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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 12 Mar 2010

Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 12 March 2010 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 12 March 2010 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 12 March 2010 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) BMW Sauber C29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 12 March 2010 Robert Kubica (POL) Renault R30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 12 March 2010

Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes GP had all looked quick during pre-season testing, but no one was quite sure how it would translate come Bahrain. On Friday, there were a few clues to the answer. The leading teams and their rivals reflect on their early progress at Sakhir…

Mercedes GP
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1: 57.199, 8th; P2 - 1:55.409, 1st

"We improved the car over the course of the day but it didn't feel great initially with the new track, lower downforce and the conditions were very sandy this morning. So we had a few balance issues to work on but it came together very well this afternoon. There are areas where we can still improve but we have a good comparison with the tyre compounds and on the long runs. Overall we learnt a great deal today so it's a positive start to the weekend."

Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:57.662, 10th; P2 - 1:55.903, 3rd
"We worked very well this afternoon after having a few issues with the balance this morning. The car felt much better in the second session although I am still a little rusty on one-lap runs and need to get back into the routine. On the long runs, the car felt good and once you get into the rhythm, it feels very natural. I'm happy with our work today and feeling ready for the weekend."

Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"After the development and testing work over the winter months, it was good to see the cars in action here in Bahrain today. We worked well to overcome some initial balance concerns which Nico and Michael experienced and achieved some very valuable work this afternoon. I feel we still need to make some progress so we need to wait and see how we will match up to our competitors when qualifying gets underway tomorrow."

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"The afternoon session went better than the first one this morning. We ran through our planned programme and the team, Nico and Michael got a good understanding of the two different tyre compounds. It looks like we are heading in the right direction but it is definitely too early to say how everybody will perform in tomorrow's first qualifying session of the new season and on Sunday during the race. I expect very strong competitors."

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:57.163, 6th; P2 - 1:55.854, 2nd

“Out on track, it’s been very hot so tyre degradation of both compounds has been pretty high. But I think the degradation is something we can handle; you build it into your driving style and moderate the approach to each lap. Still, it’s difficult to know what laptime to target when you’re on a long run. The less you push at the beginning of a stint, the more there is left to push at the end. But it’s difficult to know exactly, and we’re still trying to understand that. The new section of track seems to be very bumpy and tricky - but everyone’s in the same boat. Equally, our car feels very heavy with a high fuel-load - it doesn’t want to stop under braking - but through the high-speed corners it feels quite well balanced. It’s just getting the car stopped that’s tricky: it doesn’t stop as well as when it’s on low tanks. Overall, today didn’t feel too bad. We still don’t really have a full understanding of where all the teams are because everyone was running different fuel-loads. As a result, the positions on today’s timesheets don’t really reflect overall pace too much yet.”

Jenson Button, P1 - 1:57.068, 5th; P2 - 1:56.706s, 4th
“Today’s shown us that looking after the rear tyres is very difficult here, especially on the softer compound. So you find yourself driving with a lot of oversteer through most of the stint. The new section of track is very bumpy. Turns Six and Seven are particularly tough because you’re trying to brake as late as you can, and, if you do that, the car hits the ground, you bounce all over the place and it’s very difficult to see where you’re going. So you have to brake earlier, and more gently, so the front doesn’t dip through that part of the corner - and that positions you better for the next turn. We’re still working on our set-up - and that’s not something you can really do in the second session because you’re working on a tyre back-to-back programme and the track’s so busy. We know where the car is now and we know where we want it to be, so there’s work to be done this evening to improve things overnight. I think we did an okay job today. We can be reasonably happy with the performance of the car, although we know there are areas we still need to work on. The basic car is working well, but we’re not quite there with the balance yet.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“After a long and incredibly busy winter, it’s fantastic to be back competing at a racetrack with all our competitors – particularly here in Bahrain, where our hosts always do so much to make every team feel so welcome. It’s a fantastic venue and the perfect place to kick off the world championship. Of course, today was very much about establishing a benchmark for the rest of the weekend. With the track still very green and dusty and, in some places, quite bumpy, we concentrated on establishing a solid base set-up for both drivers before moving on to evaluate the two tyre compounds over the course of several longer stints. As you’d expect, the larger fuel-loads still make accurate comparison of the teams difficult, but we’re optimistic that our pace relative to our closest rivals appears to be competitive. This afternoon, Lewis had a small issue when the nosebox camera detached itself during a run - but it caused no damage and he was able to continue. Our focus now turns towards understanding each tyre’s behaviour and finessing the car’s balance for tomorrow afternoon’s qualifying session. We feel we’ve made a solid start to our weekend.”

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:57.943, 13th; P2 - 1:56.459, 5th

“So, the first day of the first race. Unfortunately we didn’t get a lot of running today. The track was still green this morning, so everyone was just checking their cars. In the second practice I had to have the brakes changed and Mark couldn’t do the whole session, so it wasn’t ideal. I would have liked more track time, but it’s not Christmas and we’re not given things for free. We have a lot of work to do, but we know where we need to improve, so we will work on that.”

Mark Webber, P1 -1:57.255, 9th; P2 - 2:00,444, 17th
“Not such a good day and not enough mileage. We missed out a bit this afternoon; I had a gearbox problem, so the team made a precautionary stop with the car which ended P2 early. We’ll have to regroup and get what we can out of today - we’ll be focusing on qualifying in tomorrow’s practice. We still learnt some stuff today and Seb looked at the tyres. You can already see that it’s going to be competitive this year, it’s going to be a good fight out there.”

Williams
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:57.894, 12th; P2 - 1:56.501, 6th

“It’s still very difficult to form a picture of where everyone is at competitively, but I am satisfied that we had a relatively good day today and managed to compete everything we set out to do. The ambition remains the same, to make sure we get through to Q3 and to finish the weekend with some points.”

Rubens Barrichello, P1 -1:58.782, 15th; P2 - 1:57.452, 13th
“Because we had some minor issues in the garage today, we didn’t get as much track time as we wanted. We didn’t manage to finish our programme, but I am confident tomorrow will be a better day and we will catch up on the lost time. There has been an enormous amount of work and effort from everyone at Williams to get this far, which deserves my thanks.”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“It was a very busy day with the usual teething problems. We lost some track time due to an electrics problem in the garage in the morning and we also had minor technical issues to resolve on the cars. We then had a much more productive afternoon looking at race set-ups and qualifying preparation. We have more work to do, but nothing that looks unachievable. It has been a marathon effort from everyone at Williams and Cosworth to get us to this stage and soon the hard work will start to pay off.”

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, P1 -1:57.055, 4th; P2 - 1:56.555, 7th

"We worked a lot on finding the right balance on the car in race trim and on comparing the two types of tyre, running with various fuel levels, although never going for a quick time. I am quite happy with what we have seen today, even if it is difficult to get an accurate picture of how competitive we are compared to the others. We will definitely face stiff competition from many teams, but we were preparing as well as possible for Sunday's race and tomorrow morning, we will work on qualifying. I've got a bit of a temperature today, but I feel 100 percent for this start to the season."

Fernando Alonso, P1 -1:56.766, 2nd; P2 - 1:57.140, 9th
"A slightly different Friday to usual for me, as it was the first one with my new team. We concentrated mainly on comparing the two types of tyre, so as to be as well prepared as possible for the race on Sunday, trying to get a car that performs consistently over a long run. Obviously, with such high temperatures, tyre degradation was more rapid, especially with the rears. From what we could see, the indications we got from testing have been confirmed, with four teams that you could describe as favourites, although there could yet be a few surprises, Force India for example. The new track is not bad: it is fun, even if there are a few too many bumps which I hadn't spotted when I inspected it by bicycle."

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
"We had set ourselves an agenda based on preparation for Sunday's race and we are pleased with what we have seen so far. Even more so than in the past, it is difficult to get an idea of the pecking order on Friday, because the fuel levels of the cars during these three hours of running can vary quite considerably. Now, we must try and prepare as well as possible for tomorrow's qualifying, which will be difficult and closely contested for a variety of reasons, without losing sight of the fact that the points are only handed out on Sunday afternoon."

Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer:
"We are reasonably pleased with the work done today. We had a very busy programme and we got through just about all of it: the only problem was a loss of air from a tyre on Alonso's car which interrupted his long run. We picked up a lot of data which we will use to decide on set-up and strategy for the rest of the weekend. It's hard to say where we are compared to the other teams in terms of performance and we will only find that out tomorrow afternoon. The new part of the circuit is rather narrow and at some points the surface is very bumpy, but it does not present any particular problems for the car."

Renault
Vitaly Petrov, P1 -1:58.880, 16th; P2 - 1:56.750, 8th

"It was a great feeling to be out in the car for the first time this morning, but we had a busy programme so I got straight down to work. We had a few small problems to begin with, but we will work hard overnight to try and improve the car. My first F1 qualifying session tomorrow will be very interesting."

Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:57.041, 3rd; P2 - 1:58.155, 15th
"The conditions today were totally different to winter testing with high track and ambient temperatures. That was something new for everybody and it had a big effect on the tyres, which is why we did a couple of runs to observe the tyre degradation, followed by some set-up work. During the first session the new part of the track was quite dusty and slippery, but it improved during the day. I expect the track to improve a lot more over the weekend, too. Overall, it was a pretty good day."

Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
"Robert did everything we expected of him today and Vitaly also had a very solid first day of practice as an F1 driver. We spent the two sessions running on a variety of fuel loads in order begin our preparations for both qualifying and the race. The two tyre compounds are behaving as we expected and are similar to the tyres we used at this circuit last year, with the super soft compound performing very well. In terms of car balance, there is still a little bit of understeer that we need to dial out overnight, but the rear end is stable and we have a good car under braking, which is what you need at this track. All in all, it's a satisfying start to the weekend."

BMW Sauber
Pedro de la Rosa, P1 -2:00.250, 17th; P2 - 1:57.255, 10th

"Well, it was not easy. We managed to make the car feel better during the day, but we definitely need to improve the set-up for tomorrow as much as we can. The overall grip level is very low out there and the new part is really bumpy. One bump especially before turn seven I find dangerous because the cars are bottoming there a lot. The heat is no issue at all. I don't regard this circuit as physically very demanding anyway."

Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 2:01.388, 18th; P2 - 1:57.352, 11th
"After we lost some track time this morning because of a puncture, we were able to complete our programme in the afternoon. We now have to look at the set-up again. I have the impression the bumpy new infield is pretty difficult for us, but we will work on that. I have no complaints about the heat either, as I definitely prefer it compared to the winter in Europe."

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering
"We mainly concentrated on race preparation today, so consequently we were running on a high fuel load for most of the time. We want to be sure to find a set-up which is acceptable for the race distance. We will work on the qualifying set-up tomorrow. It's the first time this year we are running in climate conditions like this, so we still have a lot of work to do. Kamui suffered a puncture, which was caused by a piece of debris, but apart from that the cars ran reliably."

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:56.583, 1st; P2 - 1:57.361, 12th

“It's time to race now after so long out of the car! This morning we were checking all the systems and set-up we learnt over testing but nobody really knew where we were going to be. It's our goal to get two cars through to Q3 for this weekend and I think we now have a very good baseline with the car and good downforce compared to last year. We can be a top ten runner with this car this year and myself and Tonio are working well together. If we can qualify in the top ten now it can lead to decent points, which is, at the end of the day, what we want to do consistently this season. I would say it's a promising start to get there, for sure.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - 1:57.194, 7th; P2 - 1:57.833, 14th
“Overall it was a positive day and we got through all the programme. We learnt quite a lot about the car with these kind of hot conditions, which we weren't able to do in the cool of the winter testing. The car is reacting well to different fuel loads and to different tyres and overall we can be pretty happy with the results at the end of this first Friday. I think we are in a good way for tomorrow. For sure we could improve our single lap time, but the race pace looks good. A positive start to the weekend.”

Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer
“Our objectives today were to assess cooling, brakes and tyres for this event whilst working a little on set-up, downforce level and ratio selection and testing a couple of new items on the car in FP1. We're pleased with the results and I think that our tyre management in the hot conditions looks good. The circuit changes for this year's race are a definite positive for the event and should make for a good race on Sunday.”

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:57.722, 11th; P2 - 1:59.799, 16th

“A good day in which we did all the laps we could, trying many different things. I think we improved during the day, but it’s hard to know where you are with the wide range of fuel loads being used. I feel the performance is there and if we have another nice day tomorrow, then we should be able to get the most out of the car. The track was very green this morning, but it started to rubber in this afternoon. The new section is nothing special and very slow, but I knew that from working on the simulator, which meant I already had an idea where to turn in and where were the braking points.”

Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:58.399, 14th; P2 - no time, 23rd
“I’m glad I spent plenty of time driving this track on our simulator, as I did no timed laps this afternoon, because of a problem with the car. The changes to the track were much as I expected and there is a big bump at Turn Six. There are no passing places in the new section, but it makes for a longer track which is more interesting to drive. You need to be competitive in Sector Two for a good lap time, which means you must compromise between needing high downforce for this slow part, while less downforce will make you quicker in Sectors One and Two. Fortunately, we will be able to analyse Jaime’s data and start from a better position tomorrow. However, when you miss most of Friday testing, it doesn’t make life easy. But we have to live with that and concentrate on tomorrow.”

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 2:03.848, 20th; P2 - 2:00.873, 18th
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 2:03.970, 21st; P2 - 2:00.960, 19th
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer

“A good day for the team after a very long night preparing the cars for today. Everyone worked very hard and it was satisfying to see us first out on track and then put in a solid performance throughout the day. We tried an aero upgrade this afternoon and we’ll look at the results of that in this afternoon’s debrief, but now we’re looking forward to putting in another professional performance tomorrow in qualifying.”

Virgin
Timo Glock, P1 - 2:03.680, 19th; P2 - 2:02.037, 20th

“Today hasn’t been the start to the weekend that we hoped for. We always knew it was going to be tough but we’ve had too many technical problems which have prevented me getting track time today. We already had two tough nights but we have another one ahead, I’m afraid, to get us to a point where we can feel confident going into the rest of the weekend. On the positive side, if we can get on top of the issues we have we’ll be in an okay place because with the brief amount of running I have had, I can see that the car isn’t bad. I hope we can be ready to get some proper work done tomorrow.”

Lucas di Grassi, P1 - no time, 22nd; P2 - 2:02.188, 21st
“Although a tough day, we actually had a good session this afternoon and got through a lot of things. For me everything is new. I wasn’t able to run this morning so the afternoon laps were key to my performance and helping us get started this weekend. The mechanics did a great job running the car and everything seems fine so far. Now we just need to work on car performance, which we clearly haven’t been able to optimise at the moment.”

Nick Wirth, Virgin technical director
“Due to the late arrival of some key new components, we had to work all through last night to have the cars running today, which is not ideal. Thankfully, we haven’t had a reoccurrence of any of the problems that blighted our winter testing. However, we found some interesting new challenges today, ranging from some engine set-up issues which caused handling problems, to the high ambient conditions bizarrely causing off-car electronics to overheat, affecting our ability to communicate with the car. In addition, we had a small gearbox issue on Timo’s car that hampered his running. Having said that, neither car ran low fuel and Timo was unable to test the super-soft tyre. We’ll do a thorough race preparation tonight and focus our attention on qualifying tomorrow.”

HRT
Bruno Senna, P1 - no time, 23rd; P2 - 2:06.968, 22nd

"It was certainly a relief to make history this morning. The car ran as planned and everyone is happy and proud. There is still a lot of work ahead of us. Three laps this morning and 17 this afternoon is a great start. Of course, we could not try the car at its limits. I am confident that we will be working ahead and I want to congratulate my mechanics, engineers, and the whole team for their incredible hard work."

Karun Chandhok, P1 - no time, 24th; P2 - no time, 24th
"My car was fired up this morning. I was hoping that it would be in condition to run fully a bit later than my team mate's. We know that all systems are working and with the third practice still ahead of us we can still look positively at the start of our first weekend of racing."

Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
"I am proud that our mechanics and engineers managed to make history today in Bahrain. Everything is going to plan, except the lack of sleep for all of us who worked through the night. To make history is not a simple task. The focus today for the team was to be operational and run. We are taking things one step at a time, and building on our competitiveness as the weekend and season goes on. Everyone has produced an amazing effort to make it happen and I would like to thank everyone for their dedication."

Bridgestone
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development

"Today was the first time that teams have run in hot weather with the 2010 Bridgestone Potenza tyres. In addition, this was the first time that teams have run on the new configuration Sakhir circuit. This is quite a severe circuit so it gives our tyres a good test, especially in these hot temperatures. After the limited pre-season testing there is still much to learn and we have seen a variety of tyre usage across the field. Significantly this was the first time we've seen the new teams at a Grand Prix. For data collection the teams are approaching Friday practice differently this season as there are big differences in fuel loads to evaluate and there are fewer tyres available to use. The difference in fuel loads and the length of stint being undertaken on new or old tyres makes it difficult to interpret the results without all the data, and this makes practice very interesting indeed.

"It is difficult to say from the data we have seen so far as the track is very green and we predict a lot of circuit improvement over the weekend. Even today we saw a significant reduction in graining and degradation as the circuit improved. The medium compound was used for the majority of running today with fewer laps undertaken on the super soft compound. From today's running there is not much difference between the two compounds however this could change with further track and car set-up improvements tomorrow."