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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 10 Jul 2009

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 10 July 2009 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 10 July 2009 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 10 July 2009 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 10 July 2009 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.09.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 10 July 2009

During Friday morning’s session the advantage was undoubtedly with Red Bull’s Mark Webber, but a surprise turn from Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheets after lunch will have boosted McLaren at the home race of their engine partner, Mercedes. Here they and their rivals review the first day of action at the Nurburgring...

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:34.483, 13th; P2 - 1:32.149, 1st

“The car still lacks downforce, but there’s definitely been an improvement from the new parts we tried today. We’ve still got a long way to go but, most importantly, these new upgrades are pushing us in the right direction. It’s a work in progress, but the guys back at the factory have done an incredible job to get these parts to the circuit - I’ve even heard of one guy working a 36-hour non-stop shift to build these parts, which is incredible. Hopefully we’ll now do our job at the track and try to keep everything moving forward. It’s still early days, and we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, but I’m hopeful of being able to get into Q3 tomorrow and look at scoring a couple of points on Sunday afternoon.”

Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:34.893, 18th; P2 - 1:33.724, 17th
“Clearly, there were differences between the two cars today as we pushed hard to bring the new parts to the track as quickly as possible. Without the upgrades, we didn’t have a good basic package and had some trouble getting heat into the tyres. But the lack of parts is simply an indication on how hard we are working - and, of course, I understand that. There have been people working night and day to get these new parts out to the track and it’s just unfortunate that we don’t yet have two complete sets for both cars. Still, it’s really encouraging for the whole team that the upgrades appear to be working on the car. For my engineers and myself, the most important thing we can do is to keep our heads down, focus on the rest of the weekend and keep on pushing because any improvements we find will still benefit the whole team.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
“An encouraging afternoon for Lewis, who used the full new aerodynamic package for P2. Although it is still early days, and I’m sure we’ve yet to see the strongest efforts from Red Bull Racing and Brawn GP, I think there are good signs of an improvement. It was a more difficult day for Heikki, who regrettably didn’t have the new aerodynamic package upgrade, encountered traffic on his laps and generally had a much tougher afternoon. But he is a fighter, and I’m sure he’ll have a strong weekend nonetheless.”

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“This looked quite encouraging, I have to say, and definitely better than I’d anticipated before the sessions today. We certainly did not post ‘show times’ four our home race; our speed was genuine and quite a bit better than in the last races. I certainly don’t expect us to be fastest tomorrow, but if everything comes together we probably will be in a position to deliver a solid job on race day. Heikki’s car today was not on the same technical level as Lewis’s, which had new pieces that only arrived last night and which are not yet available in sufficient numbers. Our KERS hybrid is a good help around this circuit and gives us more than three tenths of a second per lap.”

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:33.909, 8th; P2 - 1:132.331, 2nd

“We had a problem in the morning when the engine cut off in Turn One, so we lost quite a lot of track time. Thankfully it was dry again this afternoon, so the overall loss was not that big. It was quite tricky this afternoon as the circuit was still very slippery, making it hard to get a good lap and bringing the tyres in seems to be very crucial here. On top of that, the wind is very heavy and is playing some tricks, especially during braking in the last sector, but I think we have a good car, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Obviously, we still have plenty of work to do. We’ve done a lot of testing today so we will look now at what’s best in order to be well prepared for qualifying.”

Mark Webber, P1 - 1:33.082, 1st; P2 - 1:32.480, 4th
“That was a pretty good day for us. We expected changeable and cool conditions, which are so typical of the Nurburgring, so there were no surprises with that. We did the normal Friday stuff, comparing the tyres and it seems pretty straightforward. We got a reasonable amount of laps in and have some good bits to go through tonight. The guys worked very well today and we were able to do everything we needed, so onwards to tomorrow!”

Brawn GP
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:33.463, 2nd; P2 - 1:32.369, 3rd

"We had a reasonable day and were able to make good progress on the set-up of the car. We are still lacking in a few areas that we need to look at overnight and make improvements but overall today was a pretty good start to the weekend. The main problem is the cold conditions. The air temperature is almost what you would expect in winter testing and the low track temperatures are causing problems with the harder prime tyre so we will struggle with that tyre if it stays like this."

Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:34.227, 12th; P2 - 1:32.664, 7th
"It looks like this will be another cold race weekend but the car and tyres have a different feeling here from the last race at Silverstone. The harder tyre is really quite tricky and it was difficult to maintain its working range today. However the softer option tyre performed a lot better which is encouraging. We've made some improvements this afternoon but still have some way to go on the set-up, particularly with the front end of the car where we were lacking grip all day."

Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal:
"We made some useful progress today using our experience at previous events where the cold and damp conditions have proved more difficult for us. We do still have several areas of the car's performance to develop overnight to ensure that we have the best package for the rest of the weekend. The weather forecast suggests that conditions may be a little more favourable tomorrow, which combined with some work on the set-up overnight, should put us in a good position for qualifying."

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:33.795, 4th; P2 - 1:32.511, 5th

"Today was a standard Friday for me, although the weather affected things a bit and that could be a theme for the whole weekend. We tried the two tyre compounds and did some set-up work but there were times when the track was damp and this doesn't make comparisons any easier. Generally I am pretty happy and still quite optimistic for the weekend when you see the results at the end of each session. This is one of the home races for the team so I would be very pleased to do well for all the people who are here supporting us. We have made a promising start but there is of course still room for improvement."

Timo Glock, P1 - 1:34.911, 19th; P2 - 1:33.172, 15th
"It's my home race so it was nice to already see quite a few fans in the grandstands and it's a good feeling to be driving in front of them. Practice was quite tricky for me today. I struggled a little in the first practice to find the perfect balance but we worked hard between the sessions to find an improvement and the second one started pretty well. I think towards the end we didn't take the best direction in terms of set-up so we have to look at the data and find a way to get it back. I'm really motivated to do well at my home race so I am pushing hard and we'll do everything we can overnight and tomorrow to be in good shape for qualifying."

Dieter Gass, Toyota chief engineer race and test:
"All in all it was a positive day for us. We had some new aero components which we assessed and got some useful information, while we had no technical problems on the car. The times were very tight with only a second covering the top 16 in the afternoon. It was pretty cold out there today with track temperatures more like a winter test than a Grand Prix in July but the weather is the same for everybody and we may have to get used to it for the weekend. The low track temperatures don't seem to have too much of a negative impact on us so it shouldn't be a problem. In terms of the tyres, the super soft compound seems to be working a bit better than expected for us. So for a Friday we are in a decent position but now we have to see what the weather does for the remainder of the weekend, especially on Sunday."

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:35.092, 20th; P2 - 1:32.585, 6th

“It was a good Friday for us that showed some real improvement from previous weekends. Sixth was a good effort from the team and it felt quite good. I think it will be difficult to get into the top 10 tomorrow but I do feel a good Q2 performance would be realistic. Today started off quite difficult when I had a problem in the morning and couldn't get much running in and in the afternoon I also had a small issue with the steering that took a little while to get sorted. We could test a few items though, including the range of tyres here. It's difficult to say at the moment about their performance as it's good at the beginning of the run and then goes a little off in the end so we will see. Plus it's very difficult to judge the weather conditions - it's been typical Eifel weather! It changes every hour, going from very cold to sunshine. As such it's difficult for the hard tyres to warm up but we'll play with the strategy tomorrow to try and make it work for us.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, P1 - 1:33.839, 5th; P2 - 1:38.877, 20th
“I think it was about right for the team today, with both drivers in the top six in either session. The first session for me was quite good with a promising position, but it was quite disappointing in the afternoon. I caught a kerb that was still wet and just spun into the barriers. I think I could have done well in the second session, but it looks encouraging for tomorrow for another Q2.”

Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
“A very cold day here with a constant shower risk and both sessions declared wet, which is quite unusual in July. The car balance was good but the grip on the track was quite low in general. Adrian suffered a couple of unrelated mechanical issues disrupting both sessions but recovered well to carry out some thorough tyre evaluation. Giancarlo had a good FP1 and also showed that the car has some good potential this weekend. Unfortunately he was on track just as a shower wet the track and he had a spin at Turns 10-11. We will now prepare for whatever the Eifel weather can throw at us over the coming weekend!”

Renault
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:34.148, 10th; P2 - 1:32.774, 8th

“We had a few more issues to deal with today as we lost some track time with the rain. So we probably would have liked to make a few more changes to the car and run some more laps, but there was not time. It’s difficult to judge our competitiveness as it’s only Friday and we still need to analyse the data this evening to get a better understanding of our performance. We’ve definitely improved the car, but it looks like the other teams have improved as well.”

Nelson Piquet, P1 - 1:34.738, 15th; P2 - 1:32.992, 10th
“The track was quite slippery early on in both sessions and the rain showers didn’t help. But we still managed to get through most of the programme, looking at the tyres and trying out some of the new parts. We still have a lot of data to go over this evening as I was running a different programme to Fernando so that the team could learn as much as possible. It feels like we are more competitive than we were at Silverstone, but it’s never easy to tell much on Friday.”

Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
“We had quite a successful Friday even though we had to keep one eye on the weather! We have a number of new aero parts here and it was necessary to evaluate those, which we managed to do and we’re happy with their performance. In terms of the tyres, they seem to be performing in the same way for all the teams: the soft is working much better than we expected, but the hard tyre is a little difficult to warm up. Overall we are quite happy with the progress we have made.”

Williams
Kazuki Nakajima, P1 - 1:33.952, 9th; P2 - 1:32.872, 9th

“The weather made it a bit of an odd day today. We are expecting conditions to be a bit better tomorrow, hopefully a little more consistent, so I think we need to be a bit patient and wait to see how it looks. Of course it is my first time here in an F1 car, and while I didn’t find the track especially easy, it certainly was interesting and enjoyable.”

Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:33.902, 7th; P2 - 1:33.128, 13th
“There is not too much to report today aside from the issue we have had with tyre warm-up which could continue until the weather improves. The forecast seems to suggest the temperatures will increase. The wind today also made it difficult to find an absolute direction, so with positive conditions, we know we have quite a lot of possible improvement. We have also changed the way we approach Friday practice, so we do not expect to be top of the time sheets. On the long run side, we did however make some very clear progress for the race."

Sam Michael, Williams’ technical director:
“We worked through our programme, even though there was a little rain about this afternoon. It was pretty difficult given the gusty wind conditions today and with the track being cold, it was a challenge to generate the temperature to get the tyres up to the optimum grip level as quickly as possible. However, we managed to compare both tyres and check all the new aero parts we have on the car here. Overnight we will get our heads down and work on the set-up for tomorrow.”

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:34.221, 11th; P2 - 1:33.012, 11th

“For me the outcome of the second session is somewhat difficult to understand. After the track dried out I was quite pleased with the performance. I had traffic on what eventually turned out to be my fastest lap and lost about four tenth behind a Ferrari. Because of this I had high expectations for the final run on another set of new tyres and on an improved track. But then I wasn’t quicker than on my blocked lap earlier in the session. This is really strange and has to be analysed.”

Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:34.694, 14th; P2 - 1:33.161, 14th
“This was a very difficult Friday. The weather conditions were far from good. We had some rain in both sessions and it was very cold all day long. The weather makes it hard to keep up the tyre temperatures. It was especially difficult to get the harder tyre compound to work. We have to improve the car’s balance for tomorrow. We will now analyse the data and see what we have to change for tomorrow.”

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
“With all the new parts on the car today for us it was important that we were able to conduct our comprehensive programme as planned. Now we have to analyse and compare the data we collected. The first analysis shows we made some progress with regard to the downforce level. But we have to make an improvement with the balance of the car. For Saturday we have to make the set-up as effective as possible.”

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:33.745, 3rd; P2 - 1:33.052, 12th

“It was a reasonable day, which confirmed our expectations. We still have a bit of work to do, especially in finding the right balance for the first timed lap: with these temperatures, the fronts struggle at the start before improving lap by lap. In the afternoon, we had a heavy fuel load, so as to be as well prepared as possible for Sunday’s race, so we’re not particularly bothered about our position in the classification.”

Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:33.840, 6th; P2 - 1:33.182, 16th
“I think we are more or less where we were at Silverstone. We are still struggling a bit to find the best balance on the car, but I am sure that we will find a way of fixing that. In the second session, I only used the softer tyres because we had to work on the car in between the two sessions, which cost me a bit of time. We certainly struggled to get the harder tyre up to the right operating temperature, as was to be expected given the weather.”

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
“The situation is reasonably similar to that at the last race. Tomorrow, our aim is to get both cars into Q3 and then try for a good result on Sunday. We know that won’t be at all easy, but, as always we will do all we can to succeed.”

Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
“It was rather a difficult day, with changing weather conditions and a few little technical glitches which meant we had to compress our work programme. However, in the end, we managed to complete almost all the tasks on our list, including the evaluation of some new aerodynamic components. There is definitely more work to be done to get the balance right on the car, in order to achieve our objectives which are to get both cars into Q3 and to do well in the race. The low temperatures do not suit us, especially when it comes to doing a good time on the first flying lap.”

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:34.878, 17th; P2 - 1:33.903, 18th

“Even though our times don’t look great, we did a good job today in terms of testing everything we wanted to try and so we have a clear picture of what the car is doing and why. Depending on whether it is wet or not tomorrow, we will go in a different direction to try and be more competitive. The rain cost us a bit of a track time, but it didn’t affect our programme, so we can be happy with the work and less so with the actual result. I have to say, I hope it rains as I think we would be more competitive in those conditions.”

Sebastien Bourdais, P1 - 1:34.827, 16th; P2 - 1:34.025, 19th
“The main difficulty today was the low track temperatures which meant the tyres had very little grip. We made several changes to the set-up, including some to the rear ride height, but I don’t think we went in the right direction. That meant I struggled with that and the wind also made life difficult in terms of braking stability with a strong tailwind at the chicane meaning it was hard to stop the car. Seb and I tried quite different set-ups on the car, but, in the end, they both seemed to produce similar lap times.”