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Thursday practice - selected team and driver quotes 13 May 2010

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 13 May 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 13 May 2010 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 13 May 2010 Jaime Alguersuari (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 13 May 2010 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 13 May 2010

Two-time Monaco winner Fernando Alonso is no stranger to success in Monte Carlo, and on Thursday he took the top honours in both practice sessions. Alonso, his rivals, and senior team personnel reflect on their early progress in the Principality…

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:15.927, 1st; P2 - 1:14.904, 1st

“It’s only Thursday, so the main aim was to understand how the tyres work and get confident with the circuit. On this track a major set up change might give you half a tenth, but trusting your driving can see you gain half a second. We therefore worked on finding the right feeling with the car and on making it easy to drive. There is still a lot of work to do and quite a margin for improvement. The track conditions will get better by Saturday, given that so many cars from the different categories will be running over the next couple of days. I hope that in two days time I will again find a well balanced car. I can understand that there could be a level of pessimism after the show of strength from Red Bull in Barcelona qualifying, but we know that here, having the right set-up can make more of a difference than pure aerodynamic downforce and we already have a good baseline, given that last year, Kimi (Raikkonen) nearly took pole with a car that was far off the F10 in terms of its potential.”

Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:16.517, 5th; P2 - 1:15.120, 4th
“The situation is definitely very different to Barcelona. From one week to the next I have found a much more stable car which is easy to drive and has much more grip. I have to say I can only be happy with the F10 and the way things went today. Having said that, there is still a lot to do to be done to be as well prepared as possible for the rest of the weekend. The traffic could be a problem, especially in Q1 and we will have to try and manage the situation as well as possible. Here it is always difficult to get a perfect lap: there are so many slow corners where you can lose a lot of time, which you never get back. However, getting it right is really especially satisfying.”

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
“This weekend has got off to a positive start for us, but we are well aware that the result of free practice does not tell you much and that, especially on an untypical track like this, the situation can change rapidly. There is still a lot of work to do to be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and the race, but we can be reasonably confident in affirming that we will be in the hunt. Now we have over a day and a half ahead of us to fine tune every detail in order to get out every last bit of potential from the package we have at our disposal.”

Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer
“I would say this was a good day. First of all, it’s always positive to be able to complete three hours of free practice around the Monaco track without doing any damage to the cars, which meant both drivers were able to work through their entire planned programme: we just had to shorten the time on some elements in the afternoon, because of the approaching rain. Both Felipe and Fernando said they were pleased with the handling of the car and managed to get both types of tyre brought here by Bridgestone to work well. Clearly, without knowing the fuel loads in the cars of our closest rivals, it’s hard to know exactly where we are compared to them, but I think I can safely say we should be able to fight for the top places on the starting grid.”

Mercedes GP
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:17.149, 11th; P2 - 1:15.013, 2nd

"Monaco is a very special and challenging circuit and we had a positive start to our weekend here today. We made good progress this afternoon after losing some time in the morning with a pushrod problem that we had to fix. The lap times looked quite promising in the second session and I felt very comfortable in the car. We were able to improve the set-up continuously and get the tyres working better as the session went on. So everything looks promising after the first day and I'm looking forward to getting on with qualifying on Saturday."

Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:16.589, 6th; P2 - 1:15.143, 5th
"Today's practice was a lot of fun. You clearly have to say that Monaco is a very special place to drive and I really enjoyed it. I got back into the rhythm of the track, especially on the long runs, and I think we can be quite confident for tomorrow as the car is definitely quite reasonable to handle. The other teams who have a certain top speed advantage on other tracks at the moment do not have this advantage here, so the whole field comes a bit closer together which will make it a very interesting qualifying in my view. I am looking forward to it."

Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"As always at Monaco, the track conditions evolved rapidly today and it was important to make full use of the available practice time. We lost some running with Nico this morning but he did well to come back and find reasonable solutions for the set-up. We followed our usual practice programme of set-up, fuel load and tyre comparisons today. Our low fuel pace seems reasonable but we have more work to do on high fuel before Sunday. Overall a reasonable start to the weekend and we are enjoying the unique challenge and working environment that Monaco provides."

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Quite a promising start to the weekend for us today and certainly a different picture from what we saw last Sunday in Barcelona. Nico and Michael's lap times on both types of tyres with lesser fuel as well as during race simulation runs looked not bad at all. There is definitely more work to do before Saturday but so far so good."

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:16.000, 2nd; P2 - 1:15.099, 3rd

“We did a lot of laps today, which is good as that’s important in Monaco. The car feels alright, but if you look at the times it’s difficult to judge where we are. One thing that’s clear it will be very, very tight over the weekend. The top four teams are split by a couple of tenths and fuel loads are not as important here, so it’s close. It looks challenging. Qualifying has been good for us at the last races and I hope it continues on Saturday.”

Mark Webber, P1 - 1:16.382, 4th; P2 - 1:15.620, 10th
“It was a pretty good day today - we went a bit early with the options to beat the weather and we’ve got a bit of work to do with the balance, but in general it was good. We’ve made progress in the low-speed stuff since last year. We saw indications of it in Singapore and Abu Dhabi and what we learned with the RB5 has rolled into the RB6. It will be tighter here than it was in Spain, it’s a special track - we know that. Saturday will be an exciting qualifying session for definite.”

Renault
Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:16.016, 3rd; P2 - 1:15.192, 6th

“I’m a big fan of street circuits so it was good fun driving around Monaco today, and things went pretty well for me during both sessions. We still have a couple of issues to work on with the balance of the car so it’s good that we have a free day tomorrow when we can look over the data. Hopefully we can improve the car a bit more before qualifying.”

Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:17.718, 14th; P2 - 1:15.746, 11th
“I enjoyed my first experience of Monaco in an F1 car. We spent the day working on the set-up and we changed a lot between the morning and the afternoon, which made the car much better. It’s a difficult track because you need to push hard all the time, the walls are very close and you have to concentrate hard to make sure you don’t make any mistakes. At the moment the balance is not too bad, but we still need to work on some things to improve the car before qualifying on Saturday.”

Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
“It’s been a very positive day for us with both drivers completing good mileage. Robert was the quickest car on the medium compound (prime) tyre, although he didn’t have such a good run on the super-soft, but we’ve no major concerns. As for Vitaly, this was his first time at Monaco in an F1 car and he did a very good job during both sessions, and has ended the day close to Robert in terms of pace. Today’s conditions were typical Monaco: dirty, dusty and constantly evolving throughout the day. There was some light rain towards the end of the afternoon session, but the forecast for Saturday and Sunday suggests that more rain is unlikely. The car is working very well, but it’s still not 100 percent and we’ve got to dial out some oversteer. Fortunately we have a free day tomorrow to look over the data to try and cure that.”

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:16.647, 7th; P2 - 1:15.249, 7th

“Obviously, we weren’t at the top of the timesheets, but I’ve really been enjoying driving around here today. When you’re at Monaco, things just seem to happen so much faster than normal - it feels two or three times quicker than at other circuits. You’re always on the edge, and if you brake just a little bit too late, then you’ll be in the barrier. It’s an incredible feeling.

“More importantly, this year’s car just feels fantastic - it’s light years ahead of last year’s car. And we made some good steps forward with the set-up. Of course, everyone at the front of the grid is looking pretty competitive, but I think we should be okay.

“We’ll do our homework tonight. Qualifying’s going to be tough, I hope the weather stays okay for us and that we can fight for a spot in the top three.”

Jenson Button, P1 - 1:16.692, 2nd; P2 - 1:15.619, 9th
“This morning felt good, we went through some positive set-up changes and I felt pretty happy with the car. For P2, we made some further changes, but I don’t think all of them were an improvement. So we went back in a few areas, and our long-run pace was good, so I’m feeling very happy about that.

“Tomorrow, we’ve still got a little bit of work to do to understand what’s best for low fuel and new tyres. But I think we understand where we’ve got to be, because we were on the pace this morning.

“Overall, the Ferrari looks very quick, and I’m pretty sure Red Bull are hiding their pace. But it’s the normal cars up at the front, and I’m sure we’ll get a better idea on Saturday morning.

“McLaren always produces a good car around Monaco, they’ve won 15 times around here - more than anyone else - so hopefully we can do well on Saturday.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“A very productive pair of sessions for us - even if we know we still have much to do to reach our ultimate potential around this most demanding of circuits.

“Jenson and Lewis got themselves dialled in extremely quickly this morning and were both happy with the car. This afternoon, it seems like some of the changes we made between the sessions weren’t as positive as we’d hoped, so we had to dial back on some of those. We’ve still got a few issues to resolve - but the engineers have the whole of tomorrow to rectify them, so I’m sure we’ll be competitive for the rest of the weekend

“A quick look at today’s times would suggest that Saturday’s qualifying session will be extremely tense and incredibly closely fought - which is fantastic for Formula One.”

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:16.805, 9th; P2 - 1:15.460, 8th

“It was a very good day for me. I'm very happy with my performance and with the car. The set-up was really good and we didn't have to make any major changes over the day, which means there is not so much work for tomorrow and Saturday's final practice. The car is going very consistently and I could set good lap times so the end classification looks promising, but we can also be very satisfied about the pace of the long runs. We didn't have many problems with the tyre compounds here, just a bit of graining on the soft one, but it's under control and nothing to worry about. Overall I think we look pretty strong for a practice day and can be confident going into qualifying.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - 1:17.704, 13th; P2 - 1:16.528, 15th
“It was a difficult Friday due to the traffic, as can be expected round here. It was tough with 24 cars in the field but you just need to have sensible driving from the others, particularly given the time differences between cars. But this isn't going to change - Monaco is always like this and it is always a bit of a gamble but we have to throw our lot in as well. Even though the final position is not optimum, overall we can be pretty happy as the car is very good on a high fuel load. We need to improve the balance on the low fuel runs as we still struggled a little with the rear end grip but in general I think we are in a better shape compared to the last race. We have quite a lot of data we can work on tomorrow to try to improve everything for Saturday.”

Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer
“Our programme for today looked to concentrate on the super soft tyre long run performance after last year's race where the tyre suffered quite high degradation in the early stages. We were also looking at cooling and brake set-up for the race here, both of which will be important on Sunday. Because of the light rain arriving at the end of FP2, things were accelerated slightly, with us running the super soft tyre slightly earlier to ensure that we got the data we needed. The drivers made full use of the laps they had to get comfortable on the circuit and the areas of new surface seem to have improved the grip level slightly. If we handle the busy track correctly on Saturday we can look forward to a competitive qualifying performance.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
“Today we were very satisfied with the pace of our longer runs and the positions in both sessions were encouraging. However what we have seen is that the speed difference between the cars - sometimes up to five seconds - will make qualifying a lottery. We believe we have the potential to be right up there fighting for Q3 but we'll have to see how it goes in on Saturday. The right ingredients are there, we just need them to mix together in the right way.”

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:16.857, 10th; P2 - 1:16.276, 12th

“It went well and I am quite happy with what we achieved in the two sessions. We had no technical issues at all, which is very good, as it meant I did a lot of laps. The new parts we have put on the car here seem to be working well. There is a big difference in behaviour between the two types of tyre: at the moment, the option seemed to develop quite a bit of degradation, although it might be less by the time we run again. It means we have quite a clear picture therefore of how to manage the tyres in the race. Anyway, here we have plenty of time to analyse what we need to do before Saturday, even if the rain at the end of the session meant it was harder to assess everything properly.”

Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:17.991, 15th; P2 - 1:17.023, 18th
“It certainly felt different to last year, when I raced here in the World Series! It was a good testing day and even though I was stopped a bit before the end of my long stint in FP2 with a technical issue, I was able to complete a substantial number of laps. I think we know in what direction we must go to improve the car a bit more before qualifying and I should also pick up speed as I get more experience on the track. Both types of tyre suffered with degradation, but we have an idea what we can do on the car set-up side to deal with this.”

Williams
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:18.397, 16th; P2 - 1:16.348, 13th

“Today was my first time in a Formula One car around Monaco so this morning was initially about getting some mileage under my belt. The car feels ok; you can squeeze a lot out of it on one lap with the soft tyre. It also feels like we’ve made a gain with the new aero parts, the rear wing definitely provides more grip.”

Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:17.331, 12th; P2 - 1:16.522, 14th
“The team brought some new parts for the car to Monaco. I had the new rear wing assembly this morning, Nico this afternoon. It looks promising and I hope to be a touch more competitive than some previous weekends. I’m looking forward to Saturday.”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“We spent today evaluating new aero components. We currently have only one new rear wing assembly so Rubens ran it in the morning and Nico in the afternoon. The second will arrive in time for third practice and will stay on the cars for qualifying and the race. We covered a lot of set-up work with Rubens and Nico which has given us plenty of data to study before Saturday. Our target for qualifying is to get both cars into the top ten.”

BMW Sauber
Pedro de la Rosa, P1 - 1:18.434, 17th; P2 - 1:16.599, 16th

"We covered all the mileage we wanted to, and made a lot of changes between the two sessions. We are heading in the right direction and have more ideas for Saturday. We can still make the car quicker, but we lose too much in the slow corners. Personally I started the first session quite carefully. The last time I was here was in 2002, so for me it was like learning a new track and I needed to get to know it again. For the second session I felt a lot more confident."

Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:18.547, 18th; P2 - 1:16.818, 17th
"It is really difficult to drive here and I had a few moments. I think we had a reasonable set up from the beginning, but still it was difficult to find grip in the slow corners, which is our main problem. We will work and try to improve the set up."

James Key, BMW Sauber technical director
"Like any first day at Monaco, the track was obviously slippery at the beginning and tricky, so we just allowed the drivers to do their laps and get a feel for the car and the tyres. We did some set-up work in the morning and suffered a little bit from the grip level, but everyone had the same problem in that respect. In the afternoon we consolidated on what we found in the morning. We went through another programme on the prime tyres and then tried the option tyres, which worked pretty well by the time we ran them, because the track was in better condition. We then went on to some race simulation work. The race pace looked quite reasonable, however, there is work to do on our qualifying pace. That's what we will look at in detail for Saturday."

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:19.606, 20th; P2 - 1:18.184, 19th

“Overall it was a very good Thursday on track. We completed both sessions without any problems and managed to complete all our programs. As soon as I got in the car on Thursday morning it felt good and throughout the day we've been able to improve it step by step, so we’re definitely going in the right direction. We tried both compounds of tyres and they're both working fine, and the long run with the soft tyres went without any problems, so that’s also pretty encouraging. We ended up pretty close to the car in front and anything can happen here so I’m looking forward to qualifying and the race. I'm really pleased with today’s performance and I think everyone in the team can be very happy with the job we're doing.”

Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:19.902, 21st; P2 - 1:18.667, 21st
“It was a bit frustrating today as I lost time in the garage this afternoon, and didn’t really get the chance to push as I’d have liked on track. The times were coming down but unfortunately in Monaco every single minute you lose being on track is going to cost you a little bit throughout the weekend. Obviously I'm experienced, so on the driver's side it won't affect me but with the car we still need to find the right setup and the right balance. Despite this it's good to be here and to see Lotus Racing on track, as I know how much that means to a lot of the fans, and also to see that we continue to improve the car every time we get out on track.”

Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
“Today was a reasonably good day. Jarno's program this afternoon was cut short with an engine problem, although the engine in question was a high-mileage unit that reached the end of the line today. Heikki had no problems completing the planned program, with a good long run at the end, so overall the team had a good day. The cars are in good shape, and we’re pretty confident there’s more to come for Saturday.”

Jody Egginton, Lotus chief race engineer
“I think the session went quite well today. Heikki obviously put in a good performance, putting in some good times at the end and I think with the changing weather conditions we did a good job. Jarno was a little bit unlucky unfortunately with an engine issue which prevented him from completing the program but we completed a good deal of work and I think we're now looking ok for Saturday.”

Virgin
Lucas di Grassi, P1 - 1:20.566, 22nd; P2 - 1:18.478, 20th

“It was a very good day, despite running with the old car. I felt comfortable straight away with the way the car was behaving here in Monaco. I think we are closer to the other teams than we were in Barcelona and in Free Practice 2 I was able to finish ahead of one of the Lotus cars and do a lot of laps. We had a small issue in Free Practice 1, no problems at all in Free Practice 2, so I’m very confident we can have a strong qualifying on Saturday. It’s a very important race here and we have to qualify well here and finish the race.”

Timo Glock, P1 - 1:19.527, 19th; P2 - 1:18.721, 22nd
“Today was quite good with the car, no major problems. In Free Practice 2 we struggled a bit with the gearbox - the seamless shift wasn’t working in that session which was a bit of a shame, but in general, no problems and we found a good set-up. Let’s see what happens on Saturday and fight hard with Lotus again and see where we are.”

Nick Wirth, Virgin technical director
“A very productive day for the team. Lucas experienced a gearbox issue this morning in P1 which shortened his first session, whereas Timo had a positive set of runs. In P2, Lucas made clear progress with his setup, but sadly got the timing of his new option tyre run to coincide precisely with the rain shower! Timo had a gearbox sensor failure at the beginning of P2 which degraded his shifts and lost him time all session, plus his option tyre running was also done during the start of the shower. Nevertheless, we have gathered a good amount of data on both cars, and we look forward to putting it all together, along with some new aero parts arriving tonight, when we start again Saturday.”

HRT
Karun Chandhok, P1 - 1:21.853, 24th; P2 - 1:20.313, 23rd

“It felt really good to be back and drive an F1 car around the streets of Monaco. I really enjoy driving on this circuit. We managed to go through our program today quite successfully on both tyres. I managed to get up to speed quite quickly and maintained that through the sessions. There is still a gap to the other new teams so we have to work on that. We are lucky that we have the whole day off tomorrow so will be sitting with my engineers working hard to find the right balance for qualifying on Saturday.”

Bruno Senna, P1 - 1:21.688, 23rd; P2 - 1:22.148, 24th
“I have been looking forward to driving here in Monaco again since my GP2 win a couple of years ago and here we are finally. Today we have been working very hard to make the car work as well as possible around this bumpy street circuit. It’s not easy to be honest. The areas of car development needed on the 'normal' circuits we have raced on so far are magnified here in Monaco and the team has to work harder than ever to make the best of what we have got. I plan to get back on target on Saturday.”

Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
“Our drivers paid a high price for a small mistake. But they will improve on Saturday. We did some good preparation work for the race, but we could not find the right balance to make the most of the tyres and achieve an optimal lap time. We have a good basis to build on ahead of qualifying.”

Bridgestone
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development

"Today we had good weather conditions in the morning and at the start of the afternoon practice session, however after that it became cooler and light rain fell on the track. In the morning the warm-up of the medium compound was quite good for this circuit and the track was showing good improvement before the rain started falling. I am happy that we were able to show that the allocation of the medium and super soft gave very reasonable performance today. Iis a challenge to predict the track condition as there is no F1 running tomorrow and we don't know what the weather will do. Initial conclusions from the data is that the super soft tyre should be able to last a reasonable distance if used at the start of the race, and the medium compound will deliver strong performance once it is warmed up. However, the track condition and weather have been very variable so far this week so we really face many unknowns."