Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 07 Sep 2012
It was hard to tell which team held the advantage around Monza on Friday. The morning session was dominated by Mercedes Michael Schumacher, but in the afternoon Lewis Hamilton was quickest for McLaren. The drivers and senior team personnel report on the early running in Italy...
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:25.944, 6th; P2 - 1:25.290, 1st
Monza is a beautiful circuit and the whole place has such great history - you really feel it as soon as you drive through the gates. And, of course, its an absolutely stunning place on which to drive - the speeds are incredible and, when you get the flow right, it feels simply amazing. Its very, very quick. Its somewhat deceptive, too: a map of the track makes it look quite simple, but its actually incredibly technical. Its also bumpy, which means its incredibly difficult to nail those final thousandths on a quick lap. And thats really what today has been all about: were trying to fine-tune the balance and find the tiniest amounts of time. Its extremely tight. Overall, today has been quite productive, and everything has gone smoothly. Hopefully, were not in a bad position, although there are still things we can improve on the car for tomorrow.
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:25.723, 2nd; P2 - 1:25.328, 2nd
Monza is so different from anywhere else we drive. The straight-line speeds are incredibly high - in fact there are four points around the track where we hit 200mph (322km/h). Its been satisfying to get some dry running under our belts today, because we were able to gather a lot of useful information. We tried a few different directions with set-up this afternoon and some were better than others - but well decide what works best before FP3 tomorrow and well make the necessary tweaks to get the balance right. Im pretty comfortable with the car; you always want more, but weve done a reasonably good job today. Looking at the data, there are quite a few teams out there that look quick too: its very close and thats going to make it an interesting race.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Theres always a special magic in the air when the Formula 1 circus arrives in Monza and today felt no different. Managing the perfect trade-off between drag and downforce is always a tricky balancing act here, and, while weve still to perfect the set-up well choose to run for the remainder of the weekend, were pleased with the good progress weve made so far, and the useful amount of data weve successfully gathered. Inevitably, our focus now turns to that data, and processing it in order to make the wisest changes for tomorrow. Both Lewis and Jenson were pleased with their cars, but its satisfying that both also feel they can extract more from the package. Nevertheless, were mindful that the competition is snapping at our heels, and that there are a number of teams which could emerge tomorrow as favourites for victory. Additionally, moving away from what happened on track here today, and speaking more generally, it's worth noting that Jenson's victory in Belgium was our second win on the trot, Lewis having triumphed in Hungary. That's satisfying for a number of reasons - first because, in achieving that feat, we became the first team to have won two grands prix successively so far this season, and, second, because we accomplished that milestone on two circuits, Hungaroring and Spa-Francorchamps, whose comparative downforce set-up characteristics differ very markedly. So it would appear that our car is not only quick, but also quick on a wide variety of circuits. And that augurs well not only for our prospects of victory here at super-fast Monza, where you may be well sure we'll be aiming for a hat-trick of successive wins, but also for the remainder of the season."
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:25.800, 4th; P2 - 1:25.348, 3rd
Today almost everything happened, with various mechanical problems and we did not manage to test everything we wanted, but all the parts that failed can be changed and thanks to Felipe we have all the information we need to do well in qualifying and the race. Even if today was complicated, it was still positive: its good that everything happened today, because we must try and avoid any problems tomorrow and Sunday. I am optimistic about the car balance, which we did not have to change between FP1 and 2. I expect we will see different strategies in qualifying because there seems to be very little difference between the Medium and Hard tyres. In the race we will have to use both and so in the end it balances out. Compared to Spa, here we are on the pace, maybe we have a bit more downforce and make up a bit of time at the two Lesmos and the second chicane, while we are losing out in the first sector with the two long straights. We will analyse these details this evening and tomorrow we will try and improve also in terms of top speed, which was probably our weak point today.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:25.861, 5th; P2 - 1:25.430, 4th
A very positive day because I managed to make the most of the track time, completing all the programme we had planned for this Friday. I did a lot of laps on both types of tyre, in the morning and the afternoon, including a long run to evaluate the handling as well as possible. At the moment, there doesnt seem to be much difference between the two compounds in terms of performance, as we could also see from the other drivers times, but we will have to see how it goes tomorrow, because the difference could become greater as the track conditions improve, which will be an important factor for qualifying and the race. I am also pleased with my lap times, as I was always up there with the quickest cars in both sessions. We will be trying to improve the car set-up still further tomorrow, but I am confident for the rest of the weekend. I am very pleased to be here in Monza in front of our fans and I really hope that this positive day is the right start to get a great result for them!
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
The mechanics definitely did not have time to get bored today! We had various reliability problems on Fernandos car that meant he was unable to get through his planned programme. Its very unusual for us to have three problems in three separate areas - engine, brakes and gearbox - on the same day, therefore we will have to look very closely at what happened, to ensure it doesnt happen again. As far as the gearbox and engine are concerned, they were units we were not planning to use in the race, so we will not incur any penalties tomorrow. For his part, Felipe managed to do a lot of kilometres and gathered important data for the team, both on the different aerodynamic configurations and on the behaviour of the two compounds - hard and medium - which Pirelli has chosen for this race. From what we could see, the field is very close and adopting the right level of aero downforce will be a key factor in qualifying and the race. As for the tyres, its hard to say from what we saw today which performs better: we still have an hour of free practice tomorrow to learn more.
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:25.762, 3rd; P2 - 1:25.446, 5th
That was definitely a better start for us than in Spa. We were able to complete a lot of laps today and it seems that we have a good pace on high and low fuel levels. As always, it's difficult to say where we are compared to the others but I hope we can score some good points this weekend. It was great fun to drive on this amazing track, and I always like the special atmosphere here. Yesterday I went out on the old Monza track with a scooter which is great to see.
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:25.422, 1st; P2 - 1:26.094, 10th
I am quite happy with the practice sessions as we achieved a lot of reasonable work with regards to long runs which was our main focus today. We have a different aero package for Monza which seems to work well so it seems to be looking better than in the last races. During the sessions, we made progress as well so I am curious to have a look at the data we collected and learn the full picture. It's always nice to be back in Monza as I am still so warmly welcomed by all the tifosi. As I said earlier, I would like to say thank you for that and hope we can put on a good show tomorrow and in the race on Sunday.
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
We've had a pretty good day and both Nico and Michael were reasonably happy with the balance of the car by the end of the second session this afternoon. We completed our planned programme, and have all the information and data that we needed on the different tyres and fuel levels, so now we will have a look and make our plans for tomorrow.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
A positive start to the weekend on this traditional high-speed track. Nico and Michael posted consistent lap times during their long runs in race trim on both Pirelli tyres. We seem to have a reasonable base to work from tomorrow.
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:26.046, 7th; P2 - 1:25.504, 6th
It was an okay day. We tried a few different things with no issues and Im happy with the car. Our long run pace was not too bad and we werent too far away from the fastest lap set today either. There arent many corners here, but running with low downforce means the grip is not as good under braking and cornering through the chicanes. Its not easy to get the perfect lap here but maybe we can improve tomorrow; we shall see.
Jerome DAmbrosio, P1 - 1:27.180, 15th; P2 - 1:26.157, 12th
Today went pretty well overall and it feels good to be back in the car. Its not an easy task stepping in at the last minute; theres a lot to take in and with a low-downforce track like Monza it can be quite tricky to find the limit, but we completed a busy schedule and put in a lot of laps which is a good start. Its difficult to say where we are right now, but we made steady progress between the two sessions and my aim for tomorrow is to take another step forwards and see where we go from there. So far so good.
Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
Its nice to have a straight-forward Friday with dry running; its our first for a while! The lower downforce here means we focused on the various compromises; getting the car to work in the corners, balancing the need for a soft car to ride the kerbs versus a stiff car to enable high speed change of direction and so on. We feel weve made good progress with the running weve had. Jerome has done a great job; chipping away at the time difference between him and Kimi without any problems while absorbing all the procedures and information weve thrown at him.
Paul di Resta, P2 - 1:25.546, 7th
A pretty standard afternoon session for me and I seemed to get in the groove quite quickly. The preparation we had done in the simulator was useful and the baseline set-up was not very far away from where we needed to be. We improved the car with each run so theres plenty of data to go through tonight to improve our performance before qualifying.
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:26.518, 12th; P2 - 1:25.547, 8th
It was nice to have a dry and straightforward Friday for a change so that we could get through our programme and complete some long runs. Overall we look in reasonable shape, although Im not totally happy with the set-up yet. We learned a lot about the tyres and both the hard and medium are working well here. The other big decision to make tonight is what downforce levels we will use over the weekend.
Jules Bianchi, P1 - 1:27.192, 16th
Im very happy with how things went today. I felt very comfortable in the car and had the confidence to really push and make the most of the programme. There was a lot of traffic on my first run, but the other two runs were better and I was able to complete some good timed laps. The team asked me to run some different aero levels to get a feel for the car and we made some small improvements between the runs. So I feel very positive and I want to thank the team once again for the chance to drive the car.
Jakob Andreasen, Force India chief engineer
A productive day of practice, which has given us all the data we need heading into the weekend. There are still some balance improvements to be made, but the set-up programme ran smoothly and there were no issues with the cars. We ran Jules this morning and he did an excellent job evaluating the downforce levels and working on the baseline set-up. In the afternoon our focus moved towards longer runs to give us the tyre data and to help determine our approach for the rest of the weekend. We will go through the data tonight and then focus on qualifying performance tomorrow morning.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:26.323, 8th; P2 - 1:26.068, 9th
The first free practice went alright and also in the second session we almost completed our programme, but I had to stop a few minutes early when the team called me in for some checks. Overall so far I have the feeling we are a bit behind expectations here. We lose quite some time on the straights and now have to find a good aero and set-up compromise. We definitely want to fight for the top ten in qualifying tomorrow.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:26.746, 14th; P2 - 1:26.730, 16th
It was a bit of a difficult day. I didnt do enough running to decide on the settings and the downforce level. In the morning it was business as usual and also my first run in the second session was okay. But then, after we had made some changes, the car was bouncing an awful lot. I nearly spun on the straight. However, we identified the problem but could not fix it during the session. I think we have quite a lot of work to do tomorrow.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
The mornings session was okay. We were focusing on aerodynamics as you always do in Monza because of the special low downforce configuration. We did comparisons of rear wings and other parts. In the afternoon Kamuis session finished early because we had experienced a problem which we could not solve during the session. Actually after this we are not confident to continue with the planned programme and want to have a closer look at everything now. On Sergios car we discovered something wrong on the data shortly before the end of the second free practice and decided to call him in as well.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:26.390, 9th; P2 - 1:26.104, 11th
Were working hard, but were not there yet. We were a bit more competitive on the longer runs in practice today. Were not normally the Friday world champions, so well do some work now for tomorrow. We often find a good step ahead of qualifying.
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:26.508, 11th; P2 - 1:26.394, 13th
I think overall we are not as quick as we would like to be, so theres still work to do. I think we are more competitive in race trim, but we arent where we want to be yet in terms of true pace. We ran through our entire programme, so we got a lot of information to go through and learn from.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:26.504, 10th; P2 - 1:26.404, 14th
It was a productive day as we were trying some different configurations, especially with the aero levels. We completed everything we set out to do in the programme. There is still more speed to come and so tomorrow we will continue working to improve, so Im looking forward to seeing what we can do.
Bruno Senna, P2 - 1:26.783, 17th
It was a difficult session. After not running in the morning I had a lot to do this afternoon, but weve been trying different things and I think we can find a good path. Hopefully the car will be even better tomorrow and we can iron out some of the technical details to improve for qualifying.
Valtteri Bottas, P1 - 1:26.641, 13th
We got lot of running today with the dry weather so it was great to get that under our belt. The track is brilliant as its an old school circuit and very quick. The morning session was productive and we worked through all the tests we had planned.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
We have a lot data to dissect and interpret tonight from today's two sessions to ensure that we optimise the car for the race without compromising qualifying. We managed to get through the entire test programme, despite a hydraulic problem on Pastor's car which prematurely stopped his FP1 session. The mechanics reacted very quickly and we managed to get the car ready for the start of FP2.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:27.373, 17th; P2 - 1:26.724, 15th
You come to Monza with a special low downforce package and the car always feels a bit different, moving around more and you are reaching very high speeds, so in terms of balance, its hard to be happy here compared to circuits where you run much higher downforce. Therefore you need to change your approach a bit. However, we are still looking for some more speed and even if we have to accept it might not be perfect, I do believe there is room for improvement for the rest of the weekend. We made a couple of changes between the sessions, but we dont yet have a clear picture of where we are at the moment. Its nice to see so many people from our factory in Faenza here to support us.
Jean-Eric Vergne, P1 - 1:27.789, 18th; P2 - 1:26.864, 19th
This is my first time at Monza in a Formula 1 car and it definitely feels fast! I have been getting used to running with very little downforce and we still have some work to do to try and improve our performance level. The team did a good job today in terms of working through a packed test programme and now its a case of studying the data, trying to work out the best car set-up for qualifying and for the race. I have to say that driving for an Italian team at Monza in front of such a big crowd, including many of our people from the factory added something special to the experience.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
As always in Monza, like all the other teams, we have brought a one-off aero package for the STR7 and our first job this morning was to assess the new front and rear wings. After that, we looked at various set-up options, aimed at optimising the car in this low downforce configuration. We are not yet happy with the way the car has been performing around here and we will have to study the data overnight to see if we can get a bit more out of the package. Both drivers had very long runs in race configuration towards the end of the session and in terms of car reliability, it was a good day, allowing us to work through all our planned programme.
Heikki Kovalainen, P1 - 1:27.855, 19th; P2 - 1:26.841, 18th
"A much better Friday than we've had for a while. Right from the installation lap the car balance felt better and we're clearly more competitive here than we have been anywhere since Valencia. It's difficult to understand where the improvement has come from - the cars are in a very different configuration than Spa, Hungary, Hockenheim or Silverstone but that doesn't explain the difference in the feeling and the performance. We need to get a better understanding of why we're better here and then make sure we can translate that into being more competitive at every type of track.
"It's a positive feeling for everybody. Spa was not acceptable, that's clear, and when we don't really understand why we weren't competitive it's more difficult to sort out, but coming here we're back to the base level of performance we should have and now we need to build on that."
Vitaly Petrov, P1 - 1:28.578, 20th; P2 - 1:27.222, 20th
"I think we are moving in the right direction and it's been a much better day for us than we had last week, or for a few races now. We ran both cars in different aero configurations so we could generate as much data as possible and the lap times look pretty good. That gives us a lot to work on tonight, to prepare for quali and the race and it's good to see us getting back to where we want to be.
"After the ups and downs we've seen so far this year I don't want to make any predictions about where we'll end up on Sunday, or in Singapore or any of the races to come, but I think that if we carry on like we have today we'll be looking much better. That's a good feeling, for me and the team, and hopefully the similar weather conditions we'll have on track tomorrow will suit us so we can have another positive day."
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:29.207, 22nd; P2 - 1:27.944, 21st
First of all its good to have stable weather conditions in Monza because this track is quite unique and we needed to do a lot of preparation work. We got through the programme quite well and evaluated the aero level of our rear wing options for here. We did a lot of back to back work with our Canada specification and our latest components seem the clear way to go, which again proves out our development direction. Overall the car felt okay and no problems with the long runs so far; the times were quite consistent. Im happy with FP1 and FP2. A bit of fine-tuning perhaps but, in general, a good start and we will see what we can do from here now.
Charles Pic, P1 - 1:28.751, 21st; P2 - 1:27.968, 22nd
A very busy day for us today, perhaps even more so than usual as we had to follow a very comprehensive programme across the two cars to arrive at a good way to proceed from here. We tried lots of different things this morning so that in the break we could analyse the information and decide on a direction. This track is not easy to set the car up for and it involves a few compromises, but I think we have worked well to establish a good starting point. There is still more work to be done based on what we have learned here this afternoon and some things we can do to continue to improve the car.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
A very different Friday to the last one, as the weather has remained consistently hot and sunny and we have forged our way through quite a comprehensive programme designed to give us as many answers as possible to the numerous set-up questions posed by this track. Its a little bit of a conundrum for us, bearing in mind that we have struggled in low downforce trim before. Nonetheless, we are pleased with the start we have made and cautiously optimistic that we have ended Friday here in a more favourable position than we perhaps envisaged. That is down to the steps we have taken to try to overcome our low downforce woes since Montreal and also the very calm and disciplined approach of our engineers and their drivers. Fingers crossed we can continue this positive start.
Pedro de la Rosa, P1 - 1:29.331, 23rd; P2 - 1:28.575, 23rd
"Today we enjoyed two clean sessions that enabled us to try out different aero configurations and complete a comparison of tyre compounds and a long stint towards the end in preparation for the race. We faced no problems and were able to complete all the tests as planned. We can still improve the car for tomorrow ahead of qualifying but weve set a good base for the race.
Narain Karthikeyan, P2 - 1:28.779, 24th
"We focused on testing different car set-ups and the car worked well with all of them. The shame is that we had to stop before the end because of an issue with the exhausts. It was a precautionary measure more than anything else and it will be fixed for tomorrow. But the best thing about the day was that I found a rhythm quickly and that the car performed well.
Qing Hua Ma, P1 - 1:31.239, 24th
"It was an extraordinary experience and Im happy with my performance. From the start I felt comfortable in the car and working with the team, and I accomplished all the targets we set ourselves. We started with quite a long stint on hard tyres and then we made changes to the set-up as I adapted to the F112. It was an important step for me, but also for motorsport in China since its a very young sport there but with a great potential.
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
"Im happy because Ma has taken another step in his development programme as a Formula One driver and he had a satisfactory debut. He did what was asked of him and showed clear progression, with no mistakes, to finish the session under the 107 percent. Pedro also improved throughout the day and we cut down the distance to pole position, which proves were performing well. Narain found his rhythm immediately in FP2 but a problem with the exhausts forced us to stop before the end as a precautionary measure.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
Despite the typically warm conditions in Monza our tyres performed very well, with the hard compound in particular delivering almost as much performance as the medium, with greater durability. We might see different approaches tomorrow, and some drivers could even try a one-stop strategy for the race: the winning tactic in Belgium a week ago, which used the same compounds. Although there are many places in Monza that put a lot of energy through the tyres, the overall wear rate has been very good today, which allowed a number of the drivers to set their fastest times later on in their runs. We saw some very long runs on both compounds so we should see flat-out racing from start to finish on Sunday - which is what our home race at Monza is most famous for. For the first time in a while we look set for a completely dry weekend, which should allow the teams to start the race with plenty of relevant data.
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