Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 25 Nov 2011
It was a busy day in Sao Paolo as the paddock made the best use of the dry weather to hone their set-ups and try out some experimental Pirelli tyres. At the end of it all, there was little to split the top four teams, leaving the prospect of a thrilling weekend ahead. All the drivers, and senior team personnel, reflect on their early progress...
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:13.961, 3rd; P2 - 1:13.392, 1st
The car felt really good today - on both high and low fuel. And degradation on the new option tyre seems pretty acceptable; I was still doing decent times at the end of my run. I think theres still a bit more to come, but were looking strong for the rest of the weekend.
I also felt quite comfortable with the set-up changes we made going into this afternoons session, and our long runs seem to be pretty competitive too. You never know what the Red Bulls are doing, but Im comfortable that were there or thereabouts.
On other subjects, for Brazil this weekend I wanted to create and wear a special helmet utilising Ayrton Sennas design - I asked Ayrtons sister, Viviane, if I could use it, and she said yes.
Its my helmet design on the front and Ayrtons on the back. I used the green lining that Ayrton used on his helmet too - I had to order that especially. Its a very special edition, its a real honour to be able to wear it, and hopefully well raise some money for the Senna Foundation too.
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:13.825, 2nd; P2 - 1:13.787, 7th
The two tyre compounds were using this weekend are closer to each other than wed expected. The prime is working well, and I think we understand where we are with it, but Im struggling a little with the option. I couldnt quite get a balance on either low-fuel or long-run - it just wasnt really working with my set-up.
Happily, we know some of the reasons for that - we just didnt have time to try those solutions today. But weve made the soft tyre work all year, so Im confident well get it right tomorrow.
Still, its forecast to be wet on Sunday. Having said that, you never quite know what the weather will do around here, so it would be a bit of a risk to run a full wet set-up. I dont think there will be too many people at the front setting their cars up for the wet, for that reason.
The DRS zone is along a very short straight, so I think were going to struggle to overtake there; but weve still got the main straight, which is probably the best place to pass.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Its always a pleasure to come to Brazil: the people here live and breathe Formula One - and rightly so, for their country has produced some of the greatest and most legendary drivers in Grand Prix history.
The challenge of Interlagos never diminishes - it really is one of the giants of our sport - and our engineers and drivers relish the challenge of taming such a tricky, unpredictable and idiosyncratic course.
Today, I think both Lewis and Jenson proved that our car works extremely well on the prime tyre. The performance differential between the prime and the option is relatively small this weekend - as a result of Pirellis bringing a new soft tyre for the weekend - and Jenson wasnt quite able to extract the full potential from the option. But were confident that we can make the necessary changes to his car this evening, and that should leave us in a strong position for the morrow.
As always in Sao Paulo, the weather threatens to play a greater part in proceedings over the next few days; but, for the moment, the sun is shining, were pleased with the progress weve made, and were confident in the direction weve chosen for the rest of the weekend.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:13.811, 1st; P2 - 1:13.587, 3rd
The track is hot, not super hot in terms of ambient conditions, but the track is very warm and its humid too. Its also pretty windy, so it wasnt the easiest day to get the car dialled in and balanced, but clearly it was the same for everybody. I think we had a pretty good day; there are lots of sets of compounds to go through, as it might be the last time we get to run in the dry as theres potentially some wet weather coming - but we had a good day.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:14.025, 4th; P2 - 1:13.559, 2nd
I think we were able to improve the car throughout today, but we definitely need to make another step. It was hot today and the circuit was slippery, although rain is forecast for the next two days, so I think the conditions will change. Were all here to win and it would be great to finish with a good race, but its a long weekend ahead and a lot of things can happen. Its a challenging track and we all like coming here, its a good Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:14.541, 6th; P2 - 1:13.598, 4th
It was not an easy day, because we have still not managed to find the right balance on the car. Therefore, we must wait and see if and by how much we manage to improve its handling and therefore, how competitive we can be in tomorrow afternoons qualifying session. In particular, I am not happy with the rear end of the car. The engine? These things happen and it did not cost me much time, less than I lost on Friday in India. We will have to wait for the engine to arrive in Maranello, where it will be opened up and the engineers will be able to get a better idea of what the nature of the problem was. This wont cause any problems for qualifying and the race, when we will fit another one. Honestly, at least looking at what we saw today, I think that in the dry we are a bit less competitive than usual: I dont think I can fight with the Red Bulls and McLarens and, on top of that, one of the Mercedes is very quick. However, theres a very high chance of rain, so anything could happen. If I could choose today, I would opt for a wet race because, in normal conditions, we can only expect a fifth place in qualifying and to fight for a podium place in the race.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:14.507, 5th; P2 - 1:13.750, 6th
I am very happy to be racing here in my country, Brazil. I am also pleased this is the last race in a season that has been far from inspiring: if I had to mark myself out of ten, I think I would waver around the five mark. From Monday, we will be able to concentrate totally on 2012: we must improve in all areas, but above all on the aerodynamic front, which in the current Formula One is the design element of the car that has the biggest effect. However, we must not overlook every detail, because it can be the little things that lead to a perfect car. Today, the lap times were slower compared to last years: maybe the tyres Pirelli have brought here are harder than the Bridgestones and also the temperatures are higher. We tried a lot of different settings and now we must put it all together to try and be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and especially for the race. The rain? We must be ready to tackle any situation. We dont have anything new, but I really hope we can do a good job and end the season on a high note. A podium would be fantastic and that would give me even more motivation for next season.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
Once again today, we had a lot of work to get through, especially with an eye to next year. Even if the day did not flow as smoothly as silk - we had to interrupt Fernandos last run this morning because of an engine problem - we managed to complete our planned programme: now comes the job of analysing all the data gathered, which falls mainly to our colleagues back in Maranello, who are working flat out on the design of the new car. In the afternoon, we concentrated on finding the best balance on the car and on evaluating tyre behaviour over short and long runs. I would say there is still a lot of work to do in this area, because neither driver is yet happy with the handling of his car, but there is still plenty of time to work on improving the situation before tomorrow afternoons qualifying. The weather is another unknown factor regarding the rest of the weekend: at the moment there is a strong chance of rain affecting the race on Sunday, but we know how easily the forecast can be proved wrong.
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:15.162, 7th; P2 - 1:13.723, 5th
"We had quite a good day here in Interlagos and were able to work through our schedule consistently, even if the track was pretty slippery. The lap times are traditionally very tight here so let's see what we can do in qualifying tomorrow. For the rest of the weekend, the weather forecast is for rain, so maybe we will see some surprises as we reach the end of the season."
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:15.321, 10th; P2 - 1:13.872, 8th
"The conditions out there were quite difficult today as the track was a bit slippery. However our times were quite good and not too far away from the top cars. We learned a lot on high and low fuel levels during the sessions. As the weather forecast is rain, it's difficult to make a prediction for tomorrow. Maybe if it rains, it will be a bit easier to surprise the top teams."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"We had two very good practice sessions today on the last Friday of the 2011 season. Both sessions ran well and we achieved the work that we had planned. As always, there is still progress to be made tomorrow ahead of qualifying. A positive day with good work from Michael, Nico and the team."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"We made quite a positive start to the weekend and saw a second practice session where the lap times appeared close between P1 and P8. Our long runs during race simulations on heavy fuel loads were not perfect today and there is more work to be done on the set-up of our cars. The forecast predicts rain for tomorrow and for race day, so perhaps this 2011 season finale will have some surprises in store."
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:15.178, 8th
Quite a good session for me. I managed to do lots of runs and tested quite few different set-ups on the car: things like aero settings and adjusting the KERS maps. I was also lucky to have the hard compound development tyre available so I learned about that and the usual medium compound. It felt good to be back in the car because I have not driven since free practice in Suzuka. I got back into the groove pretty quickly and enjoyed the session. Its a short lap, but I like the undulating layout, which includes some great corners.
Adrian Sutil, P2 - 1:14.144, 9th
It was quite a good afternoon session. I concentrated on evaluating the different tyre compounds and getting a good balance with the car. I was quite happy on the soft tyre: there was a lot of grip and the car felt good. I also think we looked competitive over the long runs. In terms of the balance we are not too far away from where we need to be so Im quite optimistic for tomorrow.
Paul di Resta, P1 - 1:15.241, 9th; P2 - 1:14.807, 10th
I got my first proper feel for Interlagos today and I have to say I really like the track. Its a very short lap, but theres a nice rhythm to the place and its quite technical, too. As for the programme today, we had a lot of work to get through, but it was quite straightforward and weve collected lots of data. In fact, its probably one of the best Fridays weve had in terms of collecting data - although it remains to be seen how useful that information will be if the weather changes over the weekend.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer
The flowing Interlagos layout is quite short so that allows you to complete a lot of laps during Friday practice sessions. In good conditions Nico, Paul and Adrian ran a variety of tests, mostly looking at set-up for this event. The weather could offer some challenges if it deteriorates as expected for Sunday, so naturally that figured in our plans today. As well as wing level, gear ratio and various set-up options, we also had a chance to try a development Pirelli tyre, which was useful. We have to collate our results now and improve the car performance for tomorrow and the race.
Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:15.547, 12th
I was looking forward to jumping in the car again this morning and the experience did not disappoint. I loved every minute of it. Its a track I particularly like; a fantastic old-style circuit, with lots of fans in the grandstand too. We have seen some interesting data on the technical side, which the team is already looking at for next year. I want to spend as much time as I can in the car, and I really love getting behind the wheel - its a job I love.
Vitaly Petrov, P2 - 1:14.856, 11th
FP1 was interesting for me and it was actually a very good experience to be on the pit wall for a session. It enabled me to understand better what the engineers see and what they require from the driver so I can put this knowledge to practice in future. In FP2 there were no mechanical problems, so I think my crew did a very good job to repair the car after the clutch problem in the morning. We know this is not an easy track for our car as you can see with our times. It will be difficult tomorrow in qualifying, but we work hard to try and get into Q3 but its not going to be easy. Today we were struggling with rear traction and oversteer so we focused on improving this area as it is certainly hurting our pace.
Bruno Senna, P1 - 1:15.732, 14th; P2 - 1:14.931, 12th
Its been an interesting day. The performance in the second session was considerably better than that of the first session. Our times this afternoon were much more in line with the other teams than we could say for this morning. For tomorrow, we need to work on the balance of the car. That will be crucial to ensure we have a strong qualifying and give ourselves a good chance come Sunday too.
Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
We ran with Pirellis 2012 development hard tyre for a stint on both cars in FP1, as well as the medium compound. In FP2 we used Pirellis new soft and medium compounds. Romains run in FP1 was cut short by a failure of a developmental clutch part.
Romain did a good job as he did in Abu Dhabi. We struggled on the medium tyres for general grip with both understeer and oversteer. This tendency is much reduced on the soft tyres. We saw a big difference in lap time between the medium and soft compounds. We are struggling on the medium compound as shown by both Bruno and Vitaly going around 1.5 to 2 seconds quicker on the soft tyre. Our pace with the soft tyre is more in line with our expectations.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:15.747, 15th; P2 - 1:15.019, 14th
I have done a lot of laps today. Actually the degradation is quite high with both tyre compounds, which would be tough in the race if the temperatures stay like today. But there is also a chance of rain. I had no problems with the car but we are working on improving the balance, which isnt quite right yet.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:15.979, 17th; P2 - 1:14.970, 13th
I was on a long run with heavy fuel and the soft tyres when a gearbox problem stopped me. It is a shame I could not complete the run. With lower fuel the car was quite okay on the soft tyres. However, we still have some work to do for our qualifying performance. Force India looks strong here, but the cars from Renault and Toro Rosso look reachable.
Giampaolo DallAra, head of track engineering
In the morning we concentrated mainly on the set-up of the car using the two sets of test tyres Pirelli have provided for this event. In the afternoon our main focus was on the race preparation. We only used the compounds that are allocated for the weekend, which are soft and medium. We made a tyre comparison, which included runs with high fuel loads. Unfortunately Sergio had to stop early due to a gearbox problem.
Jean-Eric Vergne, P1 - 1:16.052, 18th
I have enjoyed the brief time spent driving Friday mornings for Scuderia Toro Rosso. The main purpose has been to give me as much F1 mileage as possible, while also working on the teams normal free practice programme. The start of todays session was quite tricky, on a track I didnt know with a surface that was a bit dirty at first. The track itself is great fun to drive. I did my first run on the medium tyres, then for the next two I used the experimental hards that Pirelli brought here for us to try out. Myself and Jaime (Alguersuari) also worked on an aero programme. I ran with low downforce and I found it difficult as I clearly lacked grip, but that does not matter, because it produced useful data for the team, which I hope will help them get a good result this weekend. I also want to thank them and Red Bull for giving me this opportunity.
Sebastien Buemi, P2 - 1:15.264, 15th
"I had to get everything done in the 90 minutes of the afternoon session and the team did a good job, giving me a car that was reliable and ran trouble free. This meant I was able to do a lot of laps, trying the prototype tyres, then the medium and the soft, completing a useful long run, so I am happy with my day. It is too early to talk about performance but generally, we are in the same group that we have been in for the past few races. As it is a very short track here, it is very important to get everything right, because a difference of one-tenth of a second can have a big effect on your position on the grid.
Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:15.468, 11th; P2 - 1:15.388, 16th
We experimented with different levels of downforce over the two sessions and I think I felt happier with the cars behaviour in the morning, although we will have to assess the data before making a decision about this element of the package. The group we are in looks very close in terms of performance at this track. I think we can aim to be a bit higher up the order tomorrow, although it will be tough. In terms of set-up I think we have more or less got it how we want and with the tyres, the difference between the medium and soft is one of the smallest we have seen this season as the lap is very short in Interlagos. As for the race, we can expect a change in the weather, so maybe we need to gamble on running a wet set-up right from qualifying tomorrow.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
We had a busy day, completing our programme with our two cars and three drivers, all of whom were able to try different set-ups and run with the three compounds Pirelli has brought here; the experimental Hard for next year and the medium and soft which are the choices for the rest of the weekend. We were trying to find the right compromise in set-up terms because you have a very slow infield and a very long uphill straight. However, this weekend it seems there will be another factor in the equation, as after a nice dry and sunny day with high track temperatures, it looks as though we are heading for a wet weekend. It will be interesting to see how it evolves and I feel we have scanned enough elements today to have a good idea what to do whatever the conditions. Now we need to put everything together and make no mistakes in tomorrows qualifying.
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:15.663, 13th; P2 - 1:15.903, 18th
The car felt better this morning than it did this afternoon so we will have some work to do in practice tomorrow to make sure that we are in the best possible shape for qualifying. Apart from that, it was a normal day with everything going according to plan.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:15.836, 16th; P2 - 1:15.679, 17th
This track is good fun! We had no problems today and worked our way through the scheduled test programme, which included a lot of long runs on various tyre compounds, which is positive. That has given us some good information which we will use to make our preparations for the race.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
We completed a full day's programme in preparation for both qualifying and the race, testing the three different tyre compounds and optimising both mechanical and aerodynamic set-ups. Set-up is going to be especially important given the potential changeable weather conditions throughout the weekend.
Luiz Razia, P1 - 1:17.595, 20th
Im really pleased with how my session went today. It was a very proud moment for me to be back on track in Interlagos, this time in an F1 car, a real dream come true, so I want to thank the whole team for the chance to drive here today. Id had a good run in the car last week in Abu Dhabi so I felt comfortable pretty quickly, and I think my laptimes showed that. We worked through a busy programme, including comparisons with the new rear wing the teams brought here against the previous spec we used in Abu Dhabi - I could feel immediately what a good step forward that is and Im pleased I could play my part today in helping the team keep progressing, right up to the last race here in my home country.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:16.514, 19th; P2 - 1:16.338, 20th
I had a good day today. The new rear wing is another step forward and its encouraging to see that sort of update coming right at the end of the season. I got through a very good number of laps today and every change we made helped us find a bit more time on both tyre compounds, so with a bit more hard work tonight I think tomorrow and Sunday could be pretty good for us.
Jarno Trulli, P2 - 1:16.298, 19th
Im pretty pleased with my run this afternoon. We need to do a bit of work on fine tuning the balance, and I think theres more to come from the new rear wing, but the update is working and hopefully we can show in qualifying the sort of pace weve had recently in the races - thats the aim for tomorrow, and then to carry that over to Sunday.
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
An excellent Friday for the team. In the first session we ran Luiz Razia and he did a really good job, completing his whole programme and apart from one small mistake on his quickest lap, which probably cost him half a second at the last corner, he can be very satisfied with his days work. With the two race drivers we were evaluating a new rear wing which maximises the effect of the DRS system. That worked exactly as we had predicted and gave us a significant improvement in lap time which has helped us move another step closer to the cars immediately ahead so I think we can look forward to a good final weekend of 2011.
Riad Asmat, Lotus chief executive officer
That was a good last Friday of the season for us. This time last year we were racing a car that we had stopped development on in the middle of the season, and this year we have come to the last race with a new rear wing that has immediately paid dividends. That is a good sign of the continuing progression of our team and it bodes well for next year that the investments we have made in critical areas are giving us good returns right up to the end of the season. We have had a strong latter part of 2011 and I think we can push even more over this weekend, so we will aim to keep up this momentum tomorrow and see what we can do in qualifying.
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 support leader to Lotus
From the engine perspective I think we can be pleased with how today has gone. We have completed very decent mileage on both cars and have amassed enough data to help us progress more tomorrow around what is a pretty unique track. We have to find the right balance between strong driveability and top end power and give the drivers good responsiveness to maximise the lap times around Interlagos, and from where we finished today it looks like we are heading in the right direction.
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:18.140, 21st; P2 - 1:18.051, 22nd
I had quite a normal FP1 and FP2 today. I struggled a bit with the tyres; their behaviour was a bit difficult and in terms of managing them right for a qualifying lap it is not easy. But in general today was okay, we were able to work through our programme. Now we have to keep an eye on the weather and decide what direction we want to take.
Jerome dAmbrosio, P1 - 1:18.653, 22nd; P2 - 1:18.031, 21st
It was a pretty good Friday. We went through the programme and we did everything we had to do, so thats good. In terms of performance the car isnt too bad, but Im not happy yet with the balance, so weve got a bit of work to do tonight. I think the track is difficult for car balance and it looks like everybody is struggling with oversteer. So its not easy, but I think we can work on that for tomorrow, although we have to bear in mind that the weather might not be as good tomorrow.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
Both sides of the garage have had a good opening day in Brazil with the drivers and engineers completing the intended programmes with no issues. The prototype hard tyres which we ran at the start of each session appear to be a step forward from the current hard tyre and enabled the drivers to ease into the circuit and track conditions before using the intended compounds for this race. Both cars have tried various different set-ups today with some focused towards how a wet set-up would perform in the dry, since we are expecting changeable conditions for the remainder of the event. The long run pace on the soft tyre appeared to be pretty consistent and the degradation much lower than we predicted coming into this circuit. As with most other runners we seem to be experiencing instability at the rear and both cars need to dial in the balance overnight. Overall we are happy with the day and look forward to what the weather brings us for tomorrow and Sunday.
Jan Charouz, P1 - 1:19.577, 24th
It was fantastic, just to be on the track with people like Schumacher, Vettel and Alonso is incredible. Its a bit different to testing because there are a lot more cars on track so you have to make space for others to not cause traffic. I think I did quite a good job as I was pretty close to Daniel (Ricciardo) which was the main goal, I dont think five tenths are too much. Straight away the car felt quite good, its very easy to drive but I wouldve liked to have had a bit more tyres because by the time I learnt the track the tyres werent at their best but its the same for everyone and Im happy with my result. The aim was to do as many laps as possible and to get used to the car and the track and we did that.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - 1:46.385, 20th; P2 - 1:18.476, 24th
We tried to recover the fact that we didnt drive in the morning so, at the end of the day, it was a good afternoon. We did two runs with hard compounds to get back into the rhythm and into the balance of the car. We had a bit of an issue at the beginning so we had to tune the set-up of the car because there was some understeer in the slow sections and oversteer in quick ones. The car was better after these adjustments but were still a little bit off from where we would like to be. Then we encountered some traffic on the soft tyre runs but, overall, the long run was quite competitive so we can be reasonably happy. Its not going to be an easy last Grand Prix but, apparently, the weather may change and anything can happen.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:46.532, 21st; P2 - 1:18.367, 23rd
It was another typical Friday without too much special to report on. We made a bit of progress in the second free practice from the morning but I definitely feel we are still a bit off our true potential. Now weve got the night ahead of us to make any change we want and hopefully be better for tomorrow. Its going to be close again with the Virgins but we need a little bit more to give them a good fight. Its a bit bumpy with not much room for error and quite an old school track which is nice to drive.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
I am satisfied with the job that the team and the three drivers have done today. In the morning Jan Charouz took Tonio's car and he was focused and worked well with the team. It was his first real F1 Grand Prix experience and he lived up to the expectations doing more laps than anyone else and finishing just six-tenths behind Daniel. We've had a trouble-free day and Daniel and Tonio were consistent and managed to complete the scheduled programme in the afternoon. Our direct rivals remain within reach and I am confident that we can cut down the differences tomorrow.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
This weekend is our last chance to test our new compounds until official testing starts in February, so we intend to make the most of it. Weve got some reasonably significant changes planned for next year. The first indications are that we are on course to achieve our objective of decreasing the gap in lap times between the compounds to less than a second but of course theres still plenty more to come. In the coming days well be analysing the data and feedback from the drivers as we continue to work towards 2012. Before then, weve got the final grand prix of the year to look forward to, where well see the new soft tyre in action on this demanding Interlagos track, which challenges the rear tyres in particular. A lot will depend on the weather of course: Brazil has a habit of producing some very dramatic races and it would be great to finish our first season on a high.
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