Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 14 Oct 2011
Rain dominated proceedings during the opening day of action in Korea. With Mercedes Michael Schumacher topping the very wet morning session and McLarens Lewis Hamilton taking charge during the much drier afternoon session, theres plenty to discuss. All the drivers, and senior team personnel, reflect on their early progress at Yeongam
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 2:03.391, 7th; P2 - 1:50.828, 1st
"Todays times dont really give us a relevant read on pace and set-up, particularly as I hear that the weather will be better for the next two days. Still, if it rains on Sunday then I think were in a good position - which is a positive.
It would be great to get the pole here tomorrow: its difficult to read too much into todays times - the lap on slicks at the end was impossible - but I think we are quick, the car is good and Jenson showed at the last race that we can be very competitive. So I have no doubt that well be able to challenge the Red Bulls in qualifying. I think well get a much better feel for things tomorrow.
Jenson Button, P1 - no time, 24th; P2 - 1:50.932, 2nd
Our car was quick in todays conditions - but its difficult to say how it will be in the dry. I hope itll be the same: itd be nice to have the same gap back to the cars behind, but thats unlikely.
We didnt really learn too much today - the humidity was so high that the track never really dried out. It looked like it was going to be dry right at the very end, but you couldnt get any grip from the slicks because you couldnt get any temperature into them.
Over the last few races, weve been getting stronger in qualifying. Id love to qualify well here, and Ill definitely be giving it a go, but P3s also going to be very important tomorrow because nobody knows how the cars behave on high fuel and dry tyres.
Theres a lot more to understand.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Despite the wet weather, this morning we were able to carry out a useful test on Lewiss car, which allowed us to successfully evaluate some components. With little to gain from the track-time, Jenson opted to sit out the majority of the session so that his mechanics could make a change to his car ahead of P2.
The afternoon was more productive - although its arguable how much well be able to take into tomorrows session if, as predicted, it stays dry. At the very end of the afternoon, Lewis and Jenson each attempted a time on slicks, but the track wasnt fully dry so they found it difficult to generate enough heat in the tyre to really make the slick work.
As we near our 700th Grand Prix, its nonetheless encouraging to top the timesheets - but were under no illusions that this circuit will be very different in the dry. The aim now for our engineers is to analyse todays data in order to best set us up for the rest of the weekend.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 2:02.840, 2nd; P2 - 1:52.646, 3rd
It was an interesting day. For Saturday and Sunday the weather forecast is dry, so whatever we learned today might not be worth a lot this weekend, although we can use it for future races when its damp or wet. Unfortunately the track didnt dry out at all today, so we didnt get a chance to try the slick tyres, so well find out in the race I guess. Its a tough track for tyres here, even though you have a long straight, theres hardly any rest after that, so its not easy. The car feels okay though and thats important.
Mark Webber, P1 - 2:05.183, 10th; P2 - 1:53.049, 5th
It was pretty straightforward for everyone today - we drove on one set of tyres, so it wasn't particularly exciting. We did some work, but it was limited knowing that the rest of the weekend will probably be dry, but we'll see. McLaren looked very strong in the intermediate conditions and we didnt get a chance to use the slicks at the end. The track takes a long time to dry out here. The slick tyre is the biggest thing - we need to learn how they are going to behave for us on the different fuel loads, wed normally do that today but well have to move that to tomorrow morning.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - no time, 20th; P2 - 1:52.774, 4th
It was quite a difficult Friday, with the weather changing throughout, making it almost impossible to draw any useful conclusions for the rest of the weekend. When one considers that it should not rain tomorrow or on Sunday, then it becomes even clearer why this day had little if any significance to offer. The objective is still to do the best we can and in this case, to understand as much as possible about the handling of the car at this track. We also had a new front wing to try, but it was definitely very difficult to evaluate it in conditions like these, conditions which were ideal for the McLarens for example. We need more laps to bring the tyres up to temperature and then, when we get there, maybe the tyres are already beginning to go off a bit. We will have to improvise a bit both in qualifying and the race. The entry to the pit lane is much improved compared to last year, but there is still room to do better with the exit.
Felipe Massa, P1 - no time, 19th; P2 - 1:53.707, 7th
Rather a complicated day. The track did not provide much grip and degradation on the intermediates seems to be more significant than usual: there is no other way to explain the fact that, even if an ever drier line was emerging, the times did not drop. Obviously, it makes it difficult to prepare as well as possible for the race and qualifying, but its the same for everyone. The exit of the pit lane is difficult, as one could see from the collision between Rosberg and Alguersuari: I think efforts should be made to improve it for the future. 150 Formula 1 races is a nice achievement: those I remember most fondly are the ones I won, and that would even include Brazil 2008. The worst memories? Races like the ones in Hungary and Singapore that same year, where victory was within my grasp, but slipped away from me.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
It was a rather complicated day because of the weather. In the morning, there was too much water on track and there was no point in going out, given that tomorrow and Sunday we should have a dry track. In the afternoon, conditions were slightly better, but the track dried so slowly that it was never possible to run effectively on the dry tyres. We therefore tried to make a virtue out of necessity, getting as much as possible out of one set of intermediate tyres for each driver. With Fernando, we concentrated mainly on a comparison of two different front wing configurations and now we must analyse the data this produced. Of course, the grip level is pretty low: these are certainly not ideal conditions for us, as can clearly be seen from the time sheet. It will therefore be a slightly different weekend to usual: tomorrow, we have only one hour to try and find the best balance on the cars for dry conditions and then it will immediately be time to fight for the grid positions.
Jaime Alguersuari, P2 - 1:53.402, 6th
I only ran in the afternoon today, but the outcome was very positive in my opinion. The track was never completely dry and both times we tried running on slicks it did not work and we learned how long the track takes to dry. In the wet, I would say that I felt really good , even if there is still more to come from the car. You can feel that it has potential and I was particularly impressed by our pace on intermediates. Its always hard to know the truth about what the others are doing as you dont know what is the situation with the tyres and the fuel loads. Apparently there is some chance of a bit more rain tomorrow and in these conditions, as I said, I feel positive about our overall situation.
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 2:03.182, 5th; P2 - 1:53.948, 9th
This was a good day and the car ran reliably, even if, because of the conditions, we did not do so many laps in the morning. We have found the wet weather we remember from last year and I had a good feeling from the car in the wet today. It takes a long, long time for the track to dry and these are important lessons if we have more rain this weekend. If we have made a few mistakes today, they will be useful lessons when it comes to setting up the car for tomorrow. We have found out when we should switch from extreme to inter and vice versa and when we can change to slick, so at least we have a clear picture of the situation. We had no technical issues, so I think we should be able to make progress tomorrow from what has been a useful first day of practice.
Jean-Eric Vergne, P1 - 2:07.541, 13th
Free Practice One was the first time I have driven this car. The last time I drove a Toro Rosso was last year at the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi. I admit that I was not so happy when I opened the curtains this morning and saw the rain. I found this morning session quite difficult because of the very wet track conditions, although I am happy with what I have done, because I didnt crash the car and I had some fun as well. It is difficult to judge how I did, because normally in a session like this, you get two runs with time in between to look at the data and see how to improve, but the weather meant that was not possible this morning. I had nothing to compare myself with and I definitely am not comparing my performance to any other drivers today. It was just a case of getting some experience and learning a bit more about how the team operates. Whatever the track conditions, I am pleased to have been given the opportunity, even if I did not get many laps completed. It means I will now be better prepared when I get back in the car for FP1 at Abu Dhabi.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
This was the first day for Jean-Eric Vergne with us and these were not exactly the dream conditions in which to make your first official appearance in the F1 championship! However, it is part of the game. We found the track in more or less the same conditions as those we left it in last year and Jean-Eric made no mistakes in very difficult conditions and it was a good first step into the team. The day was wet throughout, because even though the rain eased fairly early in the second session, the track took a while to dry. We tried dry tyres on a couple of occasions with both Jaime and Seb, but both times it was too early. However, it means we have completed what we wanted to do in terms of wet set-up evaluation. Now, it will be a case of trying to put together a good compact programme for tomorrow, assuming we will get some dry weather for tomorrow morning.
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 2:04.311, 8th; P2 - 1:53.914, 8th
"I was feeling very comfortable on the intermediate tyres this afternoon, and we tried some different set-up options which worked out quite well. My car was running well in the conditions we had today, but the weather is expected to change for Saturday and Sunday, so it will be interesting to see how it works out tomorrow. The collision was a tricky situation and unfortunately brought my session to an early conclusion but at least I didn't miss out on any dry running."
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 2:02.784, 1st; P2 -1:54.965, 14th
"Today was one of those Fridays where most of what you do is race preparation, knowing that the conditions will probably be totally different when it comes to Sunday. Through both practice sessions, it was too wet to use dry tyres, while the forecast for the rest of weekend is dry. However you can learn a lot about the car and how it works on the track, and that is what we were doing most of the time today. We now have to look deep into the data we gathered and try to work out the best way to approach the rest of the weekend."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"With the changing weather conditions, it's not easy to draw any major conclusions from today's two practice sessions. However we were able to complete some good work on different fuel levels which will be helpful for the weekend. Nico's accident towards the end of P2 this afternoon was unfortunate and one of those situations that happens sometimes on track. With the track staying too wet for slicks, the loss of running time was not too serious."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"It was an unfortunate incident for Nico this afternoon, which prevented him from doing any further laps in P2. Michael posted the fastest time this morning and during P2, both drivers concentrated on finding a nice balance with a variety of fuel loads. It should be dry tomorrow, and it will be a challenge to get prepared for qualifying and the race with just one hour of running. It will be key to get the most out of the soft and supersoft Pirelli tyres which we have here."
Paul di Resta, P1 - 2:02.912, 3rd; P2 - 1:53.957, 10th
Today was my first experience of the circuit so I just had to make the best of things in the wet conditions. Its not the ideal way to learn a circuit, but the team allowed me to do as many laps as possible and I gradually built up my confidence. The track was really wet in the morning and there was a bit of aquaplaning, especially through turns seven and eight, where the car was moving around a lot. The car felt okay running on the intermediates in the afternoon and there was a dry line appearing in the last 30 minutes, but the surface still felt very greasy. Like a few of the cars we went out on the super-softs right at the end of the day, but it was very difficult to keep the temperature in the tyres and you couldnt learn much. The weather looks set to improve tomorrow so weve plenty of work to do in final practice to get on top of the dry tyres and be fully up to speed for qualifying.
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 2:03.141, 4th; P2 - 1:54.392, 12th
The track was damp all day so all we could really achieve was consistent wet running on the full wet and intermediates. In the afternoon the rain was not so heavy, but this circuit takes a very long time to dry so we were just driving around waiting for the track to improve, which didnt really happen. Even in the afternoon session the lap times were all quite similar and the track was not getting quicker. I tried the super-soft at the end of the session for a lap, but the track was not ready so I came straight to the pits. The set-up we had by the end of the day was not too far away from a dry set-up so I think we have found a good starting point for tomorrow.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer
We were expecting some rain for Friday and the forecasts were accurate. Adjusting the programme to suit allowed Paul the maximum possible laps for a general familiarisation, and our usual balance and set-up checks with Adrian. With evolving conditions it's difficult to draw too many conclusions and although both drivers had an attempt on dry tyres at the end of the afternoon, the track was not quite ready for them. But it's a really interesting circuit and the car balance is not too far away, so we are looking forward to a drier couple of days ahead. We will now try to produce the best performance we can for qualifying and the race."
Vitaly Petrov, P1 - no time, 22nd; P2 - 1:54.200, 11th
All of the day was wet. Our car struggles a little bit in these conditions as we still have to find the best aero setup so we spent quite a lot of time in the afternoon to try to find the right setup. We did a lot of running in the afternoon which will help us to improve tomorrow so I am quite optimistic. We also completed a couple of installation laps on the wet tyres to give an idea of the grip levels available from that compound. At the moment the car is working normally. Tomorrow is another day; hopefully it will be a dry day.
Bruno Senna, P1 - no time, 21st; P2 - 1:55.187, 15th
Theres not much to say about this morning other than its frustrating for all drivers when you cant go out to set a lap time. This afternoon, it was beneficial to get some track time though we did endure some difficulties with the balance of the car. Hopefully we will be able to rectify this, but we need to look at where we can improve the aerodynamics otherwise we will encounter more difficulties this weekend. Fingers crossed tomorrow that we will be able to run in the dry, so that we can become accustomed to the conditions that we expect to face on Sunday.
Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
The morning was a bit of a washout. We opted not to run because looking at our forecasts, Saturday and Sunday should be dry, meaning we dont want to risk our cars in conditions which required wet tyres. We ran wet tyres for installation laps only in FP1. We ran intermediate tyres in FP2. Our weather forecasts tell us it will be dry and overcast tomorrow shifting to sunny, warm weather on Sunday.
We gained some meaningful data in FP2 which will assist us with dry setup tomorrow. We have progress to be made with the aerodynamic compromise of the car between the high and lower speed sections of the circuit. The R31 is working well so far and we are looking at improving the balance. We are seeking improvements in traction and hope to diminish mid-corner understeer for tomorrow.
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 2:08.218, 14th; P2 - 1:54.831, 13th
It was too wet to do much running this morning and this afternoon was only marginally better. We tried to go for a dry tyre late on in P2 but conditions were still too wet so we avoided it. The track was very slippery but the tyres actually held on quite well considering the number of laps we did. Because of todays conditions its hard to make a reasonable judgement as to how we are going to perform compared to the other teams at this stage.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 2:06.852, 12th; P2 - 1:56.067, 18th
The rain cost me a lot of track time today which isnt ideal because I havent driven here before. When I did get out I picked up the track quite quickly and I like it, particularly the third sector. It is a very interesting circuit, with a mix of slow, medium and fast corners. That makes its quite technical so we will need a fundamentally well balanced car. We will work hard to achieve that overnight and in third practice tomorrow so we are in the best possible shape for qualifying.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
Running the new aero package, consisting of revised front and rear wings and a new floor, both drivers had a trouble free first practice session, albeit in wet conditions. With the conditions as they were, there was obviously limited running, with the track drying extremely slowly. We then ran inters throughout P2 as the drivers who moved onto dry tyres seemed to struggle with grip levels. Rubens ran a full session working on car balance while Pastor's session was curtailed at the end by a minor water leak. Looking forward to tomorrow, we have a lot of work to do in P3 having run neither the soft nor the super-soft tyre. Todays conditions have set the scene for an interesting qualifying and race.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 2:04.797, 9th; P2 - 1:55.203, 16th
It is a shame but there wasnt much more we could have done today. There was just too much rain, and I didnt do a single lap on dry tyres. For me it wasnt an ideal Friday at all, as I dont know the circuit. Now tomorrow I wont have much time to get the balance of the car right.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 2:03.292, 6th; P2 - 1:55.544, 17th
There was no grip at all. The track itself has a very low grip level, and on top of that our car doesnt make very good use of the intermediate tyres. In general I dont mind driving in the rain, and with the full wet tyres it was no problem, but later with the intermediate tyres I was struggling a lot. It seems to take a long time for this circuit to dry out. In any case, I hope we will have dry conditions tomorrow.
Giampaolo DallAra, head of track engineering
As the forecast predicted, it was a rainy day. However, for the remainder of the weekend we expect dry conditions, so we just did some running to do some checks on the car. We know we will have a very full programme tomorrow to do all the work necessary to find a good dry set-up.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - no time, 23rd; P2 - 1:56.669, 19th
"This morning was basically a write-off. You could see that the whole pit lane had the same idea - limit the running on full wets as we're not going to learn anything of real value for the rest of the weekend and avoid any issues that create unnecessary work. This afternoon the track at least dried enough for us to put in some laps on the inters, and we managed to complete some of the plan on the engine maps, so it wasn't all bad. The balance felt fine, and I think it'll be a totally different story tomorrow when it'll be a very busy FP3 for everyone and we can see how the two compounds of slick tyres behave in the dry."
Jarno Trulli, P2 - 1:57.173, 20th
"To be honest today was just one of those days that we sometimes have in F1. The conditions meant we didn't really have a chance to try too much as the forecast is for dry running tomorrow and Sunday, and when the track's as wet as it was this morning, and we can only run on inters in the afternoon, there's not a lot we can learn. We did a bit of work on the engine driveability in FP2, and at least we now know how the car's behaving on the inters so if the forecasts are wrong we have banked some data, but I think a dry track tomorrow will suit us and we can pick up where we left off in Japan."
Karun Chandhok, P1 - 2:06.350, 11th
"I do seem to be a little jinxed with the rain... I think Monza and Suzuka were anomalies as every time I get in the car the rain seems to hammer down, but I just have to deal with what's put in front of me, and so it was again today! Despite the limited running in FP1 I still got a sense of how good this circuit is but today it was simply about keeping it on the track and making sure I didn't make any mistakes in pretty treacherous conditions. I think the pace was pretty good for the one run I did and certainly the last two Fridays have given me a lot more confidence in the car than I had a couple of months ago."
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
"Obviously the weather today made it a tricky Friday for everyone, but despite that Karun managed to complete a good run this morning and did another solid job for us around a track that is new to him. In the second session the conditions improved and we ran reasonably competitively on the intermediates. We put both cars onto the super softs for the last run but it was immediately obvious that the track had not dried out enough to find out anything useful from the final laps, so now we will hope the forecasts for dry running tomorrow and Sunday are right and we can have another successful weekend as we did last time out in Japan."
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 support leader to Lotus:
"The weather conditions today basically made our job pretty hard. We wanted to work on the engine driveability and while we managed to do a bit on that we definitely were not able to complete the program. This circuit requires us to have both very good top speed and good traction out of the slow corners. The long straight from T2 to T3 means we have to have the right top gear to both attack cars ahead under the tow, and defend from those behind and make allowances for the wind which can change quickly here and affect outright pace. We also need to make sure we give the drivers good traction out of the slow corners and good rear stability from the blown floor so I think that will be the main areas for us to work on tonight to prepare for what will be a very busy session tomorrow morning."
Timo Glock, P1 - 2:14.508, 18th; P2 - 1:58.269, 21st
Its been a difficult first day in Korea today with the wet conditions because I think that tomorrow, and on Sunday, it will be dry. We will have to do a bit of catching up tomorrow, but today was okay even though we had a bit of a problem on the front left suspension where we had to change some parts and it cost us a bit of time. The wet conditions also make it more of a challenging track but the day went well and it was good to be able to evaluate some developments for 2012. Tomorrow we have to concentrate on qualifying and our race preparation.
Jerome dAmbrosio, P1 - 2:12.658, 17th; P2 - 1:59.458, 22nd
Today our programme was disturbed by the rain so it hasnt been the easiest of starts to a race weekend. Its a shame that it rained for so long really, but at least we were able to understand the behaviour of the Extreme Wet and Intermediate tyres here. We are not totally happy with the car balance yet, so we will have to work on this tonight in order to try and improve it for tomorrow.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
We had some quite changeable weather forecasts coming into this event and an ambitious Friday programme planned, looking at items for 2012 as well as trying some different set-up approaches. However, as we left the circuit last night and saw the latest weather updates, we realised that today might be a bit challenging in terms of completing this programme. That said, weve had a reasonably productive day and Timo has still worked on a different set-up direction albeit in the wet. We will have to wait until FP3 in order to compare it to our normal dry set-up to see how we will continue through the weekend. With Jerome there is still a better balance to find, but some pre-planned overnight changes will help to fix these issues, Im sure. Although were pretty confident that the rest of the weekend will be dry, there is a chance of some rain tomorrow afternoon and at least today has prepared us for that.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 2:09.232, 16th; P2 - 1:59.958, 23rd
Today was very wet but thats not bad because I need some experience in wet conditions. But we are expecting the weekend to be dry so maybe today doesnt mean much for the rest of the GP. For us it probably means a bit more work tomorrow, trying to find the best set-up quickly and efficiently and then I have to learn the circuit in the dry as fast as possible. It was a good day overall as we got quite a few laps in. Its hard to predict how the weekend will go but we will see what tomorrow brings.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, P2 - 2:00.165, 24th
The track conditions were pretty difficult but also last year struggled to dry up. The slow speed corners were the worst. In the end we did some laps with intermediate tyres but it was too dry for them and too wet for slicks. I didnt drive in the morning so I had to try and find some rhythm despite the conditions. We got some valid information but not much regarding the balance; tomorrow is going to be like a Friday session again.
Narain Karthikeyan, P1 - 2:08.832, 15th
I had never driven in Korea before and having to do so in such foul weather conditions was not ideal. This wont help me much with my preparation for the Indian Grand Prix, because it will surely be dry out there, but, nevertheless, it has been positive to be able to gather some data on wet conditions and I hope that helped the team out a little. Overall, I'm satisfied with the job done today.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
"We were expecting rain for today and were ready for it. However, we were not expecting the track to take so long to dry out. Considering it was their first time here, Narain and Daniel did a good job in the morning. It wasn't raining that much in the afternoon and we were hoping for some dry laps towards the end that we didnt finally have. There is no rain expected for tomorrow and we will have to start from zero, but it is the same for everybody.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
The teams were given an extra set of intermediate tyres today, which along with the wet tyres performed well: there was a low wear rate that will enable them to do 20 laps or more in these conditions. After some of the drivers attempted to go out on the slick tyres this afternoon, it became clear that the track was just too wet to learn anything meaningful from them, particularly as the surface was slippery here even before it started raining. Weve also seen that the circuit takes a long time to dry out, because of the characteristics of the asphalt and the lack of elevation. The initial indications are that tomorrow should be drier, so its certainly a handicap not to have had any dry running today. However, its the same for everybody and these are simply the challenges that form part of racing. Tomorrow, we hope to learn more about the performance of our slick compounds on this demanding track.
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