Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 05 Oct 2012
With McLarens Jenson Button topping the morning session and Red Bulls Mark Webber taking charge in the afternoon, theres plenty to discuss. The drivers and senior team personnel report on the early running at Suzuka
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:34.856, 3rd; P2 - 1:32.493, 1st
It was a nice change to get some good weather; its been the first dry weekend for a while. We have plenty to go through this evening, it was a smooth one for us today and we completed all the runs we wanted to. Its a challenging venue in terms of balance here, but the car ran well and we tested both tyres. We have areas where we can improve, mostly with the balance, so we have some work to do. Suzuka is a great track thats remained untouched for a long time, its a classic.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:36.366, 17th; P2 - 1:32.836, 3rd
The cars performing, but there are still some things we can improve. It was a bit nervous this morning, better this afternoon, but we need to make a step overnight. I think tomorrow will be very, very close, so everything we can get out of the car will matter. This circuit is so special; you have the people everywhere who are so passionate about F1 - almost crazy in a good way - and the track is fantastic, you have such nice high speed corners one after the other. Its so enjoyable, you dont want to come into the pits, but want to stay out on track.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:34.740, 2nd; P2 - 1:32.707, 2nd
I have the coolest job! Suzuka is such a phenomenal circuit! The first lap out of the pits felt great. Just driving through the first couple of corners and feeling the acceleration, it takes a few laps to get warmed up, but you keep getting faster and faster as you push the limits. But you need to be careful. At Spoon we saw a few people making mistakes today. If you put a wheel on the dirt, its very easy to lose the car.
As always, well be fine-tuning the car tonight ahead of tomorrows sessions, but it looks very close between ourselves and Red Bull. I feel comfortable with our car - its the best that its ever been around here - and I think I could have matched Marks [Webber] fastest time with an optimal lap.
Its going to be very close in qualifying tomorrow.
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:34.507, 1st; P2 - 1:33.349, 7th
I love Japan. This is a crazy race for me - the fans are fantastic, theyre true supporters of all the drivers, and they get so excited about the sport. Also, theres such a flow about this circuit. Its important to find the right gear ratios though, because youre up and down the gearbox all the time.
I didnt do too many laps in FP2: the balance wasnt quite right and we knew we couldnt go back on the changes wed made until after the session, so there wasnt any point doing too much running.
Still, we know how to dial the car in for FP3 tomorrow, and thats the important thing. The car felt good this morning, so well go back to something similar with just a few detail changes.
Overall, the car is working well here. Qualifying will be very competitive, but I think well be up there.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Its always a thrill to arrive at Suzuka its a mighty motorsport amphitheatre, and a place which showcases Formula One at its finest, whether its through the graceful, high-speed sector-one Esses, the pincer-sharp Degner apices or the great sweeping arc of Spoon.
We spent the morning evaluating and experimenting with a handful of useful new components that we wanted to compare. For FP2, we were conducting set-up experiments across the garage and well assimilate that data tonight in order to determine the cars optimum configuration for qualifying and the race. We got some extremely useful data, and that will all filter into the work we do ahead of FP3 tomorrow.
Both Jenson and Lewis were happy with their cars today. Of course, Jensons five-place grid penalty is unfortunate, but, while it puts us on the back-foot, Im still convinced that he, along with Lewis, will be able to fight for victory on Sunday.
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:35.474, 9th; P2 - 1:32.987, 4th
Quite a smooth Friday for me and nice to have two dry sessions with consistent weather. We went through the programme and did all the things we wanted to with no issues. Im quite happy with the car on low fuel, but I think we still have some work to do to improve our high fuel performance. We took our usual approach with the tyres and did long runs on the hard and soft compounds, so we have lots of information to help us for the race.
Paul di Resta, P2 - 1:35.299, 8th; P2 - no time, 24th
The morning session was straightforward and the balance was good straight after lunch with the changes we had made to the car. Unfortunately I made a mistake quite early on and was probably a bit too ambitious. I found myself with my two right side wheels on the grass and lost grip on the loose dirt. Its a shame it had to happen so early in the session and it creates extra work for the guys tonight. You have to be on the edge to feel what the car is doing and sometimes these things happen, but hopefully it wont cost us too much for the rest of the weekend.
Jakob Andreasen, Force India chief engineer
Overall were pleased with how things went today. The car is working well and the drivers feel comfortable. The things we tried out gave us the results we hoped for so Id say we are moving in the right direction and learning how to get more performance from the car. Paul lost track time this afternoon with a small mistake, so we will assess how to approach tomorrow to make sure he is ready for qualifying. Tyres will be a challenge here, as always, but I think we know the limits of both the hard and soft compounds, and have good long run data.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:35.484, 11th; P2 - 1:33.093, 5th
This was a reasonably good day. I like driving at Suzuka because its a very nice track which I love coming to race at and which, with its characteristics and its fast Esses, reminds me a lot of Spa. Overall, the feeling is good and I dont think the high temperatures can constitute a problem for the tyres. We have done a lot of races in hot conditions, and not that long ago either, given that Singapore was only a fortnight ago and just like we did there, we will have to learn to manage them, which indeed will be the case for everyone. Its hard to say if we can be as competitive here as in Silverstone: that was three months ago and we dont know exactly how our rivals cars have evolved compared to how much progress we have made. We will have to wait until tomorrow, because usually on Saturday the pack gets jumbled up. As for the small updates we have brought here, theres not much to say and we will have to spend more time looking at their behaviour.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:35.283, 7th; P2 - 1:33.614, 9th
Generally a positive day, during which we managed to get through everything on the programme. As usual on Friday, we tried both Pirelli compounds. Its hard to say precisely where we are: what is certain is that many of our rivals seem to be competitive, but as usual, we must wait until tomorrow to get a clearer picture of the situation. In the afternoon, we did a fairly long run at the end of which we saw quite high tyre degradation. It wont be easy to decide what will be the best strategy. Id describe the balance of the car as average: even if we didnt match the pace of the others, there is still a lot we can do to improve and we must also take into account the fact that the track changes a lot from one day to the next. I hope that tomorrow the results will come, because we have the potential to do well.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
Id say this was a Friday like so many others, in which we worked a lot on the comparison between the two types of tyre Pirelli has brought here, as well as validating some updates and various aerodynamic configurations aimed at this track. We acquired a lot of data from both drivers, who fortunately were able to complete the planned programme without any problems whatsoever. Now its down to we engineers to analyse it and make the best decisions for the rest of the weekend. Honestly, its hard to say where we are compared to our main competitors, both in terms of where we might be in qualifying and as far as our race pace is concerned.
Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:35.724, 14th; P2 - 1:33.107, 6th
Not a bad day overall. The car felt much better in the afternoon than it did this morning ; were still not quite where we want to be but the team has been working hard and hopefully well make a similar step forward tomorrow. Suzuka is not an easy track on the car; the demands on the tyres are really high but the car felt consistent with both compounds which is a big positive. Its hard to say if P6 is the kind of position well be in qualifying ; there are definitely still a few tenths we can find so lets see what happens tomorrow.
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:35.691, 13th; P2 - 1:34.291, 14th
We didnt get much running because of the issue with the KERS, but at least it happened today and we got it fixed. It wasnt ideal for helping us find the best setup but theres nothing you can do about these things. Suzuka is not the easiest place to get the car set up, but we still have tomorrows practice before qualifying. I think we have the potential to be nearer the front than we have done in the last couple of races.
Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
We ran updated front wings on both cars today. In the morning we ran the DDRS Device on Kimis car and an updated rear wing on Romains. In the afternoon, both cars used non DDRS rear wings. The Singapore-spec floor was evaluated on both cars. Pirellis hard compound tyre was used in the morning, the hard and soft in the afternoon.
We were not able to get The Device functioning at a sufficient level for it to be used over the rest of the weekend. We made good progress dialling in the new floor as well as both the front and rear wings, which will all remain on the car for the rest of the weekend.
James Allison, Lotus technical director
We suffered a disrupted day with Kimis car but despite that weve achieved a reasonable amount. We evaluated The Device in the morning but were unable to make it switch effectively so we wont be using it for the rest of the weekend. Romain suffered from understeer in the morning and by the time we had put this right he had already used up the best performance from his tyres. In the afternoon, with a better set up, he showed that theres still a reasonable turn of speed in the E20. We look in OK shape on both the hard and soft rubber as well as on high fuel, and we feel there is more to come from the car tomorrow ahead of Qualifying.
Bruno Senna, P2 - 1:33.499, 8th
It was an interesting day as we learnt a lot of things about the testing weve been doing. Missing the morning session was difficult as we were fine tuning the car set-up to suit my driving style, but we had a clean session completing plenty of laps and so overall it was good experience.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:35.478, 10th; P2 - 1:34.300, 15th
We completed our programme today but we still have a lot of work to do. The car is looking consistent and our longer run pace was good. We still need to find some more performance ahead of qualifying so we'll now work through all the data we have gathered.
Valtteri Bottas, P1 - 1:36.389, 18th
Suzuka is a new track for me so it wasnt an easy session and it took quite a few laps to get into the rhythm. In the first run, the car balance wasnt ideal but we managed to improve the car for the second and third runs. I was also improving myself throughout the session. I think I have a new favourite track as Suzuka is fantastic to drive. It's challenging and very quick which makes it great fun.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
We had a productive and extremely busy couple of sessions with the drivers running different programmes in Suzuka today. We successfully tested a number of new components and established a good base set-up for the remainder of the weekend.
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:35.122, 5th; P2 - 1:33.750, 10th
We had two quite eventful sessions today, with a lot of work on the cars and my off in the afternoon. I had to go to the medical centre which was a precaution from the FIA but I am 100 percent okay. I think I was already concentrating too much on the corner ahead of me and therefore had a wheel on the dirt and went off. Overall, we had not been able to collect as much data as we would have wanted, as we had a lot of breaks working on adjustments to the cars, and we will also have to improve the balance. Obviously, with these temperatures the tyres will be a limiting factor, too. We will now certainly have to work a lot off the track, in front of the computers, and try to find the best approach for tomorrow.
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:35.059, 4th; P2 - 1:33.866, 11th
We had a tricky day. At the end of the first practice session, the oil pressure sensor told me the system was low on pressure so I switched off the engine. It was coming to the end of its life, so we changed it during lunch to avoid any risks, but it cost some running time this afternoon. We are still not where we want to be in terms of performance and we will have to learn some lessons overnight, in order to make sure we have our tyre management under control.
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
That wasn't the smoothest of Fridays for us today. After an oil pressure problem this morning, we changed the engine in Nico's car over the break which took us into the afternoon session, and then ran through a slightly compressed tyre comparison and race evaluation programme. With Michael, we decided to do a fairly major set-up change before the second session which cost us running time. Towards the end of the session, it appears that Michael put a tyre on the dirt going into Turn 13 and lost control the car. While it's not an ideal start to the weekend, we were able to collect a lot of data and complete some important set-up changes, so we will work on those tonight to be in better shape tomorrow.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
It was a Friday with some interruptions for our team. Nico lost some practice time at the beginning of the second session following an engine change, which was necessary after an oil pressure problem at the very end of the first session. With nearly 2000 km, this engine was approaching the end of its life-cycle. Michael was one of quite a few drivers who left the road under braking at Turn 13, which happened towards the end of the second session with only minor damage to the car. Today we found a baseline set up for qualifying and the race which will be refined in tomorrow morning's free practice session.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:35.584, 12th; P2 - 1:33.903, 12th
"It has been a good first day in terms of getting all the work done. But we have to improve our speed and I think we can do this. I also ran wide on my fastest lap, so I know there is more to come and we will be in a better shape tomorrow."
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:35.199, 6th; P2 - 1:33.983, 13th
"It is a fantastic feeling to drive here in Suzuka again after one year. It is such a great circuit, and every single lap is exciting. We have a couple of updates to the car and todays job is to fully understand how the new parts work. The lap times seem to be pretty close here, which means it is too early to judge on the performance, but I feel we can improve the balance and the set up."
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
"It was good to have a trouble-free day and to complete the entire programme in relation to the new parts. We had no hic ups or reliability issues. However, there is still a lot to learn and we will be evaluating the data now."
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:36.123, 15th; P2 - 1:34.863, 16th
Its a really nice circuit, I am happy to be back after my first experience here last year and I had fun driving it today. I particularly like the 130R, which is very challenging with the DRS and its the point on the track where you sometimes hold your breath! This morning we started from our usual baseline and then I felt we could make some changes which we did in between the sessions. I think these improved the car even if it did not seem to help us close the gap to our opponents, which suggests everyone is making some steps forward. However, I am happy we have made progress and, as usual in fact, it seems our long run pace looks more competitive than our qualifying pace, which is important given that the points are only scored on Sunday.
Jean-Eric Vergne, P1 - 1:36.222, 16th; P2 - 1:35.080, 17th
Another circuit that I had only seen on the simulator until today and I have to say its really nice. The best part is the first part, the Esses, which is great fun to drive. Apart from that, I would say we had a positive first day of practice, a normal Friday, when the times dont mean much as we dont know what fuel loads everyone else has. Id say we seem in pretty good shape, even if there are still some areas we can work on to find more performance for the rest of the weekend. As this is my first time here, I am also improving every time I go on track and so there is more to come from me too. I ran both tyres and that side of the package seems reasonably straightforward.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
We completed all the programme we had set ourselves for today, which included evaluating a few new parts, as well as comparing different exhaust configurations. The drivers did well in terms of getting into a rhythm at this great track and we also tried a few things in terms of car set-up. We still need to do a bit more for both drivers to be happier with the balance of their cars, but overall the day went well. We also worked on the usual qualifying and race evaluations and we have plenty of data to look at to try and make a step forward for tomorrow and again for Sunday.
Heikki Kovalainen, P2 - 1:35.711, 18th
"A pretty good session for me today in FP2. Having sat out FP1 we had a lot to get through in the afternoon session and we got through everything wed planned. On the early runs on the hard tyres we had to work pretty hard to find a decent balance but we made a few changes and started heading in the right direction. On the soft tyres the car felt much better - it immediately felt balanced on the performance run and the degradation levels and balance on the long run were pretty manageable. We also finished with a time that puts some clear air between us and the cars behind, so overall a pretty positive day."
Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:38.295, 20th; P2 - 1:35.870, 19th
"I came into Japan with a cold that meant I had to miss some of yesterdays work on track. Ive felt better today but its still good to have got through so much work today in the car. Weve run a lot of laps, doing aero work and testing a couple of new parts in the morning session and focusing on the tyres in FP2. On the final lap in the afternoon session I went off in turn one after a problem with the rear wing. Well have a very close look at what caused that so we can make sure it doesnt happen again but apart from that Ive had an OK Friday here in Japan. As the days gone on the car has felt better on each run and it was pretty consistent on both tyre compounds. Having completed the runplans we set for FP1 and FP2 weve generated a lot of information for the guys to work on tonight and I think were setting ourselves up OK for the weekend ahead."
Giedo van der Garde, P1 - 1:39.374, 23rd
"I enjoyed myself today. It was my first run in the F1 car since China back in April so it took a little while to get used to how hard I could push the car, particularly compared to what Ive been used to in GP2, but by the end of the session it was starting to feel good. We had a very clear runplan for todays session and Im pleased we got through the program. The main thing is that todays FP1, and the other sessions Ill do this year, arent about showing how fast I can go, theyre about doing a solid job for the team, not making mistakes and learning as much as I can. Today was a good way to start that, getting accustomed to the tyres, KERS and learning a new track, and now Im already looking forward to next week in Korea when Ill be in Vitalys car."
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:37.716, 19th; P2 - 1:36.194, 20th
It has not been any easy session for us. FP1 and FP2 were not straightforward because the car felt a bit difficult on the hard tyre. The balance wasnt good at all in FP1, but we have found a better solution in FP2. But still, all is not quite as good as it could be and we need to work a bit on our car set-up. We are a little further behind our competitors because of the KERS effect. I had the chance to follow some cars but when they deploy the KERS it has such a big effect here in Japan. We need to see what we can do tomorrow and try to close the gap to them by finding a way to improve the car for both long runs and qualifying. Lets see what we can do overnight.
Charles Pic, P1 - 1:38.616, 21st; P2 - 1:36.636, 21st
Today was my first taste of the Suzuka Circuit and I enjoyed the experience very much. We achieved the full programme, but we are not where we would like to be yet and we were a few tenths missing today. Having said that, it is positive that the new floor Timo ran with seems to be working well, and I will get to feel the benefit of that tomorrow. I am looking forward to pushing the car forward and a stronger rest of the weekend.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
Overall, weve achieved our programme objectives for the day and its good to see that the new floor fitted to Timos car for today appears to be performing as expected. FP1 was taken up mainly with aero evaluation work centred around the new floor. Although the results of these tests were not 100 percent clear this morning, extra data gathered in FP2 has given us some more conclusive findings. We are in reasonable shape at this early stage of the weekend and have completed good low and high fuel runs. The tyre degradation is a little higher than first thought, which should make for another action-packed race.
Pedro de la Rosa, P1 - 1:39.688, 24th; P2 - 1:37.342, 22nd
"Im happy with the day we had as we were very disciplined. We progressed as the day wore on and thats always positive. In the morning we started out with the old floor and then moved on to the new one to carry out an evaluation at a constant speed so now we can analyse all the data extracted and make comparisons. In the afternoon we focused on the set-up of the car. Weve got quite a bit of understeer, as I think most teams do, but although weve improved it quite a bit weve still got a lot of work to do. Weve also tested both tyre options and done a qualifying and long distance simulation. Im satisfied because its been a very productive day.
Narain Karthikeyan, P1 - 1:39.043, 22nd; P2 - 1:37.701, 23rd
"Its been an intense day of work as we had a lot of tests to do with the new floor. It was important to carry out the aero evaluation at a constant speed to evaluate its efficiency whilst also working on adjustments to the set-up. And it was positive because we extracted a lot of data and we have good sensations. But now we must analyse all that data to get the most out of it for tomorrow because there are still some areas in which we can improve.
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
"We had a very clear and detailed programme for today which we have completed with no incidents so I can safely say that, overall, it was a good days practice. Both Narain and Pedro were able to complete all the programmed tests and we collected a lot of data and improved throughout the day. We can say that the aero upgrade that we took to Singapore is a step forward and now we have to continue working to optimize it at a very demanding circuit. The main aspect we must improve is that were suffering more understeer than we should and a lot of graining on the front tyres, and thats what were going to focus on tomorrow.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
The teams had a lot of information to assimilate during the opening two free practice sessions, with the soft compound likely to be the tyre that most frontrunners choose to qualify on. Today as always was about fully understanding the tyre behaviour, establishing crossover points, and also collecting data about the relative speed of the tyre when used for more than one run, which is why we saw so many different programmes and cycles. The teams also assessed tyre degradation with different fuel loads, which is vital information for race day. Last year, tyre strategy was crucial, with Jenson Button winning for McLaren from second on the grid, after managing to pit one lap later for his first stop than Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel, who was on pole. The top three all did three stops in 2011, with three stints on the softer compound and a final stint on the harder compound. This year were more likely to see two stops, depending also on outside factors such as safety cars and weather conditions. Weve got a lot of data to look at now, but we would expect the performance gap between the two compounds to be in the region of 1.0-1.2 seconds. There is no doubt that Suzuka will be extremely demanding for the tyres, but with the right tyre management skills and race strategies, there will be plenty of opportunity for some outstanding performances. This is no less than the fantastically enthusiastic fans here deserve, who once more have made us all extremely welcome.
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