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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 25 Jun 2010

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 25 June 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 25 June 2010 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 25 June 2010 Jaime Alguersuari (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR5.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 25 June 2010 Christian Klien (AUT) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) Test and Reserve Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, European Grand Prix, Practice Day, Valencia Spain, Friday, 25 June 2010

Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg bettered both McLaren drivers in Friday morning’s session to take the top spot, but in the afternoon Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took charge of the timesheets. The leading teams and their rivals reflect on their early progress in Valencia…

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:42.421, 9th; P2 - 1:39.283, 1st

“Here, as in Montreal, our car seems to work well, even if it’s difficult to make a direct comparison, given that the track surface is very different and that one needs a bit more aerodynamic downforce. Together with Felipe, we worked on the development of new technical solutions, but it is hard to say how much we have improved compared to the others. The F10 has turned out to be easy to drive and competitive in every situation, both with low and high fuel loads, but it is too early to say where we are: this morning, the McLarens were very quick, the Red Bulls are always on front running pace and even Mercedes and Renault are very close. However, our only aim is to be ahead of everyone, otherwise we wouldn’t be Ferrari.”

Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:42.182, 5th; P2 - 1:39.947, 7th
“The track was very dirty, which makes it difficult to understand exactly how much the new parts which we used for the first time today have improved the performance of the car. I never managed to get a clean lap when I was on new tyres with low fuel and this explains my position on the time sheet. Nevertheless, I am pleased with the handling of my car. I think we have made a step forward in performance terms and that we should be competitive this weekend: I hope I can fight for a place on the top rows. The spin? I hit a kerb, spun and then I chose to brake to avoid hitting the wall: unfortunately the engine cut out and we now have to look into why the anti-stall did not work.”

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
“I would say that our weekend has got off to a positive start, but it’s too early to draw any real conclusion. From what we saw today, we are on the pace on a track that has some similarities to the one in Montreal. Now we have to analyse all the data gathered over these three hours, to be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and especially for the race. As usual, a good grid position will be vital, especially so here on a track where overtaking is very difficult.”

Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer
“Today we had to carry out a very packed programme to test the various new technical updates that we have brought here for the first time. We had a few minor problems this morning with Fernando, which cost a bit of time, while in the afternoon it was Felipe who lost out on half an hour’s running time because of a spin. All the same, we were able to manage the situation and gathered all the data we wanted. We are reasonably pleased with what we have seen: at the moment there do not seem to be any reliability problems relating to the new configuration of the exhaust system and the F10 is pretty competitive. At this track, tyre behaviour seems more ‘normal’ compared to Montreal: the hard ones are struggling to get up to temperature but improve lap after lap, while the softs are more consistent than they were in Canada.”

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:42.216, 6th; P2 - 1:39.339, 2nd

“Overall a good day, we did a lot of laps, we didn’t have any problem with the car so we could follow our programme like it should be on a Friday. We need to see if we keep the F-duct in the car, we need to confirm that, but all in all I think the pace was promising today considering this shouldn’t be our strongest track. We did a step forward with the whole car - it was a good day for us.”

Mark Webber, P1 - 1:42.275, 7th; P2 - 1:39.427, 3rd
“We had a good Friday programme with no interruptions and evaluated the tyres and the F-duct which we will look into tonight - as we all know it’s not without its challenges getting that thing working. The track changed a lot this afternoon, the conditions were moving around a bit. But a very productive day for us: the car ran faultlessly and was pretty comfortable so looking forward to tomorrow.”

Mercedes GP
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:41.175, 1st; P2 - 1:39.650, 4th

"We've had a productive day and I am feeling comfortable in the car although the tyres were a challenge again with graining and various issues. The option didn't seem to work well but it was the same for everyone and we made the most of it. The team has done a good job on our upgrades and I'm sure that they have improved our competitiveness. We have a few bits and pieces to resolve overnight but we are on the right track which is nice to see. We know that our race pace is better than our qualifying performance at the moment so if we can get our qualifying right, we should make good progress this weekend."

Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:42.312, 8th; P2 - 1:40.287, 11th
"It was exciting to drive the track for the first time today, probably even to a bigger extent than I had anticipated yesterday after checking it. So this morning for me was mostly about getting a feeling for the track. You need to get used to it but I found it quite comfortable to drive even if some of the corners are blind. However it's demanding to get the real rhythm which I have not totally found over one lap yet. The long runs went okay and all in all it was not too bad today, depending on the fuel loads obviously which we need to look into more deeply now. Regarding Lewis, I must apologise as I did not see him and was not informed that he was there. As I was planning my lap at that moment and looking ahead, I was unfortunately in his way."

Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"We had a great deal of work to achieve today with our new developments and it was essential that the cars ran reliably to give us as much track time as possible. Therefore I'm very pleased that this was the case and we have been able to carry out our planned programme. It's a good start to the weekend but as always, there is a long way to go and we have a few issues to get to grips with overnight before qualifying. From our experiences in Canada, we know that we have to qualify well to avoid compromising our race performance so that will be the focus of our attention this evening and tomorrow morning."

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Today was not a bad start to the weekend with our heavily upgraded car which the team has worked very hard on over the last couple of weeks. I would really like to thank them for their relentless efforts. With low fuel, our lap times could have been quicker today however Nico and Michael both had traffic on their fastest laps, as happened to other drivers. Our lap times in race trim with very heavy fuel loads have been quick and consistent today. If everything comes together as planned, Nico and Michael will be able to show in qualifying and on Sunday during the race that we have made a step forward."

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:41.339, 2nd; P2 - 1:39.749, 5th

“The first session looked quite good for us. But it was always going to be interesting to see how quickly the blown-diffuser cars could get up to speed – and they looked very competitive this afternoon, particularly over a single lap. And the grip they appear to have through the high-speed stuff could make them difficult for us to touch. Nevertheless, I still think our race pace will be good, and we’ll keep pushing: this weekend is all about us taking as much as we can from the blown-diffuser cars while they have an advantage. As for the small misunderstanding with Michael (Schumacher), well, it’s always difficult to find a gap out there. I saw him ahead of me and I thought he was on a quick lap - then, all of a sudden, he slowed down to create a gap from the guy in front. Around here, it’s all about managing the gap between the guy in front and the guy behind. Fortunately, I missed him, so no hard feelings - and I hear he apologised anyway, so it’s all good. There’s no problem. Everyone’s always backing up here at the final corner, so it’s a bit like Monaco in that sense. And it shows just how tricky it will be to find a gap in qualifying.”

Jenson Button, P1 - 1:41.383, 3rd; P2 - 1:40.029, 9th
“It’s hard to get a balance around this circuit, but we changed it throughout P2 and the car feels pretty good now. Our long run was quite promising, too - we were perhaps a little over-cautious at the beginning, so I was able to push at the end. I’m reasonably happy, but there are a lot of quick cars out there. The Ferraris look very fast; so do the Red Bulls, Renaults and Mercedes. But that’s because teams bring out upgrade packages at different points during the season, and we don’t have an upgrade for here, and many teams do. Anyway, it evens out over the season but we’ve just got to fight it out here and get the best out of what we’ve got. This is a car we know, so we’ll tweak it and try to make sure we don’t make any mistakes this weekend. It’s going to be a tough weekend for us, but an enjoyable one too, and we should still get some good points from it.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“Today we saw just how relentless the development race has become in Formula One, with several cars appearing to take a step forward in pace by adopting a blown diffuser and showing, particularly this afternoon, that it seemingly offers a useful performance advantage. As we’ve already said, we don’t have any significant upgrades for this race, so the weekend will be more about pushing to maximise the potential of the package we currently have, minimising our mistakes and pushing hard at every opportunity to score the most possible points on Sunday.”

Renault
Robert Kubica, P1 - 1:41.715, 4th; P2 - 1:39.880, 6th

“It was a fairly normal Friday for us and we managed to do quite a lot of laps to understand the car and the new developments that we have for this race. It was quite easy to evaluate the new parts and I was able to feel the difference with the car. Track conditions were pretty good, overall: it was quite dusty to begin with, but things improved a lot during the day.”

Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:42.962, 12th; P2 - 1:40.618, 13th
“I had driven here before in GP2, but today was my first experience of Valencia in an F1 car. Obviously it feels very different and I had to adapt my driving style. We had a lot of new parts to try out so the car felt quite different and I spent the sessions getting used to that and understanding the car’s behaviour. Overall the car felt okay, but we’re still working on the set-up and will continue that tomorrow morning.”

Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
“For the first session the track was a little bit dirty and we saw the usual track evolution because nobody wanted to run early on. The track was a lot better in the afternoon: a bit warmer and much cleaner, so no real complaints about the conditions in the second session. We saw a lot of cars running off track today, but that’s probably because they were pushing to the limit and making the most of the generous run-off areas, rather than it being down to the track conditions. The cars started the day aerodynamically very similar and both cars ran with the new blown floor. By the end of the day they were both running with a reasonably similar set-up, although Robert tried a different downforce level towards the end of the day, which he preferred. We will look at the data tonight to decide whether we will try it with Vitaly tomorrow. We had a good look at our new parts today, including our first iteration of the blown floor. The data was encouraging and it seems to be working as the wind tunnel and CFD predicted. We expect to continue running with our updates for the rest of the weekend.”

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P1 - n/a; P2 - 1:40.020, 8th

“I was only out in Practice Two but it went well today, according to plan. I was happy with the balance straight away and didn't change so much over the session. The switchable rear wing is working very well now and it makes a real difference. The long run pace was also good so overall there were no real problems - quite a relaxing day! At this stage we can't predict exactly what will happen tomorrow, but based on our pace today I think we are strong here and I hope we can have the same positions we did in Montreal, or around that area - Q3 is definitely possible from what we've seen in practice.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - 1:43.380, 14th; P2 - 1:40.387, 12th
“Quite a good Friday for us. I used the opening session to learn the track: it's quite a strange circuit as there aren't too many corners, but it's quite technical and the kerbs are a little strange as you have to find a very precise line. The car is responding well to changes and we seem to be pretty competitive on lower fuel. We've also got some good information on the SRW and it is working better than in Turkey. We just need to make a couple of small steps to adjust the balance but we are going in the right direction and I think we can improve a bit for tomorrow.”

Paul di Resta, P1 - 1:43.437, 16th; P2 - n/a
“It felt good to be back in the car after a while watching from the garage. Valencia was again a completely new track for me but it was relatively easy to learn as there's not so many corners - it's straights, then turn in. The grip was very low at the start and the track was dusty so we found, as I think a lot of the other drivers did as well, that the tyres grained up very quickly. I could get up to speed quickly though, and completed the programme we wanted. I feel I know the car behaviour a lot more so I'm going forward with the schedule and coming back with results that can be fed back into the weekend, so I'm pretty happy with how it went. “

Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer
“We completed our normal programme on the basics during Practice One and Two today, using Paul, Tonio and Adrian to cover the various items. There was quite a substantial improvement in the track condition during the sessions and all in all we're satisfied with the way the car was performing by the end of the afternoon. It looks set to continue to be warm and we now need to follow the evolution of the conditions and tyres through the event to get the best result we can on Sunday.”

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:42.463, 10th; P2 - 1:40.174, 10th

“We had a pretty much straight forward day during which we tested various things and they seem to work better. It’s the first time we’ve been in the top ten on a Friday; we can’t read too much into that, but at least it tells us that we can be competitive. The main aim tomorrow is to get into Q3.”

Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:42.707, 11th; P2 - 1:41.371, 17th
“Quite a difficult Friday for me. P2 wasn’t really to my liking. I struggled with the balance of the car and I didn’t get a good lap on the option tyre. We need to analyse the data now and hopefully hook it all together for a good qualifying tomorrow.”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“That was a productive day for us. We ran a new blown rear wing design on both cars at various stages throughout the day and will now check the data to decide what to run tomorrow. We also tested some new aero and mechanical parts, all of which delivered positive results. In the background, we carried out our usual programme of tyre evaluations, cooling checks and brake testing, all of which went smoothly.”

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:43.729, 17th; P2 - 1:40.906, 14th

"We completed a huge programme today and everything went very well. With the new aero package we now have to work to get the balance right. It is getting reasonable, but we have to analyse the data and I'm sure there is more to come. In the morning I found the track less dirty than expected. However, in the morning tyre degradation was an issue, but not anymore in the afternoon."

Pedro de la Rosa, P1 - 1:43.397, 15th; P2 - 1:40.945, 15th
"We made a lot of changes to the car during the day to prepare for tomorrow's qualifying. The main focus was to work on the braking performance to get the car stable under braking. Both tyres worked quite well on the warm asphalt, and I don't expect anything like the issues we had in Canada. For me it was the first time driving on this track. It took me a few laps to learn it, especially the many braking points, but I quickly liked it."

James Key, BMW Sauber technical director
"We had no technical problems with the cars today, which was good because we had two very busy sessions. We worked on adapting the set-up of the car to the new aero package. This is the first step to make the car easier to drive. Fundamentally we have found some directions we can follow for tomorrow, but we have to analyse all the data tonight and see what steps we can make. The consistency from lap to lap needs a bit of work. If we look at the sector times they don't really reflect the lap times, so we have to make sure the drivers can get the best out of the car over one lap. We made progress in some areas but we have work to do in others."

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:43.310, 13th; P2 - 1.41.115, 16th

“We had a trouble free day, which is always important, so I am happy with that. It was an interesting day, because between the morning and the afternoon, we saw the biggest improvement in lap time that we have had so far this season. That makes life quite difficult, because as the grip improved very quickly, you had to find the confidence to make use of it immediately, which is different to what we are used to. We have a reasonably good understanding of tyre behaviour after doing the long stint. Now we have to see where we can improve for tomorrow and overall the work we did today was not too bad.”

Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:44.183, 18th; P2 - 1.41.457, 18th
“In the morning we did a useful test on the brakes, however, I preferred the previous system, which we went back to for the afternoon, therefore, FP1 did not mean much, but as the track conditions improved a lot for the afternoon, that was not a problem. In FP2, the car felt quite good and I was getting a much better feeling with the brakes, which are very important here, because on this track you can gain a lot of time through your braking. It was particularly good on the long runs, so I am expecting a lot from tomorrow, as we improved the car significantly from the morning to the afternoon and there is the potential to improve still more.”

Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
“A trouble free day for both cars, which meant we were able to complete our entire work programme: it was a mix of race preparation, while also looking at qualifying. As always here, the grip level was very low in the morning, followed by a very significant improvement in the second session. Now we have to study all the data we have gathered in order to try and improve our single lap performance for tomorrow’s qualifying.”

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:44.491, 19th; P2 - 1:42.467, 19th

“I feel really good. It’s been an excellent Friday. We’ve made really good progress with the car, and every set up change we made seemed to be pushing us in the right direction, and in the end the tyres seemed to be working well over the long run. The track itself is good, it’s nice - a semi street circuit, but with a little more room than Monaco! It’s smooth, with quite a good grip level and all in all it’s quite good fun. I did arrive late today because of the French strikes - we had to drive down from Geneva and arrived early this morning. But I feel fine - it’s just one night with a little less sleep than usual, so it’s no big deal. My physio Petri and I shared the driving, so I feel absolutely fine. For qualifying tomorrow, we’re going to try to push it to the maximum. Our aim is to get closer to the back of the established teams as much as we possibly can so I’m always pushing, always to the maximum, and let’s see where we are tomorrow afternoon!”

Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:47.285, 22nd; P2 - 1:42.993, 20th
“It was a better day for me today after some of the luck I’ve been having. I had one or two gremlins, but it was a good day to shakedown the new chassis properly and make sure everything was working well. We got a good idea of where we want to be on the setup and the direction for Saturday and Sunday, so I think this was much better for me. On track there was good grip out there this afternoon, and the car felt good, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
“I’ll be in Spain tomorrow to join Clive Chapman, his family and the whole team to enjoy this momentous race. I wanted to come in today, but couldn’t get a seat on AirAsiaX so I’ve had to jump on board one of the competition’s planes to get me in, but I’m very excited about the weekend ahead, particularly after the very solid start today. It’s been good to see our reliability return on both cars today, and I’m hopeful we can put in a good showing tomorrow and on Sunday.”

Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
“It was a good day for us. Obviously the first session was dominated by tyres and the condition of the track, with a lot of graining on the fronts, but, as expected, the track cleaned up and we were able to get through the whole program with no real issues on either car. We’ve got a lot of data from today and I think we’re where we expected to be, but I think there’s more to come from the car, so I’m optimistic about our performance over the weekend.”

Virgin
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:45.653, 20th; P2 - 1:43.811, 21st

“It has been a reasonable day for us apart from the gearbox problem that we had this afternoon. Apart from that the car didn’t feel too bad. It’s difficult to comment on our pace because I lost some time at the end of the session and didn’t get my option run, but in general I’m happy with the first laps of the weekend and we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”

Lucas di Grassi, P1 - 1:47.356, 24th; P2 - 1:43.854, 22nd
“Today was a very good day and we achieved everything that we needed to from our programme. We didn’t experience any major problems, so I’m pleased with the work we have done so far and I’m looking forward to seeing how we can improve for tomorrow.”

Nick Wirth, Virgin technical director
“Timo lost fifth gear in the middle of the second Free Practice session, which spoiled what was otherwise a very satisfying day. We really have been focusing on understanding our first major performance upgrade of the year and it seems to be giving us the sort of advantages we had seen in our research. The team has done a good job getting a solid body of knowledge around it, and I think we have enough data to get a good qualifying and race set-up. In theory the car should be better again when we start running low fuel, so I’m expecting to see some progress in qualifying tomorrow. Our attentions this evening will be focused on understanding the nature of Timo’s gearbox failure and preparing the cars for what should be an interesting day tomorrow.”

HRT
Bruno Senna, P1 - 1:47.123, 21st; P2 - 1:44.095, 23rd

“The first session was difficult because of the track conditions. It was very slippery and therefore not easy to drive. But the grip level improved in the afternoon and the lap times got better. We could do our quickest lap on the option tyres and now we have to focus on the qualifying. ”

Karun Chandhok, P1 - n/a; P2 - 1:44.566, 24th
“It was quite a tricky day for us. The first two sectors were good but then we had a hydraulic problem in Sector Three on the option tyre run and therefore no representative ultimate lap time for me. We will have to look at Bruno to judge our pace and it definitely looks like we could be in decent shape to compete with Virgin cars tomorrow. The tyre degradation wasn't as bad as Montreal and the option tyre was more consistent as expected. The track will improve a bit more tomorrow so hopefully we can have a productive third practice and prepare well for qualifying and race in front of our team's home crowd.”

Christian Klien, P1 - 1:47.343, 23rd; P2 - n/a
“It was a new circuit for me and in the first laps I had to learn the track, which was very dusty in the beginning. But the conditions got better and I could improve my lap times. In the end, it is disappointing as I only could do 14 laps in my second session for the team. We had a gearbox problem on the car and that’s why I had to stop before the end of the session.”

Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
“Today’s results were not significant for us because we concentrated on our work for tomorrow and Sunday. In the morning session, Christian Klien had a gearbox problem and Bruno Senna a problem with a drive boot. As a precaution, we investigated the problem Christian had in the morning on Bruno’s car and that’s why Bruno started late into the second session. But at the end of Practice Two, we could already work on the program for tomorrow and for Sunday.”

Bridgestone
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development

"Today was a typical Valencia Friday. In the morning the track surface was very dirty and we saw a lot of slip and slide from the cars. Finding grip was a challenge and we saw front and rear graining, both transverse from traction and braking demands, and lateral from cornering forces. The front left tyre suffered particularly. The graining was sufficient to mean that degradation was similar to that seen in Montreal. By the afternoon, the track conditions had developed a lot and tyre performance improved correspondingly. If the track condition continues to improve as it has today we will see a lot stronger tyre performance than we did in Canada, even though the allocation here is the same with the medium and super soft Bridgestone Potenzas. Qualifying should favour the super soft once more rather than it being far more open as it was two weeks ago. Because of the significant track improvement here a definite racing line develops, so using other parts of the track is difficult. This means that pit stop timing and track position will be important factors, and the tyre allocation should allow a good range of options."