Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 13 Apr 2012
Mixed conditions made life difficult for all concerned in Shanghai on Friday morning, with the damp track rendering significant running all but impossible. The drizzle dried up in the afternoon, however, prompting a much busier session. The drivers and senior team personnel report back on the opening day in China...
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:38.316, 3rd; P2 - 1:35.973, 1st
"It was a trouble-free day, and I am quite happy with how our car is handling so far here. The balance of the car was reasonably good, and obviously a balanced car contributes a lot to lap time. As a team, we are a lot stronger in certain areas this season, and we have a much better base to work from, although we are not quite where we want to be with this car yet but I am confident we will get there. We will now have to look deeper into the data in order to find out where we really are here, but I am looking forward to tomorrow's qualifying."
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:38.116, 2nd; P2 - 1:36.617, 5th
"It's important for us at the moment that we try a lot of different evaluations during practice to improve our race pace. So I think it was a decent start to the race weekend today as we learned quite a few interesting things. The conditions were so changeable today that it was difficult to take the right decisions in terms of set-up work, and we struggled a little with the front tyres. That may have been caused by the cold temperatures today, and can change very quickly between now and the race, so I am not too concerned."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
"We had a useful second session on the dry track this afternoon and were able to carry over some of the work that we wanted to do this morning to ensure that we completed our planned programme. Whilst our low fuel runs look good, our primary focus has been on race pace and working to understand the tyres so that we can use them as well as possible on Sunday."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"We are not reading too much into today's lap times but we are quite positive about what we have learned in terms of race simulations and the comparison between the tyre types on both our cars. In the limited time available after the wet first session, our team and drivers did a good job finding a solid basis to work from tomorrow."
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:37.106, 1st; P2 - 1:36.145, 2nd
Its been a great day - it stayed dry in the afternoon so we successfully got through our run programme. Were still working away to improve the set-up, but the new bits on the car seem to be working: the guys back at the factory have done a great job. We look competitive - and Ive been particularly focusing on the longer runs for this weekend. We still need to make a few improvements but our car looks good. Ill be changing the gearbox on my car before P3. Its going to be a close qualifying session tomorrow - itll be a good battle and hopefully we can start as high up the grid as possible because I think well still be in the race and among the leading group. I love the challenge of coming through and gaining positions.
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:39.199, 8th; P2 - 1:36.711, 6th
Its been a little bit of a difficult day for me. I was trying to find a good set-up but the cold weather made it difficult to understand the car because the tyres werent working perfectly. Tomorrow should be a bit warmer than today - we dont quite understand the tyre temperatures and cant get them quite in the right area. And if we make a set-up change and the tyre temp changes by five or 10 degrees, then that change goes out the window. Thats something for us to sort out, but weve got a lot of useful information from the low- and high-fuel runs. Its been a tricky day but theres a lot of good information to go through - well find a better direction overnight.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Todays low temperatures meant it was difficult to chase the optimum tyre performance - particularly on Jensons side of the garage. However, there were plenty of positives to take away from today: our car looks to be quick, the upgrade package that we brought to this race also seems to be a positive step, and our long-run pace is also promising. This evening, well be looking closely at how to best match the set-up to the tyre temperatures, and working further to refine the balance of the car, but this is undoubtedly a good place from which to start.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:39.198, 7th; P2 - 1:36.160, 3rd
"It is tight between the cars. I haven't seen everything, but I think overall we can be quite happy. We tried a lot of things today and now we need to go through everything and see what the best set-up is. If you look at the car, you can see a big difference compared to the set-up we used for Malaysia, but driving it's hard to say, as I don't have a comparison to this track. It's cooler here than at the last two races; I felt more comfortable, but we'll see. It's tricky to say if we look competitive. McLaren look good in all conditions."
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:38.977, 6th; P2 - 1:36.433, 4th
The sessions were mixed in terms of weather, but we were able to get some good information. We managed to run slick tyres this morning between showers and this afternoon we did a few long and short runs, so were learning a lot quickly, which is important on a Friday. Weve got a lot of stuff to go through tonight and will continue to find out more tomorrow and on Sunday. Weve come from a track thats 50 degrees Celsius to a cooler circuit, so we have more grip here which helps, but I think overall that were moving in the right direction.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:38.911, 5th; P2 - 1:36.956, 7th
We had a few minor issues to fix, but overall todays practice sessions went smoothly. Sometimes the visibility was a bit poor and this didnt help to predict where the track was and wasnt slippery. My car definitely felt better balanced in the afternoons practice session than it did in the morning, and I believe we look okay here on this track. Of course there is still room for improvement in regard to the set-up. When we make our decisions for tomorrow we will not focus too much on todays track conditions, as we expect the temperatures to be a bit higher then.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:38.584, 4th; P2 - 1:37.417, 11th
The balance of my car had actually been better in the first free practice session compared to the afternoon. I wasnt too happy in the second free practice. I had problems with the brakes, which didnt work the way they should, and I lost too much front tyre temperature on the back straight. It was too easy to lock the front. We need to improve the cars overall balance for qualifying. We have a bit of homework now, but we have gathered quite a good amount of data.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
Our first day here at the Shanghai International Circuit went okay, despite the fact we had to adapt the programme a bit due to the drizzle in the morning, and also the brake problems in the afternoon on Sergios car cost us a set of tyres. But nevertheless we got a lot of work done today. So, from the engineering side, it was a positive day. Tomorrow we will get to know more about where we are performance wise.
Paul di Resta, P2 - 1:36.966, 8th
It was a solid afternoon session and a positive start to our race weekend. The baseline set-up was pretty good to begin with and we just worked away at fine-tuning that during the session. As for the tyres, I would say the medium and softs are quite similar and we managed to get good data during the long runs on both compounds.
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:40.328, 14th; P2 - 1:37.191, 9th
A very short FP1 with the mixed weather, but the running I managed was still useful because we did a few laps on the medium tyre towards the end of the morning. Then we had a very smooth FP2 in the dry conditions, which allowed us to complete all our objectives with long runs and tyre evaluation. Already I have a positive feeling in the car: it feels good to drive and Im happy with the balance.
Jules Bianchi, P1 - 1:42.521, 19th
It was my first ever practice session in Formula One and my first time driving the Shanghai circuit, so there was quite a lot to learn. We tried to do as much as possible, but the weather made things difficult and we didnt do a lot of laps. After the install lap the track was still a bit damp in places, but almost immediately it started to rain again so we decided to wait for conditions to improve. I went out for a timed lap on the intermediates towards the end before switching to the dry tyres, but the track was very low grip and it was hard to push to the limit. It was good to work with the team and any time in the car is always valuable experience.
Jakob Andreasen, Force India chief engineer
We made the most of a damp morning session to begin our evaluation of some small aero developments we have introduced to the car this week. It was also Jules first opportunity to take part in a free practice session with us and despite covering limited mileage he did a good job and gave valuable feedback. With the weather improving this afternoon we were able to push ahead with the essential tyre data collection and assess our long run performance. The sessions went to plan and we are optimistic heading into tomorrow.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:40.056, 11th; P2 - 1:37.316, 10th
It was a normal Friday, based mainly on evaluating new aerodynamic parts in FP1 and on the usual tyre tests in FP2. As always, we tried to work out which would be the fastest compound to use in qualifying and which the most consistent over a long run. Felipe and I split the workload on track and now, this afternoon it is down to the engineers to analyse the data and take the best decisions for tomorrow, both in terms of the updates we have brought for this race and from what we have learned regarding the tyres. It rained in the morning and this slowed the programme a bit, but all the same we managed to complete it in the second session. We definitely lack a bit of performance: we will try and find it for tomorrow, as well as trying to sort out the balance of the car, especially in terms of its grip. Theres a lot to do if we want to have a good qualifying.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:40.153, 12th; P2 - 1:38.293, 17th
You definitely couldnt define today as being fantastic. This morning the track was a bit wet and that meant we werent able to run as much as we would have liked, while in the afternoon, the track dried and we managed to get through our usual Friday programme. When I was on my first run on the Soft tyres, Glock went off the track at Turn 1 and I was forced to pit again: this meant I was unable to get the most out of this set of tyres and significantly improve my time. I am sure that it would have been much faster than the one posted on the classification: that bothers me a bit because I did not manage to use the soft tyres in the way I should have done. At the end of the session, we ran with a lot of fuel on board to improve the balance of the car.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
We have brought some updates here for the F2012 which should provide an improvement in terms of performance, compared to the first two races: the first evaluation that we can make after these three hours of free practice is a positive one, but clearly we have hours of work ahead of us this afternoon and tonight to complete an in-depth analysis. On the other hand, we cannot ignore the fact that the characteristics of this track seem to be less suited to our car than Malaysia. Taking these two factors into consideration, I am not expecting anything new in terms of our positions on the grid: at the moment, our realistic expectation is somewhere between seventh and twelfth place, as indeed we were in Sepang. However, we have to bear in mind that its all very close, so it only takes the slightest thing - a mistake, a less than perfect lap - to make for a significant change of position, either upward or downward. To those who ask me when we will see a Ferrari fighting for pole position, I can only reply there is no magic button we can press to improve the situation in one go. We need to push in many areas, starting with the aerodynamics which is still the decisive factor in todays Formula One, while not forgetting our work methods, in order to get the results in the short term, but especially in the long term.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:39.748, 9th; P2 - 1:37.616, 12th
FP1 was partly wasted because of the weather, the damp track meaning we only got a handful of clean laps. But the afternoon was better and I was happy with the balance of the car on the Prime, although I did not feel we gained that much in performance terms when switching to the Option. So this is one area we have to look into this evening; maybe the track conditions didnt suit the Option so well. Generally, we are in a similar position, compared to others, as in the first two races, although I feel we are looking more competitive than in Malaysia. I am happier with the car here and hopefully that will mean we can fight for a top-ten place.
Jean-Eric Vergne, P1 - 1:39.768, 10th; P2 - 1:37.930, 14th
Another new circuit for me. I enjoyed it and I think I learned it quite quickly, although the few drops of rain this morning limited the number of laps I could do. We managed to do a lot more this afternoon which was positive. Daniel and I ran different set-ups and I think splitting the programme between the two cars worked well in that the engineers now have plenty of data to study tonight. I am not entirely happy with the feeling I had from the car, but I am quite confident that we can have a good car tomorrow and do well.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
Today our programme with both cars involved the usual race preparation as well as evaluating a few new parts we have brought here. The programme was slightly disturbed by the rain in the morning, but we tried to catch up in FP2, when we did a lot of laps with both drivers. We spent much of the time evaluating different set-up options and both dry tyre compounds. The day went well with no major car issues and we have a reasonable amount of data to look at tonight. In terms of performance, it still looks as tight within our group as it did at the first two races, therefore doing well will depend on doing the best possible job of putting together all the small details.
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:50.465, 24th; P2 - 1:37.836, 13th
Its not often that you have a perfect car on Friday and there are certain things we have to improve. To be honest, it doesnt matter if you are the slowest car on Friday if you are fast for the rest of the weekend. We now just need to look at the information and change the usual things on the car to improve it. Were aiming for better results than what weve achieved from the last two weekends. For sure, we have some work to do on the car. We tried some different things with the set-up today so we have some information to look at, and we know there are certain areas where we have to improve.
Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:41.204, 17th; P2 - 1:37.972, 15th
We had strange conditions this morning and a little bit of a difficult session this afternoon to be honest. Were not where we would expect to be, partly due to the low temperature which we didnt expect. Well analyse whats changed coming from two warm weekends to here where its pretty cold and has changed the game. On a positive note Im comfortable with the way the car feels; we have a few set-up issues but its not as if the car is nowhere. Im sure well improve tomorrow, and of course if the weather changes again then everything will change. Its never easy to learn a new track in varying conditions, but it was good to get out there and find my way around, and also to get a proper impression of the intermediate tyres which is a bonus for me. The track itself is quite nice to drive, and I was pleased to be reasonably close to Kimi who obviously has a lot more experience around here. Ill be working late with the engineers tonight.
James Allison, Lotus technical director
We spent today trying to make the E20 good for the race and tomorrow well look at ultimate qualifying pace. The morning session was damp and drizzly, and the afternoon was a bit cold. Were not certain that today will be representative of the race conditions well see. We didnt find a balance that either driver was happy with today, but we experienced a similar Friday scenario in Albert Park and Sepang and managed to get the cars sorted for Saturday.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:40.540, 15th; P2 - 1:38.176, 16th
It was a bit difficult this morning with the track conditions. We need to improve our qualifying set-up and I will work through that with my engineers this evening. We will make some changes overnight but the car is looking stronger for the race.
Bruno Senna, P2 - 1:38.783, 18th
It was a productive P2 for us. I dont know the circuit particularly well so it is a steep learning curve, but Im learning all the time and well have some further improvements tomorrow.
Valtteri Bottas, P1 - 1:40.298, 13th
The track conditions were pretty tricky today. I have never driven a Formula One car in wet or damp conditions so it was a new experience for me. I liked it though; it was good fun. Even though we had limited running it was important that we completed a run on dry tyres, which we were able to do towards the end of the session.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
This morning's session proved quite difficult, with the track remaining damp for a long time and with the associated running conditions straddling between the optimal window for either the intermediate or dry tyres. Towards the end of the first session we were able to complete a number of laps on dry tyres. With the evolving track conditions in the afternoon we worked on both the mechanical and aero balance to try and optimise the set-up for the race, but with reduced running this morning we still have some work to do tomorrow.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:41.071, 16th; P2 - 1:38.990, 19th
A bit of a tricky day and one where I'm not sure how much we've learnt. The conditions this morning meant we didn't learn too much, even though it was good to get some mileage on the inters, and this afternoon I had a few issues trying to find decent grip but we can work on that tonight. I'm pretty certain we can find quite a lot more from the whole package for tomorrow so let's see where we find ourselves when it gets serious on Saturday afternoon.
Vitaly Petrov, P2 - 1:39.346, 20th
I had a slightly interrupted session this afternoon with maybe one run lost to an alteration to the front suspension early in the session, but despite that I'm reasonably pleased with how the rest of FP2 went. Tyre degradation doesn't look too bad on either compound and I think we can find more time with some changes to the mechanical grip, so with some hard work tonight I think we can be ok for tomorrow and the race on Sunday.
Giedo van der Garde, P1 - 1:44.118, 20th
That wasnt the easiest first FP1 session for me with the team but Im pleased with the job I did and have had good feedback from the engineers, so I dont think I could have done any more in todays tricky conditions. In general the car balance was good. Theres a lot of traction and the braking stability has improved since the test I did in Spain so its good to see the cars developing well. Bearing in mind the updates weve brought here, its clear the team is pushing hard to join the fight ahead and Im glad I had the chance today to help here in China.
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport support to Caterham
"The layout of the Shanghai track presents us with a few challenges, particularly in optimising the gear ratios for the very long straight to make sure we can get the most out of DRS in both qualifying and race conditions. The cold, damp weather today also gives us a few issues - the internal parts are under more stress than normal as there is more air going into the engine, particularly at high speed, but I think we have dealt with that well and it hasn't given us any problems. We have also been looking at making sure we give the drivers enough driveability in the first sector, and balancing that against the need for maximum speed on the straight, and from the feedback we have had from all three drivers so far I think we are in the right area."
Mark Smith, Caterham technical director
We started with Giedo in for Vitaly this morning and he did a good job in conditions that were obviously pretty tricky. The weather this morning meant we ended up running more than we would have liked on the intermediate tyres and with the new floor we have brought here we wanted to maximise our running on the dry tyres to learn as much as we could about the update on the actual race cars. It is still too early to tell how much the update has given us but this afternoon we were able to run through most of the programme which gives us a useful amount of aero data on the new floor so we will work with the team here in China and back at the factory on that information tonight and see what we need to do to get the most out of it tomorrow and for the race on Sunday.
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:42.330, 18th; P2 - 1:39.651, 21st
In general a positive day of progress with the car and I was happy with my pace and the way the car was working. Unfortunately we have experienced a problem which points towards an operational issue. While this is disappointing, we can at least be sure that this was not a car issue of any kind. In fact, the package, including the new developments, seems quite promising and I was happy with the good balance. There is damage to the car, as you might expect from the impact, but it is mainly cosmetic and the chassis is fine. A long night for the mechanics I think, so a frustrating outcome all round to an otherwise trouble-free day. Personally I am fine. Initially I had some pain in my hand from the steering wheel when I hit the wall but no lasting damage.
Charles Pic, P1 - 1:44.500, 22nd; P2 - 1:40.753, 23rd
The day started with very tricky conditions in the wet, but we managed to complete our full aerodynamic programme which was important for us. This afternoon we did race simulation work and put the Pirelli Soft option tyre on at the end of the day. Overall it has been a positive result. This is a new circuit for me and Timos position demonstrates that there is more to come, so that will be the target for me tomorrow.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
First and foremost we are obviously relieved that Timo seems to be fine. The next significant point is that we have clearly identified that the cause of the incident was not of a mechanical nature. This clarity enables us to push forward with our programme with confidence and continue to explore what, based on this mornings performance, seems to be a very positive step forward in aerodynamic terms. We have brought developments for the front wing, the rear brake drums and the floor here and the results shown in todays running leave us very optimistic about the direction we are moving in. Its frustrating therefore that we have found ourselves with the problem we encountered today but we can at least turn our thoughts to the rest of the weekend now. Charles has played his part in an otherwise strong performance by the team today and he has once again come up to speed very quickly on his third consecutive unknown circuit. It will be a late night for sure but we look forward to a better end to tomorrows programme.
Pedro de la Rosa, P1 - 1:44.227, 21st; P2 - 1:40.343, 22nd
"The day started with a strange morning session as a result of the weather conditions, but it was the same for everyone. However, the afternoon session went well where we were able to try out various set-up options and adjustments that enabled us to improve the balance of the car both with medium and soft tyres. We were able to complete the scheduled programme but tomorrow we should progress a bit. We definitely felt an improvement with respect to the Malaysian Grand Prix and the team is also working better together, but we still have a lot of work to do.
Narain Karthikeyan, P1 - 1:47.204, 23rd; P2 - 1:41.125, 24th
"The weather wasnt favourable for us in free practice one and it meant that we didnt get any proper running done. I had a few problems in the morning session but the afternoon, where we tried a few different adjustments, was fine. We have a few things to look at tomorrow, especially on the braking side, but apart from that everything went well. We have to improve and we will do that. Tomorrows practice three will be more representative of where we are.
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
"Since we arrived in China, the feeling weve had has been one of more normality than what we experienced in the first two races and that is positive. Weve been working like any other team and were following the normal routine of a weekend. Yesterday we worked on the car and pit stops and today the drivers went out to the track trouble-free and practiced their starts. The team is much more coordinated and things are going according to plan and that is very important. Were still a little bit off where we aim to be but everyday were one step closer.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
The rain-affected first session was mainly used by the teams to establish crossover points between the intermediate and the slick tyres, which could be of use if we see more rain over the weekend. We then had a very busy second session, as the teams all tried to make up for the dry running that they had lost in the morning, particularly when it came to testing some new parts and evolutions. As a result of that, weve got plenty of data to analyse now in order to establish the level of degradation. From what we can see so far, were expecting the difference between the soft and the medium tyre to be in the region of 0.6 seconds per lap, and we would anticipate between two and three pit stops per car in the normal course of events.
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