Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes 21 Sep 2012
The light may have dimmed in Singapore through Practice One to a nocturnal Practice Two but one man was consistently quick - Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel, who topped the timesheets during both sessions. The drivers and senior team personnel reflect on their progress at Marina Bay
Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:50.566, 1st; P2 - 1:48.340, 1st
This is a tough circuit for drivers and cars. Overall we can be happy with today, but lets see what we do tomorrow, its still Friday and todays results are not so conclusive as some drivers got stuck in traffic etc. Most important is that the car seemed to work on either tyre, so we go from there. The kerbs have been changed this year, which is an improvement.
Mark Webber, P1 - 1:51.655, 6th; P2 - 1:48.964, 4th
The second session was useful today. I had a good feeling with the car and we seem to be more competitive here. We need to keep chipping away, also because the track will change a bit by tomorrow, so we need to be ready for that, but a solid start. I think we can be strong on Sunday, we need to execute a clean Saturday first, but so far so good.
Jenson Button, P1 - 1:51.459, 3rd; P2 - 1:48.651, 2nd
I dont feel like Ive found my flow yet - the track surface wasnt very grippy in either session because of the mornings rain. Im not entirely happy with the balance either - not everything we tried changing today was successful - but weve still got a few ideas for tomorrow and thats a positive. Theres still a lot of work to do - but, if we can fine-tune the balance, we should be competitive.
Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:50.615, 2nd; P2 - 1:49.086, 5th
Our car has quite a nice balance but we still need to make some further set-up changes. Its tough in these temperatures, especially on the long runs, but to be honest I think everyones struggling a bit too. In FP2, I ran a bit wide at the final corner on my fastest lap and probably lost about half a second. Still, its great to be able to throw the car around on a high-downforce circuit. My race pace didnt feel great from inside the cockpit, but my engineers tell me it was quite promising. The track should also rubber-in by tomorrow, so tyre degradation should be less of an issue. Were in the top five, but itll be a very tight battle for pole position tomorrow. Were looking at set-up and balance to improve our long-run pace, but todays performance isnt a bad place from which to start.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
Despite extensive resurfacing, the Marina Bay circuit is still an extremely tough challenge for any Formula One driver. While its pleasing to see both our drivers routinely running towards the top of the timesheets in both free practice sessions, theres still a considerable amount of work to do to finesse our cars set-up for the remainder of the weekend. Like all street circuits, however, the track will rubber-in overnight, and we should find ourselves in a better position for whats likely to be an extremely closely matched qualifying session. This is a good starting position for the rest of the weekend - lets hope we can maintain our momentum.
Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:51.525, 4th; P2 - 1:48.896, 3rd
We tried various new components on the car: some seem to be positive, others less so, but maybe in the case of the latter, we need to spend a bit more time for them to be developed as well as possible. Overall, I would saytoday was positive, even if the first impression is that we are not as competitive as we were in Monza, two weeks ago. We still lack a bit of performance on tracks like this one, where you need maximum aerodynamic downforce. From what we saw today, theres a significant difference between the two types of tyre, but we will have to wait until tomorrow to get a clear picture of the situation on this front. Maybe todays difference has been somewhat exaggerated by the evolution of the track surface. Testing the tyres over a long distance is very complicated on a track like this, because of the traffic, therefore its difficult to make a direct comparison to our main competitors. I am reasonably sure that, on Sunday, we will see rather significant degradation and it will be important to manage that as well as possible.
Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:53.080, 16th; P2 - 1:50.039, 9th
It wasnt an easy day for me. The car wasnt right all day and I also suffered particularly badly with tyre degradation in both sessions. At the end of the second session, we found something that wasnt working properly, but that doesnt explain all my problems. We must find out what happened so we can fix it for the rest of the weekend. We have reasonably clear ideas about the direction to go in when it comes to set-up: one things certain, theres a lot of work to do.
Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director
We had a full programme to get through during the three hours of free practice and, despite the track conditions not being ideal at the start of the first session, we managed to complete practically everything, which is always important. We split the work between the two drivers: Fernando concentrated mainly on evaluating some new components, while Felipe looked more at finding the best balance on the car. It was the same when it came to analysing tyre behaviour, with the drivers tackling different tasks, so as to gather as much data as possible. Fernando started his long run on the super-soft, while Felipe started on the Soft. There were various updates to try, mainly on the aero side: some lived up to our expectations, others less so. Now we must study the data carefully to decide which will be the best combination for qualifying and the race. Theres definitely a lot to do to get the car right. As for qualifying, it will be important to prepare for the single quick lap as well as possible, while as far as the race is concerned, tyre degradation will be one of the crucial factors. On Friday, its always hard to say where we are compared to the others, but its clear our main rivals seem very strong, both on a single lap and on a long run. Having said that, we all know its Sunday that matters.
Paul di Resta, P1 - 1:51.943, 8th; P2- 1:49.300, 6th
I think you always need time to get up to speed on any street circuit so it was useful to have some trouble-free sessions and get the laps under my belt. The balance we have with the car is already looking good, but theres always room to improve things overnight. So I think were in decent shape and the data collected should leave us well prepared for Sundays race.
Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:51.658, 7th; P2 - 1:49.339, 7th
Its been a positive Friday overall and I think we are looking competitive here. The rain at the start of the first session didnt really have an impact on us and we still had plenty of time to get through the programme. I think in terms of race preparation we can be happy because we focussed on long runs and have lots of information going into tomorrow.
Jakob Andreasen, Force India chief engineer
It has been a typical Friday with all our usual systems checks and procedures. We also made sure to get both cars doing long runs on both tyre compounds, which will hopefully pay dividends on Sunday night. The general balance of the car was good right from the first few runs and our pace looks competitive on low and high fuel. So a very productive day, the drivers seem happy and we have lots of data to study in order to improve further ahead of qualifying.
Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:53.227, 18th; P2 - 1:49.790, 8th
That was a busy day for us as we needed to learn a lot about our new updates. It always takes some time to understand how things really work on the car, and there is a lot that we can take away from today to study overnight. In general, I feel we have made some progress but it is too early to make any predictions of how the weekend might go from here.
Michael Schumacher, P1 - 1:52.986, 14th; P2 - 1:50.263, 11th
We had two productive sessions today, however I have not yet understood the real picture. We will definitely need to have a good look at the data this evening and extract the true performances shown. We were running the new parts today and the car felt reasonable, although at the end of the second session, we had a little brake issue and had to stop. Now we will have to work hard in front of our computers to find out what our chances will be this weekend.
Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
Today was our first outing with our new bodywork and exhaust package at a race weekend, and everything ran reliably. It's clear that getting the tyres to work at their best in the hot and humid conditions is going to be a real challenge for everyone this weekend. We need to make some progress in that area as consistency and degradation of the tyres will be key to having a good race, so that will be a strong focus for what we do overnight. We had a slight brake issue with Michael's car at the end of the second session which is why we stopped a little early, otherwise the cars ran well, and we have a lot of good information to look through this evening.
Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
This was a challenging Friday test day for the team. We had new parts on the cars and our engineers will now go through the data in order to learn about areas for improvement for the rest of the weekend.
Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:53.028, 15th; P2 - 1:50.161, 10th
It feels good to be back on track. Our position on the time sheets in the morning was not what wed have liked and even after FP2 we know there is more performance to be found. The car is basically the same as what we ran in Monaco and Budapest where we were very competitive but weve struggled a bit for grip today. The good thing is we understand what we need to do, the team has been working hard to make improvements and Im sure well be stronger tomorrow.
Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:52.716, 12th; P2 - 1:50.345, 12th
It wasnt the easiest of days for us today. We dont have enough grip for some reason, and we seem to be lacking downforce. Its the same on both tyres ; a little bit better when the tyres are new, but still not quite the pace we want. I think we can improve for tomorrow but we have to find two seconds to get to the front. I dont think well find that much time ; but I think we should improve from Friday as we usually do.
Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director
We didnt learn too much in the first session, but we did get some quick laps on the intermediate tyres. In the second session we evaluated the two tyre compounds, completing long runs on both. Theres quite a bit of single lap pace difference between the two of them. Its fairly clear which tyre will be the preferred one for qualifying but not so clear at the moment which tyre is the better prospect for the race. Well be looking closely at lap times and degradation levels overnight.
Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:51.576, 5th; P2 - 1:50.636, 13th
It was a good day as we completed our plan. We lost one run in FP1 due to the weather, as the track was still wet, but Im happy we were able to get all the data we needed. We need to work on our performance but the consistency of the car looks good. Its difficult to say where we are at this stage as we dont know what everyone else is doing and this track can be quite unpredictable. The track is also improving all the time so well see tomorrow. You have to change your approach in Singapore but I really enjoy it. Its both physically and mentally challenging for drivers, but it is an amazing circuit to drive.
Bruno Senna, P1 - 1:52.629, 11th; P2 - 1:51.452, 17th
It wasnt an ideal day but I was still able to learn a lot about the car and we have a good idea on the direction we will take tomorrow. I made a mistake in FP2 and touched the wall which damaged the car. I was trying to push hard and on a track like this unfortunately that means you can end up in the wall. There isnt too much damage so we need to work hard to be 100 per cent ready for tomorrow. We are aiming for the top ten but the grid is looking very tight so we are going to have to push very hard. Its going to be important to qualifying as far forward as possible at this circuit but the competition is strong.
Mark Gillan, Williams chief operations engineer
After the track had dried from the earlier thunder storm ahead of FP1, we managed to get some decent set-up work completed on the soft tyre. Our FP2 programme was somewhat curtailed when Bruno hit the wall whilst on a hot lap on the super-soft tyre. Despite this, we extracted enough feedback and data in the session for both our qualifying and race preparation.
Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:52.275, 9th; P2 - 1:50.791, 14th
This is not your run of the mill circuit, with the night and the atmosphere at what is a unique venue. Its great to have a change and myself and Jean-Eric had a chat after the first session and both agreed we were having fun! I felt the first session went better than the second and the changes we made before FP2 meant we did not seem to keep up with track evolution. We therefore need to think what we can do to get closer to the top ten like we were in the first session. But trying things out, whether they work or not, is what Friday is about. As for the tyres, the super soft is naturally faster and by quite a bit, while the soft logically proved more consistent over a long run.
Jean-Eric Vergne, P1 - 1:53.189, 17th; P2 - 1:52.009, 18th
This is definitely the hardest new circuit I have come across so far this season, with so many corners and the fact its really hot. I really enjoyed this whole experience of racing on a street circuit at night, but at first I was making a lot of mistakes on what is a very long lap. But I am getting used to it, I brought the car back in one piece and I know I will improve tomorrow. Overall, the car did not feel too bad, so I think if we can improve it a bit and I learn my way round a bit better, there should be more to come for the rest of the weekend.
Laurent Mekies, Toro Rosso chief engineer
A very different challenge to our last race in Monza, the lowest downforce track of the year and the Singapore layout was always going to be more challenging for us. We had a full programme to get through today, which required doing a lot of laps, partly to allow our drivers, especially Jean-Eric on his first visit here, to get into the rhythm of this difficult circuit. We also needed to find the best compromise in terms of car balance on short and long runs. We still have plenty of work to do, because although there were moments today when our performance was reasonable, we were not able to reproduce that consistently. We have to understand the reasons for that so we can move forward. On the positive side, both cars ran reliably and neither of our guys made any mistakes and we know how tough this track can be for the drivers. We evaluated a couple of new elements on the car and we have to look at all the data with the aim of upping our overall performance, especially in race trim for Sunday.
Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:52.296, 10th; P2 - 1:51.122, 15th
For me it was a difficult day because I was never really happy with the balance of the car. It felt inconsistent and a bit unpredictable. We now have to analyse the data carefully and find a way to improve the car.
Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:52.839, 13th; P2 - 1:51.450, 16th
The first session when we were evaluating parts was quite positive but in general our performance was rather weak today. I had way too much oversteer. It is great to go racing in Singapore again but it is important that we improve the balance and set-up because you really need confidence in the car here.
Giampaolo DallAra, Sauber head of track engineering
Despite the rain affecting the first session and the red flag affecting the second session massively, we were able to complete our programme. However, the problem is that we are significantly too slow. There seems to be a major problem, but we dont quite understand what it is. We will certainly have a long night analysing all the data. First we have to understand whats wrong, and then we will have to find the right measures to cure it.
Timo Glock, P1 - 1:54.908, 19th; P2 - 1:52.218, 19th
A sweaty start, not to put too fine a point on it. Thats normal for Singapore though and the hot conditions are very tough for everyone. Its just great to be back again and huge fun to drive here. I love every lap. We got through the programme quite well today. In FP2 we did quite an important test which we still have to analyse and have a think about where we go with it, because we seem to have made good progress with the car. Other than that we did some long runs with the tyres and I think that will be the key point over the weekend - to just keep the tyres alive as long as possible. Its not easy to get the lap together in qualifying but Ill do my best and also I think there is still a little more to come from the car. Well see what we can do.
Charles Pic, P1 - 1:55.335, 21st; P2 - 1:52.863, 21st
Again, Im very pleased to have adjusted well to what is a new circuit for me and also today has been my first time running in night-race conditions, so a lot to take in. This morning I made that my focus but I was quickly up to speed and able to work on the technical programme very soon. The heat and humidity are not easy for anyone in the team - its tough. Generally I am quite happy with where we are on only day one - especially in respect of our competitors - and there is certainly room for further improvement through the weekend. I have to say this track is one of the ones I have been most looking forward to in my debut season and so far I love it! The atmosphere already is quite electric because of the unique setting, so I cant wait to see it build for the race.
John Booth, Marussia team principal
A very positive start to our Singapore Grand Prix weekend. As expected Timo seems to be in his element here and the car is working very well with the new components introduced for this weekend. Charles seems to acclimatise so well to the tracks hes facing for the first time and this one is not easy, with the night-time schedule, the lights and the extreme heat and humidity. The rain this morning didnt make life easy as it hampered the start of our programme. Having said that, rain is good preparation for more rain and if we do encounter the wet conditions that have been mooted for later in the weekend, we will at least have had some preparation. Timo displacing all of our immediate competitors today has demonstrated another step forward and it was good to see Charles sitting between Kovalainen and Petrov after such a short amount of familiarisation with this track.
Pedro de la Rosa, P1 - 1:56.656, 23rd; P2 - 1:54.448, 23rd
"In the first session we focused mainly on learning the circuit. Its just as I expected, although tougher physically, especially in the first session. The second session was a bit easier, and as I already knew the circuit, we decided to set up the new floor. Now we must analyze the data to fully understand how it worked and how the different tests we carried out went, especially with different heights on the rear. From there well be able to evaluate the magnitude of the improvement and how much we can extract from it.
Narain Karthikeyan, P2 - 1:54.514, 24th
"The objective was to adapt to the track because street circuits are always tricky and the important thing was to do laps and gain confidence. The track is very demanding physically, not just because of the heat, but because its very stop and go. We must be happy with how the session went overall because we did a good job but tomorrow we must take another step forward with the car to progress. And Im also happy with the trust and support Tata Tea shows in me, with them present on my helmet and drink bottle from this race on.
Qing Hua Ma, P1 - 1:58.053, 24th
"It was fantastic to drive the F112 once again and do it at such a spectacular track. We did a good session and I learned a lot. We took it calmly as the conditions of the track, which was wet, werent easy. We went out on intermediate tyres and the team wanted me to be comfortable and adapt to the track before switching to softs. I improved my times lap by lap and it was also the first time Id driven a Formula One car in wet conditions, on a street circuit at night time so Im happy with the result.
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
"The day started with rain and it wasnt easy. Besides, none of the three drivers had raced at the Marina Bay Street Circuit before and we incorporated an aero upgrade so it was a day for learning and they did a good job. Ma, once again, fulfilled his role and took another step in his learning process, which is very positive. Now we must analyze the data before drawing conclusions. With the difficulties that all these factors presents the important thing was to finish the day with no incidents and we did just that.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
As always, Singapore has got off to a spectacular start, with the complexity of this race being added to by a damp surface at the beginning of the first free practice session. Nonetheless we saw a lot of running over the course of the evening, with plenty of data accumulated on a wide variety of fuel loads. From what we can see so far we would expect between two and three pit stops during the race, but a lot will depend on safety cars, which have traditionally been a factor in Singapore, as well as driving styles. The time difference between the soft and supersoft is around 1.5 seconds per lap, while the degradation per lap is around 0.3 seconds for the supersoft and 0.1 seconds for the soft. This opens up lots of different possibilities in terms of strategy. Weve also seen a number of upgrades from teams here, which will only add to the closeness of the competition. Some teams might try something different when it comes to strategy such as starting on the harder tyre, for example, in order to run a longer first stint on heavy fuel. Already, weve seen lots of different programmes during free practice, which suggests that the teams are keeping a very open mind when it comes to their tactics.
More to follow.
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