Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 09 Sep 2011
Monza is all about speed, but it was hard to tell which team held the advantage around the Italian track on Friday. The morning session was dominated by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, but in the afternoon championship leader Sebastian Vettel leapt to the fore for Red Bull. The leading teams and their rivals reflect on their early progress...
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:25.231, 3rd; P2 - 1:24.010, 1st
It was an interesting day. Its a track that traditionally doesnt suit us, but we were happy with the car today. McLaren look very quick in particular and the ones to beat this weekend, but its very difficult to judge on a Friday as so many factors are involved. We had no problems today, so were satisfied.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:25.459, 4th; P2 - 1:24.468, 6th
That was pretty good. Weve got a lot to go through regarding downforce and gear ratios, its a pretty tricky venue in that regard. The two different tyre compounds are behaving pretty well, we did most of our work in P2 on the option tyre. We re-adjusted a few things following the camber setting guidelines for this race. Set-up here can be interesting, as its a compromise between grip for corning and straight-line speed. Seb and I ran different programmes today, so well put that info together tonight.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:23.865, 1st; P2 - 1:24.046, 2nd
We spent today working on wing set-ups it looked like some teams may have been running lower downforce than us - but once we used DRS we were looking pretty good. Its interesting to see the different downforce levels - some teams are faster along the straights but were faster through the middle sector. Its always a compromise, but our long-run pace doesnt look at all bad. We were pretty strong in both sessions and, on heavier fuel, I think were slightly stronger than the Ferraris. At the end of P2, the Red Bulls were looking pretty strong, but Im pretty sure they werent on the same fuel load as us, which is encouraging. Jenson and I are both running the same wing set-up as each other, and I feel really happy with it. Well make some small changes overnight, but I think we can challenge the Red Bulls this weekend. The car is going really well, and were continuing to make small improvements, but its going to be a hard race.
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:24.786, 2nd; P2 - 1:24.508, 7th
Some of the things we tried on my car throughout the day worked better than others, so were not really where I feel we ought to be yet, and we havent yet determined what downforce level to run. I dont yet feel totally at one with the car, but were working on it. In fact, I think theres going to be quite a lot of data to look over tonight before we choose a direction for the rest of the weekend. Otherwise, theres a fresh surface on quite a lot of the circuit, so theres quite a bit of sliding about, which is tough on the tyres, particularly over a long run.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Monza is always a very challenging circuit: obviously, you want to be as fast as you possibly can along the straights, but its actually a very delicate trade-off between drag and downforce through the corners. You dont want to damage the tyres too much by running too little wing and allowing the car to slide excessively but if you run too much, you risk struggling along the straights.To make it even harder, we need to further balance the set-up for an end-of-straight speed with and without DRS, and, furthermore, to optimise the car for more extensive use of DRS during qualifying. Consequently, today was very much about analysing our downforce levels to ensure that both Lewis and Jenson felt comfortable with the car, and that our engineers were happy with our pace. Theres still some more work to be done, but were encouraged by our initial pace today and feel confident that we can make good progress before tomorrows sessions. Lewis was particularly happy with his cars balance today, Jenson perhaps a little less so. Nonetheless, were comfortable with both drivers pace and were looking forward to another encouragingly constructive day tomorrow.
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:26.699:, 11th; P2 - 1:24.347, 3rd
"It's always a special feeling to be here in Monza. It began yesterday when I did my lap of the circuit, saw the tifosi and enjoyed the particular atmosphere of this track. Then going out in the car today, it's nice to feel what comes across from the fans - it reminds me of being at my home races. In terms of the character of the circuit, we are usually good on braking and traction, and there are not so many of the medium and high-speed corners in which we have not been so strong this year. It certainly looks good in terms of my position today, and I'm pleased with that; but we will only find out tomorrow what it is really worth."
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:27.492, 18th; P2 - 1:29.184, 22nd
"I didn't have an ideal session this afternoon as we had some issues, particularly with the KERS problem at the start of the session. However by the end of the day, we have learned quite a lot for the race, and importantly I was able to get used to the track. Monza is a very different circuit from many others with the high speed sectors and low downforce corners and it takes a bit of time to find your rhythm here."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"We had two very solid practice sessions today and achieved some good work. We had a small problem with Nico's car this afternoon which required the KERS pack to be changed, and the team did a good job to get him out again so quickly. I'm pleased with our progress over the course of the day, and we're looking forward to a good weekend at this very special race track."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"A constructive first day for us here on this classical race track in the beautiful Parco di Monza. Nico had a KERS problem at the beginning of the second session which cost him 10 laps compared to Michael, who completed 39 laps this afternoon including race simulations and one option run on a lower fuel load. The lap times during our race simulation runs looked consistent. Tomorrow, and on Sunday, we can build on the decent base we have found today."
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:26.676, 8th; P2 - 1:24.366, 4th
I would say its been a good day, especially because we managed to do everything on our programme. We have understood which direction to go in from the point of view of our aerodynamic configuration and set-up. Now, we must try and optimise the car both for qualifying and, especially for the race. The difference between the Soft and the Medium? Its simple, the first is quickest over a lap. On this track, tyre degradation does not seem to be so high, compared to other circuits therefore I dont think there will be many pit stops. However, we have seen different directions taken in terms of aerodynamic downforce: to understand who has made the right choice, we will have to wait for qualifying and even more so for the race.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:26.647, 7th; P2 - 1:24.433, 5th
Racing at Monza is always exciting, especially if you are a Ferrari driver. The warmth of the fans is amazing and you can feel it. However, from a technical point of view, today was just a Friday like any other: we worked a lot on comparing different aerodynamic solutions as well as on evaluating different set-up choices on the car. Now we must put everything together and try and make the right choices. Honestly, I think we lack a bit of performance compared to the best, even if there are still the same unknowns relating to Fridays, especially those linked to fuel loads. However, we have to be realistic: the car is more or less the one we had in Spa, apart from specific updates to cope with the fact this track requires low aerodynamic downforce. Sure, it would be nice to repeat last years performance, but we know that will be very difficult. You cant create a miracle in two weeks, but we will do our utmost to give the fans something to cheer about. What is my motivation like for this final part of the season? I am a very competitive person and I dont like losing. Its true, this year thats happened quite often, but there are still targets that are within our grasp, for example, second place in the Drivers championship: Webber is not that far ahead.
Pat Fry, Ferrari deputy chassis director
Monza is a circuit that is part of history, one of those tracks that has maintained, almost unchanged, the technical characteristics that have characterised it from the very beginning and it is therefore pretty much unique on the calendar, especially in terms of aerodynamics. As a consequence, there is no other track where it is so important to find the best compromise between the need for a good level of aerodynamic downforce to tackle the chicanes and maximum top speed. We tried various configurations on the cars today and we got through the plan we had set out previously without any problems, which is always important. However, now comes the more difficult task, that of analysing the raft of data we have gathered and making the right choices and that is the job we will tackle this evening and tomorrow morning. From what we saw today, McLaren looks very strong, Red Bull as usual is very competitive and Mercedes is also going well because of its speed. We still need to improve a bit, having already made some progress from one session to the next. We will be trying our hardest to succeed.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:26.694, 9th; P2 - 1:25.097, 8th
For me this was a very positive day. Actually it was better than I expected, which is good news. When I was on new soft tyres the track was a bit dirty, so this makes me hope I can improve in qualifying. My car feels well balanced, especially with the soft tyres, and also on long runs.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:26.996, 14th; P2 - 1:25.182, 9th
Having stable weather and track conditions was very useful today, and enabled us to do proper set-up work in both sessions. For me the car isnt perfect yet, but I can see that we have the potential to improve the balance and the lap time. Im looking forward to tomorrow.
Giampaolo DallAra, Head of Track Engineering
In the first practice session it was important to us to let the drivers do a good mileage on the medium compound tyres so they can get used to the low downforce level. Of course in the morning we also did the usual systems checks, and started to work on the cars set-up. For the second 90 minutes session we obviously had the tyre comparison on the list. Again we did a lot of mileage, and we now feel well prepared for the race. Apart from Kamui having to stop on track with a transmission problem at the end, everything went smoothly today.
Bruno Senna, P1 - 1:27.385, 16th; P2 - 1:25.325, 10th
Today was a lot more straightforward than on the Friday in Spa, and I managed many more laps, which is absolutely crucial for me. We had been working steadily to ensure that we came away on a Friday with signs of progression, and I think its clear were going forward. Im beginning to understand the car better, and I believe Im moving in the right direction but theres still scope to improve tomorrow. Theres definitely more to take from the car, and Saturday is a crucial day in which to prove that. Im really loving being out on-track and looking forward to what awaits me over the weekend.
Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:26.625, 6th; P2 - 1:25.450, 11th
The practice sessions went ok today, principally because on paper we achieved everything we set out to do. Thats always reason for satisfaction, but naturally we are looking to up our game in terms of lap time because we know theres more to squeeze out of the car this weekend. Weve put together a bespoke Monza low-downforce set-up which we are confident could reap rewards come Sunday. Our spirits are up and we hope to translate that into a constructive next two days.
Rod Nelson, Renault senior performance engineer
The usual Friday analysis of the tyres was part of our work today, but our key focus was looking at the aero package we have put together for this race. As its Monza, all teams have packages with a similar level of downforce; we are reasonably happy with the performance of the new aero parts we have brought with us. Both Vitaly and Bruno commented on difficulties experienced when braking, but it is not cause for too much concern because the cars have not run with this little downforce since the Italian GP last year. Cumulatively, the drivers ran a total of 69 laps today; the objective of this exercise was to get a feel for the balance of the car on its low downforce configuration. To become accustomed to braking on a heavy car, a lot of todays running concentrated on using high fuel loads.
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:26.550, 5th; P2 - 1:25.496, 12th
Two straightforward sessions for me. The car had a bit of oversteer this morning, especially in Parabolica, but the general feeling was pretty good straightaway. In the afternoon I felt quite happy with the aero balance but we will need to explore all the options this evening to make sure we make the right call on the downforce levels for the race. We didnt look especially competitive on the timesheets today so its clear we need to think hard about how we approach tomorrow. In terms of tyres, things look okay. I did long runs on both the medium and soft compounds and they both lasted quite well, so should not cause us any worries.
Paul di Resta, P2 - 1:25.683, 13th
Monza is not the easiest of tracks to get up to speed on. There are so many big stops on the brakes and it took me a while to find my rhythm this afternoon. Otherwise it was a typical Friday session without any dramas. We obviously concentrated on trying to find the best aero balance and worked on the stability of the car under braking. What we have is a good baseline and not too far away, but once weve been through all the data we should have a better idea of where we can improve for tomorrow. Its also clear that we need to find some speed overnight because the times around the middle of the pack are very close.
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:26.826, 12th
It always takes a while to adjust to the low downforce levels, but to be honest I felt comfortable from the start of the session. The car was pretty stable and we didnt have to work too much on the balance. Like everyone we used the first session to experiment with different wing levels to see the effect on laptime. As for the tyres, I only ran one set of the mediums and felt very positive because they held on quite well and the degradation levels were not too bad.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer
"A high test demand on our free practice programme today in Monza. We needed to evaluate tyre performance for a slightly modified soft tyre against the medium, set wing level for the first Monza event with DRS and set our cooling and brake systems for the weekend. We also had suspension developments to compare along with some set-up work. We were able to complete the programme successfully and now have to trawl through the data this evening for the configuration we wish to take into qualifying. The resurfacing since last year seems to have reduced grip a bit in the final sector, but with ideal weather conditions I'm sure we can expect a little track improvement tomorrow and Sunday.
Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:26.696, 10th; P2 - 1:25.758, 14th
I am very happy to be back racing at Monza which is a great track, with plenty of high speed sections and heavy braking to make it exciting. In both sessions today, I got a good feeling from the car and I think we are continuing to show good form, with some improvement when running in qualifying trim. The whole team did a good job today and there is more potential to come out of the car tomorrow and on Sunday. If we continue to work well through the weekend, I think we can be fighting on level terms with Force India and Sauber again on Sunday. We experienced the two DRS zones for the first time today and you can see from comparing the top speeds with and without the system, that it makes a huge difference to top speed, so it will be the key to overtaking in the race, although it will be less important in qualifying. There is quite a difference between the two Pirelli compounds, while degradation is not that bad and I think we can get more out of the softs tomorrow.
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:27.433, 17th; P2 - 1:28.347, 17th
This morning went well, as we tried out various things on the car to see how it felt around Monza, so overall it was a positive session. However, the afternoon was less successful as I only managed a handful of laps. I made a mistake and hit the wall, so I am sorry for giving the team a lot of work now to repair the damage. But, as they say, tomorrow is another day and this evening I will be working hard with the engineers to see what we can do for the rest of the weekend. In terms of tyres, not much to say and I only ran with the Prime so far. The DRS worked well and running the car in the Monza-specific low downforce configuration was interesting and enjoyable.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
Monza free practice is different compared to the other tracks, in that we have done very track-specific work today, to deal with the fact this is where we run the lowest downforce of the entire year. For everyone, this means running different wings, front and rear, so the first job is to see if they perform as expected. We did that and then worked on finding the right compromise between having good speed down the long straights and having sufficient downforce for the corners. We now have plenty of data to study to find the best solution for tomorrow and the rest of the weekend. We also evaluated different set-ups on both cars and even though we lost track time with Sebastien in the afternoon, we will be able to apply what we learn from Jaimes data to Sebs car for tomorrow. There do not appear to be any particular issues with the tyres, although our only long run so far was done on the Options this afternoon. From what we have seen today, it should be an interesting race on Sunday with the possibility of more than one strategy being applied.
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:26.836, 13th; P2 - 1:26.202, 15th
We werent fast enough today unfortunately. We need to work hard tonight to see what we can do this weekend.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:27.365, 15th; P2 - 1:26.353, 16th
It was a hard day and its been very hot. We completed our programme so that is positive but we need to work hard to get a good balance for qualifying and the race.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
Today we evaluated different rear wing levels over long runs to set our level correctly for the race. With high temperatures predicted all weekend, we also had to check all the cooling systems onboard. Both the medium and soft tyres are working well, but there is some blistering evident that we'll have to manage during the race.
Jarno Trulli, P2 - 1:28.559, 18th
That was a trouble free Friday afternoon for me but honestly Im not all that happy with the balance of the car at the moment. Theres quite a lot of understeer on turn-in and through the exit of the corners and we need to work on dialling that out to find more speed. Theres definitely more to come and weve shown all season we can take good steps forward from Friday to Saturday, so I think well be ok tomorrow.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:29.539, 19th; P2 - 1:28.605, 19th
That wasnt too bad but we can definitely improve. This mornings session was brought to an early end with a sensor issue on the gearbox and I was given the instruction to pull over when the engine temperatures started rising. This afternoon we worked on both sets of tyres and I think the softs are ok but we werent really able to get the best out the mediums which gave us some areas to work on tonight on improving overall grip.
Karun Chandhok, P1 - 1:30.148, 20th
Im pretty pleased with the performance this morning. The car felt OK from the first laps and it was good to get some more time under my belt in the cockpit. Friday mornings are always pretty limited running, particularly when the tracks got that light covering of dust on it, but today I was focusing on some aero evaluation and we got through that program so I think I did ok today.
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
That was a bit of a difficult Friday for us. It started well this morning with Karun doing a good job running through an aero evaluation program and it was good for him to have a full session in the dry. For the race drivers, the main problem today was getting heat into the harder tyres and I think we may find that improves with increasing the downforce levels tomorrow. Both Jarno and Heikki were reporting that they could not find enough grip and as that is linked to both tyre performance and the downforce package the goal is to solve that for tomorrow and unlock the speed we know is in the car for qualifying.
Riad Asmat, Lotus chief executive officer
"That was not one of our best Fridays. Despite completing a pretty decent number of laps we struggled to find grip on both cars all day so the main challenge now is for the engineers to work through the data that we have accumulated and improve our speed tomorrow. We know we can increase performance levels in all areas for FP3, qualifying and the race, and that is the focus now for the remaining sessions.
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:31.052, 23rd; P2 - 1:28.804, 20th
Not one of our best Fridays. I think we struggled quite a lot in FP1 with some technical and sensor problems and we couldnt really complete the programme this morning. I was just hanging around for 45 minutes in the pits and I couldnt run, so that left a lot of work to be done in the afternoon. In FP2 we put the car quite quickly in a good direction and I felt quite comfortable. Its a bit difficult against the top guys here - they are quicker and the top speed difference can be quite big, so we have to look into that for tomorrow and try and make the car better and quicker. Its still early to talk about the upgrade as we have to study the data, but I hope for a smooth Saturday.
Jerome dAmbrosio, P1 - 1:31.899, 24th; P2 - 1:29.622, 23rd
It has been a smooth Friday apart from the issue with the engine. Today wasnt so much about me but more about the other car and the upgrade, which doesnt look too bad. Now we have to study all the new data and wait until tomorrow, but for the moment its encouraging. In general my day today was very useful, getting ready for the race on Sunday. Tomorrow I hope we can continue to work like we did today.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
The morning session was more than a little frustrating! Due to the unique demands of Monza on downforce level and our revised rear aero package, both cars had essential data to collect in P1. Although the issue with Jérômes engine lost him some track time, fortunately he had collected much of the data that we needed on the various options for the low-downforce package. With Timo, a sensor problem on the new exhaust meant that essential logging runs took a little longer than they should have. Over the break, both sets of crews did a fantastic job to change Jérômes engine and also resolve many of the early teething problems we had on Timos car to allow both drivers to run a full session in P2. Overall, were fairly pleased with the data collected in FP2 and we are happy with the performance and reliability of the revised package. We will now apply it to both cars overnight and look forward to continue working with the upgrade in FP3.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, P1 - 1:30.619, 22nd; P2 - 1:29.162, 21st
It was a pretty good first day in Monza, just how I wanted to get my home grand prix underway. This track suits our car better than others because there arent any high speed corners where a lack of downforce tends to cost us. So weve closed the gap quite a bit with our main rivals. We did some set-up work in the morning and worked on understanding the soft tyres in the afternoon so, overall, we got some valid information. I think we have a good balance on lung runs but need to work on our single lap pace tomorrow morning. Everybody did a good job today and I think we can have a good weekend but we must keep on working hard.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:30.609, 21st; P2 - 1:29.841, 24th
The morning session went as planned and we got through the established programme. I understand the car better and how it behaves on track with every day that goes by. On the first lap in the afternoon session we had an electrical issue and had to spend around an hour in the garage to solve it. The mechanics did a good job under pressure in a short amount of time which allowed me to get back on track at the end of the session to do a few laps. Obviously, I would have preferred to have done 20 or 30 laps but at least I was able to get back out. I have a lot to learn from Tonios experience and, realistically, if you look at his times and compare them to Lotus and Virgin, then we were pretty close. The F111 adapts better to this track than to others, so I think this could be a good weekend, but now what we have to do is work hard for tomorrow.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
"It is Friday practice but the sessions have not been as productive as the drivers and team were hoping for. We gathered some good data in the morning and worked on the tyres. Liuzzi has had a good run in the afternoon session, but we had to change the alternator on Ricciardo's car and he could not push as hard as he should have. It is a pity we could not have a second full proper sessions and enough running time to test our whole programme.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
Conditions were particularly tough today because of the heat at Monza as well as the usual high speeds, so we didnt see much evolution of the track from the morning to the afternoon. Despite this heavy punishment, the tyres performed well especially the medium, with Lewis Hamilton making the most of the cooler conditions in the morning. Were analysing the data throughout the afternoon, but there appears to be no blistering outside the usual parameters for this circuit. From a company point of view, its an amazing feeling to be racing here on our home territory and weve enjoyed some fantastic support from all the fans here so far. With six drivers within half a second of Sebastian Vettel this afternoon and two extensive DRS zones, its going to be a very fast and closely-fought qualifying session tomorrow.
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