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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 21 Aug 2009

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 21 August 2009 (L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix with team mate Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Brawn Grand Prix.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 21 August 2009 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 21 August 2009 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 21 August 2009 Luca Badoer (ITA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 21 August 2009

During Friday morning’s session, Brawn GP’s Rubens Barrichello set the pace, while local hero Fernando Alonso took his Renault to the top of the timesheets after lunch. Here they and their rivals review the first day of action in Valencia…

Renault
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:43.345, 9th; P2 - 1:39.404, 1st

“It was a positive day for us with some good laps and the car performed well right from the start of the first session. We worked on the set-up throughout the day and now we’re pretty much happy with what we have so I think we are in good shape for the rest of the weekend. The incident with Nick Heidfeld this afternoon was a normal incident that can happen during racing or free practice. For tomorrow, we will try our best to get on the front row of the grid with the objective of scoring points on Sunday.”

Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:44.356, 17th; P2 - 1:40.787, 13th
“The day has gone pretty well. Your first time in a new car is always tricky, but I did my best and having Fernando next to me meant I could see how he approached the sessions and that helped me a lot. So I think today I have made good progress and tomorrow I will aim to continue in the same way. ”

Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
“Firstly it’s very nice to be here in Valencia racing this weekend. Secondly, we would like to welcome Romain to the team and I have to say I was very impressed with his progress today. He was pushing hard yet driving within himself and making steady progress. Fernando has had a strong day too; the car looks good and we’re quite happy with the way the tyres are behaving. All in all it has been a satisfactory Friday.”

Brawn GP
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:43.074, 4th; P2 - 1:40.178, 2nd

"We've had a reasonably good first day of practice and it's encouraging to see that the car seems to be on the pace again. The focus of our programme was on set-up checks and back-to-back evaluations to confirm that the work done back at the factory after our shutdown was in the right direction. There is still some work needed on the set-up before qualifying as I'm not completely happy with the balance but all in all the pace of the car seems reasonably good."

Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:42.460, 1st; P2 - 1:40.209, 3rd
"It feels great to be back to what seems to be a competitive level of pace. The two practice sessions today went well with a lot of work achieved on both sides of the garage. I'm pretty happy with the data that we collected and with the way that the car developed over the course of the day. If we can continue in this direction then it should be a good weekend."

Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal:
"We've had a good start to the weekend today with two strong practice sessions.
The track temperatures are very high here, reaching 50°C this afternoon, so we have been able to manage our tyre temperatures well and not encounter the issues which have hampered our pace at the past few races. Both drivers followed very similar programmes as we revisited some set-ups from previous races as test items to increase our understanding of the car's performance. The initial feedback is that Jenson and Rubens are broadly in agreement on the direction that we should follow from here. And we've pleased to have collected so much data to apply here and take onto the next race in Spa. Overall it's been a positive beginning to the weekend."

Williams
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:43.746, 14th; P2 - 1:40.385, 4th

“I had a difficult start in the morning because the tyres grained straightaway. I was then left with a grained set for the remainder of the session which meant I didn’t learn much at all. The afternoon was much better as we managed a good tyre test so we now have much more information for Sunday. We also made some positive set-up changes and have a good handle on which way to go with the car. In general, it was ok today. Performance-wise, we are not quite where we want to be so we have some further analysis to do ahead of tomorrow, but that should help us improve. We will wait and see.”

Kazuki Nakajima, P1 - 1:43.225, 7th; P2 - 1:40.503, 5th
“I think it was a good day for us. We seem to have good long run pace and, even on the new tyres, our times were decent on the short runs as well. The track was fairly green at the start of the day, but improved throughout the two sessions and will continue to do so for tomorrow’s qualifying, which I’m really looking forward to.”

Rod Nelson, Williams’ chief operations engineer:
“As Valencia is a street circuit we found that the grip level increased throughout the sessions, particularly in the second session when people started running the new tyres. As usual on a Friday, we concentrated on a combination of car set-up work and also some homework for the race with some long runs on both types of tyre. The circuit was in fairly good condition at the end of the session and the weather looks like it will remain pretty hot and humid all weekend.”

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:43.209, 6th; P2 - 1:40.596, 6th

“It was a good day for us today. Sixth place is looking okay and I hope we're now comfortably running at a Q2 pace. It's very encouraging and I'm looking forward to getting out again tomorrow. We had a few small niggles on the car so we couldn't run as much as we would have liked in the two sessions, but ultimately the balance was good. We did the tyre work as usual and although it was difficult at the start we understood the behaviour much more by the end of the second session. I don't think it will be a problem in the race as we used a similar tyre in Bahrain and didn't have any major issues on race day.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, P1 - 1:44.126, 16th; P2 - 1:40.681, 8th
“I could set a reasonable lap time at the end of FP2 this afternoon. I was struggling this morning with the rear tyre graining but it looks better on the soft tyres for a single lap. We made a few changes for the afternoon and I'm confident we are going in the right direction. I can feel the package is a step forward but it's quite tight for positions at the moment so we'll see for tomorrow. I'm feeling quite good about it.”

Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
“A lot of track improvement through the day and generally quite a successful programme for our cars. This circuit is particularly hard on the rear tyres, and on the slippery and green track meant we had to work at the balance. Aside from a couple of minor mechanical issues the team had no problems getting back into the swing of a Grand Prix Friday. It's so very tight in the field now we can't make any predictions for qualifying, but we appear to be in the mix and clearly a good grid spot will be our aim for tomorrow.”

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:43.419, 12th; P2 - 1:40.643, 7th

"We brought some new components to Valencia and tested these in both sessions. In the afternoon we concentrated on evaluating the tyre compounds on long runs. For me it was a Friday without problems. The grip on the track is quite good and we were able to go at quite a good pace. However, we still face the same problems with the car we have had since the beginning of the season."

Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:44.040, 15th; P2 - 1:41.350, 17th
"In the beginning of the second session it went quite well. Then with the softer tyres the timing wasn't ideal as I got stuck in traffic. When Fernando Alonso crashed into me I had an early end to the session. Such a crash is really unnecessary during free practice. I saw him in the rear view mirror locking up his wheels and tried to open the door for him, but he went straight into me and I almost rolled."

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
"Our goal today was to find a good set-up for our new aero-package. So far we are satisfied with what we achieved in the first two practice sessions. In the second session we concentrated on long-runs to get information about the performance of the tyres over that distance. Robert was able to complete his programme as planned without any problems, whereas Nick lost the chance to do the last scheduled tyre comparison because of a collision with Fernando Alonso."

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:43.088, 5th; P2 - 1:40.7723, 9th

“Today seemed to be okay, there were no problems so we had a smooth Friday. I think we are more or less in the pack, but Fernando was very quick towards the end of the second session, which was a surprise. We need to improve for tomorrow, so we will look at our day carefully and see where we were lacking, compared to the others.”

Mark Webber, P1 - 1:43.243, 8th; P2 - 1:40.956, 14th
“We did a lot of laps today. We’ve got some good stuff to go through tonight and we did the tyre comparison, which was pretty straightforward. We’ve got some work to do this evening - this track is a little like Bahrain with walls!”

McLaren
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:42.636, 2nd; P2 - 1:40.738, 10th

“I am quite satisfied with my day’s running. We ran exactly the programme that we’d planned and the car feels pretty good. For me, this has been a much better start to my weekend than in Hungary and I feel like we’re in good shape. The pace at the front is very close, but I think we’re in the hunt. We now go into tomorrow fully focused on getting a good result.”

Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:42.654, 3rd; P2 - 1:43.214, 20th
“I touched the wall, but didn’t even really feel the impact. I only grazed the front wing - but, unfortunately, it couldn’t be repaired as we didn’t have a spare one. Hopefully, we can get a new one for tomorrow, or else we’ll have to make some changes - we don’t have lots of these wings available. I didn’t feel too happy with the car this morning, but the changes we made between the sessions were very positive. On my last lap, I was six tenths up and it was already looking quite good, so I feel positive for Saturday. It’s a shame we missed out on so much track-time, but I still think we’ll be okay tomorrow - that time can always be regained.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
“As a team, we enjoy this circuit - it’s a unique, demanding challenge for the drivers, engineers and mechanics. Unfortunately, Lewis witnessed the unforgiving nature of this place when he grazed the wall at the start of P2 - it was only a light touch but it was enough to break part of the nosecone we’d brought for this race. For the team, that breakage also tells another story: as with all the teams, the factory shutdown presented us with a number of challenges - one of which was preparing sufficient spares for this weekend. Sadly, we didn’t have enough parts to enable Lewis to complete this afternoon’s session - but that’s also a legacy of our intense and aggressive development strategy, which has seen us relentlessly bring new parts to the track as soon as they are manufactured. In this instance, more spares will arrive tonight and will be fitted ready for tomorrow. Despite this incident, we’re still encouraged by the pace demonstrated by both drivers today - and once again go into tomorrow’s sessions gearing up for another battle at the front.”

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“Not an ideal start to the weekend with Lewis unfortunately damaging his car on his second timed lap in P2. The spin slightly damaged his front wing, and, since there are no spares yet for this brand new part, it meant the end of his session. Heikki had to run without his KERS hybrid working due to a technical problem which cost him both track time and lap time. We’ll be in much better shape tomorrow and on Sunday.”

Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:43.384, 10th; P2 - 1:40.739, 11th

“It was a positive day. I am happy with the handling of the car and the performance of both types of tyre we have here from Bridgestone. There’s no point in looking at the time sheet, because as usual on a Friday, it doesn’t tell us much. The first session was rather difficult as the track was very dirty and slippery, but in the second one the situation was much better. I think a podium finish is still a realistic target for us, even if a lot will depend on where we qualify.”

Luca Badoer, P1 - 1:45.840, 20th; P2 - 1:42.017, 18th
“I am happy with the way things went today. I expected a difficult day and so it was. It was vital that I did not make any serious mistakes so that I could get through the programme we had established. Now we can begin to work on the car set-up to try and adapt it to my driving style. The team has not set me any specific goal for this weekend and I am pleased about that consideration because it is important I return to having full confidence in the car and with the world of the Grand Prix weekend. I am also grateful to Michael (Schumacher) who wanted to be here this weekend. It is important for me to be able to count on his support, especially from the human point of view and of course, also in terms of technical matters.”

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
“My first thoughts today are with Felipe and once again, on behalf of the entire team I want to wish him a speedy recovery. From today, his seat in car number three is occupied by Luca Badoer, who faces a difficult task, but he can count on the support of everyone in the knowledge that Ferrari has every confidence in him. Given his situation - a long time away from racing, an unknown circuit - the first day can be considered a positive experience for Luca. Clearly this weekend is something of a test session for him and that is how it must be judged. At this Grand Prix, it falls to Kimi more than usual to bring home a useful result to defend our third place in the constructors’ classification which, at this point of the season remains our realistic target.”

Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
“A reasonable day, with our two drivers running different programmes. For Luca it was a case of regaining confidence in the car and learning a new track. For him, obviously the more kilometres he completed the more the situation improved and we are confident about the rest of the weekend. Therefore, Kimi worked on his own in terms of race preparation and on evaluating tyre performance. Our performance level seems reasonably good and we feel we can put on a good show in this Grand Prix.”

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:44.638, 18th; P2 - 1:40.770, 12th

"First of all it is very nice to be back in the car after a long summer break. I am also pleased to be here in the good weather and at a nice track. Basically today was a normal Friday for us without any exceptional situations. Everything went smoothly and we had no troubles so we were able to evaluate the tyres and the set-ups to make sure we are prepared for the rest of the weekend. We still have some work to do to make the most of our car but it is difficult to see a true picture of where stand after practice as you never know exactly what programmes other teams are working on. The car feels okay but we will work to get more performance from it."

Timo Glock, P1 - 1:44.732, 19th; P2 - 1:40.985, 15th
"That was a pretty good day for me overall. The car feels quite positive and balanced which is a promising start to the weekend and we successfully ran through our whole programme. We planned a lot of work today but there were no technical issues and the guys all did a good job so now we have a lot of data to look at overnight. The task now is to fine-tune the car for tomorrow and the race; hopefully we can be strong. It's hard to predict what the order is at the moment because the lap times are close but we will do our best."

Dieter Gass, Toyota chief engineer race and test:
"We had some new parts to test throughout the day and we collected plenty of data so we are in a position to make the right choice for tomorrow. This track is not used regularly and as a result we saw a really big circuit evolution, especially in the morning session. Due to our busy programme we had to go out early in that session to complete all our work and on the green track we damaged our tyres. That made first practice a little harder than expected but everything came back to normal in the afternoon. Even though the circuit continued to evolve, the tyres behaved a lot better than in first practice because there was more rubber on the track. We seem to be in a situation where both compounds will be workable for the race without major problems."

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:43.389, 11th; P2 - 1:41.156, 16th

“It was really hot today in the cockpit, especially as we were doing long runs in preparation for the race. The track was very dirty and green at first but it improved continuously, especially in the final ten minutes of the last session, so you had to be out on track at that moment, if you wanted a good lap time. We’ve got a new front wing here and it seems to bring the benefits we expected, which is positive. Now, as always we need to analyse the day’s data to see how we can improve for tomorrow. I am quite confident we can have a good weekend.”

Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:43.637, 13th; P2 - 1:42.089, 19th
“The heat was an important factor for me today, as I have not had that much time in a Formula 1 car yet and the high temperatures made things worse from that point of view. The day’s work went quite well and we made good progress, even if we went a bit far on set-up changes in the morning, which meant that as track conditions changed in the afternoon, our performance didn’t really get better. We need to improve the car and I need to drive better on the Option tyre. Not a bad first day overall.”

Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development:
"Today was all about track improvement. The surface started very dirty, as we would expect so we heard the usual comments about lack of grip. We saw quite a bit of rear lateral graining which comes from the traction and braking demands on this circuit. We also saw some front lateral graining on some cars too. This is unusual, but comes from the heavy braking on the initially dirty surface.

"We would expect the super soft to be the superior tyre for lap time, but the soft to be the superior tyre for consistency and therefore the favoured race tyre. The amount of circuit improvement over the weekend will be the key to the race. As the circuit improves, so car balance will change. The team that predicts the track improvement correctly for the race will be best placed to refine their car setup to suit. Even though it was very hot here, the track layout does not put as much force through the tyres as at other circuits so we do not predict problems with tyres overheating."