Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 11 May 2012
The home crowd had something to smile about in the morning session with local hero Fernando Alonso setting the early pace in Spain. But in the afternoon Alonso slipped down to 14th in the order and the power had seemingly shifted to McLarens Jenson Button and Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel, with little more than a tenth between them in first and second. The drivers and senior team personnel report back on the opening day in Spain
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:24.996, 4th; P2 - 1:23.399, 1st
It was a positive afternoon. I did a good lap on the Option tyre, the car is running well, and our upgrades seem to be working. But there are still some improvements to be made.
The Option seems to be a bit easier for everyone as its softer and therefore more receptive to generating temperature. In P2, we also started to find a way to get the Prime to work, but then, later in the session, we couldnt quite get back to that sweet-spot. If we can solve these issues with the Prime and get it into its correct working range, I think we can be quite competitive this weekend.
There are a lot of quick cars out there, but, aerodynamically, I think weve got a strong car. Weve just got to make sure that we make sure that the four things touching the road are working properly for us too.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:25.252, 8th; P2 - 1:23.909, 4th
The car already feels better than it did at the last race theres a good series of improvements within the car. My long run this afternoon was very satisfying and there are positives to take from that, but theres still more time in the car, as Jenson showed.
I struggled a little with set-up today. Its a little bit inconsistent, so its very difficult to pinpoint exactly whats needed to make it better. But well be looking at the data to find out where the most significant issues are, and Im confident we can make improvements overnight.
Nevertheless, the upgrades we brought to this race seem to be working well and weve got good pace on the longer runs. The guys back at the factory did a fantastic job. Its been a positive day and were in the fight.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Its pleasing to hear both drivers express their initial satisfaction with the suite of upgrades weve brought to the circuit this weekend. Its now time for the engineers to sit down and look in detail at the data to determine whats working and in what areas we can make further improvements.
The Circuit de Catalunya is always a very stern test of machinery, so its gratifying to see Vodafone McLaren Mercedes assume the top spot on the timesheets at this early stage of the weekend. It was a very strong lap from Jenson.
Looking deeper at the timesheets, its clear that, once again, were set for an extremely finely pitched and closely fought race - its going to be a fascinating weekend.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:24.808, 2nd; P2 - 1:23.563, 2nd
It wasnt too bad today theres a lot of stuff for us to go through. We had a few new parts to try, which is not that unusual for Barcelona. Im pretty happy; we did a lot of laps and got through the programme well. The wind played a role today, you could see some cars going off the track and the asphalt temperatures can go high here which makes the car slide. Its similar here to last year and its likely we will see a few stops on Sunday during the race.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:25.539, 13th; P2 - 1:24.065, 7th
It takes a while to get in to the groove here with the balance. We saw at the end of P2 that you have to get everything together to get the lap time here. Well have more chances tomorrow to work on the short runs. We were trying a few things in those practice sessions and well see what Adrian and the guys come up with for us tomorrow. Im not sure how many pitstops there will be on Sunday, but it will be quite a few. The soft tyre is a nicer tyre to run on but tyre strategy will be very important here.
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:25.607, 14th; P2 - 1:23.771, 3rd
"Generally all worked well today, but there are also a few question marks after the two sessions. Tyre management will be a big challenge again this weekend, and that will be the key for success. We have got plenty of options to work though this evening to find the right set-up for the conditions out there tomorrow and on Sunday."
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:25.187, 6th; P2 - 1:24.080, 8th
"The way it worked out for us today demonstrated that the testing we did in Mugello was worth it, so again I'm happy we had the chance to do that. Of course it was very warm today and therefore the track was quite slippery, but that was according to our expectations. Our feeling for the weekend is pretty okay after everything we have learned in the two sessions, so we will now analyse the data carefully in order to work out exactly how to approach qualifying and the race from everything we have learned in the two sessions today."
Bob Bell, Mercedes technical director
"The practice sessions went reasonably well for us today, and certainly the new parts that we have here this weekend worked as expected with no reliability issues. We also saw the benefit of the work that we did in Mugello last week, particularly the understanding of how the tyres need to be used. We weren't quite as strong as we would have wanted to be in P1 this morning, however we made changes over the break and saw improvements this afternoon. Overall, a solid day's work which has provided the data that we need to plan ahead for the weekend."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"A challenging first day with changing track conditions. We worked through an intensive programme with lots of laps to evaluate the two tyre compounds available. Our team learned a lot today and the plan is to make a further step tomorrow as we did today from the first to the second practice session."
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:25.285, 9th; P2 - 1:23.918, 5th
There were no problems with the car and everything felt good today. We tried a different front wing, but in the car you cant tell if it makes much difference; that is why the teams engineers are looking at the data. I felt comfortable and I think the work done at Mugello and in the Windshear test programme have made improvements. Well have to see tomorrow how much pace everyone has when it comes to qualifying as thats when it matters. Weve been fast everywhere else so far and theres nothing to suggest we wont be fast here again.
Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:25.217, 7th; P2 - 1:23.964, 6th
It was a pretty good day today. The weather is fantastic, the car feels great and the lap times were promising; Im a happy man. The balance felt strong on both tyres and we were able to complete long runs to give us valuable tyre data for Sunday. Im happy with the performance of the car even when the tyres are nearer the end of their performance life which is a good sign for this weekend. Its very close of course, so qualifying will be interesting. I cant wait for tomorrow to come.
Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
The car looks to be working very well and were happy with progress. Our long runs on the softer tyres gave us good data for the race in terms of degradation and how many laps they can last before the performance drops away significantly. From this weve had an initial look at our pit stop strategy for Sunday. There were no problems from either car and both drivers were pretty happy with things. Some of work in Mugello concentrated on how we run the cars on lower fuel levels which is reflected by our better lap time performance on a Friday than weve seen at some other races.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:24.912, 3rd; P2 - 1:24.214, 9th
It was a good first day here for us. I think my fastest lap time on soft tyres should have been a little bit better, but I wasnt pushing enough on that lap. The long runs looked okay with both the hard and the soft tyre compounds. However, I think for qualifying we should improve the balance of the car. We have had a smooth day and Im looking forward to tomorrow.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:25.918, 15th; P2 - 1:24.422, 12th
In the morning the cars balance wasnt good and we had to change quite a lot for the afternoon session. We worked in the right direction, as it was an improvement and therefore it really was a productive day. I found on long runs both tyre compounds were degrading quite a lot, but we will see what we can do to help in this respect.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
Overall we had a good Friday. We were able to cover the programme with both cars and both tyre compounds. Sergios last run was somewhat hampered after a previous off which had resulted in some damage of the floor. What we can see from measurements the new aero package, which was introduced in Mugello, works as expected. So also in that regard we are quite happy. We have done good mileage and now have a lot of data to look at.
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:25.339, 10th; P2 - 1:24.365, 10th
We got through the programme pretty much as planned and the initial results seem quite encouraging. The main task was to continue understanding the new upgrades, which I ran for both sessions, and getting the car set-up nicely for the track. We made some changes during the lunch break and they improved things, so Im happy about what weve done today. As always, theres still work to do, but the main tasks for today are complete.
Paul di Resta, P2 - 1:24.688, 15th
A fairly normal Friday afternoon session for me trying to get on top of the tyres quickly and fine-tune the balance of the car. I had the new parts on the car, which seem to be delivering, although its too early to say where we stand because we dont know what everyone else was doing or their fuel loads. I think its going to be another very close weekend, just as we have seen in the previous races, and we still have plenty of work to do before qualifying to find the sweet spot.
Jules Bianchi, P1 - 1:26.630, 18th
I was driving the same car we raced in Bahrain so that the team could run a back-to-back comparison with the new developments we have here. The session went well, I managed 21 laps on the hard compound tyre and the programme has given us a lot of data to analyse before qualifying.
Jakob Andreasen, Force India chief engineer
A productive Friday for us with excellent feedback from Nico, Paul and Jules as we continued to evaluate the developments we ran in Mugello last week. The driver comments are encouraging and the numbers also suggest the new parts are delivering what we expected. The rest of the programme was a fairly standard Friday job list, although Nico did use two sets of hard tyres this morning. Paul was back in the car for the afternoon and quickly got up to speed as he spent the majority of the session on the soft tyres. Theres still room to improve overnight to maximise final practice and leave us in good shape going into qualifying.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:25.433, 12th; P2 - 1:24.418, 11th
It was very hot today, which put the tyres under a lot of strain. We worked a lot on the updates we have available as from this weekend and, at first sight, the results seem to be positive. This morning especially, we concentrated on comparing different configurations, while in the afternoon, we worked mainly on set-up and tyre behaviour. Its impossible to make a comparison with the results of winter testing, because the track surface conditions have completely changed as the temperature is so different to what we had in the winter. Now we must put together all the best elements to produce our maximum potential and prepare well for qualifying and the race. On Sunday, if it turns out as hot as this, it will be an even tougher race than usual, especially because of tyre degradation.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:24.430, 1st; P2 - 1:24.600, 14th
Its nice to be back racing in front of my home crowd: from the moment I got here on Wednesday evening, I could already feel the warmth of the fans who are also now all Ferrari fans. We had a very busy programme, with a lot of new things to try and it was important to evaluate them very carefully. First impressions are positive: some parts worked as we expected, others less so, but broadly speaking, it confirms the tendency we had already seen in Mugello last week, which is that the data emerging form the wind tunnel has been been confirmed on track. Today, conditions were obviously very different to when we were here for the winter tests: its much hotter and the track surface conditions have therefore changed, with temperatures approaching 45º C. We tried to adapt the car set-up to the track conditions, but we are not yet completely satisfied: there is still work to do. Actually, it was a rather different Friday to usual, with the times even more mixed up than we have seen at the first four races this year. The tyres? No surprises, we know them sufficiently well now after all the kilometres we have done this winter and in the first part of the championship. The Softs seem quicker, the Hards more consistent, so nothing new there.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
An even busier Friday than usual for the whole team, coming off the back of a run of equally busy days, both at the track, with three days testing in Mugello and at the factory, where everyone put in an extraordinary amount of effort to bring as many new parts as possible here. In the two sessions, we privileged the job of evaluating and comparing all the new elements available, rather than the more usual preparation for a race weekend. I am not in the habit of giving instant verdicts on new parts: some elements have fully matched our expectations, others less so. Now we must analyse everything calmly, to get the most out of what we have and put it on the car. Definitely, car balance seems to be better on the Hards than the Softs and that partly explains the fact that we did not manage to significantly improve our times moving from one compound to another, without however forgetting that Fernando was always in traffic when he was on a set of new Softs. However, we still have a lot to do to set up the car in a way that will allow us to make the most of these tyres. All in all, I think we can say we have made a step forward, but how big it is compared to our competitors is something we will only find out tomorrow.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:26.297, 17th; P2 - 1:24.468, 13th
We completed our programme today and the tyres were working well this afternoon. It helps that we have done quite a lot of testing here, but the track conditions are quite different to over the winter so we now need to spend some time analysing the data. I am feeling confident though as this is a circuit that I like.
Bruno Senna, P2 - 1:25.047, 18th
It was a good session this afternoon and we completed a lot of laps. Its now time to sit down and look through the data to improve the set-up of the car on long runs as well as for qualifying tomorrow.
Valtteri Bottas, P1 - 1:25.120, 5th
This was the first track of the season that I already know so it was nice for me to be able to focus purely on the driving from the start. The car felt good but there are still some things we will continue to work on this afternoon. Overall, we gathered a lot of data and had a productive session which I really enjoyed.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
We had a very busy Friday with Pastor running both sessions and Valtteri testing in the morning, changing over to Bruno for the afternoon session. We concentrated primarily on aerodynamic development items in the morning followed by tyre testing in the afternoon. We had some downtime in the morning with Pastor's car due to a faulty DRS system, but this was rectified between sessions. We now need to analyse the prodigious amount of data collected in more detail in order to maximise our performance for qualifying and the race.
Jean-Eric Vergne, P1 - 1:25.367, 11th; P2 - 1:24.733, 16th
This morning we continued with some aero evaluation that we had started at the Mugello test. In the afternoon, we worked mainly towards the race and I feel we found some good solutions. Now, we must start to think about qualifying and how to improve the car balance, but so far it does not look too bad. I tried both types of tyre and, as you would expect the Option brings a big advantage in terms of lap time on low fuel and the Prime has a longer life, but all the same it will be interesting to see what will be the best tyre strategy for Sunday. The new parts? Its hard to say what improvement they have brought, as the other teams have been developing their cars too.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:26.226, 16th; P2 - 1:24.769, 17th
We tried a few different downforce settings in the morning and we were not too convinced by our pace. So we decided to make a few changes to the car for the afternoon session in terms of how to run our aero package. It gave me a slightly better feeling from the car, but we still need to work hard on set-up to try and find something extra there, if we want to be in contention for Q3 on Saturday. I have a few ideas of what we want to do and the engineers, who are probably a bit smarter than me, have definitely got some ideas up their sleeves.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
Both our cars ran trouble-free all day which is the first element you need if you are to have a good weekend. It means we completed a lot of laps and were able to work through all the programme we had planned for these three hours. In the morning, we dedicated most of the time to evaluating a couple of components we had not managed to fit into our Mugello programme. Then, in the afternoon, we concentrated on the normal race weekend tasks of trying to find the best set-up in both qualifying and race trim. The interesting challenge here is to balance the car for the different characteristics of various parts of the track. Now we still have quite a lot of work tonight to be where we want to be, but overall this was a reasonable days work.
Heikki Kovalainen, P2 - 1:26.296, 19th
A pretty standard Friday for us. We made a couple of setup changes early on in FP2 that improved the balance and I think we've ended up closer to where we want to be today. As it's been all season, tyre management is going to be vital here, especially on Sunday, and from what we've seen from the tyre degradation patterns on both tyre choices I think we need to do more work on managing wear rates, but if we can do that I think we'll be ok tomorrow, and on Sunday.
Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:27.475, 19th; P2 - 1:26.740, 20th
I'm relatively pleased with today but it was a bit of an odd couple of sessions for us. This morning we did all the runs on the hard tyres and couldn't really find a balance I could push with, and then this afternoon we managed to dial out the understeer we had on both the hard and soft tyres, but suddenly found we had oversteer that hadn't been there before. I think this is something that's affecting quite a few of the teams, and it's not what we were expecting after the Bahrain race and the Mugello test, but we'll work on it tonight and I'm sure we'll find a solution for FP3 and qualifying.
Alexander Rossi, P1 - 1:28.448, 21st
"I am very pleased with how this morning's session went. We completed the program the team had set and I acclimatised quickly to the step up to F1. This isn't my first time working with the team, I already have a day at the Abu Dhbai young driver test last year under my belt, but coming into a full race weekend is a very different proposition to the young driver test. Today wasn't about setting the quickest lap I could - there may have been another seven or eight tenths to be found but the main thing today was to learn as much as I could, contribute by following the plan, give the engineers clear, concise feedback, and not make any mistakes. That's what we did so I think it's been pretty much as good as it could have been."
Mark Smith, Caterham technical director
I think we have made good use of both sessions today. Alexander Rossi took part in his first FP1 session for us this morning and did a very good job, working through a program that was looking at a number of rear wing options that gives us more information to work on in addition to the data we generated in Mugello last week. This afternoon Heikki was back in his normal car and he and Vitaly concentrated on tyre work, looking at degradation levels on the soft and hard compounds we have available to us this weekend. There is quite a big time difference between the two types of tyre which will make strategy in qualifying tomorrow very interesting, and will put the onus on Sunday on the drivers looking after the wear rates as much as possible.
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:28.267, 20th; P2 - 1:27.314, 21st
To be honest weve had two pretty difficult sessions today as weve struggled with the balance of the car. Its been very nervous on both sets of tyres so a little disappointing that we seem to still have this problem. Well just have to take a good look at the data and see what we can find to improve the situation for tomorrow.
Charles Pic, P1 - 1:28.633, 22nd; P2 - 1:27.664, 22nd
I am quite happy with the way today has been. We made good progress across the two sessions and I feel the benefit of the new update. I think there is more we can find overnight to prepare us for qualifying, but generally it feels like we can have a good rest of the weekend. A good start I think.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
We always said that whilst we were pleased with our test in Mugello, a better barometer of how much our updates would improve our cars performance would be once we got to a more representative circuit such as this one. We dont feel that we have made the best start today and there is a slight air of disappointment as a result, however we must stay focused as it will only be after qualifying tomorrow that we will be able to make a full assessment of our the step. Overall we can be pleased that the reliability of the car has been good and allowed us to complete our set-up and aero programmes today. The results of our aerodynamic tests in FP1 can now be applied across both cars for FP3 tomorrow. Neither driver is 100% happy with the balance so far, however Im sure that time spent looking at the data tonight will allow for improved set-ups in the morning.
Pedro de la Rosa, P1 - 1:29.107, 23rd; P2 - 1:28.235, 23rd
"Today was the day to try out the aero package weve brought to Barcelona, so we completed various short stints to see how the car behaved with the changes. It was interesting because the car has effectively taken a step forwards, but we need an even bigger step, especially at such a tough circuit as this one where there are many quick turns and where you need to improve the balance of the car. Theres still plenty to do and a lot of data to analyze to have a better understanding of how to get the most out of these upgrades.
Dani Clos, P1 - 1:31.618, 24th
"Im happy to have got into the car for the first time today, albeit for a short first encounter. The feeling I had when I left the pits and saw the Spanish crowd, whilst driving for a Spanish team alongside Pedro, was unbelievable. It was my first time in the new car and I wasnt 100% comfortable since the car is built for Narain, so I had to adapt. We were able to carry out some aerodynamic work and try out some different things on the car so Im pleased to have completed my job for the team.
Narain Karthikeyan, P2 - no time, 24th
"Im disappointed to have not got any laps under my belt today; its certainly not how I was aiming to start my weekend in Barcelona. Tomorrow will be an uphill struggle as weve only got one hour in the morning to get the car ready for qualifying in the afternoon, so were really going to have to get our heads down and work hard. Hopefully we can make up for the time lost today and turn things around tomorrow.
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
Today was a day of mixed feelings. On one hand it was very nice to see Dani make his debut but on the other hand we suffered a lot of electrical issues on Narains car. Its a new chassis and theres a lot of work to do with any new car so its not that strange for things to not work out first time round. It looks like the upgrades weve brought have worked well, which makes us optimistic for the future. Now we have to fix our immediate problems and work so that the weekend turns out the best way possible.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
It was a very important session today for all the teams, as they aimed to gather as much information as possible in order to prepare their race strategies, which are going to have a big influence on the final outcome of the race. Barcelona is well known for a notable degree of tyre wear thanks to long and fast corners such as turn three, and although we still have plenty of data to analyse, it seems that the frontrunners will be likely to adopt a three-stop strategy. However, with a wider gap between the two nominated tyres than usual - both in terms of compound and performance - we could see some quite different strategies that are capable of springing a surprise. And of course if the rain showers that some people are predicting for Sunday materialise, then the race will take on an entirely new and unexpected complexion. With many of the teams introducing new developments in Spain, it almost feels like we are starting the season from scratch again.
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