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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 02 Apr 2010

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 2 April 2010 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 2 April 2010 Robert Kubica (POL) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 2 April 2010 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 2 April 2010 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) BMW Sauber C29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 2 April 2010

After his frustrating time in Melbourne, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton seemed determined to take make an impression on the timesheets during the first day of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend, grabbing the top spot in both sessions. Hamilton and his rivals reflect on their early progress in Sepang…

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:34.921, 1st; P2 - 1:34.175, 1st

“Sepang is a very special place - it’s not a stop-start circuit; it’s a flowing, high-speed track which is all about getting the car to flow from one corner to the next. You need lots of rear-end grip, a strong balance and a car that can ride the kerbs well while also conserving the tyres. And that’s never an easy combination to achieve. I think we had a good first day today. I’ve got a good feeling in the car - it’s probably the best feeling I’ve had in the car around this circuit. Every time I get to a track this year, it always feels light years better than the last time, which is very positive. We’re still trying to get a better feeling for the tyres, but we’ve made some positive first steps. This evening, I want to sit down with my engineers and make a couple of changes. We don’t yet know where the others are, so we need to keep focusing on our performance, but we’re optimistic that we’ve made a small step forward. Hopefully the weather will be okay for qualifying tomorrow.”

Jenson Button, P1 - 1:35.207, 3rd; P2 - 1:34.538, 4th
“It took me quite a while to get to grips with the car’s set-up today. I wasn’t satisfied with it at first - I didn’t really get a balance that I was happy with - but, towards the end of the session, it started getting better. And that was encouraging: it was nice to see that we made some improvements right at the end because it was quite a way from what I wanted. We’re steadily getting there, and it’s starting to take shape, which is encouraging. We don’t know what the weather’s supposed to do tomorrow, but we’ll deal with it whatever it is!”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“The timesheets in both sessions suggest that we are headed in the right direction, but our focus this evening is to maximise the car’s performance, particularly over a long run, where we know tyre performance will be crucial. Lewis made excellent progress throughout both sessions, and we’ve all been encouraged by his view that the MP4-25 is the best McLaren he’s ever driven around this circuit. Jenson struggled to find a satisfactory balance, particularly at the start of this afternoon’s session, but he and his engineers worked well together to improve this deficit by the end of the afternoon. I’m positive that he’ll make further progress overnight ahead of tomorrow’s practice session. While we’re mindful that the unpredictable Malaysian weather may play a role in determining the outcome of tomorrow’s grid, we’re nonetheless pleased with the foundations we’ve laid today.”

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:36.043, 9th; P2 - 1:34.441, 2nd

“Some small issues for me today, but nothing big. Mark unfortunately had to stop and couldn’t finish the practice, it looks like his engine went. I wasn’t 100 percent happy today, I think we still need to get a little bit quicker. The McLarens and the Mercedes look quick and Ferrari have a decent long run pace, so we’ll have to see where we are. This circuit is one of the tougher ones here due to the hot and humid conditions.”

Mark Webber, P1 -1:35.479, 6th; P2 - 1:38.786, 20th
“It was the engine. You never want your Friday disturbed and today’s problem cost us quite a bit of track time, but the car felt pretty good in the quick stuff and also at low speeds. It’s never ideal to lose an engine, but we did, although it was quite high mileage. It’s good that Vettel’s up there, but it’s where we expected to be, it would have been nice to feel the option tyres today, but we’ll have to do that tomorrow.”

Mercedes GP
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:35.106, 2nd; P2 - 1:34.443, 3rd

"Our programme went according to plan today and we made progress over the two practice sessions. The tyre work which we completed was particularly useful so we have a lot to go through this evening to see if we can continue to improve the car prior to qualifying. It's always tough here in Malaysia with the heat and humidity but Sepang is one of my favourite circuits to drive."

Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:35.225, 4th; P2 - 1:34.674, 5th
"I am quite happy overall with our work today and the practice sessions went very much as we expected. We did have a an issue with the brakes this morning so I did not start running right away but once we were out on track, I felt we had good pace. However we have to be realistic about our performance here and we might still be lacking a little compared to the front runners. The good thing is that you can play with the lines a bit to find time as the track here is quite wide. But in the end, as usual, we will have to wait and see how qualifying and the weather evolve."

Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"It has been a busy Friday for the team here in Malaysia for the start of our first 'home' race. The two dry sessions have enabled us to complete the majority of the planned programme for Nico and Michael, although the track conditions did change this afternoon following the rain shower. The priority today was to evaluate the prime and option tyres. Whilst all of the teams were running different tyre programmes, which makes it difficult to predict our relative pace, we are reasonably satisfied with what we achieved and are looking forward to the challenge of the weekend."

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"This is going to be a very challenging race with extreme stress on the drivers, cars and tyres, and particularly all of the team members who have to work in real sauna conditions. The heat and humidity is almost guaranteed and rises in the afternoon. It's difficult to estimate where we are today but generally we are not where we need to be just yet."

Renault
Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:35.402, 5th; P2 - 1:35.148, 6th

"It was a usual Friday as we worked on trying to get a feel for the different characteristics of the track. We did a couple of runs this morning to understand and improve the balance of the car, and in the afternoon we mainly concentrated on tyre evaluation and comparison. I had no issues during both sessions so overall it has been a straightforward Friday."

Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:36.712, 14th; P2 - 1:35.872, 9th
"The overall balance of the car was good today and it certainly feels like we have made an improvement compared with Melbourne. Unfortunately I had a problem with the fuel pump this morning and a water leak this afternoon, which cost me some track time. We still have a lot of work to do overnight and tomorrow morning so that I can get the most from the car and qualify well for the race. For today and Saturday, I am wearing a black armband to show my respect for the people who were killed or wounded at Lubyanka and Park Kultury stations in Russia this week. My thoughts are with everybody affected by this tragedy."

Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
"The track was lacking a little bit of grip at the start of P1, but it improved through the session. It was much hotter in P2, but the circuit had more grip. We've done a good comparison of the prime and option tyres with Robert on both long and short runs so we have a good understanding of their performance for the race. Both drivers were quite happy with the cars straight away and we've worked on the set-up throughout the day. We've got a few issues with braking stability, which we still need to work on, and Vitaly has a bit too much understeer, but the overall balance is not too bad. Unfortunately Vitaly had a fuel leak this morning, which cost him some running time, but the mechanics did a good job to get the car ready for the start of P2. At the end of P2 Vitaly had a water leak. We're sorry these problems cost him time out on track. As with the previous races we'd like to get Robert well into Q3 tomorrow. Although Vitaly has lost some track time, he's had good pace today so hopefully we can get him into Q2 and close to Q3."

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:35.959, 8th; P2 - 1:35.581, 7th

"It's pointless to look for any significance in Friday's classification: I'm seventh, but I could just as well have been second or last and it would not have changed anything. It all depends on the difference between the programmes adopted by the teams. From our side, we are reasonably happy with what we have done and first impressions would be that there is no reason to expect a very different picture to the one we saw in Bahrain and Australia, partly because, in the space of four days, nothing much is likely to have changed. As before, I expect Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes to be very competitive and we will have to do our best. It will not be easy, but there is no reason to be pessimistic. The temperatures of the engine, brakes, tyres and last but not least, the drivers, will be an important factor, which we will have to keep under control."

Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:36.451, 11th; P2 - 1:36.602, 15th
“As usual, it's difficult to draw any hurried conclusions after these three hours of free practice. We ran a different programme to the other main teams, therefore we can't tell where we are compared with them. What is clear is that Red Bull and McLaren seem to be going very well: let's wait and see what we can do in qualifying and especially in the race. We tried to find a good set-up and to understand the behaviour of the tyres. The car handles reasonably well. We just need to work a bit more to improve our outright performance, but we don't have problems in any particular area. Once again, this time on a track with a variety of very quick corners, I've got a good feeling from the F10."

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
"This year, it's impossible to work out exactly where we are compared to the others, after the first three hours of free practice. And today, was no exception to that rule. For our part, we followed a very precise programme, aimed at acquiring data for Sunday's race. Once again, it looks like being a weekend when everyone is very evenly matched, with at least four teams looking capable of fighting for the top places. The major unknown factor is the weather: since we have been in Sepang, not a single day has gone by without a storm putting in an appearance at the time when qualifying and the race are due to take place and if that was to be the case tomorrow and Sunday, any predictions could go out the window."

Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer
"A few little technical problems prevented us from getting through every last item on our agenda, but nevertheless, we have gathered sufficient data to prepare as well as possible for qualifying and the race. We need to find a bit more performance for qualifying: that is what we will work on this afternoon and tomorrow morning, in the third free practice. The two types of Bridgestone tyre are pretty similar in terms of their level of degradation: the softer one seems quicker over the first lap, while over a distance, the situation is less clear. Obviously, the weather is the unknown factor that hangs over the rest of the weekend, with the possibility of rain playing a major role."

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:36.100, 10th; P2 - 1:35.660, 8th

“I am happy with the way today went. In the morning we concentrated on finding out how our car behaved on this track and then in the afternoon, we completed a lot of laps, including a very long stint, to assess tyre behaviour. On the long run, I did 30 laps, which is over half a race distance and although the conditions are very tough in terms of the high temperature and humidity, I was fine in the cockpit. I am looking forward to tomorrow, because I think we have established a good base line from which to make progress in the last free practice, before tackling qualifying.”

Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:36.645, 13th; P2 - 1:36.325, 14th
“This is another new track for me, apart from a session on the simulator. Driving it for real is a different matter and I found it was quite a difficult track to learn, at the same time as understanding the behaviour of the two types of tyre. This afternoon’s long run went well. I lost a little bit of time this morning with an electrical problem, but we have improved over the day and there is still more to come from me and from the car.”

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:35.955, 7th; P2 - 1:35.957, 10th

“Today was very much following our normal Friday programme. I had to be a little bit patient as the track was dusty at the beginning of the morning so it was just driving and learning the circuit again. In the afternoon we then went to do a little set-up work. It was difficult with the hot track temperatures we experience here as the tyres overheated very quickly and it was challenging to get it under control. We have a few things to look at set-up wise but we should be fine for tomorrow. We are in the top 10 still, just behind the top four teams. I think it will be an interesting day, probably with some rain thrown in as well!”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - n/a; P2 - 1:36.221, 12th
“Today was a good opening day of practice for the team. I missed the morning session but we did the most important job of understanding the tyres and following our programme targets. We are quite happy, and although the car suffered a little understeer in the high speed corners, it is responding well and we understand the behaviour of the tyres over the longer runs. It looks like qualifying here will be interesting as the rain started at 4pm but we can deal with the conditions I am sure.”

Paul di Resta, P1 - 1:36.891, 15th; P2 - n/a
“I'm feeling a lot more comfortable and I think that was why I was able to get up to speed relatively quickly. It ran more smoothly today and even though I didn't have any prior experience of the circuit I got into a relatively comfortable zone quite soon. The programme was exactly the same as if Tonio had been in the car, running through baselines and then understanding the tyres. Here the tyres don't last very long with the heat and we missed the peak with them and didn't quite set the optimum time, but I think ultimately you can't pay too much attention to that as it's not always going to be relative to what we are doing and where we are. It's just getting myself in the environment, getting the track time and learning the circuits.”

Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer
“We didn't encounter any major problems today as we established the relative performance and degradation characteristics of the two tyres available for this race. The high track and air temperatures are, as usual here, dominating the behaviour of the car. Today's sessions have been at the normal times of day, but as we head into the weekend they become later again, and that will be a factor in the decisions we make overnight. We've more work to do, but are looking forward to the challenges of the weekend ahead.”

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:36.503, 12th; P2 - 1:36.018, 11th

"The car seems to be better than last week in Melbourne, but obviously we need to keep working hard to find a better pace. For me it is good that I know the track here so well, that makes it easy. While driving the heat isn't an issue, but if you sit in the car in the garage waiting for the next outing you almost get grilled. In the afternoon session the asphalt was really, really hot when it reached 50 degrees, and this certainly is hard on the tyres. But perhaps it is a useful experience as the qualifying and the race are also in the afternoon."

Pedro de la Rosa, P1 - 1:36.899, 16th; P2 - 1:36.325, 13th
"It was a really positive Friday as we were able to do a lot of testing and tried different things including our new rear wing system. Balance wise, I am happier with the car now than I was in Australia and I enjoy the high speed corners of the Sepang circuit quite a lot. However, we need to find some more pace."

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering
"We used both sessions to test different configurations of our new rear wing. We will analyse the data here at the track and in the factory in Hinwil to decide on the next steps. In preparation for the race we did long runs with the option tyres to get an understanding of their behaviour when we have a heavy car and a very high track temperature. Overall it was a productive day without any technical problems. We were able to complete our planned programme."

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:38.278, 18th; P2 - 1:36.813, 16th

“That was a tough day for us. We carried out lots of interrogations on the car, but we feel that we aren’t as quick as we should be so we have a lot of work to do tonight to find out why that is.”

Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:37.802, 17th; P2 - 1:37.415, 17th
“It was a pretty difficult day, certainly not ideal. We had some technical issues on my car but I’m not quite sure what they are yet. We need to get our heads together to find some time for qualifying.”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“We spent today’s practice sessions working on starts and evaluating a revised diffuser and front brake duct. The tyres appear to be quite stable again, something we've come to expect from Bridgestone. Tonight we'll be focusing on extracting more speed out of the FW32 for qualifying. We had a mechanical problem on Nico's car in the afternoon session, but the mechanics were able to fix it quickly.”

Lotus
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:39.460, 19th; P2 - 1:38.454, 18th

"It started off as a difficult day but I managed to do some good setup work and it was a positive two sessions. It seems we are competitive when compared to the other new teams but as we are ultimately aiming to fight with the top teams we are looking to get ourselves into a position where we can work on detailed setups, and that will start from Barcelona. I am pleased that today's sessions, when compared to the previous two races, both went faultlessly and I'm very glad about that. I like the heat - I like racing in the heat as it tests fitness and I've always performed well here, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow and the race on Sunday."

Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - n/a; P2 - 1:38.530, 19th
"I'm really pleased with the car - obviously I didn't get much time to practice today, but it felt good and I'm feeling very confident with it. I'm looking forward to the race ahead - I think we're in really good shape. We tried a different set up with my car, and it took a few laps to get into it, but really I was very pleased and happy and looking forward to getting in the car again tomorrow. Weather wise, it is very hot and humid, and it is difficult conditions here, but I'm feeling good and am very fit for the race."

Fairuz Fauzy, P1 - 1:40.721, 22nd; P2 - n/a
"I feel very good, very motivated and this is really a special day for me as it's our home run. It is great to be back again. The last time I was in Barcelona, which is a long time ago! I've always said that I'll be ready and fit, but it's still great that I was on the pace immediately. I'm happy and I hope we can do well this weekend - the car feels great, and I think it's faster than it was in Melbourne. It's going to be an exciting weekend - in Malaysia, anything can happen! If it rains and we can get an advantage out of it, then that's good."

Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
"A great day - we did everything we wanted to do and I'm extremely pleased. We're getting better and better so let's hope we continue this tomorrow in qualifying. We are being realistic though - points aren't in my mind. I just want to finish the race, get both cars home and keep our feet on the ground. Of course I'm still dreaming - I put Colin Chapman's cap on the pit wall to remind everyone of what we're aspiring to, but we'll get there in the right way, and the dream continues."

Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
“All round a very successful day. It was good to have Fairuz in the car this morning and he was able to complete his entire program. Heikki took over the car in the afternoon and was also able to finish his planned program - evaluating the tyres and the race pace of the car. We had no mechanical issues on either car and in general I'm very pleased with the progress we're making, so well done to the whole team."

Virgin
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:39.755, 20th; P2 - 1:39.061, 21st

“We had a good free practice day today without any major problems, which is good for us and it’s encouraging to have such a good start to the weekend. We had a little trouble at the end with a minor power steering issue, which meant we couldn’t get a good run in to finish the day, but generally the team did an excellent job so I’m pleased and optimistic that this is a good sign for the rest of the weekend.”

Lucas di Grassi, P1 - 1:40.159, 21st; P2 - 1:39.158, 22nd
“A really good day for us with no issues. The car is running smoothly and there is a lot more performance to come, but we are very happy with our best Friday so far. It means we are evolving both as a team and in terms of developing the car.”

Nick Wirth, Virgin technical director
“In the context of our winter testing and the first two races, today was a clear step forward for the Virgin Racing team. Both Timo and Lucas managed to work through good programmes and we seem to have a clear direction to follow tomorrow on set-up. The high-speed corners of Sepang highlighted a small set-up issue on the power steering on Timo’s car, which we’ll correct tonight. Overall a solid start to the weekend.”

HRT
Karun Chandhok, P1 - 1:41.966, 24th; P2 - 1:41.084, 23rd

"The practice sessions were useful for us as we did some long runs. It is positive that we did that many laps today, which was our objective for this weekend."

Bruno Senna, P1 - 1:41.832, 23rd; P2 - 1:41.481, 24th
“We were ready straight away when the first session started and that was a good feeling. We managed all programmes, we had no mechanical problem. It is good to have the first 100 percent reliable day and I'm happy about that. I'm looking forward to Practice Three tomorrow ahead of a good qualifying."

Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
"Both sessions were productive and ran as smooth as possible for both Karun and Bruno who could cover all the planned testing programme while driving the most laps ever in their practice history. Technically everything worked well and this is very positive for the team to be running through a normal driving programme with a crew that worked very hard to make all of this happen. Now, we need to go beyond and improve driveability of the car."

Bridgestone
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development

"Today was interesting as we saw some very fast lap times and there were many laps from drivers so there is a lot of data to analyse. It was also interesting as we had a heavy rain shower shortly after the second session, which reinforces the variability of the weather here in Malaysia. The track conditions seem good here today for the first day of running. Drivers were pushing hard, as shown by the lap times, and we did see understeer progressing to oversteer as a general trend. Graining was experienced on both front and rear tyres so there are many factors of tyre management to be considered. The hot temperatures should mean that there is a clear difference in durability between the two compounds, however the best lap times should be quite close because the heat assists the warm-up of the higher temperature range hard tyre. This will make strategy considerations interesting, and we could see some variety in the tyre used by the Q3 runners tomorrow. The weather, of course, cannot be underestimated, and the soft tyre is a good option if the track is dry, but it looks like rain is not far off. We saw the performance of the intermediate tyre in Melbourne, however the rain here is frequently very severe so the wet tyre could be used. As we saw last year, there can even be too much rain for the race to run, so we will all be looking closely at the skies."