Thursday practice - selected team and driver quotes 24 May 2012
It was a mixed opening day in Monte Carlo, not least because of the changeable weather. Ferraris Fernando Alonso led during a sunny morning session, whilst McLarens Jenson Button was the quickest runner after lunch before the rain hit. Drivers and senior team personnel report back...
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:17.190, 8th; P2 - 1:15.746, 1st
The most important job today was to try and get a decent high-fuel long-run on the super-soft tyre - which I dont think anyone managed. Weve got to see how the tyre works because its performance will play a considerable role in the race.
Still, it was nice to briefly stick that tyre on and see how much grip it has - that gives you a bit of information to look over before Saturday, even though well still get to run that compound again before qualifying.
I definitely feel like the car improved from P1 to P2. We tried something different for this afternoons session and I was happier with how the car felt. Theres still room for improvement, but we know what direction we want to take.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:16.747, 4th; P2 - 1:17.375, 11th
We didnt get to learn quite as much as wed perhaps wanted to today. The weather was clear in the morning, but was quite difficult to dial-in the car because of the changing weather conditions we got this afternoon, compounded by the traffic as usual here. Its an incredibly tough circuit, very technical, so every little scrap of information helps you understand where to go with the set-up.
The less running you get, the tougher it becomes to understand the behaviour of the tyres. Today, neither of us got to do a long-run, so well be going into the race slightly unsure about how the tyres will behave. But everyone is in the same boat so I guess itll be a bit of a surprise for all the teams.
Nonetheless, its still mega-fun out there; it feels incredible driving this track.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Hearing the roar of Formula One engines resonating around the harbour front vividly reminds you that no other circuit in the world can match the taut, visceral thrill of Monte-Carlo.
Unfortunately, the changeable weather conditions - a dry morning followed by an increasingly damp and greasy afternoon - have caused us to be a little less well prepared for the remainder of the weekend than wed ideally like. But its the same for everyone. Its just another of the unique challenges posed by this most formidable of street circuits.
I think were yet to see what either Jenson or Lewis can achieve when they push the car to its fullest extent around here, but I know that both our drivers relish the challenge of this circuit and that theyll hit the ground running again on Saturday.
At the moment, the sharp end of the grid looks extremely close - and itll be all to play for in whats likely to be an absolutely thrilling qualifying session. Bring it on!
Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:16.630, 2nd; P2 - 1:16.138, 2nd
I think the car is suiting the track pretty well and I love Monaco, its good to be here and its nice to see so many fans. The car was looking good this morning and this afternoon - we are working in a good direction. Unfortunately it was a bit wet this afternoon and we couldnt do all the programme we wanted to achieve but as we have a good baseline it shouldnt be such a big deal. Lets see what the weather will be like tomorrow and what we can achieve. I think that we are looking good in both conditions.
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - no time, 24th; P2 - 1:19.267, 19th
Its good to be back in Monaco even if we missed some running today. The steering wasnt to my liking so the team changed it for me. Its something you change for Monaco and theres no way of knowing what it will be like beforehand. The car felt good in the second session, though it was obviously pretty slippery when the track was wet. I would have liked to have had more time in the car, but Monacos a track I know pretty well and it hasnt changed much over the years. Lets see what happens tomorrow.
James Allison, Lotus technical director
Were happy with todays performance as we came here with a certain amount of trepidation about whether our cars would be competitive. It was a disappointment to have missed the first session whilst we changed the steering setup on Kimis car, but hes an old enough trooper to get himself up to speed on Saturday. The pace shown by Romain in both sessions was certainly encouraging. All the Monaco upgrades seem to be working well and the E20 is pretty happy around what is a very unique track.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:16.843, 6th; P2 - 1:16.602, 3rd
We werent able to do as much running as we would have liked because of the light rain that fell this afternoon, but all the same, I am happy with the way things went on this Monaco Thursday. The car seemed to me to be okay right from the start of the first session, with a good balance in all conditions and with slightly better traction than we had expected. Even when we ran the Intermediates in the final part of the second session, the feeling was still positive. As for the tyres, we didnt even fit the Supersoft, therefore we cant say anything about their behaviour, while the Softs worked well, also in terms of their degradation. Sure, there is still plenty of work to do to fine tune all the set-up details, but we have an extra day to think about what to do to improve in this area. Its hard to make predictions about qualifying and, even more so for the race, but definitely we can say the first day of free practice can be considered a positive one.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:16.265, 1st; P2 - 1:16.661, 4th
For we drivers, Thursday in Monaco provides the best opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with a very unique track. The more you go round, the more you gain confidence and the harder you can push to bring the lap time down. This morning, we were able to get through our planned programme without any trouble, but in the afternoon, the rain came to spoil our plans and those of the others too. We werent able to even fit the Supersoft and only Button was able to find the right window to make the most of the Option, which is how he set the fastest time. Now, we must see what the weather will be like on Saturday morning: if it turns out to be dry then maybe we will do more laps than usual, but even if it rains we will have to do work aimed at the race. In fact, its not as though we understood much more when on the Intermediates, given that the track was only damp in places and so it wasnt very representative. We cant control the weather, we can only adapt to it as it changes. As for the car, I would say the first impressions are quite positive: everything seems to respond as we would expect. We only made a few small modifications to the set-up, trying to improve it, but its obviously too early to draw any conclusions. Lets say the weekend has got off on the right foot for us: now we must try and keep going down this path.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
The rain upset our programme a bit in the second session, preventing us from getting through the usual FP2 work, centred on a comparison of the two types of tyre brought here by Pirelli. This morning, we worked mainly on the set-up of the car, which has no significant new parts apart from the usual adjustments typically required for this track. In the afternoon, we actually wanted to try both tyres over a short and a long run, but we didnt even manage a single lap on the Supersoft. In the end, we used a set of Intermediates with both drivers but, even in this case, the track conditions were not exactly ideal for this tyre. The same applied to almost everyone, therefore relatively speaking, we are not at any disadvantage. Clearly, we have less data available with which to define the best strategy for Sundays race: a bit more improvisation will be called for and we will need to be even more ready to react to every eventuality. We have no had any problems of any sort on both cars, which is always positive on a track like this.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:16.760, 5th; P2 - 1:16.820, 5th
The car is feeling really good this year and looks competitive in the running we have done today, so were happy with that. It's a shame we didn't get to run as much during the afternoon, as we would have liked to have gathered a bit more data on the tyres but we still have P3 on Saturday. I love this circuit and think it's going to be a competitive Grand Prix.
Bruno Senna, P1 - 1:18.617, 17th; P2 - 1:17.655, 14th
It was great to be able to do both sessions today as it meant that we could learn bit by bit. It's been quite a few years since I drove something competitive here so it was good to have extra time to remember the track. Were chipping away and the afternoon session was hampered by the rain, but every little helps.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
This morning we had a productive session with both drivers successfully working through their test programmes, but unfortunately the wet second session in the afternoon proved more problematic and limited useful running. Both drivers were happier with the car balance in the second session but we still have quite a bit more to do in preparation for Sunday.
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:17.261, 10th; P2 - 1:17.021, 6th
"It was great to be back again and to race through the city. I'm pleased with today's practice sessions. We have the feeling that we are going in the right direction with our set-up work for this demanding track. It took a bit of a time to find the right rhythm for the circuit but it worked out well, even though we did not run very much in the afternoon because of the bad weather. I'm now really looking forward to Saturday and Sunday."
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:17.413, 11th; P2 - 1:17.293, 9th
It's always great to get out on the track for the first laps in Monaco and get back into the rhythm of this special place. Already, during practice this morning I could see the areas where the safety has been improved further since last year, and it's great that the organisers always push to make things even better every year. The weather was mixed today, which made it hard to make any firm conclusions, but basically my feeling with the car on this circuit was positive."
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
"We've had a reasonable first day here in Monaco. Obviously, this is a track where conditions are changing all the time and the wet weather in the second session this afternoon reminds us that these things can happen here. We have a lot of information to look at and work out what we're going to do and how we think the circuit will evolve for Saturday. Generally, it's been a good start to the weekend."
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"Today's sessions were effectively brought to an early end in the morning after an engine failure on the track, then we had rain in the second half of the afternoon session. Considering these circumstances, which handicapped the progress of all the teams, we had quite a positive first day and found a reasonable baseline for our cars from which we can progress further on Saturday. With everybody completing fewer laps than usual during the first practice day in Monaco, the challenge of this demanding race is probably even higher this year. We now are looking forward to Saturday when our target is to make a good step forward to be in a position for good results in the race on Sunday. Understandably, we have been asked frequently about the status of our Concorde Agreement negotiations in the past days. On this matter, I can confirm we are having constructive discussions that are heading in the right direction."
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:18.106, 13th; P2 - 1:17.148, 7th
It was not easy for us, as for all the teams today, and weve got some work to do in the next 24 hours. There are clearly some very quick cars and we need to see where we can improve. Obviously it was limited running for everyone, so we didnt do as much as we would have liked; but thats how it went today and Monacos like that - it throws up some challenges. The tracks quite inconsistent in terms of grip - but we did learn some things today.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:17.222, 9th; P2 - 1:17.303, 10th
We didnt learn too much from today due to the conditions. It wasnt ideal as this morning we had a red flag and then it rained this afternoon; as a result its hard to say where we are. We didnt have a lot of grip due to the rain, it was very slippery on track and there were a lot of cars out at the same time - but it was the same for everyone. The weather can change quickly here and now you see there is sunshine again already.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:17.038, 7th; P2 - 1:17.153, 8th
Everything went smoothly today. The car has definitely improved in the slow corners compared to last year, and this is obviously crucial in Monaco. The balance of the car feels good and Im pretty confident for the weekend. I just cant predict how the two tyre compounds will develop in the race because the weather prevented us from doing proper long runs.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:16.711, 3rd; P2 - 1:18.251, 15th
The conditions were not ideal to do the work but we are looking good in the wet, so this is positive. In the dry there is some work to do, which we didnt manage in the morning. However, I am confident as this morning we were very quick, the car is performing well and I think we can be competitive in qualifying on Saturday.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
Todays programme was obviously messed up a bit for everyone because of the weather conditions, but we dont have anything to complain about. We are quite happy with the cars performance here and we had no incidents or technical issues.
Paul di Resta, P1 - 1:18.302, 16th; P2 - 1:17.395, 12th
The morning session was quite straightforward and the baseline set-up was not too far away. The track was quite green to begin with, but it was starting to rubber in nicely during the final half hour. We worked a bit on the set-up, changing the aero balance and collected the data we needed on the soft tyres. The rain arrived quite early in the afternoon and, although we got out on the super-soft tyres, I didnt get a completely dry run on them. Its good to have done some miles on the intermediate tyres because, as we saw today, its quite hard to predict what the weather will do on Saturday and Sunday.
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:17.631, 12th; P2 - 1:17.800, 14th
The first session in Monaco is always a time to acclimatise and get used to the circuit again, especially because I didnt race here last year. The morning session was busy on track, but we got through our programme and I did several runs on the soft tyres. The afternoon was affected by the weather and that made it difficult to get in the rhythm or complete our tyre programme. We didnt think it would rain today, but the conditions can change so quickly here and we need to be ready for that over the weekend.
Jakob Andreasen, Force India chief engineer
A day of varied weather in Monaco kept us on our toes and forced us to adapt our plans for the afternoon session. Having run extensively on the soft tyres this morning, we switched early to the supersofts for the afternoon session, but with rain in the air we only managed limited running. The rain was not that heavy, but it was persistent and made for a very damp track, so we opted to do some running on the intermediates with both Paul and Nico. This should leave us well prepared in case we get some damp weather over the weekend. Set-up wise we made some good improvements this morning and the drivers feedback is positive. With a free day tomorrow we have plenty of time to analyse the data and make more improvements before final practice on Saturday morning.
Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:19.341, 19th; P2 - 1:18.440, 16th
Both sessions were good for me today. Even though wed obviously liked to have had more time on the options this afternoon the rain interrupted the run we tried on the super softs, but that was the same for pretty much everyone so were all in the same position. In FP2 the car felt pretty good and even though the track was very slippery when we went out on the inters I still felt like we have a decent balance to work from . This is one of the races where we need to make sure were there at the chequered flag and not make any mistakes, so having had a few laps in what will probably be the trickiest conditions all weekend Im feeling good about the sessions ahead, and the race on Sunday.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:19.039, 18th; P2 - 1:20.029, 21st
This morning's session went pretty well. We tried a new suspension part early on that felt pretty good, and then we ran through a normal FP1 session on the primes until the engine let go as I was entering the tunnel towards the end of the session. As soon as I engaged neutral the rear axle locked up and that brought FP1 to a slightly early end. In FP2 everyone had the same issues with the rain and even though we got a couple of laps done on the supersofts I didn't have a chance to put in a flying lap on those so we'll have to look at that again on Saturday. We made the final run on the inters and coming into turn five the car went straight on - it was very greasy out there but there was no damage so I parked it and that was that.
Mark Smith, Caterham technical director
Today's practice sessions were ok for us, if a bit stop start with the weather in FP2. This morning we tried a couple of new suspension parts on both cars that worked as we had expected and even though Heikki's FP1 was cut short by the engine failure it was at the end of the session and we did not lose any track time as the session was red flagged. The new engine he ran in FP2 was due to go on his car tomorrow anyway, it had covered more than 2,000kms, so it really was not a big problem for us to see his morning session end that spectacularly! The team worked very well with Renault Sport F1 to make the engine change over lunch and Heikki was back on track about six minutes after FP2 began. In the afternoon session we managed to get Vitaly and Heikki out on the supersofts before the rain came back, so we have some data from those runs that will be useful for Saturday and Sunday. We finished the session with intermediates on both cars but as we also managed to complete enough laps on the softs in FP1 I think we're ok data-wise for the rest of the race weekend.
Jean-Eric Vergne, P1 - 1:18.209, 14th; P2 - 1:18.522, 17th
This was my first time here in a Formula 1 car and I really enjoyed myself. Because I did not go particularly well round Monaco in the World Series last year, I was a bit apprehensive about today, although still looking forward to a new experience and not knowing what to expect. I think my performance today compared quite well to my team-mate, as Daniel won the last two World Series races he drove at this circuit and he had also had some practice time in the F1 car last year. From that perspective, I am quite happy and I feel the lap time was not important, especially as I had a bit of traffic and I finished my fastest lap in the pit lane. I am relatively pleased with the balance of the car which we can fine tune a bit further, but I still need a bit more time to adapt myself to this circuit, even if I liked driving it when it was wet. I feel prepared for whatever weather conditions we might encounter for the rest of the weekend.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:18.252, 15th; P2 - 1:18.808, 18th
Because of the weather in the afternoon, things did not go quite as smoothly as planned and we werent able to try everything we had hoped to. So a bit frustrating, especially as we have a day off tomorrow: Id prefer to be driving, but its probably a good thing as we can really think about what we need to do to move forward. There are some areas where we need to improve and Im sure that if we sort that, our performance will change completely and hopefully we will have a good qualifying on Saturday.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
Altogether this was a rather frustrating day, as the track conditions were very variable during the afternoon session. Given that Daniel has only driven FP1 in Monaco last year for us and Jean-Eric has never driven a Formula 1 car here, our main objective for the day was to give both drivers as much track time as possible on this unique circuit. That is why they were the first out of the pits this morning, as we wanted them to get into the right rhythm and that part of our plan was successful. They seemed to enjoy the experience. We also tried to do plenty of laps this afternoon despite the changing conditions, but overall, in terms of the usual jobs of working on the car set-up, we did not achieve that much. Apart from that, we had a trouble free day and the drivers did not make any mistakes and, because of the unusual timetable at this event, we have a whole day tomorrow to think about how we can improve the car for the rest of the weekend.
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:21.638, 22nd; P2 - 1:19.309, 20th
In general, the mixed conditions today made it very difficult to work on the car in the way we had planned. We got a good start to the day this morning, but later in FP1 I had a problem with the front end and then a red flag cut short the session. In FP2 it was important to go out early and get a good run, but then it started raining. As it looks like this will not be the only time this weekend, we made use of the track time and switched to the Inters, but the track was very slippery - particularly the white lines - so, to be honest, the main focus was keeping the car on the track!
Charles Pic, P1 - 1:20.895, 21st; P2 - 1:20.240, 22nd
I have enjoyed my first day of driving in Monaco and now have some good experience in both the wet and the dry. Generally a good start to my programme with no real issues to speak about, just a straightforward day - apart from the weather - and getting up to speed. Tomorrow is a non-running day for us but it will provide a further opportunity to work with my engineers, see where I need to improve and come back to the track even stronger on Saturday.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
Weve had a good introduction today to what is often a challenging circuit. The mixed weather conditions were not only good practice for the drivers, at a track that rewards their skill more than any other, but they also kept the engineers on their toes as they fought to get the best out of the available track time. We havent achieved quite as much data gathering as perhaps we would have liked and once again it seems that the preparation of the tyres will be critical to good performance here. Having said that, of the data we have collected, we are confident that we will be able to work on set-ups during tomorrow in preparation for Saturday morning, which will enable us to work towards extracting the best from the tyres for the balance of the weekend.
Pedro de la Rosa, P1 - 1:22.423, 23rd; P2 - 1:20.631, 23rd
"Today has been a really strange day because, out of the three hours which we normally have, I only completed two stints. I wasn't able to make the most out of the other two. In the morning I encountered a cloud of smoke in the tunnel and a red flag, and in the afternoon it started to rain. So it was a productive day taking into account the little track time we had, and all the changes we incorporated in the afternoon supposed an important improvement. The truth is I would have liked to have done more laps, more than anything because at this circuit the more laps you do, the better. Looking to Saturday, our aim is to continue improving the car and try to qualify a little bit further ahead. It's a difficult task here but not an impossible one."
Narain Karthikeyan, P1 - 1:20.838, 20th; P2 - 1:20.886, 24th
"We did a lot of laps in the morning and were able to try various different things on the car. We had a pretty decent balance and wanted to go one step further in the afternoon but conditions weren't great and you couldn't drive to the limit. Unfortunately we were unable to make the most of our track time as we would have liked but we didn't want to risk going out in the rain and opted to stay in the garage. Things are looking promising for Saturday where we hope to encounter dry conditions to help us achieve a good result."
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
"The practice sessions went well today although we would have liked to have made more of our time but the rain didn't allow us. But it's the same for everyone. I'm satisfied because the car went well this morning, especially the brakes and temperature, which are perhaps our weakest points in high temperatures. Besides, we were comfortably within the 107% with the same tyres and that's positive. In the afternoon we preferred to be cautious since the conditions weren't the best. This is a delicate circuit, where you never know what will happen, but overall I'm satisfied with how the day developed and the work done by the team and drivers."
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
Of all the tyres in our range, the teams have had the least running of all on the super-soft to date, so today was very important for them to get out and expand their knowledge of the compound in the truly unique conditions of Monaco. Unfortunately the changeable weather conditions meant that the majority of the field were unable to compare the soft and super-soft tyres as much as we had hoped making Saturdays practice very important for the full fuel load runs. There will still be plenty of data for us to analyse tonight, and we would expect the soft tyre to last for around 50 laps and the super-soft to last for 35 laps, with a difference of about a second per lap between the two compounds. This is going to make strategy a very important part of the equation, with the key thing in qualifying being to find a clear lap, which is never easy. The super-softs have a rapid warm-up time: then its down to the driver to make it count. But even in Monaco, weve seen how a good tyre strategy can help drivers make up positions if they are further down the grid.
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