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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 05 Jun 2009

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 5 June 2009 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 5 June 2009 (L to R): Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Brawn Grand Prix with Jock Clear (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix Senior Race Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 5 June 2009 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 5 June 2009 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Friday, 5 June 2009

Heikki Kovalainen on a promising first day in Turkey for McLaren; Fernando Alonso on an encouraging showing for Renault; and BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica on an unexpected third place. All 20 drivers plus senior team personnel give their early impressions from Istanbul…

McLaren
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:29.590, 10th; P2 - 1:28.841, 1st

“At the start of the session, the track was very green and it was quite hard to stay on the road – particularly in the opening corners. At first, the car was quite difficult to drive but we worked hard during the session and I think we found a very good balance. The most important thing is that the car is working fine - and the balance is surprisingly good. I think we’ve made another step forward so everybody in the team can be pleased about today. I still think it will be a tough fight to get into the top ten tomorrow, but we’ll be trying the maximum to improve overnight so that we can join the fight. Overall, it’s very encouraging that we have made another step forward.”

Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:29.283, 2nd; P2 - 1:29.435, 13th
“The track was very slippery this morning, particularly in the first sector where several cars were sliding around a lot. But we had a very good session, I was very satisfied with the car: it felt good to drive. More encouragingly, I could also feel a subtle improvement from the new parts we tested today. A good start to our weekend. Before we arrived here, we thought we’d probably have the same sort of pace that we had in Barcelona, but it seems like we’re a little bit faster than we anticipated. I had a couple of spins this afternoon - but that just proves I was pushing hard! We have a little instability on the exit of some corners but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the pace of the car today. The guys back at the factory have worked hard to give us this improvement; now we’ll keep on working and trying to improve the car and hope that tomorrow is an even better day for us.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
“A good effort by Heikki today, who was quickest despite having a very frustrating two sessions. This morning, he had a valve problem with his tyres so had to switch sets at the last minute, which interrupted his programme. And this afternoon, he had a problem with his brake balance sensor. Despite all this, he conducted his full programme and made reasonable progress over his long runs. Lewis concentrated on a tyre comparison and set-up programme. I think we possibly went in a few wrong directions this afternoon, so we’re comfortable with the pace we’ve achieved. There’s still a lot of work left to do to optimise the car, but hopefully we can continue the strong progress we started today. It’s always nice to see you’ve set the quickest time of the day. The reality is that the timesheets don’t lie - our aim for tomorrow is to hopefully get both cars into the final session of qualifying. That’s our realistic goal.”

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“Today was a productive test day for us. The laptimes seem to be closer than ever with just over seven tenths of a second separating Heikki in first from 16th place in the rankings. Our laptimes during this afternoon’s race simulations looked not bad and hopefully we can make another step forward tomorrow and start from a good position on the grid for Sunday’s race.”

Renault
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:29.422, 8th; P2 - 1:28.847, 2nd

"Driving at Istanbul Park on the first day is never easy as the track conditions are really poor and we always see the track evolve during the weekend. So we just tried to get some laps on the car and evaluate some parts, rather than focussing too much on set-up work as we didn't want to get confused by the constantly changing track. So there is more to come and tomorrow morning we will start our proper set-up work. Even though our position looks good today, we know that tomorrow will be more difficult."

Nelson Piquet, P1 - 1:30.132, 14th; P2 - 1:29.401, 10th
"The track conditions weren't easy today as the track was very green and that made it difficult to learn much about the car. It improved a bit in the afternoon and that's when we did most of our running which allowed us to start evaluating the tyres. It's important to make the most of the final practice session tomorrow morning so that I can find a set-up that I am happy with and approach qualifying in reasonable shape."

Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
"It was quite a challenging day. The circuit was very slippery - as we saw from the number of cars that went off the track. Also, the tyre behaviour was not as we expected and so despite Fernando's high position on the timesheets, we still have a lot of work to do before tomorrow."

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:30.645, 16th; P2 - 1:29.056, 3rd

“Today we worked on the set-up of the car and tried to understand the two tyre compounds Bridgestone have brought to Istanbul. Additionally this was the first time we have had the double diffuser on our car. We did a couple of different tests so as to understand how it works and what effects it has on the car’s balance. It is too early to say if it works well as the difference between Monaco and Istanbul is too large.”

Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:30.689, 17th; P2 - 1:29.550, 16th
“My lap time doesn’t look good but I still have confidence in our new aero package. Actually the balance of my car wasn’t right, but Robert’s lap time is quite promising. On the positive side, the bad balance of the car has indicated the direction we need to go in and so we can work on it. We didn’t do major changes in the second session because we had to do some important comparisons.”

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
“We used the double diffuser for the first time today, and it looks like this is a step forward. However, we still have a lot of work to do, because it’s quite difficult to find the right balance with both tyre specifications. Between the morning and the afternoon sessions we changed the set-up of the two cars quite a bit to make the new aero package work. In the afternoon, as usual, we did our race preparation and the pace looked quite promising.”

Williams
Kazuki Nakajima, P1 - 1:29.371, 6th; P2 - 1:29.091, 4th

“It was quite a strange practice day, especially the afternoon’s session when we tried the prime and option tyre compares. The tyres really weren’t working well today. I think our car is fairly quick, but we need to wait and check the data to see how we can get the best out of the tyres.”

Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:28.952, 1st; P2 - 1:29.257, 7th
“I think that the new aero parts we’ve brought out here are working as we expected them to, which is good. Having said that, levels of progress are always calculated in relation to other people and we are never sure where the others are, especially on a Friday. Today’s sessions were mainly about tyre testing. We covered a lot of ground with them, particularly in the afternoon session, so we now have a better understanding of how both the option and prime are working, but we will have another look at them tomorrow morning to figure out how to get the most out of them. It’s clear that tyre choice will be an interesting call for both qualifying and the race.”

Sam Michael, Williams’ technical director:
“We had a reasonable day in terms of keeping to our schedule and completing the work that we needed to do. We’ve brought some new parts here, all of which are working well. Today proved useful in that we’ve collected some important set-up information which we will look at this evening in order to make the best decisions for tomorrow’s qualifying and then Sunday’s race. We then spent the majority of the afternoon looking at ways to extract the most from the two tyres that Bridgestone have brought here.”

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:29.337, 4th; P2 - 1:29.202, 5th

“I felt a vibration during the second session, so stopped the car as it didn’t look very good. We didn’t know what the exact problem was, but when we got the car back it turned out it was the engine. We made some changes to the car between the two practice sessions, which meant we were a few minutes late starting the second practice. It wouldn’t have been a problem but then, as it turned out, I was only able to complete three laps in the afternoon due to the vibration in the car. I’ll be relying on Mark’s data from today - having one car running on Friday isn’t ideal.”

Mark Webber, P1 - 1:30.176, 15th; P2 - 1:29.383, 9th
“It’s not the easiest circuit in the world to stay on the track – a few people were having excursions here and there, but being dusty off line, it’s very easy to run out of talent here. It was a pretty good day for us and we’ve got lots of information to go through tonight. As usual we did the tyre comparison. Turn 8’s a special corner here, very unique, but there are many other corners out there too that we have to get right. We’re looking forward to trying to stay on the track tomorrow and on Sunday.”

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:29.271, 3rd; P2 - 1:29.207, 6th

"We mainly concentrated on set-up work and tyre evaluation as usual on a Friday. The track was pretty dusty, especially in the morning, so we felt a little lack of grip but that was expected here and it should improve tomorrow. The new aero bits are working well and they look like a good step which bodes well for the rest of the weekend. My lap times were competitive and the long runs went well so we will see what we can do for tomorrow. I am pleased with how things went today so we should be competitive."

Timo Glock, P1 - 1:29.934, 13th; P2 - 1:29.518, 14th
“It was a normal Friday practice for me with a programme of long runs and also various set-up comparisons. It was a bit tricky because I didn't feel the balance of the car was exactly where I wanted it to be, especially on the soft tyres, but we will work to improve that in time for qualifying. The lap times were really close in the afternoon session and I know I had the potential to be quicker. We are stronger than we were in Monaco, which is what we expected as that track is a one-off, so we want to demonstrate that in qualifying."

Dieter Gass, Toyota chief engineer race and test:
"It was a very productive day for us. We had some aero updates on the car which we used successfully and we clearly looked better than we did in Monaco, as we anticipated here. As usual in Turkey on Friday you have a very big circuit evolution and we saw that in the morning. In the afternoon, between third and 16th places all cars were within half a second and that means that only a difference of 10kg of fuel would completely mix up the pecking order. So it is difficult to draw conclusions yet but we are definitely on a different level of performance compared to Monaco so we can be optimistic for the weekend."

Brawn GP
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:29.525, 9th; P2 - 1:29.305, 8th

"It's been a slightly different Friday today from our recent experiences. We don't look that competitive at the moment however it is still early in the weekend and depends on the programmes and fuel levels that our competitors are running. There is a lot of work for us to achieve, particularly in the first sector where we seem to be suffering the most, but we believe that we understand the issues. We know that we can work with this car to improve its performance quickly and that puts us in a strong position to make the changes needed ahead of qualifying."

Jenson Button, P1 - 1:29.747, 11th; P2 - 1: 29.430, 12th
"We've had a tough first day of practice trying to find a good balance with the car. We tried many different set-up options over the course of the two sessions but unfortunately could not get the car to where I want it to be and struggled with a lack of grip. However we now have a great deal of information to review after trying a few evaluations and believe that we have some understanding of what is causing the problems. We need to have a good look at everything tonight and I'm hopeful that we can resolve today's issues and have a better day tomorrow."

Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal:
"We've had a challenging opening day to the Turkish Grand Prix weekend as we faced issues on both sides of the garage. The team worked very hard in both sessions on a number of set-up changes and whilst we made some progress, we were not able to find a good enough balance on either car. We also experienced a lack of grip on both the prime and option tyre. I'm confident that we will get to the bottom of this overnight and should be in a much better position ready for qualifying tomorrow."

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:30.944, 20th; P2 - 1:22.571, 9th

“My first day in an F1 car at this track was a very difficult one. On the plus side, we had no mechanical problems, so we did a high mileage. That means at least we have a lot of data to analyse to work out why we are slow and hopefully find a better set-up for tomorrow. At the moment, it’s difficult to say where we are, although obviously we are not where we want to be. The main problem today was that we could not get the most out of the tyres. Compared to the others, we are not too bad on a long run, but on new tyres, it wasn’t working 100 percent.”

Sebastien Bourdais, P1 - 1:30.838, 19th; P2 - 1:22.615, 11th
“A tough day and I wish we could have been a bit higher up the order. We are not such a long way off, but there is a little bit missing to put us in the fight. I know that tomorrow will be better, but today we struggled to get the tyres working properly. Usually, the soft is quite a bit better, but today it didn’t bring anything and it was harder to drive with it. In terms of balance it seems like a 50-50 split between oversteer and understeer, but the main problem is lack of grip. Now we must look at all the data and see how we can improve for tomorrow. There have been other races this year where we’ve been a long way back on Friday and then made good progress on Saturday, so we will see…”

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:29.342, 5th; P2 - 1:29.416, 11th

"The track surface today was very dirty, as could be seen by the number of off-track excursions. As for us, we concentrated on finding the best set-up for Sunday's race and it's difficult to say where we are compared to the rest. On top of that, everyone is very close in performance terms, so I think we'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to understand something. The harder tyres give little grip, as we expected, while the softer ones seems to suffer significant degradation, even though, as the track evolves, that situation should change. The new aerodynamic elements we have here are definitely not worth a second, but they are a small help, which when put all together, improve our performance."

Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:29.398, 7th; P2 - 1:29.520, 15th
"At this track, conditions change very quickly, so it is difficult to judge the performance of the various cars on the basis of today's results. The track is very dirty and, after making some changes to the set-up, the car seemed to handle a bit strangely, but then it was back to normal for my final run in FP2. There is still work to do on the car but I am confident: I think we will find the right solutions to be competitive tomorrow and on Sunday."

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
"Today's results are even more difficult to interpret than they usually are on Fridays. Apart from the normal unknowns relating to fuel loads and tyre useage, the track conditions also played a part, as they changed a lot during the two sessions. Having said that, we are reasonably happy with the work we did today, also taking into account our fuel loads. There is still work to do to improve the handling of the car, but all in all, I think we are going in the right direction."

Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
"It was a rather complicated day, because of the track conditions, it being dirty and also because of the wind. We got through our programme without the slightest problem, concentrating on tyre choice for the race, finding the best set-up on the car and on evaluating new aerodynamic solutions which are making their track debut today. Both the compounds that Bridgestone brought here seem to be pretty critical in terms of grip, at least from what we could see today. But we know the situation will improve bit by bit as the track gets rubbered in. All in all, we are reasonably satisfied with what we've seen today. I think that again here in Turkey, we will be able to confirm the progress seen in Spain and Monaco."

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:29.864, 12th; P2 - 1:30.081, 17th

“We had no problems on the car today and everything worked well, but the grip level was not good out on the circuit. It was a bit dusty, and the tyres were very difficult to come to terms with, it didn't seem like we had enough grip. We struggled to get in a reasonable lap time and we were always doing the same time regardless of which tyre compound we were on. We now have to see what we are going to do but it may be different when the circuit has a bit more rubber down.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, P1 - 1:30.729, 18th; P2 - 1:30.295, 19th
“The balance was not so good at the beginning of this morning's session as the car was a bit too pointy and nervous, but we went in the right direction and made some positive steps. Then this afternoon on the long run on harder tyres we were quicker but unfortunately I couldn't time a better time on the softer tyres as I had the coming together with Nakajima through Turn 12.”

Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
“We were expecting quite a contrast today from Monaco as the circuits are very different, with Istanbul being much more fast and flowing circuit, and that is what we found. The grip was quite low and the balance of the cars a little knife edge and we've some work to do to improve that for tomorrow. Our tyre evaluation today collected the data that we need and it will be interesting to see how things evolve now as it warms up over the weekend. The VJM2 ran reliably and the team worked hard to maximise our track time today.”