Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 24 Jul 2009
During Friday mornings session, McLarens Heikki Kovalainen stormed to the top of the timesheets, while his team mate Lewis Hamilton was on dominant form in the afternoon. Here they and their rivals review the first day of action at the Hungaroring
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:22.554, 3rd; P2 - 1:22.079, 1st
Firstly, I love driving here: its quite a complex circuit, very technical, lots of bumps and you need a good rhythm. Its definitely in my top five tracks on the calendar. Weve refined the improvements we had at the Nurburgring and they seem to be working, but weve still got a lot of work to do to beat the Red Bulls particularly. Nevertheless, its encouraging to be able to push the car - Im happier with it than Ive been all season. The MP4-24 is lacking pace over the bumps and at the exits of corners: unlike the Red Bulls and the Brawns, were just not able to get the power down as early as them. Its the speed out of the corners onto the straights where we lose out. Still, the guys at the factory have done an incredible job; Im looking forward to seeing them next week, just to express how thankful I am for all the hard work theyve been doing. In qualifying the front row would be beautiful but, to be honest, Im just aiming to get into Q3. The car is much more competitive - weve come from 2.5s off but were still about four to five tenths off the leaders, so weve got to keep working to make that up before we can start thinking about winning.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:22.278, 1st; P2 - 1:22.126, 2nd
Ive got the full upgrade package that Lewis raced at the Nurburgring and the car now feels much better to drive. Weve got a new floor, new front wing, updated bodywork and some small changes to the suspension. Its a big package - and I know how hard the team has worked to get everything here. There are still components arriving at the circuit today! The grip level is so much higher now. Stability under braking is much better, and the guys have done a fantastic job to improve the balance at the rear. We still have to keep working hard to make further improvements - but this is a great starting point. I still think we need to look at the data and analyse the strength of the opposition. Of course, it would be fantastic to carry this over into qualifying and the race, but we need to be realistic: Im sure tomorrow morning will give us a much clearer idea of the position of the Brawns and the Red Bulls. But after todays performance, Ill definitely be going for it.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
The new aero package that Lewiss car was fitted with in Germany was originally intended for Hungary, but as things turned out we were able to introduce it one race early on one car only. Here, in Budapest, weve been able to use it on both cars. Its a pretty major change, which has taken us down a different aerodynamic route from the one we initially followed with MP4-24s design, and I think its fair to say that that new direction appears to be a fruitful one. In addition, weve also made a few extra aero mods over and above the original Hungary aero package, and both drivers have clearly benefited from those mods today. As a result, MP4-24 is now generating a significant amount more downforce than it was at the beginning of the year - and, combined with what was always a pretty sound mechanical package, the result is the performance step weve seen today.
A racing driver will always drive up to and including his cars limits. So, whenever you extend those limits by improving his cars performance, his initial reaction on his first outing will always be a very positive one, simply because hes been enjoying exploring new, higher, limits. On his second outing, by which time hell have encountered those new, higher, limits, hell be making fresh observations. As a result, his feedback will be less positive than it was after his first outing. But thats exactly as it should be: you want your drivers to be insatiably ambitious, and ours are.
This morning was basically a test session in which we did some disciplined development work and gathered some useful data. This afternoon we turned our attention to trialling race fuel loads and doing tyre comparisons. There were no big issues, and our drivers both performed well. We learned quite a lot today, in fact. For tomorrow, we hope to be able to improve our cars ride a little, and to continue to optimise its set-up and thereby find a little more speed. We know what programme we were on today in terms of tyres and fuel loads, but we dont have the same information about our competitors, so it would be foolish to make predictions about the rest of the weekend. Suffice it to say that we hope to qualify well with both cars, from which platform theres no reason why we shouldnt be able to race competitively on Sunday.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
Quite a constructive first day on this demanding track. Clearly, our KERS Hybrid is a big help around this circuit - particularly in the first sector. But, in addition, its obvious that our car in total has improved a lot since Silverstone two races ago. Now we need to continue in the same direction tomorrow and on Sunday in order to finally bring home a creditable and respectable result.
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:22.337, 2nd; P2 - 1:22.154, 3rd
We have made some good progress today in the sessions, but I dont yet feel completely happy in the car and I think we can find some more improvement tomorrow. The tyres will be quite interesting to work out as although they are quite close together, the option at the end of a run is obviously a bit slower than the prime. We will have to analyse carefully which way we go in the race and I think that the answer might not be too obvious. We also spent some time testing the new aero parts we have here.
Kazuki Nakajima, P1 - 1:22.619, 5th; P2 - 1:22.426, 5th
It was a good session today. We recorded some good long runs and although our short runs were not quite as good, if we can fix this by working with the data, we will be looking good for tomorrow.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director:
It was a good practice today, we managed to get through everything on set-up and testing the new aero parts we have here. Everything went well on both fronts. We then spent the afternoon session evaluating the two different tyres, both of which look quite good for us, so from here we will be concentrating on qualifying and refining the set-up for tomorrow. We had no technical problems today.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:22.615, 4th; P2 - 1:22.369, 4th
Weve had a good day so far. Its normal for Budapest to be pretty warm, so weve experienced the normal characteristics and the problems that Budapest throws at the engineers and drivers. The car seems to be going okay at the moment - well see what fuel loads people are running as usual tomorrow and on Sunday. Weve got a bit of work to do with our car but, in general, its been a reasonably positive day, with the exception of stopping towards the end of the second session with a hydraulic problem.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:23.283, 15th; P2 - 1:22.550, 6th
A hot, hot Friday, obviously the sun is out in Hungary, which makes it hot in the car, but its okay. Overall I think we are still struggling to find the balance - Im not yet 100 percent happy, so we need to look into it carefully overnight to see where we are. Hopefully we can make a step forward tomorrow and then it will be all about qualifying as usual. I think its much closer here than at previous races, other teams are very competitive, so we will see!
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:23.209, 13th; P2 - 1:22.641, 7th
"Our programme today was to work with the two tyre compounds to fully understand their working range and the impact on the set-up and balance of the car. Most of my day was focused on evaluating the prime tyre which proved not have a great deal of grip so it was important to establish some set-up assumptions. We then tried the option tyre later this afternoon which seemed to be quicker. Overall I'm pretty happy with our progress today."
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:23.130, 10th; P2 - 1:22.806, 13th
"It's been a much better Friday for us than at the last couple of races. Obviously the temperatures are higher here which works in our favour and we have some good aerodynamic updates to the car for this race. We achieved a lot of important work today with the tyres and whilst we have some way to go to get them working at their optimum, it's a good start to the weekend."
Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal:
"A productive day for us today and we're pleased with the amount of set-up work that we have been able to achieve over the two sessions. The initial feedback from the performance improvements that we've brought to this race looks positive and both Rubens and Jenson were happy with the progress made. The temperatures were pretty much as we expected with the hot and sunny conditions enabling us to make reasonable use of the tyres and develop our understanding of their performance characteristics. We will now look through the data this evening to ensure we are ready for qualifying, which is crucial here as there are limited overtaking opportunities, but overall a positive start to our weekend."
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:22.705, 6th; P2 - 1:22.663, 8th
It was a difficult day for me and I had a bit of trouble. It was disappointing we couldn't do all the work we had planned in second practice due to the problem but the team did a great job to get the car ready again so quickly. It's not easy to say where we are in terms of competitiveness or set-up because it didn't run as smoothly as normal. The track conditions evolved quite a lot during the day, as expected, and by the end of the second session there was a lot more grip than in the morning. Now it is important to make the best possible use of tomorrow's practice session so we are well prepared for qualifying."
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:23.234, 14th; P2 - 1:22.751, 10th
"Today was quite positive for me and overall I am definitely happier than at this stage of the weekend at the Nurburgring. The car felt quite good, especially later in second practice when the track had rubbered in more. There wasn't a lot of grip this morning or for the first few laps of the afternoon session so it was a little tricky but it improved after that. So I am happy with how things have gone for me, but of course we still have work to do to improve the set-up even more. We have taken a step in the right direction and I hope for a strong qualifying tomorrow."
Dieter Gass, Toyota chief engineer race and test:
"As usual here in Hungary, the track initially had quite poor grip but this improved significantly during the sessions. We had some temperature problems on Jarno's car in the afternoon which caused him to stop on track at one stage. Also, his morning session was also not entirely trouble-free and we needed to change some components, which cost a little time. So he lost a bit of running and is therefore a little behind in his programme. Timo had a smooth day without any problems so we will transfer some of the information we learned from his work to Jarno's car. It is interesting to see how close the field is today, with almost the whole field covered by one second, so it will be really important tomorrow to get everything spot on in qualifying and get the cars as far up the grid as we can."
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:23.154, 12th; P2 - 1:22.690, 9th
We are making progress, although Im not satisfied with the balance of the car yet. It is not just as I want it would be - neither on a single lap nor on a long run. You can feel the tyre compounds are now more similar to each other than they used to be, but Im afraid the tyres are still not really good. Despite the traffic on the track, I was lucky this time and had quite a few clear laps.
Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:23.146, 11th; P2 - 1:22.870, 14th
Today it was very hot. The car in the morning session felt good straightaway. In the first run especially I was quite happy. When there was more rubber on the track we tested some new parts and a modified front wing. In the afternoon I was not too happy with the car. We now have to compare the data from the two sessions and find the right balance.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
We used some new parts today, which prior to this had only been tested in the wind tunnel. Therefore we put a lot of emphasis on working on the set-up of the car and finding a good baseline. I think we were able to make a small step forward. Compared to the last two races, the ambient temperatures are much higher here which makes the set-up work quite a bit easier. Both drivers also completed long-runs in the afternoon to gather some information on the tyres.
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:22.796, 7th; P2 - 1:22.763, 11th
Today, the car wasnt that bad. There are still some small things that we can work on to make it quicker, but overall, I am reasonably happy. This year, the supersoft tyre has always been very difficult to manage, but here it seems the situation is rather more straightforward. Well see what we can manage tomorrow, but this is definitely a better Friday than those in the recent past. Seeing how close the times are, we will have to try and do the maximum to get a good grid position. It seems to me that the performance level of the various cars at this track is much closer one to the other.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:22.855, 8th; P2 - 1:23.156, 18th
Im not happy with how things went today. I struggled a lot just to get the balance on the car to an acceptable level and found the tyres offered little grip, especially the harder ones, to such an extent I wasnt able to do a real long run on either types of tyre. On top of that, in the final part of the second session I had a problem with the rear suspension after going off the track, which cost me valuable time. Here, the conditions change a lot from one day to the next and I really hope that will be the case again this time.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
It was a slightly different Friday to usual. This was because we also began to work with a view to next season, especially so in the morning. The classification is very tight and clearly, while evaluating it, we have to take into account the usual unknowns linked to fuel loads and tyre use. We still have work to do to be as well prepared as possible for tomorrows qualifying which is bound to be very tight. It wont take much to be either on the front row or down the back.
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
A very busy Friday for the team, both because we worked in a slightly different way to usual and because we had to solve a few problems on the rear suspension, linked to some off track excursions. Furthermore, we did the usual job of comparing the two types of tyre brought here by Bridgestone and its clear we are struggling a bit, as indeed we usually do, in terms of doing a time on the first flying lap, especially on the harder tyre. From what we could see in todays three hours of practice, everyone is very evenly matched and we will have to do our utmost to get a good qualifying result, which here more than at some other tracks, is very important in terms of the outcome of the race.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:23.001, 9th; P2 - 1:22.793, 12th
It was a fairly normal day of practice, although it wasnt easy to cope with the constantly evolving track. The morning was all about getting used to the car again and in the afternoon we concentrated on understanding the two different tyres, which gave us some useful information for the race. We managed to complete our programme and I think we can be happy with the job we have done today. For tomorrow morning we need to get ready for qualifying as grid position will be very important for the race.
Nelson Piquet, P1 - 1:23.678, 17th; P2 - 1:22.927, 15th
It wasnt an easy day because I had to learn about the new parts that I have on my car this weekend, as well as working on the set-up. As Fernando already had these updates in Germany, Ive been able to get some set-up feedback from his data. Generally the Hungaroring is a circuit where its quite difficult to find the right set-up, especially as the track is so dirty and bumpy. So far we have lots of data that we will look over this evening to prepare for tomorrow. Its difficult to say if its possible to qualify in the top ten, but were doing everything we can to have a quick car for tomorrow.
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
It was quite a straightforward day of practice for us. As usual, we concentrated on understanding the tyres, particularly as we have the super-soft compound here, which is generally more difficult to use than the other compounds. However, today it was extremely satisfactory, for both short and long runs, so we feel confident for the remainder of the weekend.
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:23.845, 18th; P2 - 1:22.978, 16th
Today was quite a tough day. The grip level was so low on the circuit and it was hard to judge the tyres. The balance in general is hard to get and the car is difficult to drive. We're getting some oversteer and then understeer in the mid corner with a lot of snaps over the bumps. It is made harder as the grip levels are changing constantly, but we've got lots of data to work on so I'm confident we'll find some more tomorrow.
Giancarlo Fisichella, P1 - 1:23.484, 16th; P2 - 1:23.029, 17th
Everything went reasonably well today as we went through the programme. The balance for me was not too bad, particularly on the longer run I did in the afternoon, but the circuit is still quite low on grip. Unfortunately on my last run with the new tyres I had some traffic on the first lap so couldn't warm the tyres adequately and I locked up into turn one and got a flat spot and some vibration. I couldn't improve my lap time with the new tyres in the end, but we do know that there is more to come.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
During FP1 both cars carried out some structured tests whilst the circuit improved and most of the work was about gathering data. It was quite tricky to balance the cars this afternoon, with the wind and warm temperatures adding to the mix. Nevertheless both drivers worked diligently and aside from a minor issue that delayed Adrian's baseline outing there were no serious problems. As expected the closer tyre compounds available here have produced some interesting data for us to analyse as we prepare a strategy for the race.
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:23.998, 19th; P2 - 1:23.176, 19th
We have the new package on the car here, but its not a magic trick, where you put something on the car and go a lot faster immediately. At the moment, we are trying to understand what it does in terms of car balance. It is definitely better and now our task is to get the most out of it. In between sessions there is not enough time to go in depth into the data, so this evening we will get a better picture. Generally, it has been a positive day and I think we can have a degree of confidence for qualifying. Having a new team-mate does not affect me that much as I drive my car on my own! The team seems happy and he produced a good performance.
Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:24.228, 20th; P2 - 1:23.942, 20th
I am quite happy with how today has gone, especially this morning, when I had a good pace and felt quite confident. In the second session, my lap time could have been better, but I didnt get a clean lap on the option tyre. I am learning all the time. The hardest part was the entry into the high speed corners, which I need to take much faster, but that will come as my confidence grows and I do more kilometres. Every time I went out from the garage, I was learning and felt more comfortable with the situation.
Franz Tost, Toro Rosso team principal:
Jaime did a very good job in his first day of practice in Formula One. He completed a total of 82 laps without making any mistakes. With every lap, he got more used to the car, to working with his engineers and to the general environment. Overall, its been a good preparation for tomorrows qualifying and for the race. A fantastic job so far.