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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 08 Apr 2011

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 7 April 2011 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 8 April 2011 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Lotus Renault GP.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 8 April 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 8 April 2011 (L to R): Narain Karthikeyan (IND) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) with team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 8 April 2011

While the forecast thunderstorms never materialized, the other widespread prediction for Friday practice in Sepang - that Red Bull would be the team to beat - did come to fruition with Mark Webber leading the field in the RB7 during both sessions. McLaren, however, didn’t let the reigning constructors’ champions have it all their own way and were a very close second in terms of pace. The leading teams and their rivals reflect on their early progress in Sepang…

Red Bull
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:37.651, 1st; P2 - 1:36.876, 1st

“We look okay, but it’s still early days in a race weekend. We got some dry running in and the car performed well. It was reliable, which is always a nice bonus. We got to check all the tyres - including the new tyre that Pirelli brought here. It’s very hot. We need to look at the information we got today, but so far so good for us.”

Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:41.627, 17th; P2 - 1:37.090, 4th
“We completed quite a lot of laps this morning because of the extra tyres - and this afternoon we did more or less what was planned. We didn’t have any big problems, but we got a lot of mileage and took a lot of things onboard. Obviously tyre wear is different here to Melbourne. I think it’s the same for everyone, at least, it is for us. We’ll see where we are tomorrow.”

McLaren
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:40.927, 15th; P2 - 1:36.881, 2nd

“This afternoon’s session was much better than this morning’s. We found things a little difficult during P1; after Melbourne, we chose to head in a certain direction in order to resolve the issues we had in the first race, but the track is very different here. So we went back on a few of those changes, and everything is performing better now. But, actually, everyone appears to have been struggling with rear grip today. The tyres feel very different from those we had in Melbourne. It’s very tricky, but that’s what we saw in winter testing, so we have good experience with that. We don’t know what fuel loads the other teams were running, of course. What’s important, though, is that we changed a lot of things on the car and they were all positive steps. We feel like we’ve found a good direction - and hopefully there’ll be more to come.”

Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:39.316, 2nd; P2 - 1:37.010, 3rd
“Today has been interesting. We seem reasonably close to the top of the time-sheets – and I think we’ve made some positive steps with the set-up of the car. We’ve still got time to find, but it’s been a constructive day.The track conditions are massively different compared with the cold conditions we experienced in Australia, so the tyres don’t last as long. Maybe Sunday will see a three-stop race. I think the bunch of teams at the front is tightening, so it could be a good race. I hope we’re also closer to the front than we were in the last race, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“Today we made good progress - especially when you consider that we were conducting our first high-temperature runs on the new Pirelli tyres. In this morning’s session both Lewis and Jenson expressed the view that our car was somewhat lacking in balance, but by this afternoon our engineers had worked hard to make the relevant improvements and the result was that both drivers were much happier with the ‘feel’ of their cars. As a consequence, both of them achieved good pace over both short runs and long runs. However, we still believe there’s a bit more pace in the cars to ‘unlock’ this weekend, and we fully intend to work as hard as possible to do just that over the next two days.”

Mercedes GP
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:39.791, 3rd; P2 - 1:38.088, 5th

"We had a pretty good first day on track here in Sepang. We definitely made a step in the right direction, we were closer to our level of performance from Barcelona than in Melbourne, and I am hopeful there will be more to come. We had two typical Friday sessions, trying out a lot of things for future developments, and it looks we can make further improvements. Today, our aerodynamics and our KERS system worked very well, and I look forward to more to come in the next two days."

Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:40.646, 10th; P2 - 1:38.565, 7th
"Today was a productive day for us. We made progress on our set-up work compared to the last race and the team worked well. There are still issues that we have to solve, but I think we are a bit closer to the pace. I'm now looking forward to qualifying and we will look to take another step forward tomorrow."

Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"We have had a much better day here than we experienced in Melbourne. There are some issues which we need to look into and resolve but it is, without doubt, a more positive start to the race weekend. Our basic lower fuel pace looks reasonable. We need to improve the race pace as the car wasn't consistent enough and that will be the focus for our work tonight."

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"It was a productive day for the team, with many laps completed and few problems. We focused on our race set-up today, but there is still more work to be done tomorrow."

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:40.453, 6th; P2 - 1:38.089, 6th

“It’s logical that I had expected and had hoped to be quicker, especially when compared to the two teams that are clearly in front. Let’s see what we can do between this evening and tomorrow to improve the car. There is not much grip and also tyre degradation is very high and, as could be seen in the final part of the second session, when everyone was presumably running with a heavy fuel load, we were not the only ones having a problem. If the race was to take place in the dry, choosing the right strategy would be very complicated. The soft tyres work better, giving much more grip and they are much quicker, although there is a lot of degradation. The hard seems to be slower and, at first, seems a bit more consistent, but it does not last that much longer than the other. We will have to be ready for anything this weekend. In the last two days, we have seen that at the time qualifying and the race are due to start, it always rains. If that also happens in the next two days, anything could happen.”

Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:40.601, 9th; P2 - 1:38.583, 9th
“Given how things went today, it looks like being a difficult weekend, but we will do all we can to get close to the quickest. Today, things did not go well and we struggled to find a good balance on the car, so this evening we will look at how we can improve. On a track like this, with such variable weather and with tyre degradation being what it is, there will be a lot of factors in play in the fight for the top places and just being quickest will not be enough. This morning we did a lot of work on the aerodynamics to understand what had not worked the way we had expected in Australia, but even if we had been quick in Melbourne, there would still be work to do. This is only the start of the season: we are not quick enough to fight for the win and pole position, but that does not mean that we have to throw in the towel. Instead we have to step up our efforts to quickly reduce the gap that separates us from those who have done a better job than us.”

Pat Fry, Ferrari deputy technical director
“We got through a lot of work on this first day of free practice. In fact, apart from the usual Friday programme, we wanted to carry out a whole series of aerodynamic tests to try and gather as much data as possible on the handling of the car, especially in terms of the front end. In quantitive terms we achieved our aim because the programme was completed as planned. Now it’s up to us to analyse the data and get the answers we are looking for. It will be a tough job, but a vital one to understand in which direction to go in the development of the car. Having done that, we then concentrated on all the usual Friday tasks, which means looking for the best set-up and especially on comparing the two types of tyre we have here. From what we could see, it looks like being a very busy weekend for the pit stop guys, because the degradation, at least in these conditions, seems higher than in Melbourne. The alternative scenario is rain which seems likely for Sunday…From a performance point of view, allowing for all the unknown factors on a Friday, the situation does not seem that different to the one in Australia: our aim is try and make the most of what we have got at our disposal.”

Renault
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:40.525, 7th; P2 - 1:38.570, 8th

"Because of the issues this morning, we didn't run very much at all today. We therefore had to prioritise what we did in the afternoon and we felt it was best to do a long run on the soft tyres. Although we didn't do many laps, we got some data and we learned a few things, especially about the high degradation rate of the softs. Considering that we did no real set-up work today, it's quite encouraging that I was in the top ten in both sessions. We now have to concentrate on making good progress in the final practice session tomorrow morning."

Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:47.932, 24th; P2 - 1:39.267, 13th
“It wasn't the best day. The problem in the morning was quite a surprise and we decided not to run until late in the afternoon when we had understood things properly. When I did finally get out, the car felt fine, but the time we had was very limited and we didn't really manage to do any set-up work. As we expected, the degradation rates are very high here, especially for the soft tyres, but they definitely had more grip and were a couple of seconds quicker than the hard. However, tomorrow is a new day and I think we can still have a good weekend."

James Allison, Renault technical director
"Both Vitaly and Nick suffered failures under braking in the front uprights early in the first session. As a precaution we stopped running the cars until we had understood the problem. We quickly established that the two failed items had come from the same material batch and that nothing from this batch had run prior to today. It took a little longer to rule out other potential causes but once we were confident that the failures were related to a material problem we released the cars for the second half of afternoon practice where they ran without problem."

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:40.770, 13th; P2 - 1:38.846, 10th

“A good number of laps and a reasonable lap time in FP2 after we managed to make big improvements from the morning session. We need to keep all our focus on the race, because that is going to be the priority, unless the weather produces something strange. Tyre degradation will be the key factor here in Sepang, as we expected, so we must concentrate on our performance over a long run, improving our autonomy on the rear tyres. In general I am happy with the improvement we saw during the day, but I am still not one hundred percent satisfied as I believe there is room for improvement from my side and also from the car. The heat? You get used to it and as long as you keep drinking a lot and stay hydrated it actually gets better during the weekend.”

Sebastien Buemi, P1 - no time; P2 - 1:40.115, 18th
“I only had the one session today and it did not go that well, although we did acquire a lot of data on long and short runs. Now, we must look carefully at the figures, because on track, I did not manage to put everything together perfectly: I had a yellow flag, when I was on what would have been my fastest lap on new soft tyres, so in terms of outright lap time it is a long way off what we can do, not reflecting our real pace. We expected tyre degradation here and in fact we have seen a very different situation to what we had in Melbourne. However, we have to be quite cautious about drawing conclusions too quickly. It might change the order a bit, but honestly I don’t expect big changes. We can improve for tomorrow. As always, it’s very hot here, but nothing we don’t know how to deal with.”

Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:40.748, 12th; P2 - no time
“There’s a bit less pressure here than in Melbourne, where I was kept very busy at my home event. I felt more comfortable in the cockpit today and got stuck into the programme. It was a productive session for me, on a similar programme to Australia, going out with a baseline set-up to build on. I was able to provide some feedback which will hopefully be useful to the team, covering areas like where on the track the KERS might be used and what the car needs, as well as basics like helping out with gear ratios. It was good for my learning curve too. The first half hour the track was a bit dusty, but of course it will get better over the rest of the weekend. I last drove here in 2006 in Formula BMW, which is quite a long time ago. I remembered most of it, except that this time, everything seemed to happen 30 seconds quicker!”

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:40.443, 5th; P2 - 1:38.968, 11th

“I think today went well. The car is looking competitive and I have a good feeling. There is some margin for improvement, from myself and the car, but it is looking positive for us tomorrow. The spin happened because I had little rubber left on my tyres, so I was slipping around a lot as I was making my way into the pit lane. I spun and ended up in the gravel. Fortunately, even with the damage, the mechanics managed to turn the repairs around quickly and send me back out for the last part of the session, so I thank them for that.”

Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:40.581, 8th; P2 - 1:39.187, 12th
“Obviously we covered our programme. That went ok, but we still have some issues on my set-up which we need to improve before tomorrow. Right now, I’m not fully happy with the balance, but we completed the long runs fine.”

Sam Michael, Williams technical director
“After some minor electrical issues with the KERS in the morning session, we had good reliability this afternoon. Our main target was to evaluate various new parts and to do some long run comparisons using the two tyre compounds. The characteristics and performance of the Pirellis look similar to that which we saw in Melbourne. Our focus is now on getting the cars ready for qualifying tomorrow.”

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:40.872, 14th; P2 - 1:39.398, 14th

“Although I don’t personally mind the high temperatures, they do make a difference. I can’t complain about the tyres, as they are fine despite the conditions. However, we are struggling with the set-up. Most importantly we have to improve braking stability and I think that’s what we are going to do overnight.”

Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:41.642, 18th; P2 - 1:39.603, 15th
“It is obviously very hot in the car, and it is clear the race will become very demanding physically. My run with the soft tyres was not good because I had to pit after a yellow flag came out. Generally I think we have some work to do to improve the car for tomorrow.”

James Key, Sauber technical director
“We had a standard programme to work through this weekend, and also two extra sets of tyres from Pirelli, which was a development tyre. We ran one set in the morning and one in the afternoon. That gave us some useful data, but I am sure also some useful data for Pirelli. It seems here with the ambient conditions and particularly the track temperature, as we thought was likely to be the case, the tyres are certainly reacting in a different way to what we have seen before. The degradation is higher and the warm up is no issue at all, as you would imagine. In the afternoon we just worked through the tyre programmes and a race run for each driver on tyres. I think we need to look carefully at the data this evening because we are losing about three tenths in the first couple of corners, and a little bit of time in the middle sector. The balance of the car in low speeds is not ideal for the drivers, so we will look at that overnight and look forward to running in free practice three with a better balanced car.”

Force India
Paul di Resta, P1 - no time; P2 - 1:39.625, 16th

“We got through the programme we wanted. It was quite difficult to find the ultimate set-up, but I think we found relatively where we need to be on old and new tyres, and certainly how to get the wear out of them because they don't seem to be lasting quite as well as in Melbourne. Given that this was my first session here I think that it was productive, so hopefully we can sit down tonight, analyse it and go forward tomorrow.”

Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:40.734, 11th; P2 - 1:39.809, 17th
“We had a disappointing day. I went out on the first lap of the morning session and straight away we had some KERS issues, which affected the car's balance and power for the rest of the running. In the afternoon the guys fixed this problem, but we then had a downshift issue, which we don't seem to know exactly what it is, and the car was difficult to drive. So we need to understand this problem as it upsets the car, and with reliability and pace not there at the moment, I am a little concerned. But we shall discuss these tonight and work on them for tomorrow.”

Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:40.377, 4th; P2 - no time
“It was a positive Friday session for me. We ran the super hard tyre for first time; it was interesting running and we collected some good data. We successfully carried out some aero work and I got in some good laps, which I was very happy about. Obviously P4 is a good result; it's where we want to be but it's not realistically where we are at the minute. Overall though it was a good session for the team and I am generally happy.”

Dominic Harlow, Force India chief engineering director
“We completed our work today despite the high temperatures, particularly in the afternoon, and we are satisfied with cooling levels, which of course tend to be tested here. We have some issues to address with Adrian's car as he had problems on the downshift that affected the stability but will work on those overnight. On the hot track the drivers found quite high tyre degradation and certainly a bit of oversteer as the rear tyres degraded. It's a different scenario to the weekend in Australia, and we'll be looking through the data to define our best set-up for the race considering both the tyre behaviour and the possible weather conditions.”

Virgin
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:42.154, 19th; P2 - 1:40.866, 19th

“It’s difficult to gauge everything that was going on up and down the pit lane today, but I think we had a reasonable day. It's a shame we couldn't get Jerome's car out in the second session, because it would have been good for tyre evaluation. In general I'm happy with how the car is working here, but it's all about the tyres; they are fine for one lap but then drop off and it's all about keeping them alive over a distance. The team did a good job. We were a little late going out in FP2 but overall everything went well. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

Jerome d’Ambrosio, P1 - 1:42.540, 20th; P2 - no time, 24th
“The day started well and we were able to get out on track quickly. Unfortunately we had a problem with the front right suspension at the end of the morning session, and the resulting damage meant that I couldn’t take part in the afternoon session. It’s very hot but I’m coping well with the heat, and to drive a Formula One car on this track is great. I really enjoy driving here. We hope for a better day tomorrow.”

John Booth, Virgin team principal
“We’ve had a challenging start to our weekend’s running in Sepang today. This morning we experienced what we suspect was a suspension failure to the front right of Jerome’s car, which was obviously disappointing. The combination of the wheel flailing on its tether and the car ending up in the gravel trap meant that the damage was quite considerable. As the problem occurred just a few minutes before the end of Free Practice One, we faced a major battle to rebuild the car and get out on track in Free Practice Two for at least an installation run at the end of the session. Despite a monumental effort by Jerome’s crew we missed out by just a few minutes, so it’s been a challenging day on that side of the garage. Thankfully things went better on Timo’s side and he seems reasonably happy with the car, which has at least provided us with some opportunity to gauge where we are. We have a lot of work to do tonight to ensure we are in a better position for tomorrow.”

Lotus
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:41.620, 16th; P2 - 1:41.890, 20th

"We managed to get through most of the program but the fact the traffic held up my quickest lap I think masks how we're really looking in outright pace. It's a bit tough as we have had a great build-up to the race here, and the support we have had from the fans and the media in Malaysia has been just great, so we'll work hard to make sure we put on a good performance tomorrow and on Sunday."

Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - no time; P2 - 1:44.886, 23rd
"That was just one of those days. I went out in the second session and felt something go at the rear so came straight back in. It looks like a differential problem and despite the fact the guys worked really hard to try and get me back out the time beat us. However, we'll work on it overnight, and on the data Davide and Jarno have collected today and get back on with it tomorrow."

Davide Valsecchi, P1 - 1:44.054, 21st; P2 - no time
“It was nice, so nice and such a good feeling to be in the car here in Malaysia. My lap times weren’t incredible as I had a bit of an issue on the last run, so I didn’t have the chance to test the car with the different tyre set up which would have given better times. It’s hot and a bit humid, which never makes it that easy, but the track was fine. The car felt really good but with the limited time I had it was important to take it easy and not push the car to the limit. Heikki gets back in this afternoon and I'm sure he and Jarno will do a good job for the team, so let’s hope for a good race this weekend.”

Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
"Today really was a day of two halves. This morning we had a pretty good session, with Davide having his first run in the car here at Sepang and he did a good job for the team, although his last run was cut a bit short. With Jarno we tried both the hard tyre and the development tyre and have good feedback on both. This afternoon we had what looks like a differential problem on Heikki's car which meant his afternoon was cut short, so apologies to him for that. With Jarno we managed to complete most of the program, despite changing his power steering, but unfortunately when he was on the soft tyres traffic held him up which meant he wasn't able to extract the maximum speed from the car. Despite this it is clear that the pace of the car is closer to the midfield than we were in Melbourne and now the onus is on us to make sure the reliability issues are solved and give the drivers a chance to show what the car can really do."

Tony Fernandes, Lotus team principal
"The day started very well off track, with the announcement that Dell has upgraded their relationship with us to become an official technical partner. When a company of the stature of Dell wants to increase their partnership with us it is a clear sign that we are going in the right direction, so that was very positive. On track it was a day of mixed fortunes. It started well but ended up fairly mediocre, but there are still many positives that have come out of today. If Jarno had not had traffic issues we would have been much closer to being able to show our true pace than we were in Melbourne and even though we keep being dogged by reliability issues we are still very excited about the weekend ahead and what will happen in qualifying tomorrow."

HRT
Narain Karthikeyan, P1 - 1:46.267, 23rd; P2 - 1:43.197, 21st

“In the morning we didn't have the best of starts. I lost a lot of time because there were some issues with the oil level in the car. The balance is alright, now we are just exploring what the car is doing. There are a lot of things to work on. The second session was good, we only did 15 laps because there was an issue with the car that lost me half an hour again. We've done 25 timed laps so we still have a lot of catching up to do and that's what we're doing. The point is not to complain with what you have, but try and get the best out of it."

Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - 1:45.228, 22nd; P2 - 1:43.991, 22nd
"The morning session went alright, we started with hard tyres and couldn't do many laps because we spent most of the time doing aero-setting in order to understand the balance of the car. But we did some laps and the car didn't look too bad. We had some issues with the balance, a few traction problems also. Therefore we made some changes for the afternoon. The afternoon session wasn't easy because we had an issue similar to Australia with a switch. Basically after riding over a bump, the ignition switch turned off and the car stopped. So I had to stop when we were starting our new tyre runs, which was a great shame because we didn't get to test as much as we wanted. When we got out to do our last lap there was a lot of traffic so we weren't able to test and evaluate the tyres."

Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
“Although Narain and Tonio were forced to stop today, they were minor issues as proven by the fact that they were able to get back out on the track again. All in all we could say today was a good day, I believe we made some progress and will make some more tomorrow as this is our first real test of the new car. It's good news that Narain was under the 107 percent. We didn't run a qualifying set-up today and the car didn't look too bad, we didn't have any reliability issues just a small problem with a switch which we will have to sort out for tomorrow. Our target is to improve as quickly as possible, the only way to do this is by working consistently and pushing, you can't get anywhere by complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. We have new updates which will hopefully be completed for Turkey, we have a wind tunnel programme in place, everything is falling into place, now we have to work on it in order to take another step forward."

Pirelli
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

"Everybody has faced extremely tough conditions during the first day of running in Malaysia. Luckily our tyres have performed faultlessly so far, but of course the real work lies ahead of us as the drivers put their cars into qualifying and race trim. Today, the drivers tried out the evolution of our hard tyres and their response was generally favourable, although we need to be careful that we don't end up with tyres that are too conservative. Given how harsh the conditions were today, we've been pleased with the way that things have gone and we're expecting a three-stop strategy for the race. Obviously there will be some interesting tactical calls from the teams tomorrow when it comes to deciding which tyres they will choose to qualify on. This is just going to add to the spectacle of what is sure to be a fascinating race."

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