Thursday practice - selected team and driver quotes 26 May 2011
Two-time Monaco winner Fernando Alonso is no stranger to success in Monte Carlo, and on Thursday he took the top practice honours, despite some stiff competition from McLarens Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes Nico Rosberg. Alonso, his rivals, and senior team personnel reflect on their early progress...
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:16.732, 2nd; P2 - 1:15.123, 1st
In Monaco its mainly a question of having a good feel for the car: the more the driver has, the harder he can push, lap after lap. It seems we are a bit more competitive than elsewhere, although one has to adopt the usual caution linked to the unknown factor of how much fuel the others were running. However, the reason is very simple in that here, the aerodynamics count for less and so we are suffering less. On a track with the lowest average speed, some weaknesses are hidden by other factors, such as the mechanical side and the engine. I immediately felt comfortable here, right from the morning, so I was able to push harder and harder, because the car was reacting well and I had confidence in it. I am pleased, but we know this is just the first day and that the Red Bulls could be hiding a bit, before coming out for Saturdays qualifying. Saturday will be a much more stressful day because here, the slightest error carries a heavy penalty. We must try to take some risks, because we need to close the gap to the best. As for the tyres, I think that their performance is reasonably similar to what we saw in winter testing, even though temperatures are now much higher: compared to the other races, there is not such a big difference between the prime and the options, or at least thats the initial impression.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:17.316, 4th; P2 - 1:15.781, 6th
I am reasonably happy with the car, even if there is still some oversteer, especially with the super soft. Compared to Barcelona, I reckon we will be better equipped to fight: its not like on other occasions when it was clear we could not get the tyres to work. There were moments when I was a bit on the limit, so that I even found myself brushing the barriers at least three times. I did a long run on the option to try and find its limit in terms of wear. Overtaking will be difficult, as usual at this circuit: but maybe thanks to the KERS it will be possible to overtake a car that is struggling with its tyres, although it will never be easy. Traffic? Here its impossible to avoid it: today I found myself in a position where I was holding up Fernando, but I had a McLaren ahead of me, which in turn had slowed me down.
Pat Fry, Ferrari director of chassis department
A good start to this very special weekend that takes place against this always incredible backdrop. Today we concentrated mainly on finding the best set-up for the car and on checking the behaviour of the two types of tyre that Pirelli has brought for this track, one of which, the super soft is making its debut at a race. From what we could see, the times are pretty consistent, but we know that the track here changes from Thursday to Saturday, so we cannot take anything for granted. This morning we checked a handful of minor aerodynamic updates - the 150 Italia is basically the same as it was at the Catalunya circuit - and then we tried to deliver Felipe and Fernando a balanced car in which they could have full confidence to push to the limit. Now we have a bit more time than usual to prepare as well as possible for qualifying and the race. There are some areas on which need to improve and we can, but from what we have seen today, at least it looks as though we are on the right road to being in the running.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:17.350, 5th; P2 - 1:15.228, 2nd
Its fantastic out there: I love the track, I love the weather. Its a beautiful place to be. Im enjoying every lap I drive - and Ive got the best view of the whole of Monaco when Im in the car! Im very happy to be here - Im really pleased with the balance of the car and I kept out of trouble, but its going to be close here. You quickly get used to DRS and KERS Hybrid, but youre only really on it for the pit straight and up the hill; you tend not to use it through the slower sections. Maybe Ill find a few more places to use it for qualifying - but Ill keep that in my pocket! I just love driving the car here - its the best thing Ive ever done! Its so exciting - you cant afford to make mistakes, the car feels amazing when youre jumping from kerb to kerb, and theres no room for error. I want to win this grand prix!
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:17.534, 6th; P2 - 1:15.448, 4th
First lap out is always a shock because its so slippery. But once the grip goes down, the car works well and its really fun to be out there. DRS and KERS Hybrid both work around here - I have no issues about deploying DRS, but Im happy we cant use it in the tunnel; the FIA definitely made the right decision there. I think weve also worked out where to best use KERS Hybrid. I feel more comfortable with the car than I did last year, but there are still a few areas that need tweaking. Our car feels reasonably quick, but theres an awful lot of competition out there. Theres a lot less degradation than I think we all expected. I did a long-run on the super-soft, and while theres some degradation, its reasonably good. The same is true of the harder tyre. But its still not easy to decide what strategy will work best around here on Sunday afternoon.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
It always feels pleasant to be on the Côte dAzur on a sunny day - and it feels even better when youve got two cars looking consistently competitive after the first day of practice at Monte-Carlo. I think the whole team did an extremely solid job today: both Lewis and Jenson drove very well, kept out of trouble and were able to refine their cars throughout both sessions. The engineers and the mechanics also worked faultlessly together at what is without doubt the most difficult of challenges from an engineering and logistical point of view. While its encouraging to see both cars towards the top of the time-sheets, were under no illusions that this will be anything other than an extremely closely fought weekend: its clear that Red Bull Racing, Ferrari and Mercedes GP all look very strong - and that bodes well for a very tight battle for qualifying and an extremely entertaining race on Sunday.
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:17.139, 3rd; P2 - 1:15.321, 3rd
"It's great to be on the track again here in Monaco. I felt very comfortable from the beginning and we did quite a good job on the set-up. It can be difficult here to find the right settings as you have to put a lot of things together such as brake balance and tyre degradation, but we had a decent day and I'm happy with our start into the weekend. The tyres are not as bad as we expected and the degradation will be quite low, so pole position will be a bit more important than I expected before today."
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:18.805, 10th; P2 - 1:16.356, 7th
"Our gap to the front seems to be less here than in Barcelona. With my crash this morning, we had made a set-up change for the run and I locked up braking for turn one. After that, my decision to go down the escape road was too late, which is why I hit the barrier. The mechanics did a super job and the car this afternoon was just as quick as this morning. What Nico showed in terms of one-lap pace looks good, and our long runs were also quite reasonable.
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"We had a productive day with lots of good work achieved. The team recovered extremely well from Michael's incident this morning, and gave him a good car for the afternoon session. We worked on high and low fuels levels with the two tyre compounds, and the tyres seemed to hold up reasonably well, probably better than we expected, which will be taken into account for Sunday's race. Overall, today was a good start to our Monaco weekend."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"We had a productive first day here in Monaco with Nico and Michael posting good lap times compared to our competitors. Certainly we have made a much better start to the weekend than one week ago in Barcelona. Michael had a little off in the first session and the team did a great job to repair the car by shortly after the start of the afternoon session, so that Michael was still able to complete 33 laps. Our plan is to make another step on Saturday and hopefully we can qualify both cars in a good position for the race on Sunday."
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:16.619, 1st; P2 - 1:15.667, 5th
Its been positive so far. Both tyres are working well and seem to be lasting, which is important. We will see how the conditions are on Sunday, but the super soft tyre seems to be the preferred one for qualifying. It seems to be quicker and you can extract more lap time out of it. I had a good feeling straight away in the car; its fun driving around here; its a different track and its quite bumpy and rough. I brushed the wall after three laps, so hopefully thats that done for the weekend! The car looks competitive, but everyone is very close to each other, so it looks tight.
Mark Webber, P1 - no time, 24th; P2 - 1:16.642, 8th
I had a gear selection issue this morning, which meant I lost some lap time, otherwise it wasnt too bad. This afternoon was always going to be the case where youre going out a little bit behind, but we still got a lot of good information. Its easy to get out there and try and get to where you should be and make mistakes, but we got the information and have a lot to go through. We should be alright by Saturday. We will get back into the groove on Saturday and recover the weekend.
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:18.578, 15th; P2 - 1:17.101, 9th
A fairly normal day of Thursday practice in Monaco. We continued running elements of the 2011 aero package we tried in Barcelona last week and it was quite positive so we will stick with this for the rest of the weekend. We did all the usual set-up work and found quite a nice balance by the end of the day. We ran with the super-soft (option tyre) in the afternoon, which we have used before in winter testing, but this was the first time weve used it at a race and in such warm temperatures. The grip is great to begin with but the degradation rate is quite high.
Paul di Resta, P1 - 1:21.548, 19th; P2 - 1:19.053, 20th
It was my first taste of Monaco in a Formula One car and I was pretty happy with how things went this morning. The balance was quite good straight away, especially in the higher speed parts of the lap. Like any street circuit its very bumpy here and we worked on making the car ride the bumps better as well as improving the aero balance. In the afternoon there was an issue with the car, which meant I lost drive and had to park up. So I lost an hour of running and didnt get to run the super-soft tyre.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer
A typical Thursday in Monaco with times falling through the two sessions as more laps are run. Our aerodynamic revisions for this event seem to be performing as expected, and the programme obviously involved working on the car in this configuration to improve the balance and adapt to the circuit. Unfortunately Paul lost drive exiting the tunnel after about 15 laps in FP2, and so did not run the super-soft tyre. Adrian, however, ran a very good tyre evaluation programme in the afternoon and that will be a good basis for our race strategy. There's more to come for qualifying, and we've now plenty of data to analyse with the additional time available tomorrow.
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:18.928, 11th; P2 - 1:17.126, 10th
First and foremost, its a lot of fun driving here in Monaco. Of course, as drivers we all have to deal with the traffic - 24 cars on such a tight circuit makes it a challenge for all of us - and we saw that when I ran on the super soft as I didnt get a clean lap. Its been interesting to be on different tyres - the softs and the super softs. So, we will definitely be able to learn some things about our performance using those and thats what today is all about. On the super-soft tyres, the balance was not as good as I would have hoped but we will look into all aspects of both todays sessions and push on come Saturday
Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:18.733, 9th; P2 - 1:17.337, 11th
We got pretty much all we wanted to get from our programme today. As we all know, this circuit is a different one and unique for us to drive on so it has been particularly useful to try things out. I managed to get practice on both the soft tyres and the supersoft, so we will be able to look at the data and see what how these tyres are performing on the track. I had an incident at the end of second session, which involved a little bit of oversteer followed by some understeer and I lost control. Generally, I think we are quite pleased with what we took out of today and we are looking forward to the weekend.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:19.792, 16th; P2 - 1:17.541, 12th
It was a good day for me. We had a huge programme and have done a lot of work. In the morning session it was a bit difficult with the tyres, because we went out early and then their performance dropped off. In the afternoon I tried the super soft tyres for the first time, and also did a long run on them. I really hope we will be able to do a good qualifying. With the Formula One car it is obviously even more difficult to overtake here in Monaco than it was with a GP2 car.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:19.768, 15th; P2 - 1:17.706, 16th
For me it was a little bit tricky today. My car was bouncing too much, therefore the balance wasnt right either and I didnt have enough grip. We have to find something to get rid of the bouncing. It was so bad that I feel I cannot really make a judgement on the tyre comparison. Regarding the rear wing, I would say it doesnt make much difference in Monaco whether you have DRS or not, except it keeps you busy. Either way overtaking is extremely difficult here.
James Key, Sauber technical director
We have had a normal first day of practice here in Monaco. As is usual at the beginning of the Grand Prix weekend, the grip level was very low. In the first session we went out early with both cars to give the drivers a good chance to adapt, but this also meant the tyres were finished quite early. The suspension parts we brought to the car worked as expected. In the afternoon we compared the tyre compounds - the soft and the super soft. We did long runs with both and they are working well. We now have to analyse our data and need to work on our performance on fresh tyres for qualifying, because that is the part which is not quite a hundred per cent.
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:19.395, 13th; P2 - 1:17.570, 13th
We were running different aero parts across our two cars today which means we now have a lot of information and another full day tomorrow to go through all the data we collected. We also tested Pirellis Super Soft tyres and I think everybody will be saying positive things about them. We should put in a strong performance in qualifying but we want the same for the race and to score points. Getting a good race set-up was the main objective of todays practice.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:18.527, 7th; P2 - 1:17.633, 15th
We did a lot of laps today, especially in the afternoon, and the car seems consistent. Rubens and I split the new parts in P2 in order to compare them under similar conditions. I had the new floor and standard rear wing, Rubens had the standard floor with the new rear wing. At the moment, the new floor on my car is working well, but we need to look at the data from Rubens car so we make the right decision for qualifying and the race.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
We worked through all the items we wanted to today. With 79 laps, Pastor completed more mileage across the two sessions than anyone else, covering more than a race distance. That has helped us gain valuable information on the aero parts we had on the cars and to properly evaluate a new diffuser and rear wing. Now we have a lot of data which we will go through tonight in order to make the decision as to what we will race here. Both tyres, the Soft and Super Soft, held up well so that will certainly steer race strategy.
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:19.234, 12th; P2 - 1:17.581, 14th
This is a great circuit with a fantastic atmosphere so I always love driving here, even though it is very demanding. This year, they have resurfaced most of the track and its nearly not a street circuit anymore, with a really good asphalt. Technically, this has been a positive first day and we have an extra day to analyse all the data, which will be very useful. We got a good picture of tyre behaviour, with the Super Soft appearing to be much quicker, which will be useful in qualifying, but also in the race, because the high level of degradation we had expected to see with this tyre did not actually happen today. Right at the end of the second session, I clipped the barrier at Tabac with the rear of the car, doing some damage to the rear suspension and therefore I had to pit.
Jaime Alguersuari, P2 - 1:17.789, 17th
I enjoy the challenge of this street circuit. It was a useful afternoons testing for me that highlighted many things we need to look at in detail now. I am not so sure about the situation regarding tyre degradation: my initial reaction is that the long runs looked reasonable. At the moment, the main thing I need is to get a bit more confidence in the car. Since Spain, I have not had a good feeling from the brakes and I am losing the rear end of the car a lot, so we need to work on that aspect. I am sure we can sort it out, because we know what we need to do and how to do it.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:19.463, 14th
I went through the basics this morning, looking at things like ride height and aero level on the car, gathering data to help the team. We had a detailed look at the KERS, working out the best way to use it at this track. Before driving the F1 car, I had a practice session for the World Series. That was a good experience, because not many drivers get to drive two sessions in a morning, in beautiful race cars in Monaco! Your first time driving Monaco in a Formula One car is always going to be difficult so it was good to go out in the other car and see the track again for the first time since last year. Driving a Formula One car round here is really crazy and a lot of fun.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:20.083, 17th; P2 - 1:18.266, 18th
Not too bad at all. We completed the whole programme, worked a bit on fine tuning the balance and I think with some more work tonight theres a bit more to come. The degradation levels on both tyres was better than many people were expecting and I think both the primes and the options will give us some interesting strategy options to play with.
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:21.116, 18th; P2 - 1:18.490, 19th
That was good. Weve got a good deal of data from both sessions and we can use that to put us in a better position tomorrow. I had a few issues with traffic during the performance run which means there is definitely more pace to come tomorrow so all in all this was a good day. Weve also run reliably in both sessions and thats what we need to give us the best chance of fighting in quali so I think itll be a very interesting Saturday afternoon.
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
A very useful first day of running with no mechanical issues with either car. The track had its normal issues with dirt and traffic but overall were very happy. Tyre degradation looks to be much lower than expected and we have accumulated a lot of data that will be good for the race. In performance terms we are really quite close to the cars in front and with the improvements we expect to see on Saturday I think this has been another good day for the team.
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 support leader for Lotus
This was a good day. We have put a lot of miles on the cars and with the unique nature of this track we can have driveability problems so its important to set up the engine to give the drivers something they are happy with. The feedback we have had so far looks like we have found a good setup so I think we are set for a good P3 and qualifying.
Riad Asmat, Lotus chief executive officer
That sort of performance is very encouraging. It is good to see that we have we had another day without reliability problems and today everything went how we wanted it to. Finishing around half a second from the guys ahead gives us something to fight for in qualifying and I think the experience we have in both cars, and throughout the team, should give us a good chance of having another good day on Saturday.
Jerome dAmbrosio, P1 - 1:21.758, 20th; P2 - 1:19.185, 21st
I think it was a fairly good day. It was my first time round Monaco in a Formula One car and it went pretty well. We got some good data from the long runs but it will be a bit strange not getting in the car tomorrow and instead have to wait until Saturday morning. Of course we still have to go through the data and work out where we can pick up some time, but for a first day, I'm quite happy.
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:21.815, 21st; P2 - 1:19.338, 22nd
Generally its been a good day. We didnt have any problems on the car in either the first or the second practice session. We were running at a similar pace to the guys at the top when we were on soft tyres, so in general I think it all went well. It was a good Thursday.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
First of all Id like to say what a great job the team have done to get both cars ready in Monaco specification in the space of time weve had. There was a lot of work necessary at the front due to the changes in steering setup required for this circuit. The cars showed great reliability today so we could work through our full programme, maximising the track running with both cars. We split the two setup programmes, Jerome mainly focusing on set ups to help ride and Timo concentrating on optimising the mass distribution. From the results of these two programmes we will decide on the best setup to apply to both cars. As part of Timos programme he ran option tyres very early on, so Im sure theres a bit more to come from him. Jerome did a great job again as a rookie round Monaco, which is by no means easy. Both cars completed long runs on the two types of tyre at the end. We seem to be seeing nearly double degradation on the super soft than the soft. Overall weve got a huge amount of data but also an extra day to go through it all, which is how we will spend tomorrow.
Narain Karthikeyan, P1 - 1:23.885, 23rd; P2 - 1:22.066, 23rd
The afternoon session was a bit difficult, I think the car balance was better in the morning or maybe we just had a good run. I had some problems with my seat so we will have to sort out this issue. It took me a while to get used to the circuit so it wasnt the best day overall. We will see how tomorrow goes.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - 1:22.840, 22nd; P2 - no time, 24th
It has been a difficult day because I had an accident this morning and couldnt run in the second practice session. I dont have much to say, just that the car had a problem with the rear end over the bumps and on one of the laps the rear was completely lost coming out of the tunnel and we lost the car. We werent able to repair it for FP2 so now we have to look forward to Saturday and hope to have a better day.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
Unfortunately Tonio had an accident in the first practice session and the damage was greater than expected so he was unable to run in the afternoon session which is very disappointing. But we have a day to recover from this and will work hard to do so. Narain did long runs so we will analyse the data we extracted from that and hope to have a good day on Saturday.
Paul Hembery, Pirellis motorsport director
We were absolutely delighted to welcome Prince Albert to our hospitality: as the sovereign of Monaco he hosts a fantastic show that quite rightly deserves its place as the highlight of the Formula One calendar. Today has given the teams some vital experience of running on our tyres in unique conditions and were very encouraged by both the performance and the durability of our tyres here, on the debut for the supersoft. We look forward now to the all-important qualifying session on Saturday, where we will see which team gets the most out of their tyres on the day and which strategies they are likely to run in the race.
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