Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 12 Oct 2012
McLarens Lewis Hamilton bested Ferraris Fernando Alonso in Friday mornings session to secure the top spot in Korea, but in the afternoon Red Bull took charge with Sebastian Vettel leading team mate Mark Webber. The drivers and senior team personnel report on the early running at Yeongam
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:40.088, 5th; P2 - 1:38.832, 1st
We had a pretty good program for today and I think both of us managed to get the most out of it. Well have a look where we can improve tonight in different areas; its always a compromise on a track like this with a bit of top speed in the first sector, then the last sector is pretty twisty in terms of rhythm - its a bit like Budapest, so you need a bit of downforce there. So far so good, we have good information and the guys will now get on with the job tonight.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:39.575, 3rd; P2 - 1:38.864, 2nd
All in all we can be quite happy, but I think it looks extremely tight. Im not happy with every run we had today, but I think the track was changing quite a lot this morning, it was better than we expected. This afternoon it was quite slippery to start with, but then I think it got a little bit better so, all in all the car felt alright and now we see what we can do for tomorrow. I think we have to improve ourselves to match the others.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:39.450, 2nd; P2 - 1:39.160, 3rd
Its hard to say where we are compared to the others, because today, we focused mainly on ourselves, working this morning on a comparison of various ideas relating to car configuration and, in the afternoon on the tyres. We must wait til tomorrow to have a more precise picture of the situation. The track improved a great deal from one session to the next: its a phenomenon thats particularly accentuated here, because theres hardly any racing on this track and this morning, it was particularly dirty. Lets hope the situation improves for tomorrow because its always more fun driving when the track offers at least some grip. The most demanding part of this circuit is definitely the third sector, the shortest in terms of time, made up almost entirely of corners. The set-up choices are dictated mainly by car behaviour in this third sector, while the other two are definitely easier to deal with.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:39.854, 4th; P2 - 1:39.422, 6th
Id say this weekend has got off on the right foot, but the important thing is to continue down this path tomorrow on Sunday, when it really counts. Our car seems pretty good on this track, which is cause to be hopeful, even if we will only discover the truth tomorrow in qualifying. From what we could see this afternoon, in the second session, the difference between the Soft and the Supersoft is definitely a big one: we seemed comfortable on the two of them, on both low and high fuel loads. Now we are trying to prepare as well as possible for qualifying, which looks like being very closely contested: there is some very strong opposition and we will have to do everything perfectly if want to be able to match them.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
Overall, it was a positive day and as usual on a Friday, we had a lot of work to get through, managing to complete almost everything we had wanted to achieve. This morning, the aim was to evaluate a few updates on the car and try various aerodynamic configurations, especially relating to the rear wing, to choose the best one for a track of this type. In the afternoon, we concentrated on a comparison of the Soft and Supersoft tyres, which Pirelli has supplied to the teams for this Grand Prix, over both short and long runs. From what we could see this afternoon, the difference in performance between them does not seem so high, but its true that, in theory, as the track evolves over the next couple of days, the difference should be accentuated. I would say we have a reasonably clear idea when it comes to the technical choices to be made for this Grand Prix: now we must try and optimize the package we have in order to get the best possible result.
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:40.480, 10th; P2 - 1:39.219, 4th
Its so tricky to get a good set-up around here. Were still not quite quick enough, but were heading in the right direction. Weve been making progress all day, although this mornings session was more about testing new parts and making sure everything worked correctly and less about choosing the right set-up.
At the moment, it doesnt look like were quite as quick as the Red Bulls - wholl probably be quite difficult to beat in qualifying - but our race lap-times and consistency both look good.
I think the track has done most of its evolution already today - its not going to re-set tomorrow - so the adjustments weve been making are looking positive. And theres still more to come.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:39.148, 1st; P2 - 1:39.717, 8th
I struggled a little bit with set-up today. There was quite a big difference in feeling between FP1 and FP2, which we dont fully understand yet. This mornings session was fine, but I made some changes for the afternoon and wasnt quite able to get a good time out of either the prime or the option [tyres].
So now well work hard to figure out what direction we want to take. The Red Bulls look pretty quick, but Jenson wasnt that far off their pace this afternoon. So thats good. Well make some changes to the balance overnight, and hopefully well be in better shape for tomorrow.
As I say, this afternoon Jenson showed that our car has pace; all we need to do is fully extract it. If we can improve the balance overnight, I think we can be competitive.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Finding the perfect set-up for this circuit is a somewhat tricky balancing act - and its not made any easier by the green track surface and the changing wind direction between sessions.
Nevertheless, I think weve made a solid start to the weekend. We evaluated a number of new solutions and made decent progress towards cracking the balance needed for both the soft and the super-soft tyres.
As always, the sharp end of the field looks extremely competitive, so the remainder of the weekend will be all about trying to maximise the slightest competitive advantage. Theres still work to be done, but our engineers and mechanics will doubtless rise to the challenge.
Were in the thick of it, and were very much looking forward to qualifying tomorrow.
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:40.221, 6th; P2 - 1:39.330, 5th
I was pleased with both sessions today. As expected, it looks like our car is better suited to the circuit. The day went well, so I think we can get into the top ten tomorrow and plan our strategy on that basis. We have made some small changes, nothing major, and we looked ok on our long runs. Of course, I haven't been able to study the times from the other teams yet, but we will try to secure a solid result this weekend.
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:40.396, 7th; P2 - 1:39.584, 7th
It was a good day for us and we made some progress over the two practice sessions. We had some small new things to try on the car which worked quite well, and we seem to be looking better here than in Suzuka. So I'm looking forward to tomorrow and seeing where we are compared to the other cars.
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
We've had a very solid Friday working through our planned programme and were able to complete a lot of running. The car seems reasonable on lower fuel levels, although there is still work to be done on high fuel. The grip evolves very rapidly here and I expect we will have a different track on Sunday to the one that we saw today, so we need to try and anticipate that. Overall it's been a pretty reasonable day.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
Two good sessions without interruptions for our team today. Michael and Nico did lots of laps in both sessions during which we ran through our planned programme. Without reading anything into our positions today, we have a decent base for tomorrow. With today's data and the observations from the drivers, we will try and further improve our set-up for both qualifying and the race on Sunday.
Nico Hulkenberg, P2 - 1:39.739, 9th
Im feeling pretty happy with today. I didnt drive here last year so I spent the first few laps getting to grips with the circuit again and finding my rhythm. We did our programme, completed all the tests and have all the tyre data to look at tonight. Balance-wise Im feeling pretty comfortable in the car so were in a good position and ready for tomorrow.
Paul di Resta, P2 - 1:40.440, 9th; P2 - 1:40.112, 13th
Its always difficult to judge too much from a Friday, but we got through our various programmes and got the data we needed for short and long runs. The long run pace looks quite competitive, but I dont think my short run pace was representative because both my runs were compromised by traffic and I didnt get a clean lap. I think weve got a reasonable idea of where we are, but theres a lot of work to be done between now and final practice.
Jules Bianchi, P1 - 1:41.140, 13th
I got my first experience of the track today so the first few laps were not easy as I tried to get familiar with the track as quickly as possible. Before I came here I watched a lot of videos of the circuit, but it still takes a while to get up to speed. I enjoyed the session and the track is really nice to drive. Its an interesting lap because there is a bit of everything: big stops, long straights, quick corners and slow sections. The car felt pretty good today and I tuned the set-up a bit more with each run.
Jakob Andreasen, Force India chief engineer
After the issues we had in Japan last week, it was a relief to have a straightforward day of practice and get all the data we needed. The car is working well and the drivers are generally happy with the balance so Id say we are not too far away from the sweet spot. Jules was in action this morning and did another excellent job. The track was quite dirty and he was driving here for the first time, but he steadily got on with things and evaluated some useful set-up options. The afternoon session showed that our long run pace looks encouraging and weve got a good feel for both the soft and super-soft tyres.
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:40.929, 11th; P2 - 1:39.839, 10th
The circuit is okay; its surprisingly bumpy in some parts but its quite different from other places we race. Its difficult for me to say about the exhaust until Ive sat down with the engineers and gone through the data. Well try to improve the car for tomorrow as it wasnt very easy to drive and get a good lap today. Lets see if we can get it completely right and maybe we can be in the top five in qualifying.
Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:40.422, 8th; P2 - 1:39.957, 11th
Its not been the easiest day. I think we still have some work to do with the car to get the best out of the tyres so tomorrow morning will be important. The track is interesting but its not been so hard to learn. The trickiest part is definitely Turns 11 and 12 which are not easy to get exactly right but overall its not too bad. On the positive side weve had a good amount of time learning the circuit and gathered a lot of data, so hopefully we can analyse things overnight and see an improved performance by the time we get to qualifying.
Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
We ran the Coanda exhaust system on Kimis car for both sessions. Romain ran with the Singapore generation rear wing for evaluation at the start of FP1, swapping to the Japan spec rear wing for the remainder of the day. Pirellis soft compound tyre was used in the morning, the soft and super soft in the afternoon. The Coanda exhaust performed as expected aerodynamically. Heavy fuel balance and tyre degradation levels were both promising.
James Allison, Lotus technical director
Were happy with how the new exhaust worked from a performance perspective and now need to assess if there are any potential reliability implications due to the hot exhaust gas running in different areas than usual. Early impressions are certainly good and we expect to retain it for the rest of the weekend with Kimi. Both drivers learnt the circuit very quickly. Romain complained of a little too much oversteer and with Kimi theres still potential with the setup, especially as we learn more about the new exhaust. Both drivers reported that they were very happy with the balance of the car when on high fuel loads and degradation levels look manageable from the tyres so its been a productive first day.
Bruno Senna, P2 - 1:40.089, 12th
It was a productive day for me. Missing the first session wasnt ideal because Im not so familiar with this track and my experience here in the last two years has been hampered by rain. But in the end I think we got a good idea of the direction we need to go to improve. Its going to be very tough, we can see that in low fuel situations some cars are faster than others, so we need to improve on that, but Im confident that we can start the race further up the grid.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:41.048, 12th; P2 - 1:41.200, 18th
It was a difficult day today which means we have a lot of work to do before qualifying. The track is quite challenging anyway, but we had some problems in the car this afternoon which we now need to analyse to make sure we can resolve them before tomorrow.
Valtteri Bottas, P1 - 1:42.027, 18th
It took quite a few laps to get into the rhythm today. Its a new track for me so I was just learning the corners and the feel of the track initially. I did my best lap time on the last lap as I couldnt get everything out of the car in the first two sessions when the tyres might have been best. But again, a very positive session for me and the team - we managed to complete all our planned tests and got some good data that we will now analyse and learn from.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
As we have seen in previous years the track evolution on the Friday is very big with low levels of grip to start with. We completed a very full combined development and set-up balance optimisation programme with our three drivers. We have a few areas to improve on for tomorrow and Pastor also had a car issue throughout FP2 which we are currently investigating.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:41.220, 14th; P2 - 1:40.445, 14th
We completed a huge programme with my car today but Im not really happy yet. On high fuel it doesnt look bad actually but on low fuel Im struggling a lot. We have to find out how we can improve and I think we will find solutions.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:41.514, 15th; P2 - 1:40.745, 15th
For me the first session went quite well but then in the second session I lost a lot of track time because of a technical problem. I just had no engine power anymore and had to stop on the track. That was why I could not complete my programme and havent done any long runs on either tyre compound yet so it is too early to say what we can do here. Nevertheless I am very confident for the remainder of the weekend.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
Unfortunately we have lost half of the second session on Sergios car because of a problem with the engine management. With Kamuis car we didnt have any reliability issues but performance-wise we have to improve. We need to get a better understanding of a few things and decide what to do. Generally speaking the soft tyre compound is definitely the better one for us. We have to look deeper into the data to find solutions on how to manage the super-softs.
Jean-Eric Vergne, P1 - 1:42.021, 17th; P2 - 1:40.789, 16th
Today was a sort of anniversary for me, as it was in Korea that I started driving the Friday morning sessions for Toro Rosso and today, that went much better than a year ago, when I only completed 5 laps in very heavy rain. I cant say I thought about it much, as there was plenty of work to do today. Its a nice track and I felt quite comfortable here. During the day, we worked hard on finding the right balance of the car, between oversteer and understeer and I believe we made some progress over the course of the three hours. But there is more to come, so we must work hard overnight to see how we can move forward for the rest of the weekend.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:41.596, 16th; P2 - 1:40.997, 17th
We made progress from the morning to the afternoon session and when I started FP2 on the Soft tyre I felt the balance of the car had improved. However, on the super soft, I encountered traffic on my first two laps and by the time I had a clear run on the third one, the tyres were no longer at their best. I did the long run on the option tyre and even if the pace was not what we wanted, it was not too far off, so all things considered the most positive factor is that we have an idea how to move forward for tomorrow and improve in time for qualifying.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
Overall, this Friday went smoothly for us, as we completed all our programme with no real issues. This track is quite difficult to assess, as it sees very little use over the year and therefore the grip level increases significantly as the track gets cleaner and evolves when more rubber is put down. It is a very interesting track with a mix of corner types. Daniel and Jean-Eric also increased their performance level as the day progressed and we have all the elements we need to improve the car tomorrow. We are not yet where we want to be in terms of car balance, but today we collected plenty of data to work on. The only slight inconvenience is that Daniel did not get a clean lap on his option run, when he encountered a lot of traffic.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:42.104, 19th; P2 - 1:41.602, 19th
FP1 was a good session for me. The car felt well balanced right from the start and it kept improving throughout. The track was obviously very slippery to begin with but the grip levels improved pretty quickly and the small changes we made for each run were working well. In FP2 I went off track in my first run and that dislodged a couple of bolts in the cockpit that meant we had to make a temporary fix to the seat so we could get through the program. Until that point the balance didnt feel quite as good as it had in the morning but once we went out on the supersofts the balance was back to where Id like. We also improved the braking throughout the session so overall this has been a good day.
Giedo van der Garde, P1 - 1:42.820, 22nd
Another very useful session for me and the more time I spend in the car the more confident Im getting. This morning we were running a similar program to Heikki and apart from some issues with the front tyres graining early on I think we made some good progress on another track thats new to me. After the first full run we made a few mechanical and aero changes and the car immediately felt much better, giving me more confidence to push a bit harder, but Im still learning and I want to do what the team asks me, not try and put in the quickest lap times I can. Next up is FP1 in India and Im already looking forward to making more progress there.
Vitaly Petrov, P2 - 1:43.067, 22nd
FP2 didnt start as wed have liked as I could almost immediately feel like we had a right rear puncture. We cut run one short and when I got back in the garage we found we did have a puncture so we changed the session plan to avoid using up another set of the soft tyres. On my first run on the super softs the balance wasnt quite there so we made a couple of mechanical changes and they definitely improved the handling on the long run. The degradation level on the super softs is pretty high and with the need to look after the tyres we obviously had to change the program and my times would have definitely come down with more time on track and with the chance to run more laps on both compounds. Despite that both Heikki and Giedo have put in a good number of laps on the soft tyres so we have a lot of data to work through, enough to put us in a decent position for tomorrow.
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:42.175, 20th; P2 - 1:42.596, 20th
Not an easy first day for us in Korea. I think we had reasonable pace in FP1 but the car behaviour was already a bit difficult this morning. In FP2 we werent really able to improve. The rest of the cars in the field made a step forward I think and unfortunately we did not, so we need to find out why we could not get rid of the strange car behaviour that we have experienced here so far. We need to have a close look into the data and see what we can find there because this is limiting the pace of our car at the moment. Finding the problem overnight wont be an easy job, but the car has to be better for tomorrow so that is the challenge for us.
Charles Pic, P1 - 1:42.706, 21st; P2 - 1:43.066, 21st
In Free Practice 1 this morning I felt that my first experience of this track was quite positive. We did some good work with the new floor to compare the data with Suzuka while I started to learn the circuit and get up to speed. This afternoon I was less comfortable with the steering. As we were unlikely to improve unless we changed something, and in fact the car was very difficult to drive, we decided to switch the steering rack, although this would mean losing some track time. The change was positive but the car was still not as we would like, so we have to work to understand why.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
In FP1 this morning we completed the installation laps with both cars and Timo was uncomfortable with the steering. We opted to revert to a specification of steering rack that we ran with in Japan and, as we hadnt planned to do much running in the first session anyway to allow the track to improve, we were hopeful that this wouldnt affect our programme too much. Once the change had been actioned, Timo got up to speed quite quickly. With Charles, we focused more on his acclimatisation to this new circuit and at the same time did some comparison work with the new floor following its debut in Japan. This afternoon, once Charles was a little more attuned to the circuit, he experienced the same lack of confidence with the steering and once again, we opted to trade running time for the opportunity to improve by reverting to the prior specification of steering rack. Again the change was beneficial. This seems to be an issue relating more to the characteristics of this specific circuit, as opposed to a problem. Neither driver is fully happy with the balance, although we end FP2 feeling happier as a result of the changes made. It is also appropriate at this stage to say that we plan to fit a new engine to Charles car this evening in the knowledge that, as his ninth engine of the season, we will incur a 10-place grid penalty on Sunday.
Narain Karthikeyan, P2 - 1:43.869, 23rd
"As I didnt run in the first session we had to make the most of the second one to adapt to the circuit. There are very technical areas such as turn 11 and the second sector, so we have to run even more to get to know it better. Tomorrow we will try out a different set-up and I hope that in the third free practice session well be able to prepare better to give it our all in qualifying.
Pedro de la Rosa, P1 - 1:44.517, 23rd; P2 - 1:44.533, 24th
"Today was a classic Friday practice session. We focused on testing everything we had programmed and getting to know the circuit because Id never raced here. Its very technical and you need to know it well. That was the target in the morning and we also gradually improved the set-up of the car. In the second session we mounted the new wing and tested both tyre options and now we must all the data we gathered to optimize the set-up for tomorrows qualifying.
Dani Clos, P1 - 1:45.735, 24th
"Id never raced here and it was an interesting session. The track was very dirty, especially at the beginning, so there wasnt much grip. It was a very demanding practice session because I had to learn the track very quickly to be able to give the maximum amount of feedback to the team. Im satisfied because we drew positive conclusions and did a good job.
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
"The important thing in any Friday practice session is to complete the test programme with no incidents. But at this particular circuit the drivers also had to learn the circuit because theyd never raced here. Dani did a good job in the morning y Narain adapted very quickly in the afternoon. Pedro, on his behalf, was also able to test the new rear wing and, although there is a lot of data to analyze, it looks like its a small improvement. Tomorrow I hope we can confirm this and close the gap a bit.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
With the soft compound softer than it was last year and temperatures generally higher this time in Korea, our tyres faced quite a challenge - particularly the super soft, which is subjected to the biggest energy loadings it faces all season. The teams worked through their programmes exactly how we expected, using the harder compound in the morning and the softer compound in the afternoon. In contrast to last year, we are expecting dry weather all weekend and probably the warmest Korean Grand Prix in its short history to date, so the data gathered today will be of crucial relevance for qualifying and the race. We should see a two-stop race and while we still need to analyse the data to have a firm idea of the performance gap between the compounds, were expecting it to be in the region of half a second. This is likely to provide plenty of opportunities for strategy, which has been a real talking point this year.
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