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Friday in Bahrain - team by team

01 Apr 2016

A team-by-team round-up of the opening day's action at the 2016 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir...

Toro Rosso

No real problems here, as Toro Rosso once again demonstrated strong early pace with their two young drivers.

Max Verstappen – FP1: 1:34.860, P8; FP2: 1:32.406, P4

"A good start to the weekend. Of course there are still some things to improve, but it's definitely been a good day – we didn't have any problems and we had plenty of track time, so that's very positive. You never know what other people are doing, so of course I'm still a bit cautious, but it's looking positive here in Bahrain for us and we just need to keep improving because everybody else will."

Carlos Sainz – FP1: 1:34.793, P7; FP2: 1:33.177, P13

"It was a nice and smooth day for us today. We didn't have any issues and enjoyed some clean running, something that's always important to achieve on a Friday. I'm happy overall with my day. Obviously, there were many different tyre strategies out there today, so it's very difficult to compare ourselves to the others, but I'd say we've done our homework and we are looking good for the rest of the weekend ahead."

Phil Charles, chief race engineer

"A really interesting day. We started the cars with quite similar set-ups but through the two sessions we have split the cars in several ways to try to put together a picture for the rest of the weekend. In FP2 we had Carlos long-running the Medium and Max the soft tyre. As engineers we now have quite a busy night with plenty of homework to do!"

Ferrari

Ferrari had a scrappy day, with neither driver really getting the best out of the supersoft tyre. Vettel stopped his car with 15 minutes remaining in FP2, reporting that something felt amiss and that he’d lost drive. It transpired that the left rear wheel was loose…

Kimi Raikkonen – FP1: 1:34.128, P3; FP2: 1:32.452, P5

"It was a normal and pretty ok day, everything worked out fine and we did more or less what had been planned. We ran quite a few laps and it wasn't too bad, I only had some traffic in my lap with the Supersoft tires, but apart from that it was ok. I was not really looking at what the others were doing, we ran through our own programme. Obviously, the laptimes are one thing you notice, but we'll see what happens tomorrow. Now we have to go through the data and see how the day was. We always try to do our best, I still don't know where it is going to end, we have to wait until Sunday to know that. Hopefully we have a good and solid day tomorrow and then we'll go from there."

Sebastian Vettel – FP1: 1:35.073, P11; FP2: 1:32.650, P6 

"We don't know 100% what happened. I felt out of Turn 4 that I lost drive, so I decided to stop. Obviously we don't want to take a risk at this stage, damaging the car or the engine. It's a shame because I would have loved to cover more laps, but that's what it is. Obviously, it was incredibly important to do the mileage today and get the information on Friday, but it's even more important to make sure that the car is in good conditions for the whole weekend and for the whole season. Tomorrow I think that if you want to qualify as high up as possible you have to use the Supersofts. It's not a big secret. We saw that a lot of people were doing their homework today. As for me, I haven't done everything I could because we had to stop, but Kimi did a lot of laps, so it's still reasonable. Coming down to our rivals, I don't know what they did today. I think we can still improve for tomorrow. Hopefully we can be a little bit closer, so we'll see."

Renault

Both drivers spent FP1 evaluating a new front wing. Palmer struggled badly with his car’s set-up, but was respectably close to Magnussen in the second session. Unfortunately, Magnussen missed a mandatory weight check, and as the car was returned to the garage and worked on in breach of the sporting regulations, Renault were subsequently informed that he must now start from the pit lane on Sunday.

Kevin Magnussen – FP1: 1:35.490, P15; FP2: 1:33.447, P16

"We got through all of today's programme and logged plenty of running so it's been a good day and I'm happy. We'll work hard this evening to analyse all our data as usual and see if we can find more pace as we're not yet as strong as we were in Melbourne relative to our rivals. It'll be interesting to see what the weather does as well; today's temperatures did have an effect on the tyres. We've seen rain this week so let's see what happens tomorrow."

Jolyon Palmer – FP1: 1:36.939, P20; FP2: 1:33.640, P18

"It was good to get a full day of running on a Friday after the rain we had in Melbourne. There was a big difference in temperatures between both practice sessions, and with the circuit becoming less sandy and more rubber getting down, the track evolution was significant. We got a decent number of laps in today and there's plenty to get on with overnight; there's still more to come."

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

"Both cars ran very reliably today, and we were able to make up for the weather-affected practice sessions in Australia in terms of assessing our new front wing. We've seen unusual cool temperatures so far this weekend with significant temperature differences between Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 and it was interesting for the team to evaluate tyre performances today. Both drivers did a solid job on track and back in the garage providing valuable feedback. We will now focus on analysing today's data overnight to extract the maximum performance from the R.S.16 which we would like to improve in time for tomorrow's qualifying sessions."

Manor

This was a very good day for Manor. After a lot of heart-searching after Melbourne, they felt they had a much better handle on set-up here. Once again Wehrlein was a real star, setting his quick times on the mediums in FP1 and the softs in FP2, and beating both Saubers.

Pascal Wehrlein – FP1: 1:36.371, P17; FP2: 1:33.953, P19

"We've learned a lot since Melbourne and that was evident in our performance here today. It's another new circuit for me but I was soon feeling comfortable with the track and able to crack on with the programme. In these early races it's all about exploring the car's behaviour and potential, so we spent a lot of time on the Medium tyre establishing a better starting point for the weekend. The pace on the Soft tyre was encouraging so more of that tomorrow I hope. So far I'm happy!"

Rio Haryanto – FP1: 1:37.714, P22; FP2: 1:34.562, P22

"We end the day with a much better balance so I'm pleased with the way we've approached the weekend so far. It's a good reflection of the work we put in after Melbourne and shows how quickly we can bring more performance to the car with just a few changes here and there. I really enjoy this circuit and running under the lights is very exciting. A good first step with more to come tomorrow I think."

Dave Ryan, racing director

"We took a long hard look at every aspect of our weekend in Melbourne and it's really pleasing to see the benefit of that period of reflection already translating into positive results here. Our programme was heavily biased towards establishing a good baseline set-up and our tyre choices today echoed that. We weren't on top of the set-up in the last race so we've taken a slightly different approach here and we're in a much better place as a consequence. This means we can focus more on qualifying now and what we need to do to improve our chances with a second stab at the new format."

McLaren

McLaren had a “satisfying and successful” day. Vandoorne arrived in Bahrain this morning after hot-footing it over from Japan in the wake of Alonso’s enforced inactivity. And he made a big impression with a smooth performance which saw him only seven-tenths down on team-mate Button on his debut. Most of that was lost in the first sector, which bodes well for tomorrow…

Button looked quick in FP1, and confirmed that with third fastest time in FP2 in the updated MP4-31. We’ll see whether he can stay there in qualifying, but he said it was great to have a car beneath him that felt good again, so overall it was an encouraging day for McLaren.

Jenson Button – FP1: 1:35.440, P14; FP2: 1:32.281, P3

"Today was good – FP1 and FP2 were both competitive, and it's nice to have a car that feels good beneath me, one we can really work with and see good gains. It was only practice today, but it was a lot more fun than normal! High-fuel runs weren't too bad either – overall it's been a positive day. There's still a lot of work to do tomorrow on long runs, especially on the harder compounds, when I'm sure the other cars will be more competitive tomorrow. But, we were third quickest today, and that's a positive. There are certain areas where we need to improve, and I think we still can improve. We have to do a good job as a team tomorrow and make sure we don't make any mistakes.  

"We had no problems today reliability-wise, everything was good. It's fun to have a car that's enjoyable to drive. The balance is reasonable and the car is feeling nice around here, which is definitely better than Melbourne. I think when you're third in FP2 and it's not because of changeable conditions or anything, you've got to be thinking about getting into Q3 – it has to be the aim.  

"Stoffel has done a really good job today – he's fitted in as you would expect, he's a very talented driver, so we'll see what we can do as a team tomorrow. I think there'll be cars that slip in between us, but it's a positive start, we didn't do anything unusual, and hopefully we'll continue to improve tomorrow."

Stoffel Vandoorne – FP1: 1:36.392, P18; FP2: 1:32.999, P11

"I turned 24 on Saturday so this is a very good birthday present! Today has been great – I wasn't expecting to drive this weekend, but I'm very happy for this opportunity. I'm going to try and do as good a job as possible for the team. I feel 100 per cent ready for this and today was a very good day for me. I haven't driven this car before but I quickly felt comfortable in the car, progressed quite a lot through FP1 and then had quite a good feeling through FP2 as well.  

"The most important thing for us was to do a lot of laps; we did a lot of pit stops, practice starts, the operational stuff, really, to cover all the things I have to learn. During my trip here from Japan I had a lot of preparation work and learning to do – the engineers sent me a lot of stuff and I've been through it all – I spent my time well on the plane! There's still a lot of things we have to go through tomorrow and definitely before the race, but so far everything has been very good.  

"I really want to enjoy this opportunity and I'm very excited about the chance I'm getting. Fernando has been around all day beside me and with the engineers, and has been giving me some great advice. We have a great team and I know a lot of the guys around here, so it makes my life a little bit easier to come and work with them. It's definitely not an ideal situation to just jump in the car without any testing, but so far this Friday has been very good during both practice sessions. I've been feeling more and more comfortable, and tomorrow I think that progression is going to continue. I felt very prepared today – I've done a lot of simulator work over the last few months at the factory. Since I got the call, I've done a lot of learning with the engineers, about how to set up the car, and also how to operationally bring the car home during the race. It's been a busy day, but everything went fine. Bahrain is a track I really enjoy and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the weekend."

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director

"Today has been a largely satisfying and successful day. After the decision was made by the FIA medical team yesterday that Fernando could not race, the team quickly and professionally managed the situation and performed the relevant changes required to ready Fernando's side of the garage for Stoffel's debut in the MP4-31 as reserve driver.  

"Stoffel demonstrated his professionalism by getting straight into the car and settling into free practice very quickly. Both he and Jenson had a positive day of running, and Stoffel fitted in seamlessly with the programme as we knew he would, providing excellent feedback and performing valuable set-up and aero tests. Although our pace looks very encouraging, it's still only Friday and as always there's a lot of work to do overnight.  

"As in Australia, we have brought upgrades to Bahrain and spent time evaluating the new parts and bedding them in to the package. Reliability-wise we've enjoyed another strong day, completing a good number of laps which enabled us to gather a lot of useful data that we will take into tomorrow's sessions.  

"Qualifying, once again, is likely to be tricky to manage; and unpredictable – especially in the midfield positions, but today's running has been encouraging and we hope to carry this momentum into tomorrow, where we hope to demonstrate the potential in our package."

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer 

"First of all, we are very disappointed that Fernando cannot race this weekend, but our first concern is for his health and it is important that he takes time to recover properly.  

"On the other hand, we are excited to see Stoffel in the car for the first time, and we are looking forward to watching his performance over the weekend. All of the team will do as much as possible to back him up and to help him get the best out of the car.  

"The weather on the first day of running in Bahrain was rather chilly and therefore there was no anxiety about the car overheating, which we usually find at this circuit. In both FP1 and FP2 sessions, the power units ran smoothly, which enabled the team and drivers to do consistent running to progress the car's set-up for tomorrow onwards."

Haas

Once again there was some fragility to the VF-16. Grosjean had something fall off his car in FP1, and again in FP2 when there was a problem with the front wing. But they looked good and Grosjean believes a top 10 grid position isn’t out of reach.

Romain Grosjean – FP1: 1:35.000, P9; FP2: 1:33.384, P14

"FP2 was an interesting session. We ran different tires, medium and then supersoft. This was to allow us to get the best evaluation for the race. We had a bit of an issue with the front wing, but generally it was a good day with some good work. We had both cars out there on track trying to get the best for our setup. Friday night is always the busiest night of the weekend. We make all the changes for tomorrow, hoping to get a bit more performance, hopefully to get us back to where we were this morning. I don't think it's impossible that we can be somewhere close to the top-10."

Esteban Gutierrez – FP1: 1:35.309, P13; FP2: 1:33.129, P12

"It was very useful for us to have consistent running. Practice one we had a few issues, but luckily we were able to resolve these quickly. Practice two was more straightforward. The wind conditions improved from the first session. We were able to achieve lots of data, which will help with our preparations for tomorrow. Overall, I'm happy how the day went. We still have some work to do for Saturday to fine tune the balance of the car, but I'm looking forward to getting out there for qualifying."

Guenther Steiner, team principal

"We had two very good practice sessions, until the very last five minutes, when we had a few issues with Romain's car. He experienced some smoke, which appears to be a small oil leak. We also had some issues with vibrations on the front wing, but we are working on it. Esteban did a good job. The car is where we think it will be for the race weekend. We will keep on working this evening to get everything sorted for tomorrow."

Mercedes

No problems here, after a day of dominance in both single-lap and long-run guises, though Hamilton said he needs to hone his set-up a little and sort out aspects of his driving style. 

Nico Rosberg – FP1: 1:32.294, P1; FP2: 1:31.001, P1

"I couldn’t wait to get back in the car after a great weekend in Melbourne and I felt really good out there. It’s been an encouraging first day for the team. We were very quick on one lap and also on the longer runs, so I’m really looking forward to qualifying and the race. I like this track very much. The atmosphere is great and it looks really spectacular driving under the lights in the evening. It should be an exciting weekend!"

Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:32.799, P2; FP2: 1:31.242, P2

"That was a good Friday overall. The car is performing really well here. There were no surprises or issues to report throughout both practice sessions, which is always a good sign. Understanding the tyres has been key to our work today as they’ll be a big factor this weekend. There’s some work to do tonight in terms of finding a few improvements from the car and also my driving style. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and making some more progress tomorrow."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

"We’ve had some very unusual weather in Bahrain this week, which has made this quite a different Friday. It’s been very cool. We didn’t see anything like the high track temperatures normally experienced in FP1 at this circuit. This allowed us to do plenty of useful, representative running in both sessions, looking at the soft and supersoft on high and low fuel. Both drivers are happy with the car, so we can be pleased with our day’s work. The most interesting point from the day has been the level of degradation over long runs on all the different tyre compounds, which should produce some interesting strategies for the race, so we look forward to seeing how that plays out on Sunday."

Williams

The Williams drivers said they had a normal day, and the feeling was that the team understand more about the car than they did in Melbourne. However, the FW38s exhibited debilitating understeer, on all three compounds, so there’s some set-up work to be done overnight.

Felipe Massa – FP1: 1:35.006, P10; FP2: 1:32.873, P10

“It was a normal Friday for us really. We were focusing on trying to understand the balance of the car, how it performs on different tyres, and we completed some good long runs at the end. We have collected a lot of information today and now we’ll be trying to understand it to make improvements for tomorrow.”

Valtteri Bottas – FP1: 1:35.174, P12; FP2: 1:32.792, P8

“We managed to complete our running as planned with no issues at all so it’s been a good day. The car felt better in the evening practice session with the lower temperatures and less wind, which is good as we need the car to be at its best at the same time of day for qualifying and the race. We can still improve, but what was encouraging was the consistency we showed in long runs on the medium tyre.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“It was a key day for us because we missed out on so much work in Melbourne due to the weather during practice. The good news is, that we’ve got through the majority of that work now. We’ve definitely learnt a lot about the car which has been really good and we can take that through to tomorrow, to help us improve the car pace. Tyre work has been really interesting as well. We just need to put it all together now. There’s a lot to look at tonight, but I think it is fairly clear what we need to do and where we are heading. The low fuel runs were good and put us about where we expected to be. The high fuel runs were also very encouraging as they were better than what we saw in the Melbourne race. In addition, we’ve got some further upgrades coming for tomorrow which will put us in even better shape.”

Force India

Force India had a troublefree day and gathered a huge amount of data with their three drivers, but neither Hulkenberg nor Perez was happy with their times in the afternoon.

Nico Hulkenberg – FP1: 1:34.601, P6; FP2: 1:33.570, P17

“The two sessions today were routine by free practice standards. It’s good, especially at this early stage in the season, to go through two sessions without any hiccups: it means we have lots of information to help us find some more speed overnight. It’s hard to judge where we stand at the moment in terms of absolute pace, but we’ve done all our homework in terms of running the different tyre compounds, which means we are well prepared for the rest of the weekend.”

Sergio Perez – FP2: 1:33.406, P15

“Even though I sat out the first session today, I believe we managed to catch up in the evening with a very busy FP2. The lap times are not where we want them to be, even if it is very early in the weekend, so we will be working hard this evening to make sure we are competitive in qualifying. The car balance is good, so we should be aiming to find some lap time and be back in the top ten tomorrow.”

Alfonso Celis – FP1: 1:37.287, P21

“Today was my first opportunity to drive the car during an official practice session and I really enjoyed the experience. Even compared to testing there were a lot more things to be aware of today, but I’m pleased with how things went. The team asked me to work through an aero programme to get some data from the new parts at the front of the car. So I left some margin with my driving because the priority was to get the information for the team. I’m already looking forward to my next time in the car in Russia.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

“First of all, I want to congratulate Alfonso for a good performance in FP1: he did all that the team was asking of him and he produced useful feedback for our engineers, which is what we need from a young driver. Both sessions were trouble-free from our perspective and we have a vast amount of data to draw upon as we prepare for tomorrow. There is still work to do before we can be satisfied with our pace, but I am confident we can make up that ground and be qualifying in the top ten tomorrow.”

Sauber

Sauber continued to struggle. They got through their programmes, but the C35s lacked grip and balance.

Felipe Nasr – FP1: 1:36.719, P19; FP2: 1:34.477, P21

“It was positive that we got in some mileage in both practice sessions. We were able to do short and long-runs, which is important for the rest of the weekend. In terms of driving, I am still not satisfied with the handling of the car. We still have a lot of work to do as we have to find more pace.”

Marcus Ericsson – FP1: 1:35.728, P16; FP2: 1:34.224, P20

“It was a productive day. I was able to collect some good mileage. We need that in order to continue our work in understanding the characteristics of the C35. There is surely room for improvement in terms of performance, but the main priority today was to put in as many laps as possible. Now we need to analyse everything to see what we can optimize for the rest of the weekend.”

Red Bull

Kvyat had the better day as Ricciardo locked up going into Turn 1 early in FP2 and ruined a set of tyres, putting himself on the back foot. Both drivers felt there was room for improving the RB12, but that they will be in reasonably upper midfield shape for qualifying.

Daniel Ricciardo – FP1: 1:34.461, P4; FP2: 1:32.870, P9

“Dany is probably happier with his Friday than I was with mine. This morning wasn’t too bad but from the very first lap this afternoon I locked the front into Turn 1 which killed that set of tyres. We couldn’t use that set for the long run which compromised our afternoon programme. With the super softs on the low fuel we still needed to find a bit more balance, and with the high fuel run, we were interrupted with the virtual safety cars. We still have some homework to do but we’ll see how tomorrow goes. I think Q3 will be on the edge for us, but the race will be better.”

Daniil Kvyat – FP1: 1:34.541, P5; FP2: 1:32.703, P7

“All in all it was a good Friday for us which was crucial after what was a pretty disastrous weekend in Melbourne.  We were aiming to do good mileage, which we achieved and we have a lot of data to go through tonight. We hope to continue this form into tomorrow and maybe make a couple of steps forward.  There were a few surprises today in terms of pace, obviously McLaren was one of them. There may be some more surprises tomorrow depending who makes it click overnight but I’m pretty confident we will be in good shape.”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“An indication of how much the lap times have generally improved from last year comes from the fact that the slowest time in FP1 this afternoon would have been the fastest FP1 time last year. Not only that but the race lap record was already broken in FP2. Conditions during FP2 are expected to be representative of qualifying and the race, so the teams have gathered plenty of data for what is looking like a race that will feature two, possibly three, pit stops for most competitors. During FP2 we encountered a very small amount of graining, in the cool conditions with a high fuel load. The low working range supersoft appears to have a pace advantage of about one second over the soft, helped by the cool temperatures.”