Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 23 Sep 2011
As the light dimmed in Singapore on Friday the Formula One cars came out to play for the first time this year. McLarens Lewis Hamilton led the way during the opening practice session, but the second saw Red Bull and Ferrari come to the fore. The leading teams and their rivals reflect on their progress at Marina Bay
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:49.005, 2nd; P2 - 1:46.374, 1st
Its a demanding circuit, its quite warm with the suit etc. and on top of that you have to focus its one of the toughest tracks for the mind here. I quite like it, but Im sure no ones jumping out of the car looking better than when they got in. We worked on the set up of the car, but the baseline was not too bad. We still have to make a good step overnight. It looked pretty tight out there today, so we need to wait and see.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:50.066, 3rd; P2 - 1:47.265, 5th
It wasnt too bad. I need to find a bit more pace, but theres a bit of low hanging fruit which we can grab tonight, which will be good for us. Sebs going alright, so I just need to find a bit more and get into it tomorrow. In Free Practice 1, I had a small incident. I thought Glock was letting me through, but he didnt know I was there, so when we got to the apex, our cars touched.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:50.596, 4th; P2 - 1:46.575, 2nd
The first session was interrupted so often that, along with the shortened time, it meant we could not do as many laps as we would have liked. So we tried to make the very most of the ninety minutes available in this evenings session and at least, this time, everything went smoothly. Overall, I am pleased with what we were able to see today. Here, like Monaco, its very important for a driver to be able to lap enough to find the ideal reference points to be able to push to the limit, but not one centimetre over it, because every mistake is very costly. Racing at night is always a special feeling: it usually takes a little bit of time to adapt, but then, from tomorrow onwards, you can push to the maximum, trying to find the best performance. The car is behaving more or less as we expected and the feeling from this Friday is definitely better than in Monza and Spa, but we have to be realistic and not expect any great surprises: the Red Bulls are still favourites here and McLaren are also very strong. We will try and make the most of every possible opportunity.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:52.043, 6th; P2 - 1:47.120, 4th
Heat was the main feature today and there was plenty of it in the cockpit! From what we could see, tyre degradation is reasonably high, but we know the track condition can change given it was very dirty today. It will also be important to choose the right level of cooling for the brakes and the engine: the race will be very long and tough, both for the drivers and the cars. I think we are in better shape than at the last two races and, who knows maybe we can fight with the McLarens, but we must wait and see what happens tomorrow. The performance difference between the Soft and Supersoft today seemed very high, especially for us, but thats not to say it will be the same on Saturday: the track will rubber in and the situation could change. Here you have to pay great attention to your driving: today I kissed the barrier, fortunately without any consequences!
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
As usual on Friday, we had a busy programme to get through: unfortunately, partly because of the unexpected and sudden reduction of the length of the first session and also due to a few small blips that slowed our work, we did not manage to get through everything we wanted to. We have a few new components on the car: some produced the results we expected, but others still need some work. Taking into account the usual considerations when it comes to evaluating Fridays times, it seems that we are back to being closer to the situation we had seen prior to the summer break. Not that we needed to be told, but we saw today just how hard this track can be on the cars: just as at Monaco, the slightest slip comes at a high price. Therefore, one has to be very careful not to go over the limit. One very important factor will be tyre behaviour: in the race it will be crucial to find the best moment to make the pit stops.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:48.599, 1st; P2 - 1:47.115, 3rd
We were competitive in P1, but in P2 there was a larger gap to the front and we started struggling a little with the rear tyres.
There are some areas out on the track where the bolts are coming out of the kerbs - they must be taking some serious force from the cars. On a couple of the corners - Turns Three, 13 and 14 - the exit and apex kerbing has been removed, so some drivers were using the extra track.
We dont yet know whether or not the kerbs will be reinstated tonight, so I continued driving as though the kerbs were there. If theyre not replaced, then we should gain an extra couple of tenths by being able to run as wide as some of the others did.
Either way, were going to improve the car overnight; well change the set-up a little bit. Qualifying will be very important tomorrow, because a good starting position for the race will be vital. Then, looking after the tyres will be key; well be making adjustments to limit the rears sliding, and also to make them last longer.
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:50.952, 5th; P2 - 1:49.751, 10th
During P2, I locked up into Turn 14, but I just kept it out of the barriers. I selected reverse and started to pull back slowly, but then I had no drive. I tried to turn the car around, but there was no room. So I tried to reverse again, and something wasnt working with the gearbox. We looked at the box once we got the car back to the garage, and its now happily resolved.
I only ran the Prime tyre today and didnt really find a great set-up. It was a little disappointing not to do any more running, because I couldnt improve the package. Still, we have some good ideas for tomorrow and Im confident well make more progress.
I think everybody will struggle a little with tyres during the race - they seem to be overheating quite quickly. So its going to be a bit tough, but were all in the same boat.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Today was a tricky day for both Lewis and Jenson. Lewis showed impressive pace in P1, but wasnt completely happy with his cars set-up in the second session.
Were looking closely at rear tyre degradation, and Im confident that we have a number of solutions to try and improve the issue.
Jenson was also struggling with an oversteering car and unfortunately locked up early into his P2 programme and ended up very close to the tyre barriers.
Given the tight nature of this track, he wasnt able to get the car turned around - and, after suffering a problem with reverse gear, wasnt able to get the car pointed in the right direction in order to continue.
We looked into the issue and fixed it - but, nonetheless, it was a frustrating issue for Jenson, because he couldnt complete his planned run-programme today.
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:52.416, 8th; P2 - 1:48.418, 6th
"As usual on these types of circuits, the track is pretty slippery and provides low grip. It was not really useful therefore that the practice time was cut, because we had a big programme to work on. But then, it was what it was, so we made the best out of it. The picture overall is probably as expected: no big surprises, and maybe the most obvious thing is that the difference between the tyres is quite big. For the rest, it is too early to say as we did not have the time yet to analyse the practice sessions fully. I like the race here; it is a bit like the modern Monaco, very exciting with more run-off areas."
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:52.815, 10th; P2 - 1:50.790, 15th
"It was difficult to learn a lot in the first practice session this evening due to the interruptions. However in the second session this evening, we were able to work through a lot of set-up changes and learn a lot about the car. I was on higher fuel levels to help our understanding of how to prepare the car for the race. It wasn't a perfect day but a decent day for me and hopefully we can make further progress tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes GP team principal
"Singapore always hosts a spectacular weekend and it is a race which the teams and drivers love. The Marina Bay Circuit is an extremely challenging track to find a balance which will look after the tyres during a demanding race situation. Therefore all our work today focused on race preparation and this confirmed how challenging the race will be. The critical element will be the longevity of the tyres and understanding how to work them to the maximum for as long as possible. We made good progress during the sessions and have a lot of information to work with tonight."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Firstly our compliments to the organisers here in Singapore for hosting this unique Grand Prix which produces the most spectacular images of the whole Formula One season. Michael and Nico concentrated on race preparation today, and did not run the same programmes all the time. This will be a challenging race for our current technical package but our guys are working very hard to make the best out of it in order to achieve a respectable result."
Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:52.251, 7th; P2 - 1:48.866, 7th
I always enjoy street circuits and todays sessions went pretty well for me. It usually takes a while to get back in the rhythm, especially on such a long lap as Singapore, but I got up to speed quite quickly. The general car balance has been good all day with just some understeer in the high and low speed corners to solve. By the time I was running on the supersofts the understeer issue was much better. We did some good work on both tyre compounds with some long runs in the second session. The supersofts obviously give a lot more grip, but the drop-off in performance after a few laps is quite big.
Paul di Resta, P1 - 1:52.435, 9th; P2 - 1:50.345, 13th
It wasnt the best of days because what I really needed was time on track to help me learn the circuit. The first session was cut short and in the second I had a hydraulic brake issue, which took most of the session to fix. So it means that I go into Saturday with limited running on the soft tyres and just one timed lap on the supersofts. Its not ideal because you need to build your confidence on a street circuit and find the limits because there is little margin for error. On the positive side Adrian has shown that the car seems to be on the pace and I felt quite happy during the limited running I did do on the soft tyres.
Dominic Harlow, Force India chief race engineer
"Slightly less track time than usual today during Friday practice, with the first session shortened whilst some damage to the kerbs was repaired, and with Paul's second session restricted by downtime while the team worked on curing a brake system issue. Nevertheless, it was possible to conduct the usual tyre comparisons and evaluate some new aerodynamic components on the cars. Because we opted to run our race drivers in both sessions today, we're confident we didn't loose too much and can recover any lost ground tomorrow. This circuit remains very challenging in a lot of areas and with some hard work to do before Sunday we can look forward to an interesting race.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:53.703, 14th; P2 - 1:49.578, 8th
Today we had very nice conditions for driving. The circuit is very demanding for the drivers and also for the tyres. You have to be focused all the time. Turn ten can be quite tricky because the kerbs are high, and if you get it wrong in that chicane you jump too high. I hope we manage to find a good balance for the car for the race. I think we have some good opportunities here to score points.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:53.749, 15th; P2 - 1:49.730, 9th
My car is quite okay. Generally it is better on circuits which require more downforce, which, unlike at the recent circuits we have raced on, is the case here. It is a different and a better feeling. Also for me both tyre compounds, the soft and the super soft, seem okay.
Giampaolo DallAra, head of track engineering
It is never very easy here and today it has been difficult but we have done a lot of work. For the first practice we had a bit of a disturbance because of a shorter session and two red flags, so, even though we tried to pull everything together, we couldnt do what was planned and, because of this, the performance suffered a bit. For the second practice we completed our programme okay. We tested tyres, something on the set-up of the car and some checks that were planned.
Jaime Alguersuari, P1 - 1:53.050, 12th; P2 - 1:49.792, 11th
I am very happy to be back in Singapore again, as I enjoy the track and the special atmosphere, driving in the night time. As usual on the first day, the grip level from the track surface is very low and in general, I was not so happy with the car and I never felt that comfortable with it today. Because we did not run for the full amount of time, we still do not have a clear picture of the Soft tyres behaviour on a long run and we have yet to see how much degradation will be a factor. I think the track was dirtier today than this time last year, which did not help, although the surface feels less bumpy, especially going into Turn Seven and apart from that the only change is the one they made to the kerbs this morning. We still have one more session to improve the car prior to qualifying, which will be a more important session than at other races this season, because overtaking on a street circuit is always so difficult. In the morning, I did not hit any walls, but I rode the kerbs very aggressively and the team called me in before the end of the session, to check over the car as a precaution.
Sebastien Buemi, P1 - 1:53.785, 17th; P2 - 1:52.257, 19th
The morning session was delayed as they modified the kerbs at some points on the circuit and so, at first we had to adapt to the new lines that were made possible because of the removal of the kerbs. We managed a good number of laps in the first practice, which meant we were able to get a first impression of how the Soft tyres perform. Degradation seemed quite high, but this is normal here on the Friday. In the second session, I did two more runs on the harder tyres, but when I switched to the Supersoft, I was doing a hot lap when I made a small mistake exiting the last chicane and I touched the wall. My session therefore ended early, but I hope we will recover for Qualifying tomorrow. The car is not bad here and, as we saw in Monza, even if things do not go too well on Friday, we can still have a good race.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
A short day for us, partly because the morning session was delayed for everyone, then this afternoon, both cars stopped running before the end of the session: in Sebastiens case he hit the wall, removing the right front corner of the car, while with Jaime, our data showed us that he had hit a couple of kerbs very hard and, as a precaution, we brought him in early to check over the car. Because of this, we did not get much long run data and we will have to take this into account and modify our Saturday morning programme accordingly, to make up for the time we have lost. Apart from that, we had a few new elements that we were evaluating across the two cars and tonight we will study the data to put together the best combination for tomorrow.
Bruno Senna, P1 - 1:53.765, 16th; P2 - 1:50.241, 12th
It was quite something to experience the night time driving here; it really was very special. It was also a productive evening for us. We made a step forward with the balance over the two sessions but there is still some work to be done to get the car race-ready. We have a long night ahead of us to figure out what we are going to do. On the upside, I managed to complete a good number of laps and there were no incidents nor was there damage to the car. We managed to steer clear of any major difficulty and this was the main objective of today. We need to work hard before we get to FP3 tomorrow in order to understand what we can do to improve our pace and consistency, as theres more to come from the car this weekend.
Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:54.736, 18th; P2 - 1:50.399, 14th
Unfortunately we lost FP1 because the engine overheated a little, so we had to revert to older specification bodywork. My mechanics did a fantastic job to prepare my car for FP2 - a big thanks to them. It is difficult to catch up in the second session when youve lost a great deal of time in the first, but we know what we have to do for tomorrow and we know which way to move to get the most out of the car this weekend.
Alan Permane, Renault chief race engineer
We ran a fairly regular programme today; we got a feel for the track and car set-up in FP1 before preparing more specifically for the race in FP2.
There was disappointment with Vitalys car in first practice because the bodywork upgrade package had a problem with its water radiator. Without time to diagnose the problem we had to make a swift decision to revert to the original package for the remainder of the weekend. We will figure out what went wrong ahead of the next race.
As with Monaco and Hungary, here in Singapore we are seeing again that high downforce, very low speed corners expose the relative weakness of the R31 under traction. We expect the situation to improve a little as the track rubbers in over the remainder of the weekend, but this weekend is going to be a fight. Tomorrows task will be to try to settle down the rear end of the car to give the drivers more confidence around this challenging, technical track.
The car was not quick enough today, which has been a recurring problem this season at slow corner tracks. After relatively promising runs in Spa and Monza, our work is cut out to demonstrate the pace we need under the lights in Singapore.
Rubens Barrichello, P1 - 1:52.991, 11th; P2 - 1:50.897, 16th
We had an effective morning during which we managed to try out various different things. The afternoon brought a few issues and so we were not able to run as much as we would have liked. We will iron out those areas tonight in order to find some more performance in the car.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:53.399, 13th; P2 - 1:50.937, 17th
We havent achieved the optimum set-up yet as we have some issues with the aero balance on the car but we can work through those now and in tomorrows practice. With more rubber going down, the track will improve and so will the car so I think we can be optimistic for qualifying.
Sam Michael, Williams technical director
That was a fairly compressed practice day due to the long red flag period in the first session. We had quite a few upgrades to test and now have lots of data to run through this evening to prepare for qualifying. The new parts were working ok aerodynamically, but we did have a problem with the rear wing actuator in first practice. The only other issue we had was quite a bit of bodywork damage from running over the kerbs which we will repair this evening.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:56.198, 20th; P2 - 1:51.950, 18th
I was pretty pleased with where we ended up, but obviously we wanted more running in P1. The fire this time was much smaller than last year, and with brakes at the temperatures they run its not uncommon to see them catch like that, but it wasnt a major issue at all and we got where we wanted by the end of the days running. I think we can keep getting more from the new package here - theres definitely a couple more tenths in there so lets see where we are tomorrow night.
Jarno Trulli, P1 - 1:54.821, 19th; P2 - 1:52.489, 20th
I didnt have the best runs today, but Im still relatively happy with where we finished. We were able to get good temperatures into both compounds, but traffic and the red flags ruined both my quick laps so I dont think we really showed whats in the car yet.
Mike Gascoyne, Lotus chief technical officer
That was a pretty hard days work for everyone in the team. The first session was obviously disrupted before it even started and then the red flags affected the whole grid. Jarno's programme suffered from the stoppages and Heikki had a small off on his third run in FP1. Once he came to a halt the high brake temperatures meant he had a small fire in the front right but it was not a big issue and once we had the car back it was sorted out quickly. With Heikki's car and some changes to Jarnos setup the team had a lot of work to do during the break to turn both cars around and worked extremely well to have both cars ready for FP2. The second session was more productive and we were able to evaluate the aero updates we have brought here and it looks like we have made another small step forward. We will know more after going through the data tonight and then look forward to a good qualifying session tomorrow.
Riad Asmat, Lotus chief executive officer
"I think everyone up and down the pitlane had a disrupted FP1 with the track issues just before the session, and with Heikki stopping out on track we were looking to make sure we completed as much mileage as we could in FP2. I am not too sure what it is about Heikki and fire here in Singapore, perhaps our Finn thinks it is not quite hot enough for him here in Singapore, but the car was pretty much unscathed this time and the guys worked well to clean it up and get him out for FP2. We are reasonably happy with where we ended up there is more to come on the super softs and both drivers are giving us positive reports on the updates we have brought here, so I am pretty happy with where we ended up.
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:58.792, 22nd; P2 - 1:53.579, 21st
Not a great first practice session. It was a pretty short one due to the problems on the track and then the incident with Webber, which in the end made us lose a lot of time. The rear left tyre was punctured and I didnt run again as we didnt want to waste a set of tyres in FP1. FP2 wasnt great but it was slightly better. We did some variations in terms of set-up and the direction is not bad, but its still difficult on a long run as we suffer on the rear tyres. We have to look into it and try to fine-tune the car for tomorrow.
Jerome dAmbrosio, P1 - 1:57.798, 21st; P2 - 1:54.649, 22nd
An interesting day getting back into Singapore mode. This is the first time I have had proper night running, so its very different its quite warm and the race will definitely be long. Its definitely going to be interesting. In terms of my performance today, Im quite happy. FP1 went okay, even though we lost a bit of time but we all did. FP2 started well with a race simulation. The only negative point is that on the new tyre run, on my Supersoft tyres, I went a bit wide on the kerb and damaged a bit of the front wing and the floor, as well as having to abort that lap because of the yellow flags. I came in and they repaired everything, but when I came back out the floor wasnt optimal anymore and I definitely lost some performance on the tyres. So we will have to look into this and Im sure it will be an interesting qualifying tomorrow.
John Booth, Virgin team principal
At this type of circuit you always hope that your practice sessions are going to go exactly to plan in order to maximise track time and enable the drivers and engineers to arrive at the optimum set-up. So its fair to say that its been more than a little frustrating. Whilst weve collected some good data on higher fuel runs for the tyres with both drivers, what we ultimately missed out on with both cars was the low-fuel Supersoft run. Unfortunately both drivers had started their laps when the yellow flags came out for Buemi. We thought the Yellow would be out for some time given the position of his car so we aborted both cars runs and in doing so we effectively missed the sweet spot of the tyre life when we went back out. Weve spent quite a bit of the day stepping through some combinations on the upgrade package but mainly to help with the engine cooling demands of this circuit. We now look forward to a smooth FP3 tomorrow and getting some better qualifying runs completed.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:59.169, 23rd; P2 - 1:54.754, 23rd
I knew beforehand that this Grand Prix would be a big challenge and it didnt let me down but it is really hot and the circuit doesnt create much air flow; its like a sauna in there! I have really enjoyed it because the track is good: tight and challenging. You cant even blink. Today was positive but we are yet a little bit off our closest rivals. We need to try and close that gap for tomorrows qualifying. Racing at night is not much different in terms of visibility, but it is really nice seeing the lights reflecting off the cars and the sparks flying. Im enjoying my first taste of night racing.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, P2 - 1:55.198, 24th
Im quite pleased with how the session went. We had to adjust a few things set-up wise; there was a bit of oversteering at the front end and we had to modify the balance a bit. We went into a bit of traffic every time we were on soft or supersoft tyres so we couldnt get achieve the best lap time but Im positive ahead of the weekend. With the 5 place penalty, theres not much we can strive for tomorrow so we have to focus on Sundays race.
Narain Karthikeyan, P1 - 1:59.214, 24th
It was fantastic to be back in the car today. I brushed off all the cobwebs after two and a half months without driving. It was a good session even though being a new track for me it was not ideal. But Im very happy with how the testing went, especially since I was faster than Daniel until the end. On the last lap I had a really good split but encountered some traffic and couldnt finish the time. Its a shame that the session was cut short because we couldnt do many laps and, with the red flags, I couldnt really get into a rhythm. But I was pretty much on the pace and that is quite positive.
Colin Kolles, HRT team principal
Today has been a positive day for the team. All three drivers and the whole team in the garage have worked well and we have completed the programme we had scheduled for today. Although the first session was shortened and interrupted a couple of times by red flags, both Karthikeyan and Ricciardo made the most of their time out on track. After a long time without racing, Narain was solid and consistent and Daniel was getting used to the track and later on set some good times in the afternoon. Tonio was back in for the second session and completed the set programme of different configurations. In the afternoon we also ran some tests with supersoft tyres without doing a qualifying simulation, so Im confident that we can improve on our times tomorrow when the track conditions will also get better.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
This was one of the most important free practice sessions of the year for the teams, and the number of people encountering problems showed just how tough it was. Singapore is an extremely demanding track, so it was vital for the teams to assess the correct set-up, particularly on full fuel tanks, as this is a circuit that is particularly heavy on fuel consumption. Naturally, a heavy car works its tyres harder, but despite this factor and the warm conditions, weve been very pleased with the performance and durability of both our P Zero compounds. Weve seen a difference of about a second per lap between the two compounds but with all the teams trying out different fuel loads, its hard to get an exact picture until weve examined all the data.
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