Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 25 Mar 2011
It was a day of learning at Albert Park - learning about moveable rear wings, KERS, track conditions, tyres and, of course, relative form. At the front, McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari set the pace. At the back, HRTs new F111 managed its very first lap. The leading teams and their rivals reflect on their early progress in Melbourne
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:28.440, 6th; P2 -1:25.854, 1st
Today showed that, first of all, weve got reliability - which is great. Thats something weve not had all winter, so to have a car that runs for as many laps as we want it to is very satisfying. It also means we can get stuck into our set-up work and improve the car. I dont think theres much to be gained from looking at todays times though, so Im not going to get too carried away. Still, its been a positive day because weve been able to do so much running and get a good feeling for the car on different fuel-loads. The new exhaust has definitely brought performance to the car - it feels much better, makes the handling more complete. When you have downforce at the rear, you can also add it at the front, and then you put temperature in the tyres - theres so much that comes with downforce. Im so happy with how hard the guys have worked and what theyve brought to this race - theyve worked really hard and theyve delivered something good here. We dont yet know how good, but were encouraged by the step weve made today.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:28.483, 7th; P2 - 1:25.986, 2nd
The car feels like an improvement over winter testing, but Im not reading too much into the others performance. We just spent the day focusing on our own programme. The tyres are behaving very well; they dont feel like theyre degrading, and theyre lasting well, too. Hopefully we can pick up some points this weekend - I feel positive. The grip level today felt like a big step forward. We dont know what fuel loads the others are running, but our car feels like a big improvement from where we were just a few weeks ago. And thats simply a result of hard work: all the men and women back at the factory and at the track this weekend have done a fantastic job. Its difficult to gauge how different our car is, but theres more downforce, which is something were always asking for. This is a major positive. Our initial feeling is that the car is good, but well need to see tomorrow - still, I think were in the hunt for some points.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Today was a good, solid day. Both our drivers performed very well, and we got a lot of work done. The Pirelli tyres exceeded expectations in terms of reliability, and we were thereby able to complete some good long runs and collate plenty of useful data and info. We ran a brand-new floor and a brand-new exhaust today, and its always nice to bring new parts to a circuit and see them deliver what youd expected. Today we saw that: a decent correlation from simulator to racetrack. But you dont get any points on Fridays - so, although its always pleasing to see your cars finish first and second in any session, we wont be counting our chickens before theyre hatched. All Ill therefore say now is that today was an encouraging day: were going in the right direction, and were hoping to continue in that direction in our efforts to strive to find further improvements overnight.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:27.749, 3rd; P2 - 1:26.001, 3rd
Nothing new yet and what else would you expect? These two free practice sessions have not actually revealed the real relative strengths of the teams: this morning Red Bull went well and in the afternoon it was McLarens turn, with us and Mercedes always in the mix, while Williams and Renault also seem competitive. There are so many teams who could be in with a chance of going for the win and therefore its obvious that it will be necessary to have a good Saturday, without any mistakes if you want to start from the front row. Today, we concentrated mainly on analysing the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres, which seems a bit different here to what we saw in testing, partly because the track surface has very different characteristics. As far as strategy is concerned, we will need to be very flexible during the race, because at the moment, we know too little about the tyres to be able to say with certainty on which lap it will be best to stop. From what we have seen today, maybe we can do ten laps on one set of tyres, or maybe thirty! I am happy with the way the car is going: at the start there was a bit of understeer and we still are a way off from having perfect grip at the front, but it went better than I was expecting. We wanted to show that Japan was in the thoughts of all of us at Ferrari, which is why we ran with a sticker dedicated to the people of a country that has brought a lot to Formula One and where our sport has a great following.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:28.842, 11th; P2 - 1:26.789, 7th
We tested a lot of things in these two free practice sessions, splitting the work with my team-mate so as to explore different ways to go in terms of preparing for the rest of the weekend. I expected to set a quicker time, especially as the softs were not at their best until the fourth lap. On the hards, on the longest runs, it did not achieve much, as there were also a few drops of rain to complicate the situation. From what we have seen, the soft tyre shows less degradation than we might have expected, but we have to work out if that will still be the case in the race. This track is definitely less hard on tyres than Barcelona for example, where we did so much testing. This year it will be vital to study their behaviour carefully, circuit by circuit. The difference in outright performance between the two types of tyre is very marked. McLaren and Red Bull seem very strong, but there are other cars that can also be on the pace.
Pat Fry, Ferrari head of race track engineering
This morning we worked mainly on evaluating a few aerodynamic updates on the front wing, while the afternoon was spent mostly comparing the two types of tyre that Pirelli has brought here, running with various fuel loads. Unfortunately, the second session took place in very variable weather conditions, with rain putting in an appearance, which made it even more difficult to assess the situation. During the first ninety minutes it seemed that the tyres showed less obvious degradation compared to what we had seen during the fifteen days of testing in Spain. As for the afternoon, I think we need to analyse the data very carefully, especially that part relating to the longer runs. Now we can get down to work: we can expect a long evening to prepare ourselves as well as possible for tomorrows qualifying.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:27.158, 2nd; P2 - 1:26.014, 4th
It was an exciting start to the season, as theres always a lot going on in Melbourne. We were able to complete a lot of laps today, but the weather has been a bit difficult. It starts raining, but then goes dry again, which doesn't make it that easy to test different things. Despite that, I think we got a good idea as to where we are compared to our competitors. All in all I think we can be pleased, it seems we are not too bad, but we have to wait and see.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:26.831, 1st; P2 - 1:26.283, 5th
We had some Melbourne showers at the end of P2, which are always pretty tricky round here, but in general it was a pretty good day for us. Weve still got some work to do; there are some quick guys out there. It was good to finally try the tyres out on this circuit and I had a go with everything new on the car. McLaren look quick, but with Ferrari you can never tell, as they always run a bit more fuel on a Friday.
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:28.690, 8th; P2 - 1:26.590, 6th
"My first impressions of the 2011 season are quite positive. We learned a lot today, and are more or less where we thought we would be, although it was quite windy and tricky to drive. We will sort out some issues on our car for the rest of the weekend but I am still happy with what we have seen here so far. I would like to give a compliment to the Pirelli tyres which worked very well here today."
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:28.152, 4th; P2 - 1:27.448, 10th
"It was a decent day for us. I had a positive morning and a good long run this afternoon which was useful to see how the tyres behaved. However it was a bit difficult for me during P2 because a few things were not working properly on the car. It's difficult to say where we are the moment but I think we are in reasonable shape and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"It is good to finally get the racing action underway here in Melbourne and to start the process of seeing where we stand after the winter. Today went reasonably well for us, and we were able to complete much of the planned programme for the two sessions, although some small problems on both cars this afternoon did have an effect. This was the first opportunity to try the new tyres, KERS and rear wing system in a race weekend situation which was extremely useful for the drivers and the team. There is a lot to evaluate and complete tomorrow before qualifying but I'm happy with our start to the weekend."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"We learned a lot about our car and the new Pirelli tyres on this track today which is obviously quite different to the ones we have been testing on. However not everything went perfectly this afternoon as we had some technical issues which influenced the lap times for both Michael and Nico. Our initial impressions are that we have basically a similar potential to that shown during the last test in Barcelona a fortnight ago."
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:29.643, 17th; P2 - 1:27.101, 8th
I am happy with how my first day went. The second session especially was really good. I had no difficulties at all learning the circuit, as it felt familiar quite quickly. Regarding the set-up of the car, we are going in the right direction but have to figure out a few changes for tomorrow. I am very much looking forward to tomorrow, because this is when it counts.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:28.725, 9th; P2 - 1:28.095, 15th
I think overall the car isnt too bad, and we have learned a lot today running the car with the new Pirelli tyres for the first time on this track. It is important to understand how to handle the tyres, especially with regard to the track temperatures. In the first session I did quite long runs with one set of tyres. In the second we hadnt really the time to let the grip of the tyres develop to the best possible because we had quite a packed test programme. We will now see how we can improve the cars balance for tomorrow.
James Key, Sauber technical director
First of all it is good having got the season underway. Todays surprisingly cold and wet conditions in both sessions didnt stop us carrying out the programme we had planned. Even with the colder track temperatures, the tyres have been a little bit easier to manage compared to pre-season testing, which is good. We had a normal programme for both drivers with set-up work and tyre testing. On softer tyres neither of our drivers had a clear lap due to traffic. Kamui was not happy with the cars balance in the second practice. Sergio was a little bit happier. He also had traffic but stuck it out and managed to put a lap together. Now we will work to improve the cars balance for tomorrow.
Jaime Alguersuari, P2 - 1:27.525, 11th
A different day, as I had to get used to seeing Daniel driving my car in the morning! I am cool with it and its good that another Red Bull young driver gets the chance to experience Formula One. The main thing is that we are all working for the same team helping each other to progress. I have to say, because it was the first day of the season, it was quite difficult this afternoon to fit in as much of the programme as possible and the occasional rain definitely did not help. However, I am happy with the feel from the car, it seems to be competitive and even though it went well today, there is the potential to get much more out of it tomorrow. For a first day of the season I would sum it up as very positive.
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:29.328, 14th; P2 -1:27.697, 14th
After winter testing, its good to be back at a track for real, knowing you are going to race. Im happy to be able to see how we measure up against the other drivers. It has been a busy day with a full programme that we will now analyse very carefully, as there are all the new elements, like the rear wing, KERS and new tyres to take into consideration. Currently the times show us in the middle of the pack, in a tight group in terms of lap times of those ahead and behind us. We need to get the maximum out of this evening if we want to get the maximum out of tomorrow. The circuit has not changed much since last year apart from some resurfacing at corners 8 and 9 which helps, so it is as nice as ever to drive here.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:29.468, 16th
All week I was trying to prepare myself, to have the least amount of nerves and pressure as possible. Even though it was just another time being out on track, it did feel a bit different, I wont lie. When I pulled out of the pits and onto the track, I felt a little bit jelly-like for the first few corners. But once we got the procedural stuff out of the way, I was pretty happy and got into it. The first important thing is that I brought the car back in one piece, so hopefully the team is happy with that and afterwards I was just trying to build up gradually and learn. As the year goes on, it will get easier for me.
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:28.430, 5th; P2 -1:27.280, 9th
That was quite a straight forward day. We were able to run KERS throughout, which is only the second time that Ive had it on the car. I think we showed some competitiveness today but we need to do some work to keep it up. I enjoyed my Friday so Im looking forward to a good weekend.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:29.403, 15th; P2 - 1:29.386, 18th
It was a bit difficult this morning because I didnt know the track and so I spent most of the session just getting to grips with it. It was also quite slippery. This afternoon, we concentrated on long runs and were happy with the performance of the car. As we were good on the long runs, I think I can improve a lot tomorrow in terms of timed laps. Im confident going into the rest of the weekend.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
That was a productive first days practice. We successfully worked through our programme, which included running all day with revised KERS components, testing aero modifications and a new front wing on Rubens car. Everything worked as expected. Interestingly, tyre degradation is currently looking better here than it was when we were testing.
Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:28.765, 10th; P2 -1:27.528, 12th
Its always fun to get the season underway. The weather was quite cold, but I didnt have any issues with the car during the sessions. We did the baseline set-up work and found some good improvements during the day and I already feel quite comfortable with the balance of the car here. The other good news is that the tyres were performing well today and lasting quite a bit longer than expected.
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:28.928, 12th; P2 - 1:27.536, 13th
I think today was okay. We spent more time than we expected working on the set-up and so we didnt do as many laps as we wanted. The car felt alright, but I think we can still improve. With the hard tyres it was quite difficult to get enough grip, and the small problems that we had meant I couldnt really do a long run in the end. Also, the wet weather conditions meant it was not ideal to learn about the car, but I think were lucky that it stayed pretty dry. Its still very difficult to know exactly where we stand, but we do have a better picture than we had yesterday.
Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
The track was very green to begin with and we didnt do a great amount of running in the first session. We used one set of hard tyres per driver and it all went as planned. We used flow viz paint on both cars to assess the performance of the DRS (drag reduction system). We also practiced using KERS in both sessions.We ran both the hard and soft tyres in the second session and did some high fuel work on the soft tyre.We have evaluated some new aerodynamic parts and they are performing well.
Paul di Resta, P2 - 1:28.376, 16th
It was a good to have the opportunity to start my season today. We were able to complete our planned programme and the tyres performed better than I expected. Overall I felt quite comfortable with the new systems on the car, but until I get into a competitive situation it is still too early to say how we'll do. We have another practice session in the morning, and so we'll look at the data from today and work on the small issues we had and our programme for qualifying. I am excited about tomorrow, but at the same time there is a job to be done and my focus is to achieve the best result I can for the team.
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:29.314, 13th; P2 - 1:28.583, 17th
It was not a bad day. We had quite a few new components on the car to test and the rear wing made a good difference. In the second session we put it all together with a few more sets of tyres, but we had a small issue with the floor and lost a little bit of running. It takes a good three to four laps to get the tyres working for us, on a hard tyre maybe longer, and at the beginning we suffered from understeer and front locking. It is important to look at the other drivers' lap times now to see what they achieved with the different tyre compounds. I am getting to grips with operating the KERS and the rear wing and am confident in the system. I am aiming to qualify mid-table tomorrow - I think that is possible, so let's see what we can do.
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:31.002, 18th
It was an interesting FP1 and I learnt a lot again about the tyres and the car. Driving with just one set of tyres was pretty difficult because I picked up a flat spot early on which distracted my further running. The rubber wore quite quickly and caused a lot of vibrations, which made it tough to run. But I got some good laps in and collected some good data for the engineers to look at. I am happy to have driven here in Melbourne again and to pick up some more experience and information for the team.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer
We had two objectives for the first practice session; for Nico to gather as much data on the prime tyre as possible and for Adrian to evaluate a new rear wing. Paul drove this circuit last year, so it's not completely new for him. Over the course of the season Adrian and Paul will both share their car with Nico on a Friday, so we're simply keeping things balanced. FP2 ran to programme, with long run comparisons at race fuel and a test of the DRS race mode and SC systems. It's been a productive day and we are looking ahead to what will be a fascinating race weekend.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:32.428, 19th; P2 - 1:30.829, 19th
"It was one of those days. We had a couple of problems the guys worked hard to resolve, and once we had got through the issues we managed to complete most of the program so we have some good data to work through tonight. There is obviously more pace to come from the car so let's see what happens tomorrow."
Jarno Trulli, P2 - 1:30.912, 20th
"The team worked really well to get the car ready for the afternoon session but we struggled a bit with a few issues that meant I couldn't really push. We'll work tonight on setup options and there are definitely some areas to look at where we can find some pace so I think tomorrow we'll be ok."
Karun Chandhok, P1 - no time, 22nd
"I'm obviously disappointed to have had such a short run for my first time in the Team Lotus car, but I put my hands up to it and totally accept it was a combination of a slippery track and less grip than I expected from the tyres that combined to put me out so early. I'm just pleased the guys could get Jarno out in the afternoon session and it shows what a great team this is that they could get the car fixed that quickly to ensure Jarno could get a decent number of laps under his belt in FP2."
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 support leader
"Engine wise it was quite a good day because we managed to carry out a number of tests we had not completed in the pre-season running. We have had some positive feedback from the drivers from those tests, for example with the blown-floor strategy, so this has been a pretty encouraging day for us."
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
"A difficult first day in Australia, although we managed to complete some good work at the end of FP2. At the start of FP1 Karun was caught out by the slippery conditions and made a mistake which unfortunately curtailed his running. In the second session we had a fuel pressure problem on Jarno's car and an electronics issue on Heikki's car, both of which limited our running, but we were able to solve those issues and work through most of the afternoon's plan. For tomorrow there is a lot more to come from the car. We are clearly not quite where we expected to be in performance terms but we understand the reasons for that - it is proving quite tricky for us to get the best out of the tyres but we will work on that tonight and when we improve I am confident we will move up to where we expect to be in qualifying tomorrow."
Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
"It is good to be back racing and very satisfying to see our green and yellow vision coming together on and off the track. It was one of those days that are not so good for us but this is a continuous journey and while we have work to do I'm confident we are moving in the right direction for the year ahead. It is a real mark of where we are now that the comments from the rest of the team are expressing disappointment with today. As a Team Principal it is actually very pleasing to hear that a performance that a year ago we would have been thrilled about is now being seen as us not meeting our targets, and that shows us all just how far we have already come. The team may not see it right now but this is huge progress, so I am happy and looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
Jerome DAmbrosio, P1 - 1:35.282, 20th; P2 - 1:32.106, 21st
Today has been something very special for me for sure. I have been racing since I was eight years-old so today is a dream come true. It was very exciting to drive out of the garage this morning and also to drive here in Albert Park for the first time. Its a fantastic track and I like it very much, so a lot of great things to be happy with. We have some work to do to improve, that is clear, but this is only the beginning. We showed that we could make progress through both sessions so we have to get the best out of the package we have here and then keep pushing to improve.
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:35.289, 21st; P2 - 1:32.135, 22nd
Not an easy first day. I had a bit of trouble this morning in terms of the set up, and the behaviour of the car was not right, quite difficult. In the second session we made some improvements but the gap to the top guys is quite big and that's a bit disappointing. We have to make the best out of it, get on top of it and make the car quicker.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
This mornings session wasnt as smooth a start to the season as we would have liked, but we resolved a sensor calibration issue with Timo as soon as possible and got ourselves back on course. The conditions were very slippery and there was little grip due to last nights rain, so most of the teams were waiting for the track to improve. In the afternoon we were able to complete plenty of laps and both drivers are doing a good job. Clearly were not where we need to be at the moment so we have to study the data and look at what we can do to improve. Congratulations to Jerome on a great debut today.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - no time, 24th; P2 - no time, 23rd
Even though we only did one lap today, it is very important for us to have put the F111 into action. Its been a big effort from everybody, the mechanics and engineers have worked day and night to get the car ready. Its very positive to have the car on the ground and we now have some numbers to work on for tomorrow. We are looking forward to tomorrow as it is our first chance to put in some laps together and get some information on the car.
Narain Karthikeyan, P1 - no time, 23rd; P2 - no time, 24th
Everybody is working hard trying to put things into place. With new cars there are always bound to be problems. We have everything here, but just to trim parts and fit them into a car is a time-consuming process. Unfortunately we lost a day today, so I think its going to be a tough weekend undoubtedly but at least we have made some progress.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
The team made a great effort today. Tomorrow we can have a normal day, with both cars running on the track. Tomorrow will be another day of hard work and hopefully there will be more progress. As for today, I must thank the whole team for their effort and hard work, they did a great job. I am very proud of them.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
We're pleased with our first outing under competitive grand prix conditions, as our tyres have already shown a good level of performance and durability. While the weather may have felt cold for Australia, these were actually some of the warmest conditions that we have run in recently, and already we can see that our rubber is working better at these temperatures. We're in for a very exciting weekend: even with all the information that we have at our disposal, it's still hard to predict exactly how all the action will unfold."
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