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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 25 Sep 2009

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 25 September 2009 Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 25 September 2009 Jaime Alguersuari (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR4.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 25 September 2009 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 25 September 2009 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF109.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 25 September 2009

During the opening session of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix meeting the Brawn cars took the honours with Rubens Barrichello leading team mate Jenson Button. After ‘lunch’ it was Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel who ruled the roost. Here they and their rivals review the first day of action at Marina Bay…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:50.614, 5th; P2 - 1:48.650, 1st

“We can see from the times that the track is a little bit slower here than it was last year, which is a shame because some of the faster corners are now not so quick, but overall the character has remained the same. It’s a challenging track - quite stop and go - you don’t experience as much G-force here as on other circuits, but there are a lot of bumps, which don’t make your life easy, but I like the circuit a lot. Overall, it was a good day for us and we look better here than we did in Monza.”

Mark Webber, P1 - 1:50.416, 3rd; P2 - 1:49.317, 6th
“I was pushing a little bit too hard in the second practice, it was a bit slippery off line and I went off in the last corner and into the pit wall, which ended my session. The car was going well up until then; I was quick and both Sebastian and I had pretty good practice sessions. I would have liked to have done a bit more mileage, but in the end we still learned quite a bit and we’ll be back tomorrow. I think it should be a good race for us, it will be interesting as the tyres are not massively easy to handle here, so we’ll have to work on that tonight. But, overall, not too bad.”

Renault
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:50.567, 4th; P2 - 1:48.924, 2nd

"Today we completed a normal Friday programme for a street circuit. The track was very dirty and slippery in both the sessions, which always makes it difficult to learn about the car and improve the balance and I had a lot of oversteer. However, I think we made the most of the track time available and we are in reasonable shape for tomorrow."

Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:53.458, 20th; P2 - 1:50.972, 19th
"Today was my first experience of the Singapore circuit. Unfortunately I made a small error in the first session which cost me a lot of time. Then in the afternoon we had several mechanical problems, which limited my running. Despite all this, I tried to learn the circuit, which is particularly difficult. We still have a lot of work to do but it will be possible to find some more speed for tomorrow. I also hope that the practice starts we did today will help us for the race."

Bob Bell, Renault team principal:
"Today didn't quite go as planned. Romain had an accident in the first session which ruined a good part of that session. When he came out in the second session he had other issues with the car meaning that he didn't get as much running as he would have liked. Today was all about giving him time on the circuit so this was unfortunate. For Fernando, his day was difficult as he had a lot of oversteer and lacked rear-end grip. So overall it wasn't an easy day but we'll work overnight to get on top of the balance issues and ensure we have a better balance tomorrow."

McLaren
Heikki Kovalainen, P2 - 1:50.699, 6th; P2 - 1:48.952, 3rd

“I’m very happy. I didn’t have any problems today and I think we made some good progress between the sessions. Both tyre compounds seem to work okay, so that’s another reason to be optimistic. I’m confident we can find a bit more time overnight, too. However, the other teams are also looking quick here, so it’s not going to be easy. The main difference to the track this year is the change to the Turn 10 chicane: it’s slower and tighter, and the kerbs are bigger so you cannot attack there because you can’t afford to risk damaging the car.”

Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:50.715, 7th; P2 - 1:49.358, 9th
“I’m still lacking some speed in certain areas, so I need to work on that. The sessions were a little up and down for me today - I didn’t have any major problems, but I wasn’t as fast as I’d hoped to be. Today’s not the important day though, and when the track gets a bit cleaner tomorrow, we’ll have a better understanding of the tyres. The track’s still very bumpy and all the traffic makes it quite difficult to get a clear lap, and the Turn 10 chicane is also worse than last year - a bit more dangerous - but nobody’s had any problems there so it should be okay. The main thing for us is to analyse the data, try and improve the car and find some more time for tomorrow.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal:
“Like most street circuits, the track surface is invariably not in great shape on the opening day of practice - and today was no exception. The heavy traffic and red flag stoppages in each session didn’t help our progress through the day. We spent the majority of the second session comparing tyres and studying the effects of fuel-load and tyre degradation. We also need to look closely at the results of our back-to-back tests with the new FW6 wing. While we don’t appear to be the only team suffering from oversteer issues today, it certainly looks like the cars setting the benchmark here are the Brawns and the Red Bulls. It will be interesting to see where everyone stands tomorrow after a night of studying the data and making improvements.”

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“What a great atmosphere here at this special event in Singapore.This was absolutely impressive at the inaugural practice session last year - and it still is. We worked to our planned programme and I think Lewis, Heikki and the team have found quite a decent baseline. But it will be very tight again tomorrow, today, Jenson Button in fifth was separated from Lewis in ninth by less than half a tenth of a second.”

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:51.656, 14th; P2 - 1:49.098, 4th

"I really enjoy the track, it is great fun driving here, although it is still bumpy and was extremely dusty. I think our performance doesn't look too bad, although we had several types of problems in the first session. Besides having to change the gearbox, there was also trouble with the floor and tyre pressures. But for the second session we got several things right. I did my fastest lap quite early on new tyres, and was leading for a long time until some of the other drivers did their runs on new tyres towards the end of the session."

Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:50.815, 8th; P2 - 1:49.609, 10th
"The track today was very dirty and the grip was poor. There was a lot of dust off the racing line especially at the start of the day, but it was also the same in the second session. The track surface is better than last year but it is still quite bumpy. We had a small problem in the beginning of the second session with a gearbox sensor, but it was fixed quickly and we were able to finish our programme."

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering:
"We brought a comprehensive development programme for the F1.09 to Singapore. From an aerodynamics point of view, this comprises a new front wing, more deeply undercut sidepods, a further developed double diffuser and a modified rear wing. Added to which, the F1.09 also has a totally new and more compact gearbox. For the drivers it is, of course, a challenge to get used to the heavily modified car. We gained important indications, but are not where we want to be. There is still a lot of work ahead of us. However, this is not unusual if you bring such a large modified package."

Brawn GP
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:50.356, 2nd; P2 - 1:49.311, 5th

"It's great to be back in Singapore this weekend and everyone is really enjoying the challenge of the night race and adjusting to our different working hours. We had a pretty full-on evening with a busy programme of set-up evaluations and tyre testing. This venue is a tough one with the heat and humidity to contend with and the nature of the circuit and the closeness of the barriers demand your total concentration. The key is achieving consistently quick laps and that's what we've been working on today. The car feels reasonable and with some more work later tonight, we should be ready for a good weekend."

Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:50.179, 1st; P2 - 1:49.616, 11th
"The car is feeling pretty good here after the first practice sessions and we're pleased with the work that we achieved. It was really busy out there today with traffic affecting our programme a little, particularly in the second session, but that was the same for everyone really. We've been focusing on our pace for Sunday and that's the most important consideration as we need the car well balanced to be quick in the race. I'm feeling positive and we should be able to achieve the right set-up ready for the weekend. It's so different to the rest of the year to be racing here at night and it's been a lot of fun so far."

Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal:
"Following on from its successful debut last year, Singapore is once again proving to be a fantastic race venue and the whole team are enjoying the unusual hours that we are working and adjusting our race weekend programme to suit the particular demands of the night race. Looking at the first track activity today, we're pleased with how the two practice sessions went. Both Jenson and Rubens are feeling comfortable with the car and the reliable running throughout both sessions has provided us with a wealth of data to study into the early hours of the morning. This is a circuit which should suit our car provided we get the balance and set-up right for qualifying tomorrow so we're looking forward to the challenge of the weekend."

Williams
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:51.427, 11th; P2 - 1:49.333, 7th

“The first session started off pretty poorly but we made some changes and began to find some direction. Although we knew we’d be back on the pace here, by the end of the day we had concluded a good tyre test and found some improved performance from set-up changes, so I am pleased that we had a good day. I had a bit of a moment towards the end of the second session and touched the wall a little bit but didn't damage the car - just scratched the front wing a bit - but as Frank says, ‘If you don’t touch the wall, you are not going fast enough!”

Kazuki Nakajima, P1 - 1:51.089, 10th; P2 - 1:50.023, 15th
“It is physically very tough out there and they were two hard sessions today. However, I believe I have prepared well and the conditions should not be too much of a problem. We still have some work to do on the tyres, but our long run pace was positive today and hopefully we continue our engineering progress tomorrow.”

Patrick Head, Williams’ director of engineering:
“We did our homework with the tyres today and they both look pretty good for the track, maybe the harder one is a bit more stable. We have also been experimenting with some different mechanical settings on the car and we know pretty much what we are going to do on Sunday. Tomorrow we will be focusing on speed for qualifying. The car is behaving as we would have expected but it’s too early to say where we are. We’ll get a better idea tomorrow.”

Toyota
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:52.083, 15th; P2 - 1:49.342, 8th

“I am pretty pleased with how things have turned out today. The first practice session was a bit difficult to really analyse the car and I don't think the track conditions helped. The car didn't feel bad but the lap time just didn't seem to be there. But in second practice it was much better overall. The car felt more together, the track conditions improved a lot and we ran through our whole programme. I am quite happy with the car at the moment but obviously we want to get more performance out of it before qualifying and the race. We have to analyse some set-up changes to understand which direction to take then we will see how things go tomorrow."

Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:52.135, 16th; P2 - 1:49.795, 13th
"It was a standard Friday session for me where I worked to evaluate the tyres and set-up. We still have to improve the handling and the set-up because the car didn't feel perfect for me. There was very little grip from the track, especially in the first session when the surface was extremely dusty. That made it hard to get good traction and I had some oversteering. But the conditions will improve as the weekend goes on and we have to make changes to get the most out of our car here. We will study all the information and try to make the right adjustments."

Dieter Gass, Toyota chief engineer race and test:
"Overall it was a positive day for us. As usual on a street circuit, and as was the case here last year, the track conditions evolved a lot during the two sessions and this will continue over the rest of the weekend. Everything went well with our new update package which is always good, especially when you consider there is no track testing possible. We put the updates on the car for the first time today and it all worked fine which is a credit to everyone who has worked hard on this. Obviously with a new package you have even more data to study and you have to look really carefully at it to decide on the next steps before qualifying, so we still have plenty of work to do but I am optimistic for the weekend."

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:51.544, 12th; P2 - 1:49.710, 12th

“I was quite pleased with the car but it is difficult to judge the rear grip as we are still having some problems with graining, particularly on the soft tyre compound. We still have a lot of work to do but it's only Friday. I think we can do much better and get a bit closer to the front. I feel I could definitely have done a quicker lap time as the traffic was really bad and I always lost my first and second laps. I still believe we can get into the points and we would still like to be in the top 10 in qualifying; that's obviously our goal for the weekend.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - 1 1:52.905, 18th; P2 - 1:50.605, 18th
“It was quite okay today. The most important thing for me was to learn the circuit and get used to the track, the bumps and the kerbs and I think we are going in the right direction. We struggled a little with the balance, which didn't help, but we did a lot of tests and tried to understand the tyres. I think we were on a good learning curve and tomorrow will be much, much better. We have a lot of work to do as we are not spot on with the balance just yet, but we have all night to think about it!”

Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer:
“For the start of Friday practice today the track here in Singapore was quite green and dusty. It was therefore low grip with a bit of an oversteer balance and this was the target for initial set-up work, as well as stabilising the various car systems for race conditions. Tonio used the first session for some familiarisation, as he had not driven here before today, and Adrian looked at some development components. In the second session our tyre comparisons and set-up work continued. There is still plenty of room for improvement, but our performance in race trim already looks promising.”

Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:50.865, 9th; P2 - 1:49.941, 14th

“It was a Friday like any other. We had a number of little problems with the car, but overall, we were able to get through the programme we had set ourselves. As for the times, there is always a question mark over the various fuel loads: we will see tomorrow what we can do in qualifying. Today is too soon to say if we can be in a position to fight for a podium finish as we have done in recent races. The softer tyres degrade more quickly, at least from what we could see today. It’s hardly surprising and usually, bit by bit, as the track rubbers in, the situation improves.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, P1 - 1:52.390, 17th; P2 - 1:50.253, 16th
“It was a rather difficult day. The car is very nervous and I have yet to find the ideal set-up. Now, I must sit down with the team to try and prepare as well as possible for qualifying and the race. My aim is to improve on my result from Monza, but I know that won’t be easy. The track was very slippery and sometimes I had a bit of graining on the tyres. Unfortunately, I never managed to do a long run with the soft tyres, because of the red flags following Webber’s accident: this compound is definitely quicker by three to four tenths, but there is a question mark over the consistency of its performance.”

Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
“Today’s performance was definitely nothing to get excited about. The interruption to the session complicated the running of our planned programme, but overall we have gathered sufficient data to be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and the race. Tomorrow, our aim is to get both cars through to Q3: it won’t be easy, but we will do our best. Both types of tyre showed some signs of degradation today, which makes the choice for the race even harder. From what we have seen, I also expect to see different tyre strategies employed in qualifying.”

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:51.643, 13th; P2 - 1:50.527, 17th

“It has been more or less what I expected from my first time driving here at night, with no problems in terms of visibility, although you have to be very careful in judging your braking points. The track is more like Monaco than Valencia, with some bumps and tight corners. It is a difficult circuit, made more complicated by the heat. The track offered very little grip today, but it will improve as it rubbers in. I felt more comfortable in the second session, having learned the track in the morning. The last few races have not been too good for us, so I hope we can make a step forward here.”

Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:53.232, 19th; P2 - 1:51.423, 20th
“Today was doubly difficult for me, as this is a street circuit and it is also new tome. Tyre degradation was my main problem, caused by the high temperatures, so I would find myself going from understeer to oversteer. It’s been tough, as the easiest thing to do here is to crash and I’ve worked hard to stay on the track. Every run I get a bit better, so I hope I can make good progress before the race. As for it being my first time driving under floodlights, it was no problem.”

Bridgestone
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development:

"Just like last year we saw the track start very slippery. This was due a dusty surface and no rubber laid down. We saw a few drivers get caught out by these conditions; however the surface improved a lot during the evening. The lap times today were around three seconds slower than last year, and I think the reason for this is mainly due to the circuit revisions which have re-profiled Turn 1 and Turn 10, making them tighter and slower.

"Lap times decreased considerably during the evening and we think that this will continue tomorrow. The constantly evolving surface makes it difficult for teams to find the perfect set-up which is a good challenge for them and could provide some interesting results tomorrow. The super soft is quicker than the soft however we do not have sufficient data yet to know the exact difference. Both compounds showed good appearance and we didn't see any big issues with graining. We could see rear degradation on both, but this is likely to be due to the slippery conditions and this will improve as the track evolves."