach the top ten shootout."
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
"The Bahrain circuit is our first hard braking circuit of the year and ranks among the hardest for the total braking system. In view of this, we spent a lot more time today on heavier than normal fuel loads, concentrating on our set-up for Sunday. Later in the session, we seemed to get some competitive times out of the car. As always on a Friday, the timesheet is not a complete reflection of competitiveness, but we are confident that we have moved the car forward since the beginning of the year."
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:35.036, 15th; P2 - 1:33.616, 3rd
We collected a lot of data here during our winter tests at this circuit but the conditions today were very different. So we had to change some of our set-up in order to suit the car to these temperatures, which are much hotter. There is also quite a lot more sliding around than we had in the winter but I guess that's the same for everyone. We spent the day going through our usual programme of tyre testing and set-up work. We still need to find a bit more driveability in the car but it's not a bad start to the weekend."
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:35.333, 17th; P2 - 1:33.764, 8th
"During our winter tests at this circuit we had a good, consistent pace but so far today I've found the car quite hard to drive. The lap times aren't bad but I've been struggling for balance. So we'll have to work overnight to sort out our direction for tomorrow and to get the car back to where it should be. If we can do that then I'm sure we can keep up our strong start to the year."
Dieter Gass, Toyota chief engineer race and test:
"Today was a very good day for us overall. Even though we mainly had fine conditions during winter testing here, there is still a significant difference in temperature. So we had to reassess some of the items we had already tried. We have some updates in aerodynamics and brake cooling here and we ran through our programme without issues. The tyre behaviour certainly seems less critical than in the last few races. So this is a very good baseline for another strong showing on Sunday."
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:35.021, 14th; P2 - 1:33.763, 7th
The second session was quite a bit better as the track was very dirty and sandy in the morning. We also tried the softer tyre that seemed to help a lot with the stability. It's quite good balance-wise for a Friday, we can still tweak the general set-up and we still have to look at the brakes as I'm not 100% comfortable right now. I think the update package has helped us - if I look at my position in the afternoon, I think it is the best position I have been in ever on a Friday. Although it's difficult to draw conclusions from this, the car feels good so let's see how we go tomorrow.
Giancarlo Fisichella, P1 - 1:35.042, 16th; P2 - 1:34.025, 12th
Today I am happier and more comfortable with the car: it feels like we have made a step forward with the new updates. The car is more consistent and I think we have reduced the gap to the others but let's see tomorrow. The team did a fantastic job to have this package here and I look forward to tomorrow to seeing where we are on the grid.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
Today's practice sessions were two of the hottest we've run for quite some time. As expected the circuit grip was initially low but the drivers coped quite well and got to grips with their programmes. Giancarlo looked at some set-up options and Adrian concentrated on the tyres in what was all together a productive day. The updates to the car appear to be working as expected and we are hopeful for a stronger qualifying tomorrow.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:34.589, 8th; P2 - 1:34.564, 16th
"This was definitely not a good day. We worked a lot towards the race, but we have to try and improve the handling of the car to move up the order for tomorrow and Sunday. The harder tyre is very difficult to use, while the soft one seems to be the best, not just in terms of outright performance but also over a distance. The KERS helps: without it, I would have certainly been slower. I made a mistake at the final turn on my last set of soft tyres, which cost me at least three tenths. We must be patient at the moment and try to do the best possible in these conditions."
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:34.827, 10th; P2 - 1:34.670, 18th
"Even if we don't know what fuel loads the other teams had, it's clear that we are not as quick as we would like, but we have to try and make the best of this situation. Anyway, we knew that the picture for this race would be no different to what we've seen in previous ones. Today we opted to run in two different configurations and did a lot of work on finding the best set-up for the car. We collected a lot of data which we will now analyse, to be as well prepared as possible for the race. We can expect a difficult weekend, but we were never in any doubt about that."
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
"Our car is unchanged from the way it was in Shanghai and therefore, we couldn't expect a different picture. Our aim is to bring home some points: we have to be realistic and at the moment, we cannot aspire to more than that. We have to tackle this difficult phase with a cool head, working on all fronts to try and get back to being competitive as soon as possible."
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
"Today, we had a very full work programme, based mainly on race preparation and on a comparison between the two cars that ran in different configurations: Felipe's was fitted with KERS, while Kimi's was not. We acquired a load of data which we will now evaluate very carefully before taking any definite decisions regarding the rest of the weekend. Today's conditions were very difficult, with high temperatures. We struggled a lot with the harder tyres, while the softer ones worked better. We had no reliability problems, which is the most positive aspect of the day. As for performance, we have a lot of work to do to try and improve it, while well aware of our current potential."
Sebastien Bourdais, P1 - 1:35.353, 19th; P2 - 1:34.366, 14th
The track has changed a lot from the morning to the afternoon session and that has made it difficult to assess the two types of tyre. It seems that the difference in behaviour between the Prime and the Option is very much related to the track temperature increase. Therefore, this afternoon it was difficult to assess the effect of changes we made to the car as the conditions changed. But as always on a Friday, it is nearly impossible to evaluate where you are compared to the others, until qualifying. 13th and 14th is not where we want to be tomorrow, but we will work hard now and then see what happens.
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:35.369, 20th; P2 - 1:34.127, 13th
I think these high temperatures will make life difficult for everyone, but we are making sure we are as well prepared as possible to deal with the heat. At the moment, I feel good in the car although we still need to work to improve, even though it is difficult to say what our lap times mean, as we dont know what fuel loads the others were running. I am happy with the car, even if it can always be better, as I lacked traction coming out of the slow corners and occasionally, I locked the front wheels under braking.
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:33.907, 2nd; P2 - 1:34.790, 20th
Obviously we looked better in the morning session than we did in the afternoon. The difference in the balance with the softer option tyres compared to the harder prime tyres is quite big here, which makes it really difficult to set-up the car. I also had a lack of brake stability and the track didnt have much grip, but this is rather normal on a Friday in Bahrain. We will now look into all the data and see what we will do tomorrow.
Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:33.938, 3rd; P2 - 1:34.605, 17th
It was a usual Friday for us. We compared the tyre compounds and worked on the car balance. Additionally we worked on the KERS set-up, which is challenging as the temperatures here are quite high. We will now analyse the data and try to improve for tomorrow.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
We completed our Friday programme without any problems. As usual we concentrated on race preparation, the tyre comparisons and adapting to the KERS. The data will now we analysed. Last year the field was covered by 4.3 seconds, today it was only 1.4 seconds! So we can assume it will be a very close qualifying tomorrow.