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Friday in Melbourne - team analysis & quotes

18 Mar 2016

A team-by-team round-up of the opening day's action at the 2016 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne's Albert Park...

Ferrari

Neither driver reported any significant problems on an inconclusive day, though Raikkonen spun off in Turn 13 in FP1. The SF16-Hs will run with their engine upgrade tomorrow.

Kimi Raikkonen: FP1, 1:40.754, P17; FP2, 1:39.486, P3

"Today the weather conditions made it very tricky for everybody and unfortunately we couldn't do many laps. It was a pity not to have been able to run in proper conditions, for all the spectators and for all of us, but we cannot change the weather. The car is the same we had in testing, but it was the first time with wet tires and it seems to be ok. Let's see what the weather is going to be like tomorrow, hopefully we can get some dry running, get the car correct and go from there. Tomorrow for the first time we'll try the new qualifying format, it will be different so we have to see how it pans out. Obviously it's the first time and it may be a bit of a hustle for some people, hopefully we get it right."

Sebastian Vettel: FP1, no Time; FP2, 1:40.761, P8

"The sun came out after practice, but earlier on it was raining every now and then which was enough to wet the track or parts of it. For sure these conditions are not ideal, but in the end what can we do? It is the same for everyone. Still, I don't think that the day was completely lost: it was good to get at least some laps and to feel the car, but in terms of preparation for the weekend and the race there was not too much to learn."

McLaren

McLaren worked hard to balance the MP4-31s around the latest aero specification during a productive day which Alonso described as a pleasant surprise.

Fernando Alonso: FP1, 1:33.060, P7; FP2, 1:39.895, P6

“I think we’re feeling quite happy after today.

“It’s nice to be back here in Melbourne: sometimes, when you come away from testing and go to a different circuit, you receive a pleasant surprise… or an unpleasant surprise. Well, today, we received a pleasant surprise.

“We more or less completed our programme – there were a few things we couldn’t quite accomplish, because we didn’t have enough dry running, but it was the same for everyone and we’ll hopefully run through our braking and ride-height checks tomorrow.

“Looking ahead to qualifying tomorrow, we have a clear and structured plan. Because we’ll be running both cars at the same time, we’ll need everything to be organised and synchronised between the two pit-crews so that they can focus on both cars simultaneously.

“Nevertheless, it’s a new system, and some teams will inevitably make mistakes with it during these early races, but I hope McLaren-Honda won’t be one of them.”

Jenson Button: FP1, 1:33.129, P8; FP2, 1:40.008, P7

“This wasn’t the easiest day on which to run race cars – even if it had been dry, those 50km/h winds made things very tricky, and the early rain made them trickier still. In fact in conditions like we saw today, when it’s wet and windy, you can lose control of the car very easily, so I hope tomorrow will be a lot calmer to be honest.

“Having said that, we still managed to trial some engine and ride-height settings. We’d like to have tried even more, but there was little point in such bad weather conditions. All in all, though, I definitely think we made the best of today.

“For qualifying tomorrow, I think it’s important that the fans know what’s happening. The fans are a big part of this sport, and it’s important that they understand the reasons for the change.

“I reckon some teams and drivers will make mistakes in quali during the next few races, but I think we’re well prepared.”

Eric Boullier, racing director

“Our positions in both today’s sessions underlined the team’s experience and competence in dealing with unexpected and difficult conditions. It would have been easy to make mistakes, or to have missed out on useful running, but, in fact, we did the opposite; gathering plenty of good data whenever the track was clear, and getting a thorough understanding of the direction we need to adopt for the remainder of the weekend.

“So it’s been an extremely encouraging day. We know there’s work to be done, but today has shown that we’ve made real progress – both in terms of reliability and in terms of performance. Given the unpredictable and changeable conditions facing us for both Saturday and Sunday, therefore, we’re well placed to maximise our potential this weekend.”

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd head of F1 project & executive chief engineer

“The first day of the season opening race was hampered by gusty winds and temperamental rain, so unfortunately we were unable to confirm the full performance of the car. Thankfully, our two drivers' patience and good laps in these tricky conditions enabled us to gather enough data for the day.

“We have combined today’s power unit data with that gathered in Barcelona two weeks ago, and successfully prepared ourselves for tomorrow's running. Hopefully, we will be blessed with better track conditions tomorrow.”

Haas

Haas had a great start to their F1 campaign, and completed 32 laps as they learned the ropes.

Romain Grosjean: FP1, 1:43.443, P20; FP2, 1:43.731, P13

"We had tricky weather for our first official practice sessions. It was a very good effort from all the guys to get out there on time at the beginning of P1. It was a very strong moment as well for Gene (Haas, team owner) and Guenther (Steiner, team principal), who have been working on the project for a long time. We became an official Formula One team today.

“The weather was tricky. We did a few laps on inters, but we just missed the opportunity to run the slicks. It looks like we could have a dry P3, so we can try to catch up and go from there tomorrow. I’m very proud of everyone and very proud to officially enter our name into the classification. I’m looking forward to a drier day tomorrow.”

Esteban Gutierrez: FP1, 1:41.780, P18; FP2, 1:42.891, P11

"It’s amazing to finally be in Melbourne, running out on track and making history for the team. The guys have done a fantastic job to get everything ready. The conditions today have been variable. However, we ran as much as we could to get as much data as possible to prepare for Saturday. We’ve obviously got some work to do tonight to get everything sorted for tomorrow, but I’m looking forward to getting back out there.”

Guenther Steiner, team principal

"It’s been a mixed day for us. During the first practice with the rain coming and going, we got some laps in but not as much as we’d hoped. However, we made the best out of the situation and made some progress. The second practice was very similar to the first one. We didn’t achieve as many laps as we wanted in the session, but we’ll utilize all the data we have and keep working hard as we head into tomorrow.”

Red Bull

Both drivers revelled in the tricky conditions and were close to the top of the timesheets most of the time.

Daniel Ricciardo: FP1, 1:30.875, P3; FP2, 1:39.535, P4

“Today was the definition of Melbourne. Four seasons in one day, that’s what everyone says and we got that today. It’s a shame we didn’t do that much constant running, but I’m not too frustrated with the position we’re in. The laps we did, I was pretty happy with and the car is in a decent place. It’s just nice to be back in the car again to be honest and I was very happy to put the helmet back on. I think tomorrow will be a little bit of a mixed bag for everyone. We did get enough running to feel all conditions and if it is variable throughout the weekend then we’re prepared for that. I took a little trip to the gravel this morning, but I noticed there were a lot of fans at Turn 12 and I wanted to say hello to them.”

Daniil Kvyat: FP1, 1:30.146, P2; FP2, 1:42.411, P10

"Everything went well today I think, the car felt good out of the box so it’s promising. Obviously there wasn’t much running but it was the same for everyone and every lap we tried to take the most out of it, to learn as much as we could and we can put this data in our pocket for qualifying tomorrow and for Sunday. There’s not many indications from today, it’s impossible to predict what others were doing, what they’re going to do and so on, and so it wouldn’t be wise to draw any kind of conclusions. We still don’t know what the weather will be like tomorrow so we just have to be patient and see what the day will bring us."

Force India

Hulkenberg looked comfortable in both sessions, but a great lap from Perez in the second, when he set purple times in the first two sectors, was spoiled when he got on the grass in the third.

Nico Hulkenberg: FP1, 1:31.325, P5; FP2, 1:39.308, P2

“Really challenging conditions today with the wind and the rain. It was so gusty and the car was being moved around a lot by the wind, even on the straights. So the conditions were not the best for testing and learning. This morning we did a very short run on the soft tyres, but the track was very damp and so it was not really a representative dry run. Then, in the afternoon, we worked with the intermediates, getting a feel for the car in the wet conditions in case the rain comes back again tomorrow. So it was one of those slow days where you just had to make the best of it. Tomorrow is a new day so let’s see what the weather brings.”

Sergio Perez: FP1, 1:33.370, P9; FP2, 1:41.256, P9

“It has been a difficult day for everyone because of the changing weather. Just when it looked as though the track was starting to dry, the rain started again. So it was quite frustrating and we could not carry out all the testing we had planned. We made the most of the conditions and we looked quite competitive on the intermediates, but you can’t read too much into the times because it depended on when you were out on track. We are still not sure what the weather will do tomorrow, but if it’s dry then we will start from zero again and it will be a very busy day. If it does rain again, the set-up work we have done on the intermediates will be very useful.”

Robert Fernley, deputy team principal

“They say that Melbourne is a city where you can experience four seasons in a day, and based on today there is some truth to that expression! There were some very brief windows for dry running this morning, but neither Checo nor Nico carried out any meaningful work on the soft tyre. With a risk of more rain tomorrow we made the most of the afternoon session to run the intermediate tyre and looked quite competitive in the damp conditions. On days like this it’s frustrating for everybody, not least the fans who didn’t see as much action as they would have liked. I’m sure that as the weekend unfolds and the weather improves we can make up for the limited running today and put on a good show for everyone.”

Toro Rosso

The STR11 looked strong in both sessions, but Sainz had some undisclosed problems in FP1 but was a star of FP2, while Verstappen ran well in FP1 bar one spin when he was the first to switch to soft tyres, and since he had done plenty of laps then the team elected not to run him in FP2.

Carlos Sainz: FP1, no time, P22; FP2, 1:39.694, P5

“Not the easiest of starts to the weekend. During this morning’s FP1 we faced a few issues that limited our running, but fortunately we didn’t miss much because the track was wet for most of the session. The weather has been a bit annoying throughout the day, but at least FP2 was much better in terms of reliability. This afternoon we were able to run as much as we wanted and recovered a bit of track time we had lost in the morning. The car felt good in the wet, it gave me confidence in case it rains tomorrow or on Sunday and I feel in good form out on track.”

Max Verstappen: FP1, 1:31.720, P5; FP2, no time

“It was a bit of a tricky day today: we didn’t complete many laps and the weather conditions were constantly changing… when we went out on slick tyres it would start to rain and when we went out on intermediates, the track would be drying up. It was nice to be back in the car again, and hopefully tomorrow we can spend more time out on track.”

Phil Charles, chief race engineer

“First day back at school! I had been looking forward to this day for a while as I expected it would be the first time this year where we would really start to learn where we rank as it is so difficult to judge in winter testing. Unfortunately the famous four-seasons-in-a-day Melbourne weather meant that we didn’t really get to fill in all of those question marks in either session.”

Sauber

Sauber confined themselves to installation checks on both cars in FP1, and elected not to run in FP2.

Marcus Ericsson: FP1, 1:37.956, P15; FP2, no time

“That was obviously not the best start to the new season, but we have no control when it comes to the weather. At least we were able to run some laps in the morning to get a good feel that everything works well on the car side. In FP2 we decided not to go out because of the rain and the strong wind. We are looking forward to the rest of the weekend and we will see what tomorrow brings.”

Felipe Nasr: FP1, 1:34.796, P13; FP2, no time

“It was not the Friday we were hoping for. In FP1 we were able to do some installation checks on the car. It will be important to be as productive as possible tomorrow as we have to put more mileage on the car. I am confident that the conditions will improve throughout the weekend.”

Williams

Williams had a quiet day, doing just systems checks and pit stop practice.

Valtteri Bottas: FP1, 1:34.550, P11; FP2, no time, P19

“This wasn’t the day we were hoping for because of the weather conditions, but it was equal for everyone. Tomorrow is a new day and I’m sure we will learn much more than today. It was difficult to get to learn much today so I am looking forward to getting out on track tomorrow – I just want to drive!”

Felipe Massa: FP1, 1:34.679, P12; FP2, no time, P18

“There’s not much to say really. There wasn’t much action today so we were just waiting all day to go on the track with dry tyres. This morning was better than this afternoon because we were just waiting for the track to dry, and unfortunately it didn’t so we just stayed in the garage.”

Rob Smedley, head of performance engineering

“It is exciting for us all to be back at track preparing to go racing again. There is a great deal of anticipation for the team after a lot of hard work over the winter and everyone is keen to get going. It was a little bit disappointing for us all today though, for the team and the fans, but with the weather conditions we couldn’t really get a great deal done. You could see some teams out trying to do a little bit of performance running in the wet, but we elected to just go out and do system checks, starts and pit stops as we are almost certainly going to have a dry qualifying and dry Sunday. We aim to do more work tomorrow.”

Renault

Neither driver did many laps, but Palmer did enough to say that he really liked the balance of the R.S.16 and the nature of the track.

Kevin Magnussen: FP1, 1:34.060, P10; FP2, no time, P16

“It wasn’t the best conditions today but it’s great to be back on track in Australia. My day was pretty much in-laps and out-laps but I did push a little on one. We don't have a lot to go on for tomorrow, but I've driven a race car before, including here at Albert Park, so I'm sure qualifying will be fine.”

Jolyon Palmer: FP1, 1:35.477, P14; FP2, no time, P17

“That was my first time driving here and Albert Park is a pretty cool circuit with a great street-track feel; it’s a bit bumpy and has a decent challenge to it. The car felt decent in the wet today; it was pretty balanced throughout both sessions and there were no surprises. There’s plenty of work to be done tomorrow, and I’m particularly looking forward to qualifying, especially as that might be my first dry laps here.”

Nick Chester, chassis technical director

“It was great to see the R.S.16 on track for its first Grand Prix sessions in its new colours. Given the weather conditions we concentrated on shaking down the chassis and procedural matters rather than performance. The weather looks better for tomorrow so we’ll likely have a pretty full FP3.”

Mercedes

Hamilton had zero problems and was comfortably fastest in both sessions. Rosberg, however, went off in Turn 7 in the second practice, damaging his new-spec nose and front wing.

Lewis Hamilton: FP1, 1:29.725, P1; FP2, 1:38.841, P1

“That was a good day. The car performed well and although we didn’t get a huge number of laps in, they were still quite constructive sessions. I was lucky to get a couple of dry laps to get a tiny feeling for what the balance is like around here, which was down to some good work from the team to time my runs right. Generally, though, I’m just excited to be here and to get back in the car. When I was sitting in the garage, I felt like a kid waiting to open his presents at Christmas. Hopefully it’ll be a dry day tomorrow so we can get plenty of laps in and give something back to the fans who have braved the weather today.”

Nico Rosberg: FP1, 1:31.814, P6; FP2, 1:47.356, P15

“That wasn’t a good start to the weekend for me. It was very wet out there, which made it tricky. It’s a shame that I lost the car in P2. I just applied a little too much throttle through Turn 7, spun round and touched the wall. My front wing was quite damaged, so unfortunately the boys will have some extra work to do tonight. My apologies go to them and a big thank you for their hard work. I’m now looking forwards towards qualifying and the race to put in a better performance.”

Paddy Lowe, executive director (technical)

“A bit of a frustrating day, which is unfortunate for the first day of the season and for the fans in particular. At best, we managed to string one or two sectors together on a track which was only ever dry in certain places. Then, in FP2, Nico just lost the back end of the car and collided with the wall, so not the best day overall. Fortunately it wasn’t too major. The front wing was damaged and we’ve replaced the left front corner as a precaution – but nothing that will affect him over the rest of the weekend. We have a lot of work to do in FP3 tomorrow to prepare for qualifying and the race – but it’s the same for everybody. We’re looking forward to seeing how it all plays out and hoping for some dry weather.”

Manor

Both drivers did a lot of laps, especially in the second session, as they made the most of their opportunities to acquire mileage. Wehrlein in particular looked smooth, strong and confident.

Pascal Wehrlein: FP1, 1:40.401, P16; FP2, 1:43.401, P12

“This wasn’t the best weather for the first day of my debut season, but a pretty good start I think. The main target was to get as many laps as possible, no matter what the conditions, and that’s what we did. Even in the dry it would have been difficult to compare ourselves with the other teams so early in the first weekend but I was able to start pushing a little to explore the package we have here in Melbourne. I’m happy and now looking forward to preparing for my first qualifying tomorrow. My thanks to the team for a good first day.”

Rio Haryanto: FP1, 1:43.372, P19; FP2, 1:44.304, P14

“Today’s weather was something different, that’s for sure. I’ve never run in an F1 car in the wet so although a day like today can have its frustrations, it was very positive to get this experience so soon. Another box ticked. Of course it would have been good to get some more dry running today to help prepare for the rest of the weekend. The next couple of days are unpredictable but hopefully the worst of the weather is behind us and we can attack the programme again tomorrow.”

Dave Ryan, racing director

“It’s been a tricky start to the first event of the season and the rain, though predicted, kept everyone on their toes. That’s difficult for any team and driver but perhaps more so for our two young rookies. Nevertheless, Pascal and Rio did exactly what was required of them today. They achieved as many laps as possible, brought the cars home and got some good experience along the way.”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“A bit of a washout – that’s how we can describe today I think! Most of the running was on intermediates this afternoon, which we are unlikely to see being used in the race, although there’s a chance they will be needed again tomorrow. While nobody really learned a lot today, there was some slick tyre running this morning, and we came close to the crossover point, enabling some useful data to be gathered about the intermediate. What this all means is that a season full of far-reaching changes has got off to an even more unpredictable start than expected, which opens up even more variables for the rest of the weekend. We’ll have to wait a little bit longer now to find out the true effect of the 2016 tyre regulations.”