Thursday practice - selected team and driver quotes 21 May 2009
BMW Saubers Robert Kubica and Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel on their early engine woes; Williams Nico Rosberg on a positive first day; and Rubens Barrichello on his great start to the Monaco weekend. All 20 drivers, and selected team personnel, report from Monte Carlo
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:18.024, 7th; P2 - 1:15.243, 1st
We had a difficult start to the weekend and I really didnt feel comfortable in the car because of a simple lack of grip to begin with. So we made plenty of set-up changes and we found a significant improvement. By the end of P2, I was much happier and I would say there is more in the car as I had traffic and never really had a clean lap. We also suffered no problems or damage to the car which is a constant issue in Monaco. And let me say, it is great to drive on this track.
Kazuki Nakajima, P1 - 1:18.000, 6th; P2 - 1:16.260, 9th
This morning was good but for reasons we will look at tonight, the afternoon session was a bit difficult in the car. So I am hoping we can establish what was happening and use third practice to make sure I am well prepared for qualifying.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director:
Today was a typical first day in Monaco. We have spent some time looking at the two tyres in the context of a track that is changing hugely compared to a normal track. As a street circuit, all the contaminants are getting cleaned off by the F1 rubber, so its too early to say where the car is. All the parts we brought here seem to be working well.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:17.578, 3rd; P2 - 1:15.445, 2nd
Driving around Monaco is a spectacular sensation - you cant compare it to any other circuit. You get such a huge buzz here; I love this place - it reminds me how much I love this sport, why I love racing and why I love Formula One. From todays performance, I think Q3 is definitely possible on Saturday. Im optimistic about shooting for the top five - I hope we can get there.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:17.686, 4th; P2 - 1:15.984, 7th
Lots of traffic today - but thats normal for Monaco. Todays running tells us well be more competitive here. The team has worked very well and my car was in good shape straight away this morning. The most important thing is that weve made consistent improvements - weve made good progress on the set-up and Ive been dialling myself further into the car and the track on each run. While our car seems to behave well around here, theres still some work to do - we wont be able to do miracles over the weekend.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
The whole team loves the thrill and tension of the Monaco weekend and todays performance has left us feeling encouraged that we will have another successful weekend in the principality. Both Lewis and Heikki have really dived into the challenge, both producing some excellent times and, most importantly, helping to refine our technical package ahead of Saturdays crucial qualifying session and the race itself. We go into Saturday feeling extremely positive about getting a strong result from both drivers.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
A good first day on this challenging track which saw Vodafone McLaren Mercedes winning on the last two occasions. It is too early to know where we will be in qualifying compared to our competitors, but Lewis and Heikki should hopefully be in better shape than at previous races. The car so far just looks better on this track and our mechanical and aerodynamic improvements seem to help here around as well as our KERS hybrid. Having said that, I do not see us in the role of the favourites like in previous years when we won six grands prix out of 11 since McLaren-Mercedes maiden win in 1998.
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:17.189, 1st; P2 - 1:15.590, 3rd
"We have had a good first day to start our weekend here in Monaco. I love driving the street track although it is lacking grip at the moment but this should improve in time for qualifying on Saturday. We were able to evaluate a lot of different things today with positive outcomes. I had some oversteer in the car but it was controllable and overall I am very satisfied with the balance. So we can be optimistic heading into the weekend although we expect a tough fight from our close competitors. We will need to work hard ahead of qualifying as it is so important to achieve a good grid position here."
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:18.080, 8th; P2 - 1:15.774, 4th
"We are going in the right direction following this afternoon's practice session however this morning proved quite challenging for me. I had rear locking in the low speed corners and understeer in the high speed corners and didn't feel quite comfortable in the car. However we were able to make some good set-up changes this afternoon and my last runs on the softer tyres were much better. Achieving a good balance is very important here so we are going in the right direction. If we can keep making improvements then it should be a good weekend to come."
Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal:
"The Monaco Grand Prix always throws up a number of unique challenges and we worked hard today to familiarise ourselves with the conditions and prepare for the weekend ahead. The biggest challenge this afternoon was finding sufficient free air to allow the cars to have clean runs and achieve a clear read on our set-up evaluations. Jenson had a little unscheduled work in the garage this afternoon after brushing a wall, a frequent hazard here in Monaco, and we made some precautionary changes to the steering components. Overall it has been a very good start to the weekend which has allowed Rubens and Jenson to acclimatise themselves with the car and the circuit and has put us in a good position ahead of Saturday."
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:17.499, 2nd; P2 - 1:15.832, 5th
"It is hard to say if there's been an improvement since Barcelona, but we are in amongst the other front runners, which is already a good sign. Everything went well from the start of the day, when we worked towards the race. From what we've seen today, our car seems to be quick and consistent in performance terms. In the past, I wasn't particularly keen on this track, but more recently that has changed. Last year, I took pole and today I immediately felt comfortable, working on settings for the car, which we had never tried before. The softer tyres are definitely quicker, but after ten laps or so, you start to lose the back end a bit. However, we must bear in mind that the track conditions change a lot from today to Saturday, so today's results are not that representative."
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:17.839, 5th; P2 - 1:15.985, 8th
"We worked our way through the usual programme for the first day of practice, based on evaluating the two different types of tyre that Bridgestone has brought here and on finding the best set up on the car. I would say the car is handling reasonably well: there are still a few areas where we can improve but I am pleased with what we achieved today. Driving here is always a challenge, even if Sunday's race can then be rather boring, with overtaking practically impossible and if you end up behind slower cars there is nothing you can do but wait for the pit stop."
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
Our Monaco weekend has got off on the right foot, meaning we got through a lot of work without losing time because of technical problems. Everyone is very close and so it is difficult to assess the pecking order, but from what we have seen today, we can say that we are in good shape. As usual, qualifying will be the vital factor and, given that traffic could throw up a key variable, we will have to do a good job of managing the session as well as possible, also taking this element into consideration.
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
"It's always important to start the Monaco weekend without any problems and so we can be happy with having managed that today. Time lost in free practice here can be more costly than elsewhere. As for the set-up, both drivers are reasonably happy with the handling of the F60, even if obviously, there is still a lot to do. Tyre choice for the race is particularly interesting here, given that the two types available are much closer to one another than at other races. Qualifying will be the key as usual at this Grand Prix. Usually at this track, the times are very close and this year they are even more so, given how closely matched everyone is. Therefore it will be even more important to be as well prepared as possible for all phases of qualifying."
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:19.233, 13th; P2 - 1:15.847, 6th
We had an engine failure in the morning, which cost us some track time. Things like that are important for the driver, as well as the car, as you need to get into a good rhythm round here. Nonetheless the boys fixed the car, which I think was quite tricky as some of the parts arrived last minute, so it wasnt easy. But, we still managed to complete quite a few laps and get a lot of data including a view on the different tyre compounds, so I think were in decent shape, but of course we always want to be on top!
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:19.348, 10th; P2 - 1:16.579, 12th
It was a bit of a mixed bag today. We didnt have a great run, reliability-wise, which was a first this season. There was a vibration in the rear of the car during this mornings session so we stopped early, but the boys did an amazing job to get the car back out for the afternoon. I think it was a good recovery for us to do as many laps as we did. We didnt get the ultimate lap time in the second session, as we were running under yellow flags at the end, but the long runs were good and weve gathered plenty of data to go through for Saturday. It looks very tight and competitive here, so it should be an exciting race.
Nelson Piquet, P1 - 1:19.204, 12th; P2 - 1:16.286, 10th
It always takes a few laps to get used to racing on the tight streets of Monaco, but after the morning session I was back in the groove. The car worked well today and we didnt have any problems, which allowed us to complete a lot of laps. The track was dirty this morning and improved during the day, just as it always does in Monaco, but that made it difficult to evaluate the tyres and the set-up changes we made. Overall though I think we are in reasonable shape for the weekend.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:18.283, 9th; P2 - 1:16.552, 11th
Monaco on a Thursday is always more important for the drivers than for the team because it gives us time to get used to the circuit and feel comfortable in the car. We did quite a lot of laps today so it was useful for me and Im happy with the car. I think that we are quite competitive, but qualifying will be the key to the race and our preparation today should help ensure we get the most from the car on Saturday.
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
It was a normal Thursday in Monaco. Its very difficult to really improve the car because the circuit conditions change so rapidly, but we seem quite competitive here, although that is not reflected in the final times because both drivers had problems with traffic.
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:19.600, 18th; P2 - 1:16.675, 13th
Today was quite a normal practice day. The track was very slippery in the morning and it took quite some time to be able to push for a lap time. The car felt OK, reasonably balanced under the high downforce configuration, but the biggest problem we have at the moment is the rear tyre graining. Both the soft and the supersofts seem to be really bad and after even a medium-length run the graining is so bad it really affects the balance of the car. I am confident we can find a solution for qualifying though - the extra day we have will help.
Giancarlo Fisichella, P1 - 1:19.534, 15th; P2 - 1:17.504, 19th
Not a bad start to the weekend. We used the morning session to check the set-up and the balance and then completed some longer runs in the afternoon when the track had a bit more rubber laid down. Like Adrian I had some issues with tyre graining, particularly in the last five laps of my longer runs, and the car even felt like it was moving around even when going in a straight line. I didn't feel I got the best lap time today and there is certainly more to come.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
A typical Thursday's practice in Monaco with the circuit starting at low, low grip and beginning to rubber in by the end of FP2. The programmes ran smoothly for both cars apart from Giancarlo catching some traffic at the end of the afternoon. Adrian produced a good lap, and our balance is not too far away. We will work hard on analysing that data over the coming turnaround day, with a particular eye on maximising the rear tyre life in the race. With these roads open to the public tomorrow afternoon the circuit will be almost back to square one for Saturday morning, but we can expect further improvement before qualifying.
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:19.831, 20th; P2 - 1:16.915, 14th
"We did our normal work of setting up the car and trying to find a good balance. Of course the track surface was dirty this morning and that meant there wasn't much grip. In second practice I had some problems with the tyres and with degradation so we must look into that and work out a solution. We have plenty of work to do but here in Monaco we have an extra day to study the data and improve the set-up. We certainly won't be having a day off tomorrow."
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:19.698, 19th; P2 - 1:17.207, 18th
"That was not an easy day for me. We tried out several mechanical and aerodynamic set-ups in the morning and then in the afternoon we spent more time looking at the tyres. It's hard to say where we are at the moment. Overall, in terms of lap times it was not great but it's always tough to judge after practice. We need to work on getting better traction and getting the best out of the tyres, which was a bit of a challenge in the afternoon. It's tricky but we have a lot of information to look at and we'll make improvements before qualifying."
Dieter Gass, Toyota chief engineer race and test:
"We had a busy day today, doing a lot of laps without major technical problems on the cars. We spent first practice mainly on set-up and assessing some new items we have for this race and in the second session we worked mainly on tyres. We seem to be struggling a bit with long-run consistency so that is something we have to look into. I am not too worried about the time sheets because we set our fastest lap times on the option tyres very early in the second session and we know there is significant circuit evolution here in Monaco. We will now analyse our data, not only tonight but also tomorrow, and come up with the best package we can for Saturday and Sunday."
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:18.695, 11th; P2 - 1:16.983, 15th
It was a good session and we tested everything we wanted to, which is positive. We are still lacking a bit of pace, but the track was improving towards the end of the session, and those who fitted new tyres at that point were clearly quicker, which means there is some potential there. There is also potential in the car, so if we can put all the elements together for Saturday, it should be good. It is also positive that we had no problems with the car and that we didnt crash, which is always a key to a good weekend here in Monaco. As for the tyres, both types worked well, so now we need to improve our car set-up, even if some of the new parts we have here are also an improvement.
Sebastien Bourdais, P1 - 1:19.255, 14th; P2 - 1:17.052, 16th
The car felt quite good on the short runs, but less so on the longer ones, when the cars behaviour made it difficult to sustain the lap times. We got through our work programme for the day. We are suffering from a slight lack of pace, but overall we did the best we could in these two sessions. Now we must look at the data for Saturday and the race, because it looks as though we are going to have two different sets of requirements for the short and long runs, although it is not tyre related. This is of course a special place to drive, although today it was a bit of a struggle to keep away from the barriers.
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:19.579, 17th; P2 - 1:17.109, 17th
"After brake problems on both cars in the morning, the second session was okay for me. On the long runs I was lucky in terms of traffic, but it was the opposite when I was on new tyres towards the end of the session. I lost time when I was stuck behind other cars, but even without this it doesn't look as if this circuit is good for our cars. We will keep working on it."
Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:19.560, 16th; P2 - no time, 20th
"Today was extremely disappointing. We clearly lack outright performance and, due to the engine failure in the second session, I had far too little track time. There is nothing to add."
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
"This was a disappointing practice day. The car's performance is a long way behind what we were expecting. On top of that, due to technical problems, we lost valuable time for setting up the cars. Robert's engine failure happened during the last planned running of this engine on a Friday. Therefore, the failure doesn't impact on the number of engines we can use over the rest of the season. Of course the failure cost Robert valuable time when he should have been working on his car's set-up."