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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 27 Aug 2010

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Thursday, 26 August 2010 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 27 August 2010 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) BMW Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 27 August 2010 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 27 August 2010 Bruno Senna (BRA) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 27 August 2010

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took the honours in Belgium on Friday, topping both the rain-swept morning session and the much drier afternoon one. Alonso and his rivals reflect on their early progress at Spa…

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 2:00.797, 1st; P2 - 1:49.032, 1st

“The impression one gets on Friday does not always get confirmed on Saturday and Sunday, therefore we have to evaluate today’s results with a lot of care. Having said that, it has definitely been a positive day, because the car seems to respond well in all track conditions that we encountered today. The times count for little, or nothing at all, because when the track changes so quickly, times can improve or get worse by two or three seconds depending on the moment when you are out on the circuit. I think the weather will play a key part, both tomorrow and on Sunday: anything could happen. We tried to test all the new components we have here. If the track was to be dry tomorrow, then we must try and improve our set-up, because obviously it is not yet at its best for these conditions, given that we only had a few minutes to test on slick tyres. In fact, I felt the car was a bit nervous, while in the wet it was easier to drive. When thinking about going for pole position, first of all we will have to see what the weather is doing: for sure if it was to rain we will go out immediately because you always learn from bad experiences…”

Felipe Massa, P1 - 2:03.601, 11th; P2 - 1:49.588, 5th
“I am very happy to be back racing at this track, having been forced to miss it last year: I love driving here. From what we could understand on a day like this, the car seems reasonably competitive and that was particularly true on the rain tyres. However, it is only Friday, so we will have to wait to see how the Red Bulls go, given that so far they have proved to be the quickest cars, as demonstrated in qualifying. We had so many things to test today, which explains a few slow laps this afternoon. On the intermediate tyres I immediately had good grip, but even on slicks the situation was not that bad. On the final lap, the only one on the soft tyres, I made a mistake, but the car felt good: obviously there is room for improvement and that is what we will try and achieve tomorrow.”

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal
“Given the way things went in both sessions it is really difficult to give a correct evaluation of the situation. That is the main reason that one must be very cautious in terms of drawing any conclusions from the two sessions. From the little that was possible to understand, there are some teams that seem more competitive than previously, which could create some surprises in the first five rows of the grid. We tried to work through all our planned programme, which included evaluating some new aerodynamic components. Looking to the rest of the weekend, we can say that, as ever at this track, uncertainty over the weather could play a significant role. Finally, I take this opportunity to add, on behalf of the entire Scuderia, our congratulations to those of President Montezemolo, to our former driver, Rubens Barrichello on the occasion of his 300th Grand Prix participation, which is a truly significant and important milestone.”

Chris Dyer, Ferrari chief engineer
“It was quite a complicated day because the weather evolved continuously. On top of that came the red flag in the final part, which considerably reduced the amount of time we could run in the dry. Both drivers were reasonably pleased with the handling of the F10 in the differing conditions encountered today, which is definitely positive. We had various new components to test, but clearly, with track conditions changing all the time, it is harder to make a correct assessment: we will have to study the available data carefully in order to draw the right conclusions. The forecast is predicting the chance of rain for both qualifying and the race: we will have to think calmly about whether to go for a set-up that veers more towards a wet track or if it is better to opt for a more dry oriented configuration.”

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 2:02.646, 5th; P2 - 1:49.157, 2nd

“With the weather it was quite difficult but I enjoyed it a lot and we had a good balance straightaway. I was very comfortable and every run I went out I was one of the quickest, so a very positive start to the day. In the dry the car was just getting better as grip improved. In the second session I did a run on the hard tyre and then had time for one single lap on the soft right at the end, but there was so much traffic out on the track that getting a time was always going to be hard. But at least we have an idea about the tyres and how the car will perform on the different compounds. We know it's going to be difficult to replicate this form tomorrow when we expect conditions to be drier but overall I'm feeling good, the car is fast and I am in good shape.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - 2:04.145, 15th; P2 - 1:51.520, 16th
“Overall a difficult day, not just because of the weather, but because of the programme we were running. We had a different programme from Adrian, running with some newer development parts. We have a really good speed into the corners and the car is very balanced. The blown diffuser does the work we expect it to and is performing quite well, but we tried a few things that we still need to define before tomorrow. We are down on top speed and are losing a bit of time on the straights and of course that's not what you want when you're at a place like Spa that has such long straights. I'm positive for tomorrow though and looking forward to getting a complete package tomorrow.”

Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer
“Two wet sessions today, and a busy test programme for the team. The morning conditions permitted only running on the wet tyre, as we compared different car configurations with Adrian and Tonio. The car was quite well balanced in the wet, but we occasionally did suffer from a bit of understeer. During the afternoon the circuit became dry enough for us to use prime and option tyres, but it wasn't really an evaluation because of the evolving circuit, yet all the same it allowed us to collect more data on the blown diffuser that seems to be working as we expected. However we will be investigating the F-duct performance on Tonio's car this evening as there is a top speed differential between the two cars. Overall our performance seems reasonable and if we follow the conditions sensibly should be able to achieve our twin objectives of Q3 and scoring more points this weekend.”

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 2:01.567, 2nd; P2 - 1:49.248, 3rd

“The weather made it a bit of an up-and-down day. It started off very wet, so we didn’t do too much running in the morning. But we got a few more laps this afternoon on the intermediates and then the option tyre. Because the rules don’t allow us to use too many wet-weather tyres - we only have three extremes and four Intermediates - we really need to look after them, so we were very cautious, just in case we need to use them later on in the weekend. We’re definitely making small steps forward. This track does seem to suit our car better (than in Hungary), but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If it rains, then we seem to be competitive, but we have realistic expectations for this weekend - I didn’t score in the last race, so it’s important that we get more points on the board on Sunday.”

Jenson Button, P1 - 2:02.913, 6th; P2 - 1:49.755, 7th
“Considering the conditions, I think today was a reasonable day. We’ve still got some more work to do, but I’m happier with the car here than I was in the last couple of races. I’ve got a reasonable balance and a good basis to work on, and that’s important. We got pretty much everything Spa could throw at us today. And, despite the weather, we still got some running done on the extreme, intermediate and option tyre. I’m happy with how the car felt in the different conditions - it’s a positive. I purposely didn’t do too many laps on either wet-weather tyre, as I didn’t want to destroy them. You can’t afford to do that. So we looked after the tyres, which could be useful for us ahead of qualifying.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“The weather made things interesting, if challenging, today. Both our drivers were forced to conserve wet tyres in the expectation of needing them later in the weekend, which limited our running. However, they were satisfied with the balance of their cars - although in these conditions it’s almost impossible to establish competitiveness relative to rivals. So, overall, I guess I’ll just say that we’re pleased to end the day with two undamaged cars!”

Renault
Robert Kubica, P1 - 2:02.081, 3rd; P2 - 1:49.282, 4th

“It was quite a good Friday for us. The conditions in first practice were pretty bad, but our main aim was to check how the f-duct system was functioning on our car. We focused on getting experience of the system, for the engineers and for myself, and to get everything working properly - and we managed to do this in spite of running in the wet. In the second session, I ran every type of tyre: extremes, intermediates and both compounds of the slicks. The car felt reasonable in all conditions, but I think we can make further improvements to the balance tomorrow.”

Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 2:04.690, 17th; P2 - 1:50.251, 11th
“It was quite a good Friday for us. The conditions in first practice were pretty bad, but our main aim was to check how the f-duct system was functioning on our car. We focused on getting experience of the system, for the engineers and for myself, and to get everything working properly - and we managed to do this in spite of running in the wet. In the second session, I ran every type of tyre: extremes, intermediates and both compounds of the slicks. The car felt reasonable in all conditions, but I think we can make further improvements to the balance tomorrow.”

Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
This is the first time that we have brought our f-duct to the track, so we spent the morning learning about it in the wet conditions, completing lots of single-lap runs to gather data. It appears to be working very well, but we will need to go through the data thoroughly tonight, and check the installation on the car, to be sure everything is functioning as expected. It's always difficult to judge performance on Friday, because you don't know the fuel loads that other teams are running. Robert seems happy with the car, although he is still suffering from a little understeer. Vitaly is running exactly the same system as Robert, but he was less happy with the balance and complained of more understeer. We still have some work to do get the car balance to his liking. In terms of the weather, it's been a pretty normal day at Spa! The conditions for the rest of the weekend look unsettled: on Saturday, there's a chance of rain in the morning, and a higher probability in the afternoon; and it's the same for Sunday. As usual, we're expecting a mixture of everything for the rest of the weekend. We ran both types of tyre this afternoon, and didn't encounter any difficulties with either compound. Although we didn't do a great deal of running, I don't think cool conditions would pose a problem."

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 2:02.450, 4th; P2 - 1:49.689, 6th

“It’s always tricky with these conditions, track time is limited and tyres are limited. We would love to run more despite the rain, but we don’t have so many tyres and looking at the weekend we might need them for qualifying and the race, so we didn’t want to use them all today. We were looking at the balance, it feels good, but it’s hard when the conditions are changing. We still have some work to do for Saturday and Sunday.”

Mark Webber, P1 - 2:02.926, 7th; P2 - 1:51.636, 18th
“Today was a bit of a messy day with the changing conditions, but it was actually pretty good for us. We got some good information to go through and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. There are a few quick guys out there, but we’re not slow either. It’s hard to get a feel for what everyone’s doing with the changing weather. It’s a beautiful track here, it’s special - today we got to sample it in all conditions.”

BMW Sauber
Pedro de la Rosa, P1 - 2:03.851, 14th; P2 - 1:50.081, 8th

"Given the track conditions we managed to complete a lot of work including some dry running, which was very important for me as I haven't raced here for some years. To get this chance was a bonus as we didn't expect it. In the fully wet conditions we were pretty competitive. My conclusion from the afternoon's session is we are good in the fast sectors one and three, but have to find something to improve the car for the middle sector. I'm very much looking forward to tomorrow and I'm curious to see what the weather will do."

Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 2:03.401, 8th; P2 - 1:50.200, 10th
"Overall it was okay for me today. We had no technical problems and quite a variety of different track conditions, which means you can learn a lot about the car and the track. In the wet my lap time was okay, but the tyres didn't last long and that makes it difficult to judge where we are and where we should go. It is not easy to set up the car for tomorrow as here in Spa you basically can never know what the weather will finally be like. Nevertheless I have a good feeling for the car and the track."

James Key, BMW Sauber technical director
"It was obviously a very eventful day with extremely changeable weather conditions. However, it was useful with the two different sessions we had because it allowed both drivers and the team to evaluate the tyres in all conditions. We could also test different set-ups and wing settings. I think both drivers did a good job in the circumstances, as did the team. We had to change the car quite a bit to match the changing situations. It looks okay, but it's extremely difficult to judge where everyone is, because the conditions were never consistent. Therefore we need to be cautious not to make too many judgements from today's classification. However, we can be happy with what we have done so far. We made quite good progress. It's now a case of sitting down and analysing the data to make the right decisions for tomorrow."

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 2:03.424, 9th; P2 - 1:50.128, 9th

“Today was a classic Spa scenario with the weather and I love it because it throws everything up in the air! The car is fine, but like everyone, we had neither sufficient dry or wet running to really optimise in either condition, which leaves some question marks for us and I am sure everyone else, to resolve, but we had a productive day nevertheless.”

Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 2:03.649, 12th; P2 - 1:50.831, 15th
“Of course it has been a typical Spa day with very mixed weather, but it was been quite alright for us. The most notable issue has been the intermediates and the full wets being soft for the track here and degrading early. Other than that, the day has run pretty well and we seem to have found good downforce settings for the circuit. I think we were P8 although it was not on the sheets because of the red flag, so it is all positive today.”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“With wet running in both of today’s practice sessions, we had to re-prioritise the test items we had on our list, but the rain would have affected all of the teams today. This is Spa as well, so we're used to it here! There’s a reasonable chance that the remainder of the weekend will be wet, so we were also saving tyres throughout the day. We are now working on strategy and our ideal qualifying and race set-up.”

Mercedes GP
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 2:03.489, 10th; P2 - 1:50.341, 12th

"It's obviously a beautiful feeling to be back on this track which is still great to drive. It's also beautiful because I have a lot of good memories linked to Spa. But this doesn't help a great deal with the situation that we are facing here and having a ten place penalty makes it difficult to go into the weekend with big hopes for a good result. The weather might help a little by mixing up the field and so I hope it does not change too much over the race weekend."

Nico Rosberg, P1 - 2:03.654, 13th; P2 - 1:50.382, 13th
"It's been a difficult day for us as we have been trying to get our revised parts for the car to work. The weather conditions have complicated our programme and whilst we've tried a lot of different things, it's been tough to get any consistent feedback. I've suffered with understeer all day and really struggled with the balance on the wet tyres. The inters were better and it's difficult to say for the slicks really. I was quite far off with my car balance with the dry tyres so that didn't help. So a tricky start to the weekend for us and we need to sit down overnight and try to solve the problems."

Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"It was a very challenging day but then these types of changeable conditions may provide the opportunities that we can take advantage of this weekend. Nico's day was hindered by a few car issues which will be resolved by tomorrow whilst Michael was slightly happier with his progress."

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"A difficult first day for everybody with changing weather conditions which we all are familiar with at Spa and which seem to belong to this circuit like Eau Rouge and La Source. It seems that our upgrades can improve the car but we need tomorrow's practice session to get more running with the parts. The weather forecast is predicting rain which doesn't help when our target is to put new parts on the cars. However even in these tricky conditions we can continue to learn and make progress."

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 2:04.250, 16th; P2 - 1:50.682, 14th

“It was actually good fun driving today, as we experienced every track condition possible. From what we saw today, I will be hoping for a wet race on Sunday, as I think we are more competitive in these conditions, giving us a better chance to get into the points. Because of the rain today, there is a question mark over tyre performance in the dry on high fuel loads, but that is the same for everyone. The car felt quite good in both the dry and the wet, but we still need more data on the tyre front. Because of the different conditions with teams running various types of tyre at different times, it is very difficult to understand the order amongst us, so I think we can expect another very interesting day tomorrow.”

Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 2:05.680, 18th; P2 - 1:51.523, 17th
“We had an issue on the gearbox in the morning, but in reality we did not lose much running time because it was raining so hard at that time. At least it meant I saved the wear on my rain tyres. In the second session, when it dried up, it was difficult to get a true picture relating to our performance, as everyone was trying something different. The important thing now is to do a good job of analyzing all our data, in terms of car set-up and the difference between the two slick compounds and see what we can do for tomorrow. In the dry, I was quite happy on the hard compound, but with the option, I did not get the tyres to work properly, so I did not get the most out of them and we will have to look at that in tomorrow morning’s session.”

Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
“A typical day at Spa in terms of the weather. In the morning we had a gearbox issue with Sebastien’s car, but luckily, as conditions were very bad, we did not lose so much track time. In the morning, we only used the extreme rain tyres and then in the afternoon, we got the chance to run the intermediates and both types of dry tyre, so altogether it was quite a good day in terms of collecting a useful amount of data. The forecast for the rest of the weekend is predicting more mixed conditions and wet weather would definitely suit us best for the race, so that is what we are hoping for.”

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 2:07.955, 23rd; P2 - 1:53.480, 19th

“It wasn’t too bad today considering the weather, but at least everyone was in the same position. There were no big problems - the car seemed to work well in all the conditions, but it’s always hard to draw a conclusion when the weather keeps changing and teams keep running different tyres. So you can’t read too much into the times today. The track itself feels fine - it’s a great track, and in the dry it will be really good. Fingers crossed for blue skies tomorrow!”

Jarno Trulli, P1 - 2:07.189, 21st; P2 - 1:53.639, 20th
“It feels good to be back. It’s always nice to be back on track, especially in Spa as it’s such a good track. Practice today went very well for me and I’m pleased with where we ended up. Unfortunately on the last run this afternoon I was blocked by another car which prevented me from going quicker with the same set of tyres as everyone else, but before that I was looking pretty good, so I feel confident for tomorrow.”

Dieter Gass, Lotus sporting director
“It was a difficult day today with the mixed and changing conditions. This morning’s run was pretty much meaningless, because of the weather, but at least it was better in the afternoon. We got a bit of dry running in in FP2 which gave us a chance to look at the tyres, but with the continuously changing conditions it was difficult to work on the set up. We’ll look at the data now and make a call on the set ups, downforce levels and ratios that we are going to run tomorrow, so I think we’ve got quite a bit of work to do this evening. Whatever happens, I’m confident we can maintain our position ahead of the new teams if the conditions stay stable. In the mixed conditions anything can happen, and you need a bit of luck to keep up the momentum, so let’s see what happens.”

Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
“Obviously the weather today made it an interesting first day for everyone. The first session was very wet and we just ran on the full wets. In the second session we switched to the inters and then managed to run both sets of dry tyres, but the changing conditions make any meaningful work or comparisons very difficult. But I’m reasonably happy with where we are and look forward to some dry weather over the weekend.”

Virgin
Lucas di Grassi, P1 - 2:06.695, 20th; P2 - 1:54.325, 21st

“A very productive day. We were able to run the car on all the types of tyre available - extreme wet, intermediate, prime and option. The forecast is the main doubt for the weekend but I’m happy with the progress we’ve made. I think we have covered pretty much every situation and after a problem-free Friday I’m looking forward to a good weekend for us.”

Timo Glock, P1 - 2:05.697, 19th; P2 - 2:03.179, 24th
“A good morning. I would say the first free practice was pretty good, we had no problems and the car felt quite okay in wet conditions. Then I unfortunately made a mistake in Free Practice Two - I touched the white line, lost the car and hit the tyre barrier quite badly and the session was over quite quickly for me. But in general it didn’t look too bad and I hope it will stay wet for the whole weekend as the car felt good in the wet. I was happy with it so let’s see how it goes tomorrow.”

Nick Wirth, Virgin technical director
“An interesting day in some interesting conditions! The morning was quite productive with both drivers trying some different setup solutions for the wet conditions. Timo’s afternoon started in a promising way but his crash early in the session will require a change of monocoque tonight as there is some damage that can’t be repaired at the circuit. Lucas had a more productive afternoon, and chose to run his option tyres earlier in mixed conditions and the primes at the end, in contrast to most of the others. The drivers are feeling quite confident so we should be ready for round two with the Spa weather tomorrow!”

HRT
Bruno Senna, P1 - 2:07.737, 22nd; P2 - 1:55.751, 22nd

“Today it was tricky with a wet practice in the morning and a dry one in the afternoon. It was a good experience to run with all types of tyres and we got a lot of good data out of it. In the wet, we were competitive and in the dry we hope to pick up the pace. We will see what the conditions are tomorrow in terms of finding the right set-up for the car in qualifying and the race.”

Sakon Yamamoto, P1 - 2:10.507, 24th; P2 - 1:56.039, 23rd
“We could get a lot of data in both sessions today under wet and drying up conditions. We fulfilled our testing program and I could get more experience in the car. Before the end of the session in the afternoon, I had to stop the car when I got an alarm message on my display. Now, we are looking forward to the qualifying and we will see, what tomorrow brings.”

Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
“It was a useful day for our team with the typical weather here in Spa under difficult conditions. We could run many laps and both drivers got a lot of track time. This was very important, as it prepared us for racing on the wet track, but also when it is drying up. Sakon Yamamoto stopped his car at the end of the second practice because of an alarm message displayed on his dash board and to avoid further damage. We got a lot of experience today and we will see, what awaits for us tomorrow.”

Bridgestone
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development

"Today we were able to evaluate our full range of tyres that we have here in Spa, so this gives us and the teams useful data when looking to the rest of the weekend. Over the years we have seen a lot of rain here at Spa, but today it has been very wet indeed. Despite this, we were still able to have some dry running between the showers. The teams will be able to determine the crossover point for when is best to change from the wet to the intermediate or to the dry tyres and this could prove vital if we have a wet qualifying session tomorrow, or wet race on Sunday. When we have variable weather conditions, the challenge is being on the right tyre at the right time. This challenge is made even more difficult when you have a long lap like here in Spa. As we saw today, one part of the track can be nearly dry, whilst another very wet. A wet tyre wears very quickly when used on a dry track and a dry tyre is not very good when the track is very wet, so the drivers and teams have a lot of work to do in these conditions."