Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 24 Jun 2011
It may have been business as usual on Friday morning in Valencia, with Red Bulls Mark Webber leading the pack, but by the afternoon session the advantage had shifted to Ferraris Fernando Alonso. The drivers and senior team personnel report on the opening day of the European round
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:41.239, 3rd; P2 - 1:37.968, 1st
Overall, a positive start to this Valencia weekend, my second home race. We got through all our planned programme, working mainly on tyres, where the chief element at this Grand Prix is the first appearance of the Medium. It was important that we were able to do so many laps, because on a circuit like this one, getting a lot of kilometres under your belt helps you gain confidence in the car, looking for the limits and thereby improving performance. The track characteristics are well suited to our car, but it is too early to say where we are compared to the others. Already, in the past, we have gone well on the first day only to see ourselves losing out by a second in qualifying, therefore I dont even want to consider todays time sheet. In FP1 and FP2 you try so many things and the track changes very quickly - even more so on a street circuit like this one - so it is really impossible to make predictions. The car seems to handle well, therefore we can tackle qualifying with confidence, aware that we are up against very strong rivals: its not by chance that Red Bull have always taken pole in the first seven races of the year and clearly they are still the favourites. Overtaking here will be easier than in Monaco, but grid position will nevertheless be important.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:41.758, 6th; P2 - 1:38.443, 5th
Id say it was a good day, better than many other Fridays this season. From what we could understand after three hours of free practice, the car is pretty competitive and I dont expect the situation to be that different to the one we saw two weeks ago in Canada. Its true it is only Friday, but at least its a positive start! The tyres worked well: both the prime and the option delivered more grip than we had been expecting going into the weekend. Sure, theres a big difference between the two compounds, but the Medium, with higher temperatures than we saw in Canada, did not do badly. Now we must make the right decision regarding set-up on the car for the next two days. The car balance is not yet perfect - for example we are still locking the fronts too often under braking - but we are working in the right direction. Lets hope we can put up a fight in qualifying, just as we did in Canada.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
Another busy days work, divided up as usual into working on development of new solutions and preparing for the race weekend. The track was not as dirty as expected, which allowed us to gather a lot of interesting data to evaluate over the next few hours in order to define our technical choices for the next two days. We still have to fine tune the car, so it is still a bit early to say if we will be as competitive as we were over the past two races. In particular, we must try and improve our performance in the third and final sector of the track. The Medium compound tyre makes its debut here: from what we could see, it offers less grip than the Soft, which is the other tyre for this Grand Prix, but we have not yet found out how it lasts over a long run as we worked mainly with the option, as did so many other teams.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:41.510, 4th; P2 - 1:38.195, 2nd
It was very slippery out there today. In P2, the grip was a little lower because the new Prime tyre proved a bit tricky to switch on. But once we fitted the Option tyre, it was much easier to drive and we seemed to have some pretty decent pace. There are still plenty of improvements we can make to the car. We need to work on the balance; its not a million miles away, but it could be better. There are some things well change this evening to make it more stable. It looks very tight up at the front but were definitely in the fight, which is the important thing. I think weve got some more pace up our sleeves for the rest of the weekend, too.
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:41.926, 7th; P2 - 1:38.483, 6th
This morning we were mainly collecting data, so I spent quite a lot of time in the garage. In the afternoon, I did a bit more running and tried both tyre compounds. The prime proved quite difficult to switch on, and consequently we couldnt find good balance with it. I think weve got a good balance on the option though - and, because the track will grip-up quite a lot with every session we run, were now heading in the right direction balance-wise with the prime too. I wasnt paying too much attention to the times today, as it was more important to work with our engineers to get the car working on both sets of tyres. But, as I say, I think weve found a positive direction now.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
This was a typically busy test day for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. The mornings sessions focus was primarily on gathering data - not just for this weekend but for future races too - and the results were both productive and encouraging. Whilst we were finding it quite difficult to switch on the prime - both Lewis and Jenson were unable to achieve a truly satisfactory balance with it - it was encouraging to note our pace once we switched to the option, on which we looked immediately competitive. The challenge for our engineers tonight will therefore be to successfully achieve a set-up that balances both compounds. Overall, then, we feel comfortable with the direction we established today.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:42.941, 16th; P2 - 1:38.265, 3rd
Sometimes you try different things, which is normal on a Friday - there were no secrets from us today. This morning we were running a different programme, but this afternoon we were on the same page as the others. It was very tight with the times, but I had a very good feeling in the car. Much better this afternoon, so well see what we can do tomorrow. We had a good race here last year, but it was close with Lewis and Fernando, its changing from race to race, but lets see.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:40.403, 1st; P2 - 1:38.531, 7th
We used the medium tyres in the first session and they werent too bad. The first session went okay; there were a lot of different people testing a lot of different things with different fuel loads. In P2, it was more straightforward. We had a slow start to P2 and then went out on the option tyre. The long run went well and we got lots of information for the race on Sunday, the track temperatures are likely to be different on Sunday, but its still useful.
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:42.270, 11th; P2 - 1:38.315, 4th
"We had a typical Friday practice situation, running through different set-up possibilities and variations. As usual on Friday, our focus was more on the long runs, and all in all I am very happy because we managed to do a lot of work. In the morning session we still had some issues to sort out, and in the afternoon we just worked consistently on our car. All of us are aware, though, that under normal circumstances we will not yet be strong enough to fight for the podium, and will most likely find ourselves starting around the fourth row. But as we managed to complete our programme in a good way, I am still taking a positive feeling out of today's practice."
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:42.043, 9th; P2 - 1:38.981, 8th
"We had a bit of a tricky morning: it was clear that we had to change some things on the set-up but we managed to improve the car for this afternoon. It was important to learn as much as possible today but I am still not completely happy with the balance we have at the moment. There are a few new things to adapt to this weekend, such as the new engine mapping regulation for example, and that makes it a little more challenging. We have work to do this evening, but I am positive that we will make a good start to the qualifying day tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"We had two pretty reasonable sessions today and certainly improved the car from the morning to the afternoon. We focused on race preparation work, along with looking at how the tyres behave here - they seem to be quite consistent on initial evaluation. There are some areas where we need to try and improve before Sunday, but overall I think we have a good base to work from going into the weekend."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"It was a solid first day on this untypical but nevertheless challenging street circuit in Valencia. We completed lots of laps and Michael's time for fourth place was respectable. Nico and his engineers still have more work to do with the set-up of the car, but I am sure the guys will work hard to get an improved base for tomorrow. Our long runs with the soft tyre in race conditions showed lap times which were quite consistent but not fast enough to challenge the top three teams. We will try to make further improvements before tomorrow."
Nick Heidfeld, P1 - 1:41.580, 5th; P2 - 1:39.040, 9th
It was a good day, I have to say that I had my best long run ever in the afternoon session in terms of not encountering traffic; it was amazing and very good for learning about the car. I could make some changes from the steering wheel which was possible with having such a long run, and also it was good for learning the tyre characteristics of the new medium compound. The new medium tyre feels good and Im really happy with the results from it as it has not been tested that much. I think the times at the end of FP2 give the best indication of our pace relative to our competitors. In this mornings session, I think some other teams were running different programmes from us, so their times might have been a little misleading.
Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:41.227, 2nd; P2 - 1:39.586, 10th
Today we ran on both high fuel and low fuel to get a feel for the car on this circuit, and it was running well on both loads. We havent faced any mechanical difficulties so that was also a positive to be taken from today. Both cars finished in the top 10, and so theres every reason to be positive and look forward to making some more progress tomorrow. I enjoyed the new medium tyres and they werent performing badly. Its clear the soft tyres are, as expected, around 1.5 seconds quicker than the mediums so we will have to perform well on these tomorrow in order to have a successful weekend.
Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
The track was very green to begin with. We used flow viz paint on both cars to assess the performance of our new DRS (drag reduction system). We also practiced using KERS in both sessions. We ran both the medium and soft tyres in the second session. The track was very dusty this morning, but steadily improved.
The new rear wing is working well and it should be bringing the gain we expected. Both tyres worked reasonably well, with no warm-up problems and the soft tyre looks between a second and a second and a half quicker over a flying lap. All other new aero parts are working well so we will work tomorrow with all of the upgrades. Vitaly tried quite a major set-up change in FP2 but was not convinced with it, so we changed it back.
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:41.955, 8th; P2 - 1:39.626, 11th
A pretty positive day for me. We had quite a lot of work to get through to evaluate our new aero parts, but that went well and the balance of the car felt okay from my first run. We worked a bit to improve things, such as the stability under braking, which is especially important here. As usual I ran both tyre compounds in the afternoon so that we have good data for tomorrow. The soft (option) tyre was very consistent and the degradation was not too bad so I think its probably the better race tyre.
Paul di Resta, P2 - 1:40.363, 14th
The way things unfolded today has been quite unfortunate. Nicos accident this morning meant that my car wasnt ready for the start of second practice and I had to sit and wait. The guys did a great job to get everything repaired in time for me to get out for the final few minutes of the session, but I only managed three timed laps. It means there is plenty of work to do in final practice tomorrow morning to make up for the lost track time.
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:43.769, 18th
I was one of the first drivers to start a proper run this morning when the track was quite green. Unfortunately I locked the rears under braking for Turn 12 quite early in my run, the car turned left into the wall and caused quite a bit of damage. It all happened so quickly at 300 km/h and there was no chance to react and catch the car. Im really sorry for the team and Ive also apologised to Paul because it limited his time in the car this afternoon.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer
We experienced low grip conditions with a lot of track evolution as we'd expect of a street circuit. There was quite a lot on our programme to test today, but unfortunately we lost a lot of the session time on one chassis following Nico's off in first practice. There was no serious damage but just a lot of work to be done in a short space of time. This limited Paul's programme to a handful of laps, but we're confident it can be recovered tomorrow. We managed some good work with Adrian and it seems the new aerodynamic parts we brought here are working well, although there is still some work to do on the balance. It seems like we are closing the gap to the cars ahead but, of course, you don't know about their programmes, so it will be an interesting qualifying session tomorrow.
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:42.704, 13th; P2 - 1:40.020, 12th
Weve brought a lot of upgrades to Valencia so it was a busy day for the team. The new items still need a bit more work so we will go away and have a look at the information we collected from today. We will do our best to get what we can from the car to do a good job in qualifying and to get some points from the race.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:42.841, 15th; P2 - 1:40.301, 13th
We covered everything we needed to today so thats good. I had a small problem right at the end of P2 with a slow puncture so I had to end the session a few minutes early, but it didnt cost us anything really. There are still improvements to make, but theres no reason why we cant fight for a place in the top ten tomorrow.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
Today we evaluated different front wings, a new rear wing as well as a new exhaust system. After that, we worked on race set-up and covering long runs to assess the tyres. We didn't have any reliability issues and our target here is to score some points.
Sebastien Buemi, P2 - 1:40.454, 15th
As planned, I ran just in the afternoon, but all the same we now know more or less what we can expect for the rest of the weekend and what areas we still need to work on to improve the car. My car ran trouble-free all day, starting with Daniels drive in the morning, which is always a positive. Conditions are hotter here than in the past few races and that needs to be taken into account. The new medium compound tyres seem to work well, although it is a bit too early to say we know everything about them. At this track, the key is to have a car that works well in the slower sections and that means braking stability is very important. We can still improve the car quite a bit before qualifying and the race. Overall, it was a good days work, which forms a basis for the rest of the weekend.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:42.412, 12th
Its a bit difficult to remember all the corners here, because there are so many of them and it is quite a complex track. Fortunately, I was able to put in some time on the simulator which was useful, because it seems to be a characteristic of this circuit that a lot of the corners appear to be going in one direction, but actually you find they go somewhere else! I enjoyed the session and I particularly liked the first sector which feels very much like a street circuit, whereas towards the end it opens up a bit and is faster. The car seems to be working well and has improved. The team has worked hard to bring some performance upgrades for this race and so far they seem to be moving things forward in the right direction. I could feel that it has some potential and even if the lap times and classification dont mean that much in FP1, Jaime being tenth and me twelfth was a positive performance. I ran just the Prime tyre and first impressions were that it works well.
Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:42.216, 10th; P2 - no time, 24th
I was only able to run in the morning, as we had a problem on the car that could not be correctly analysed and fixed in time for the second session. However, I had an interesting morning, running the new medium compound tyre and we were able to gather plenty of data on this and other aspects of the package, including some updates we have here. As a general comment, Id say the car feels better. I am sure we will solve the car problem in time for me to catch up in tomorrows final free practice.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:42.738, 14th; P2 - 1:40.531, 16th
More than anything Im happy to be back in the car. Everything went okay, I feel well and I have done a lot of work over the last weeks to get there. I picked up speed quite quickly and this is good. Overall it looks as if we are a bit off the pace here. We have quite a lot of work to do tonight to improve the car. With regards to the tyres, I find it difficult to get the medium compound up to temperature. Here low grip is a general problem of the circuit. It is pretty dusty and, even with the soft tyres, it is difficult to find a proper grip level. We will sort out several things and I hope for a good qualifying.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:43.201, 17th; P2 - 1:42.083, 17th
For me today was difficult. In the morning I had a throttle pedal problem and therefore could not complete the scheduled programme. For the second free practice in the afternoon the car felt a bit better, and I was quite positive about putting in a good lap time. But unfortunately when I was on new soft tyres I flat spotted the right front straight away. The long runs later in the session have been okay. I think we will be better tomorrow than we look today.
James Key, Sauber technical director
This morning we ran just a single set of tyres on both cars in slippery track conditions. It was mostly a session of aero and mechanical tests. Unfortunately Kamui had a throttle pedal problem on his car, which cost some track time. In the afternoon we ran our normal programme comparing the tyres, as well as additional set up work. In the end we did long runs to understand how the tyres will last. We have a little work to do to improve in the middle sector of the circuit. However, neither driver was able to put his best sector times together so, therefore, our lap times from today are not entirely representative of our performance.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:44.136, 19th; P2 - 1:42.156, 18th
A pretty straightforward day for me. The car improved throughout both sessions and having got through the whole plan on both tyres we have enough data to work on overnight to find some more speed tomorrow.
Jarno Trulli, P2 - 1:42.239, 19th
That was a good afternoon for me and thanks to the team for the job they did today. We worked on a couple of power steering options and I'm pretty pleased with what we found on the second option. We got through a decent number of laps and even though we didn't have much time to work on setup options I think we're moving in the right direction so it'll be interesting to see how we've progressed tomorrow.
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
A reasonable first day in Valencia. As we expected the track was very dusty early on. Unfortunately this morning Karun had a gearbox issue with second gear which cut his run in FP1 short - that was a new gearbox so we need to work with Red Bull Technology to understand how that happened and put it right. In FP2 Jarno had a trouble free afternoon and Heikki worked through his full programme for the day, however today's times do not reflect where we expect to be tomorrow so the focus for tonight is on extracting more performance from the car and pushing ahead tomorrow.
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 support leader for Lotus
From the engine perspective that was quite a good day. Karun's gearbox issue this morning limited the work we could do with him but we did complete a number of runs with Heikki using engine maps that we will be running in Silverstone which will help us understand how to maximise the cooling and fuel consumption of the engine there, on a track that isn't as hot as Valencia. That data, along with everything else we have learnt today, is going to be very useful for this weekend and the next race, so I am pleased with the work we have completed today."
Riad Asmat, Lotus chief executive officer
"A solid day for us but obviously a shame for Karun that his morning was cut short. He will have more opportunities to drive in FP1s for us so he will have more chances on track, but apart from that we had a good day. This afternoon we completed decent mileage and while there's obviously more pace to come, I'm pleased with the overall performance from the whole team today."
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:45.221, 21st; P2 - 1:42.273, 20th
It has been quite a busy Friday, especially this afternoon. We went through the normal programme and everything feels fine so far. The tyres feel a bit different but the rest is okay. I think we got a lot of good data out of some aero runs we did this morning, and that will hopefully give us a good direction for the future. So far, so good.
Jerome dAmbrosio, P1 - 1:45.026, 20th; P2 - 1:42.809, 21st
I think it was a good day today. We ran very smoothly through the programme which was great. We focused on the long runs in the second session and gathered some good data for the race. Im looking forward to continuing tomorrow, as we have arrived at a good basis today.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
Overall were pleased with how both practice sessions went today. In general we seem in a slightly better position than in Canada - perhaps more like where we were in Monaco - so we are feeling positive for the rest of the weekend. In the absence of any in-season testing, Fridays are now more important than ever and we spent the first part of P1 collecting some valuable aero data on the rear wing which will help us make better set-up decisions in the future. This afternoon, despite Jérôme running the Option tyre fairly early on, he had a good lap and progressed well through his programme, gathering the tyre data which, as ever, will be vital for Sunday. With Timo we focused more on set-up, in particular trying some different exhaust options. We will study the data tonight and use it to optimise the set-up on both cars for tomorrow.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - 1:45.494, 22nd; P2 - 1:44.460, 22nd
It was a difficult day because we struggled a lot with the rear tyres and the rear end of the car. We still havent found the right balance. I think our pace in relation to the leaders is similar to usual but we still need to improve a lot and work hard tonight to try and solve the issues with the balance of the car and keep pushing to stay ahead of our closest rivals.
Narain Karthikeyan, P1 - 1:46.926, 23rd; P2 - 1:46.906, 23rd
Obviously the afternoon with the gearbox situation was not ideal and, unfortunately, due to these issues we were unable to run the whole of the programme. Im still learning my way around the circuit, its a little bit stop-and-go. The track is quite slippery and our car seemed to be very limited on traction in the morning which wasnt good. With the reliability issue it was not the best of days for me.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
Basically we ran through our programmes for the race setup, we have not made any special qualifying setup, it was all directed towards the race. We had no major issues to worry about. On Narains car we had a gearbox issue which made us stop a little bit earlier but, otherwise, we were able to follow the programme.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
Its been a very encouraging start here for the new PZero White medium tyre and the PZero Yellow soft tyre, both in terms of performance and durability. This is the most abrasive street circuit that we will face all year, but were still expecting only one or two stops for the majority of competitors and a difference of about a second to a second and half per lap between the medium and soft tyres. With the new medium tyre, we should see a range of about 30 laps on race day and about 20 laps for the soft tyre, putting us on course to meet our targets for this event.
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