Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 11 Sep 2009
During the opening session of the Italian Grand Prix weekend the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen ruled the roost, but after lunch it was Force Indias Adrian Sutil taking his turn at the top of the timesheets. Here they and their rivals review the first day of action at Monza
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:24.471, 3rd; P2 - 1:23.924, 1st
Everything went well today. The car was working perfectly and we can be very happy about the result. It was a very, very good time that came as a result of some good work, a great set-up and getting the tyres to work well. We didn't try specifically to go fastest but if you are on top of your game and the car is working well there's no reason why you couldn't be P1 at the end of the session. It was a very productive day on a very cool track and it's good to have some fun right now.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - 1:25.689, 16th; P2 - 1:24.921, 12th
Today was much better than the straight line testing! It's a completely different approach as you get used to the rhythm, the braking points and I think it's a great challenge. We went for longer runs and covering a race distance and everything is going in the right direction. For now I am taking it a bit easy as I want to get used to the tyres and the car and tomorrow we will work on the lap time for qualifying. We knew we would have a competitive car and I felt the balance was good, and there is still at least half a second more as I had some traffic on some of my fastest laps. It's just the beginning of the weekend but I am really happy about how it went. I think the car is responding really well and we are optimistic for tomorrow.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
A very good first day back in a race seat for Tonio, and a productive programme from Adrian. We lost some time with Adrian's car at the start of FP2 following a planned engine change, but once back on track he made good progress. The car seems to be performing well at lower downforce in race trim, but as usual at this demanding circuit there is plenty of work to do to prepare for qualifying.
Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:25.612, 15th; P2 - 1:24.163, 2nd
Today has gone rather well, although I had to learn the Monza circuit for the first time in an Formula One car. Its the temple of speed and a legendary circuit where there is a lot to learn, especially running with the KERS and so there were lots of new procedures for me to get used to. We finished the day in good shape and Im continuing to work well with the engineers. I tried to improve the set-up and the results were positive so I will continue in the same way tomorrow.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:24.477, 4th; P2 - 1:24.297, 3rd
It was a normal Friday for us where we worked on set-up and evaluated the tyres. If we can find some more performance tomorrow then hopefully we can be in good shape for qualifying.
Pat Symonds, Renault executive director of engineering:
Monza is unique circuit and among the many things we have to consider here is brake wear. For this reason, it is necessary to run quite high fuel loads during practice to test the brakes. At the same time, tyres are critical and equally this is another reason to run high fuel loads. Naturally this gives great changes between race set-up and qualifying set-up so today we ran both high and low fuel loads and we are satisfied with the performance of the car in both conditions.
Heikki Kovalainen, P2 - 1:24.332, 8th; P2 - 1:24.482, 4th
At Monza, youre always facing the problem of balancing overall downforce with grip through the corners - and I think today was possibly better than we anticipated. Were quicker in the corners than we were last year, which is good. The KERS advantage here is nearly four tenths per lap so its really helpful along the straights and out of the slower corners. Others have more downforce compared with us, but we have this fantastic KERS from Mercedes-Benz. Its funny: the teams have all adopted different technical solutions but the laptimes are still very close together - thats the beauty of Formula One.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:23.936, 1st; P2 - 1:24.902, 11th
Im pleased with our progress. Its always a little nerve-wracking when you arrive at a unique circuit such as this because you want to see if youve taken the right direction with the cars aerodynamics. But this mornings session showed us that the engineers had made a very accurate assessment of what would be needed. KERS certainly helps around here - we can expect it to be worth nearly four tenths in qualifying tomorrow - but we also made some good progress with our overall package. This afternoon was spent on heavier fuel-loads, so you cant read too much into the times, but Im encouraged by where we are.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
A disciplined days work for the team today as we evaluated our low-downforce Monza aero components and looked at tyre performance on heavier fuel loads. Were encouraged by the results of todays programme, but are fully aware that all teams will be making substantial changes overnight and, equally, well need to further adapt our cars ahead of qualifying. Nonetheless, were encouraged by the direction weve taken and the results weve seen in both of todays sessions.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
Two good and productive sessions for us today. As weve all learned over the course of this season, the field is very tight. Heikki in fourth is separated from Giancarlo Fisichella in 20th position by just over a second, and all 20 cars are within 1.6 seconds. Our long runs on high fuel loads looked quite promising compared with our competitors, but I seriously think there are a handful of teams who can compete for pole tomorrow.
Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:24.813, 11th; P2 - 1:24.622, 5th
We lost quite a lot of time in the morning session due to a problem with the brakes. Fortunately we were able to change the brakes in time and I completed a baseline run at the end of the session. In the afternoon we worked on the set-up of the car and tried to evaluate the tyres.
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:24.683, 5th; P2 - 1:24.693, 7th
The lap times are not bad, especially when you take into account I did my fastest lap in the second session quite early on and even had some traffic. The cars balance is better than it has been on some other Fridays, but there is still room for improvement. It is challenging to get the balance right for both qualifying and the race. We did the usual tyre evaluation and compared the softer and the harder compounds on long runs. The height of the new kerbs changes the circuit quite a lot, you have to get used to it and look where you can still go over them and which ones you better avoid. At the end of the second session I pitted a few minutes early after I went straight on at the Ascari chicane and wanted to have the car checked.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
Monza is the only track where we run the low downforce package, therefore we invested quite some time in the morning to find a baseline for the set-up of the car. On the one hand its crucial here not to lose too much time riding the kerbs, while on the other hand braking stability is even more important here than on other tracks. In the afternoon we concentrated fully on race preparation and on the tyre comparisons. We are quite happy with the results on low fuel, however, with higher fuel loads we still have some work to do.
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:26.325, 20th; P2 - 1:24.634, 6th
It was a reasonably good second practice. It was tougher in the morning but we made some changes to the set-up and in the afternoon the car felt better overall. We got more performance from the car and got through our normal programme with no issues. The car feels pretty good but of course we need to work on improving our lap times again. If we can find the right aero balance I think we will be okay here. The new kerbs are fine; they are different to last year but still acceptable. The weather was also quite a bit different to last year's rain and that was definitely an improvement."
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:26.020, 19th; P2 - 1:24.967, 13th
"That was a typical Friday for me and it went smoothly with no problems. As usual we tested the two different tyres and also worked on setting up the car. We made some improvements from first practice so in the afternoon I was happier with the car. We still have some work to do to improve and get the best out of it around this track so we will look at all the data to improve the set-up for qualifying. Today we also experienced the new kerbs at the chicanes for the first time and these seem to be okay; I had no problem with them. It's nice to be back in Italy, driving in front of my home fans, and I just hope I can do a good race on Sunday."
Dieter Gass, Toyota chief engineer race and test:
"Monza is always a very particular circuit to race on but due to the lack of testing this year the difference compared to other tracks seems to be even bigger. You have the usual problems of trying to get used to running much lower downforce, which obviously means you are lacking grip compared to your baseline configuration. We had a decent day and went through our programme which has given us plenty of information to work with so we will continue working on the car balance prior to qualifying. In terms of tyres, the medium and soft compounds seem to behave pretty much as expected so we don't expect any major issues as both appear to be reasonable."
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:24.761, 10th; P2 - 1:24.796, 8th
Overall, Im reasonably pleased with the way things went in these three hours of free practice and the initial impressions are good. There is still room to improve the handling of the car, which we hope to do in tomorrow mornings free practice. The new kerbs dont allow you to cut them with impunity, which is not a bad thing given the difficulty we have experienced in this area in the past. Our pace on a long run isnt bad and we will do our best to fight for a place on the podium. As for the tyres, the softer compound is definitely quicker, but its also quite consistent in terms of performance.
Giancarlo Fisichella, P1 - 1:24.732, 8th; P2 - 1:25.543, 20th
I feel satisfied with this first day, which was particularly tough from a driving point of view. The major difficulties are in adapting to the different positions of the buttons and gaining confidence with the KERS. This morning, braking heavily at Ascari, I flat-spotted the left front tyre and that meant I had to fit the softer tyres earlier than planned: I felt more confident with those and I managed to drive at a strong pace. In both sessions, we didnt go looking for performance and I had a lot of fuel on board. The potential is there to get onto the front few rows, but I need a bit more time to improve, especially in terms of braking and cutting the kerbs.
Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal:
First of all, I want to welcome Giancarlo, who today was finally able to drive the F60, after eight days of theoretical work with the engineers. Obviously, the team adopted a different approach to its work on the two cars: Kimi concentrated on race preparation, while Giancarlo worked on getting confident in the car. We completed a lot of kilometres which means we have plenty of data to analyse over the rest of the day. Its hard to know where we are compared to the others: the gaps are very small and ten kilos of fuel more or less can translate into a significant step up the order.
Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
We can be satisfied with the result of the work we did with both drivers today. We completed our programme without any problems, concentrating on finding the best set-up on the car. We are pleased with the performance over a long run and, naturally, tomorrow morning, we will work on performance over the first lap, to prepare for qualifying. Giancarlo tackled the days work without experiencing any difficulty and we are not worried about his lap time, because the fundamental thing is for him to get experience in the car and with the use of KERS.
Kazuki Nakajima, P1 - 1:25.150, 14th; P2 - 1:24.799, 9th
Although we are not expecting much here, today didnt go too badly. Certainly compared to Spa, I think I will be more competitive here, although it is perhaps too early to say how we will go in qualifying. We worked hard today and tried many different technical options, but importantly found some positive direction, so I think the main priority to is maintain this progress tomorrow.
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:24.927, 13th; P2 - 1:25.215, 17th
The most important job today is to find the compromise between top speed and grip and its not easy to arrive at the optimum downforce level. We were very slow on the straights this morning, so we looked at this and we have found a good solution. Tyres are just as important and we have completed a good test, from my point of view the direction is pretty clear. The rest of our running time was focused on aerodynamics and we found some good direction, but despite doing some good homework, it is going to be difficult for us here and it wont be an easy weekend. To repeat the Spa performance of making into the top ten in qualifying will require a helluva lap, but thats not to say we cant pull it out of the bag!
Patrick Head, Williams' director of engineering:
Weve been doing our homework on the tyres today. Both tyres look pretty good and weve gathered a lot of data today to go through to optimise our set-up for qualifying tomorrow.
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:24.703, 6th; P2 - 1:24.884, 10th
We had a good day, running trouble free in both sessions. Now, we just need to find a bit more speed for tomorrow, when we will have a new engine, so lets wait and see what we can do. Its nice to drive at such a high speed track, because it gives you a different feeling, hitting speeds you never see anywhere else.
Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:25.742, 17th; P2 - 1:25.003, 15th
I found it quite tough driving today for the first time, with this low downforce package, as I had no experience of that so far in F1. But thats a good thing, as it is all part of my learning experience. I felt I got an understanding of how to drive the car on new and old tyres and with high and low fuel loads and I had a good feeling in the car. We have a reasonable set-up on the car, but I think we can improve it still further tomorrow.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:24.759, 9th; P2 - 1:24.979, 14th
A mixed day. We had an electrical problem in P2, which probably cost us about a run and a half, so it was a good recovery from the guys to get the car turned back around. Mileage is important here, as its the first time weve driven in Monza this year - normally we test here beforehand. Its always a unique track to drive - with high top speeds and the car moving around - so I enjoyed driving today. Weve got a bit of pace to find, but Im sure well be in the running tomorrow.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:25.951, 18th; P2 - 1:25.386, 18th
Its quite a surprise today to look at the lap times and see who is on top and whos in the midfield. Nothing is wrong for us and everything went to plan - we knew we faced a difficult Friday with limited mileage due to the small number of engines I have left until the end of the season. We used the laps we had available today and it seemed to go okay. We still have to improve, so well now look to see who was fast and who was playing with fuel loads. At this stage it seems impossible to predict who will be on top.
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:24.826, 12th; P2 - 1:25.140, 16th
"Our programme went pretty much as planned today with the performance of the car as we were expecting. Our set-up work was focused on long runs and I'm fairly happy with how the car feels and with the braking stability. We have some work to do on the balance but overall a good start to the weekend although today's running doesn't really give us an indication of how qualifying will play out tomorrow."
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:24.706, 7th; P2 - 1:25.424, 19th
"We did a lot of set-up work today with the car in the low downforce configuration although we had a couple of issues which meant that I couldn't do the long runs that we had planned so that was a bit frustrating. Everything was sorted out by the end of the day which is good but we have a lot of work ahead of us. It feels very different running with such low downforce but the car has been performing reasonably well. We need to work on the fine-tuning of the set-up overnight to ensure that I'm completely happy with the balance before qualifying."
Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal:
"With Monza being such a unique low downforce circuit and the fact that we haven't had the opportunity to here test this year, today's practice sessions were particularly important to work on the set-up of the car. Our main focus has been on race preparation to ensure that we understand how the car feels with the low downforce. We're reasonably happy with our progress over the course of the day and looking forward to the weekend ahead."
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development:
"Today was interesting as this was the first time that we have run in Monza this season. Historically, there would be a test here before the race weekend, so today was the first time that the teams have used their special low drag and lower downforce Monza configurations. Additionally, the revised kerbs have changed the nature of the lap, so this was another factor to consider today. Despite this, lap times were once more very close, with the top twelve cars this afternoon separated by a second. It is still too early for us to make strong predictions. The track is still improving and there were many different chassis set-ups and aerodynamic configurations used today which makes tyre comparison difficult. What we can say is that both compounds have worked well today. We haven't seen any graining and there were no other particular tyre issues. As the times are so close the smallest mistake by a driver or in car set-up will make a big difference in qualifying tomorrow."