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Thursday in Monte Carlo - team by team

26 May 2016

A round-up of the opening day's action at the Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco 2016 in Monte Carlo...

Manor

As Wehrlein learned the track for the first time, Haryanto - who has competed here in GP2 - was the faster driver in both sessions, but blotted his copybook with a typical chicane-approach shunt when his MR05 got out of shape over the bumps under braking in FP2.

Pascal Wehrlein - FP1: 1:20.868, P22; FP2: 1:18.814, P22

"In FP1 we didn't get quite as much running as we'd hoped due to a combination of factors, including the virtual safety car interruptions and finally the red flag which ended the session early. FP2 was a lot better and we managed to get through a lot of work, which was quite satisfying, but there is still a lot to do in order to be prepared for the rest of the weekend. Today was the first time I have ever driven around this incredible track and also the first time we have run the Ultrasoft tyres, so a lot going on but all in all not a bad start to the weekend and now I can't wait until Saturday to get back out there again."

Rio Haryanto - FP1: 1:20.528, P21; FP2: 1:18.647, P21

"Today was going pretty well until my crash at St. Devote. I'd had a good morning, we'd been working our way through the run plan and I was looking forward to trying out the Ultrasoft tyre. Unfortunately I braked a little too late and hard and lost the car on the exit of the tunnel and into the chicane. Thankfully the impact with the Armco was not so bad and the car isn't too badly damaged. Plus, we have the extra day to prepare the car, which eases the pressure on the guys a little. However, it's unfortunate and it's a shame that I wasn't able to complete the programme as preparation is key here. Better luck in FP3 I hope."

Dave Ryan, Racing Director

"It's been an interesting start to our Monaco weekend, with the various incidents on track reminding everyone just how unforgiving this circuit can be. Unfortunately, Rio was one of the drivers to receive a stark reminder of this on the exit of the tunnel and on his first run with the Ultrasoft tyre but thankfully the damage was relatively minor and it won't keep the mechanics here too late tonight, although Rio could well find himself buying the boys a drink or two sometime over the weekend. The stop-start nature of the day hampered progress a little but with Pascal we managed to get through a lot of work and he was clearly revelling in his first taste of this circuit. Generally, a reasonably positive start and let's see how things pan out on Saturday."

Haas

It was a tough day for the rookie team. Gutierrez lost time with electronic problems in FP1, then soon after the start of FP2, when he and Grosjean were the initial pacesetters, the Frenchman got it wrong braking for the chicane and hit the wall. He lost much of the session as repairs were effected.

Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:17.599, P12; FP2: 1:16.782, P15

"It was Monaco. It was tricky. This morning went quite smoothly. We made some setup changes for the afternoon, but I think we've got room for some big improvements. The first run this afternoon, I lost the car under braking into the chicane. The guys did an amazing job to put the car back together. We were lucky that there wasn't too much damage. Eventually, we did manage to finish most of our program, which is good. We now have a full day tomorrow to work on the data. It's always tricky to come to Monaco for the first time as a team, but I'm sure we can find some more performance."

Esteban Gutierrez - FP1: 1:17.909, P14; FP2: 1:16.782, P13

"It was a very productive day, and fantastic to be back in Monaco as it's a track I really enjoy. I think it was important for me at the start to get my confidence from the first session. I didn't race last year, so it was great to try and get in as many laps as possible. The team did a great job to recover this morning from a small issue we had in FP1, so it was pretty good we managed to get out in FP2. Overall, I think we'll be working on fine tuning a few details and then we'll be ready for qualifying."

Guenther Steiner, team principal

"We had two pretty good sessions. There were some typical Monte Carlo problems, especially in the afternoon with Romain. He lost the car, had a small bit of damage, but the team worked pretty quickly to fix it. In the morning, we ran well, except again for Esteban's car, he had a small electrical problem which left him short of running the last half an hour. All in all, there's always a little bit of drama at Monte Carlo, but I think we are making progress. We'll see what happens on Saturday in FP3, and then it's time to be ready for qualifying. Everybody's done a good job and we're feeling pretty confident."

McLaren

McLaren suffered badly with understeer as they struggled to find grip in FP1, while Button suffered heavy damage at the front of his car courtesy of a loose drain cover at the end of the session. Things were better in the afternoon, but both believe that more work is necessary to unlock the performance they believe the car can deliver here.

Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:17.838, P13; FP2: 1:16.723, P12

"We know this is a good opportunity for us in terms of circuit layout, so we perhaps expected to be a little more competitive in today's sessions. On the other hand, we need to stay calm – it's still only Thursday and there's a lot of potential in the car to be found by Saturday. 

"The balance was not right today: I had quite a bit of understeer so there's definitely more lap-time to come from us. We'll see the truth on Saturday, and I'm sure we'll deliver when it matters."

Jenson Button - FP1: 1:17.920, P15; FP2: 1:16.325, P10

"The morning session was tough – we really struggled for grip – but started getting there in the afternoon. The day was made tougher for my side of garage by the drain cover, which came loose and broke through my front wing, front suspension, brake duct and floor. The mechanics did a great job to get the car ready for FP2, but we've still got a long way to go until we're happy with our competitiveness. 

"A racetrack is a controlled environment, and we take enough risks as racing drivers. Normally, the safety standards here are very good, but that incident is something we don't want to see again., It was lucky that the drain cover stayed quite low on the ground. There's still a big gap to the cars at the front, but we'll do our best in qualifying and I hope we'll be more competitive."

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda racing director

"There's always a lot of work that needs to be done on the first day of practice at this most storied of racetracks. This morning's session was somewhat unpredictable, with an unexpectedly low level of grip that look a little while to understand.

"I also think that today's results are largely inconclusive, as we fitted in a lot of test work in order to better understand the unique characteristics of the demanding circuit. Our focus now switches towards maximising our performance for qualifying on Saturday – a session which remains the most critical qualifying hour of the entire season. 

"Jenson was fortunate to emerge unscathed from an incident in this morning's session when a drain cover smashed into his car. The organisers work very hard to ensure this circuit is as safe as possible, but we need to look into exactly what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again."

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

"We were slightly disappointed to find ourselves in the same positions as at previous races, as we believe that the Monaco street circuit suits our car's performance. 

"Nevertheless, our biggest issue of understeer in both cars has been improved massively between FP1 and FP2, and the team did a brilliant job in repairing Jenson's damaged front-end to get it ready for FP2.  

"Owing to the Monaco Grand Prix's unique running calendar, we have a full day to complete the set-up of the cars tomorrow, and we are looking forward to seeing what the engineers will come up with."

Renault

Both drivers had adventurous days. Palmer, a two-time winner at Monaco in GP2, got into a slide exiting Tabac in FP1 which ended in contact with the wall, damaging his right rear wheel and front wing. That prevented him from continuing, and his car was still being fixed as FP2 began, but he made amends by later lapping within two tenths of team mate Magnussen. The Dane, meanwhile, using the latest version of Renault’s powertrain, was running hard until he understeered into the wall at Noghes, damaging his RS16’s front end.

Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:18.274, P18; FP2: 1:17.530, P17

"It wasn't the best day for us. We thought we'd made a step forward at the Barcelona test but on this track we didn't have the car we expected. The latest spec engine certainly delivered and it's a decent improvement, but we still have work to do on the set-up and, of course, finding more downforce. It was unfortunate to end the second session early. I just understeered into the wall; I turned in and I just had no grip. The data showed I wasn't going any faster than the lap before so it's frustrating. Thankfully the only damage was to the front wing which makes it easy for my crew as that's just one bolt-on part."

Jolyon Palmer - FP1: 1:18.871, P20; FP2: 1:17.761, P19

"We discovered a lot about the direction we want to go with the car and I think we can move forward quite well. The day didn't start out all that pleasantly; the track was slippery and I made a mistake in Tabac; I just had a small bit of oversteer while pushing the limit and I found the wall. But we were trying something that we were doing in testing last week and, even if we weren't quick, we took a great deal from it which is good. Let's see what happens on Saturday!"

Nick Chester, Technical Director

"We learnt a fair amount from our set-up programme today despite losing some running with both cars. We made some improvements between the two sessions but have more to get out of the car, especially when running the ultrasoft tyre. Tomorrow will be spent going through the data and ensuring we get the maximum out of everything at our disposal for Saturday."

Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso were something of a surprise package, with both Kvyat and Sainz out-pacing Ferrari in FP2. Both drivers, unsurprisingly, said they were very happy with how things had gone. This was the first time that Toro Rosso ad used the ultrasofts, so expect more tomorrow once they have optimised the set-up for the softest Pirelli compound.

Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:16.426, P6; FP2: 1:15.815, P5

“I think it was a decent day for us in the office today. We completed many useful laps and we had a very consistent day here in Monaco. We now have plenty of things to look at tonight and tomorrow, as well as analysing everything before qualifying and the race. I think that overall we are looking quite good, there is good potential for us, and I’d say that if we do our homework well we can have a strong weekend. It was the first time that we used the ultrasoft tyres today and they felt okay; we just need to look into the data from the practice session in order to understand this compound well and extract the most out of it.”

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:17.130, P10; FP2: 1:15.981, P6

“I enjoyed it a lot out there today! To have a smooth Thursday in Monaco is always important in order to build-up your confidence for the rest of the weekend. The track is really fast compared to last year and the lap times are coming down nicely… It feels like we’re pushing the Formula One cars back to really challenging times! I was a bit surprised with the amount of degradation on the ultrasofts, which won’t be easy to handle, but it will be the same for everyone and we will see what we can do in the race. We were able to complete our programme and had no issues throughout the day, so we can be pretty happy with our start to the Monaco Grand Prix.”

Phil Charles, Chief Race Engineer

“Quite a productive day today for us. Both drivers have performed well, building their pace and reducing their margins nicely through the day. In fact, I think Carlos and Daniil achieved a good balance, as we haven’t left much Toro Rosso blue bodywork paint on the walls… Although we have left a little bit of black wheel paint! I hope they can maintain this level for the rest of the weekend. As usual, the traffic in Monaco is very difficult to manage. The track never seems big enough for the number of cars! It is also true that both of our drivers have found frustration on key laps today. So, as is customary here, we will need to work hard to be proactive in finding their gaps for qualifying. To this end, the engineers will study today’s footage again tomorrow, along with the drivers, to make sure they can be as well prepared as possible for Saturday. On the engineering side, we have learnt quite a bit. In particular, we split the mapping of the Super Soft and Soft tyres across the drivers in both FP1 and FP2. They both collected some good data so hopefully we will be able to make some good conclusions that will stand us in good stead for the rest of the weekend.”

Williams

Bottas complained that his FW38 was oversteering and this made him nervous - and he came very close to a huge shunt in the tunnel, catching a moment of overslide superbly. Massa did have an accident, losing the rear of his car in classic fashion at Ste Devote; first the left rear wheel hit the outer wall, then the front. He missed the rest of the session, and subsequently struggled in FP2 after losing so much valuable track time.

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:17.562, P11; FP2: 1:16.849, P14

“We did a lot of laps today. The car set-up felt better than what we have tried here before. At the same time, it was more difficult to drive, with quite a bit of oversteer, so I was a little nervous. I had a bit of a moment in FP1, but that’s part of it. It’s a tough track. The times are looking very close, so any gain we can make before qualifying will be very useful.”

Felipe Massa - FP1: 1:18.746, P19; FP2: 1:17.286, P16

“It was a difficult morning, losing so much time in the session when I could have been driving. I missed a lot of laps, and we know in Monaco it is important to be on the track all the time you can. It was not a very good afternoon for us. We struggled to get good lap times. We’re missing grip and traction, so we need to work on the car to try to improve and make it more competitive for this track, especially for the race. It is a very special weekend where I always enjoy driving, seeing the fans and how special this race is for them – so I hope we can do well for them.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“It was a typical Monaco Thursday, with everything thrown at it. We had the unfortunate incident with Felipe in FP1, and the guys in the garage did a brilliant job to get him back out for FP2. We’ve got everything done that we needed to between the cars, despite that. It’s just unfortunate that Felipe has missed some running on the track, which is really important in Monaco. He’ll have to recover from that on Saturday morning. Valtteri got through everything we wanted. We’ve done long enough runs on each of the tyre compounds, so we’ve got a good idea how they’ll behave. Now it’s a case of getting ourselves ready for Saturday. There’s a lot to do and look through, as usual, but fortunately we’ve got an extra day to do it.”

Ferrari

Ferrari had what Vettel described as a "scrappy day". Raikkonen didn’t like his car’s behaviour in FP1 but said it was better in FP2. Vettel went reasonably well in the former, but spun and hit the wall with his rear wing at Mirabeau in the latter, then oversteered into contact with the wall in Ste Devote. He is adamant that there is pace within the car, however, and hopes for a cleaner day tomorrow.

Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:16.912, P9; FP2: 1:16.040, P7

“It was not an ideal day, but it is still the first day of practice. In the morning I was not very happy with the car but in the afternoon we were able to improve the behaviour. There's a lot of work to do but of course this is not the easiest place when things are not running exactly as you want. It's the first time we use the ultrasoft compound in the race weekend, the feeling is that it's the best fitting tyre of all of those we have here, but we still need to find a way to make them work slightly better.”

Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:15.956, P3; FP2: 1:16.269, P9

“It was not a "clean" day in the office today. Our session was a bit scrappy: I touched the wall, damaged the rear wing, but luckily we were able to fix it and carry on. I just didn't get everything out of the car, couldn't find the rhythm and didn't do good laps on the ultrasoft tyres. If you look at the standings, we don't belong where we scored today. But overall the car is good and has the pace. So I am not worried for Saturday. Today our focus was not towards ranking high up, we tried a couple of things and it is fair to say that some of them didn't work. Being the first practice day, it is also difficult to see what other people did.”

Mercedes

Hamilton and Rosberg started the weekend in apparently dominant fashion in FP1, only to find Ricciardo too tough a nut to crack in FP2. Hamilton got within 0.198s of the Red Bull man's time before switching to race run work, whereupon Ricciardo dipped into the 1m 14s, so the gap isn’t quite what it seems. Both drivers also had their share of off-track moments - none of great consequence - while Rosberg sustained a left rear puncture late in FP1 after running over debris.

The upshot? Both predict a very close battle for pole – and not just between themselves on this occasion.

Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:15.537, P1; FP2: 1:15.213, P2

“It’s been a relatively good day. No real surprises – except that the track has changed slightly at Turn 15, which has made it a bit quicker through there. Although the new tyres are definitely softer than the other compounds, they still feel pretty hard around here. It’s not as easy to get them in the window as we would hope. But generally it’s been a really positive start. We’ve got everything we needed done in both sessions and our pace looks good, so hopefully that continues through the rest of the weekend.”

Nico Rosberg - FP1: 1:15.638, P2; FP2: 1:15.506, P3

“It’s great to be back on the streets of my home town here in Monaco – and also to see all the fans so close to us as we’re on track. It was a tricky start in to the weekend for us, though. The sessions were a bit messy, with quite a few Virtual Safety Car periods – but I was able to learn a lot on the longer runs we managed to do which was a positive. A big applause for all of the circuit marshals, who did a great job as always to clear the cars quickly. As expected, Red Bull look very strong here. We have some more homework to do during tonight and tomorrow to find some time – but I can't wait for Saturday and the qualifying battle. It should be very close and very exciting, which is great for the sport.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“It’s great to be back in Monaco, as always, with beautiful weather making it all the better. We ran through our intended programme – the only minor setback being a slightly uncomfortable moment when Nico dislodged a loose drain cover. It could have been a far nastier incident, so in the grand scheme of things we can be grateful it was only a puncture with no further damage to the car or otherwise. Today was the first time we’ve run the ultrasoft compound and it seems to be a decent tyre from what we’ve seen thus far. As usual in Monaco, lap times are dropping dramatically as the drivers and teams dial into the track – and will continue to do so through the weekend. We’ve made a good start – but it’s clear that qualifying will be a highly competitive affair. We’ll be working hard over the next 36 hours to get the car in the best shape possible for Saturday.”

Force India

No real issues here, as both drivers showed strongly and were reasonably happy with the start to their weekends. Hulkenberg had the upper hand in FP1, but couldn't find the sort of improvements Perez managed as the track rubbered in.

Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:16.560, P7; FP2: 1:16.487, P11

“It was a very promising start to our weekend, on a day in which our priority was to get in all of our planned running. Driving around this track is always a lot of fun as it’s a circuit that tests you to the limit. Even the newly-resurfaced areas have pretty good grip, so it gives you confidence as you drive. We ticked all the boxes in our plan and we were able to run on Ultra Soft tyres in the afternoon to learn about them. The feeling I got from the car is positive: there are a few tweaks we can make to get a bit more grip here and there, but the potential for a good weekend is there. It’s up to us to work well now and turn this promising start into a good result.”

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:16.697, P8; FP2: 1:16.120, P8

“Driving in Monaco is always a big challenge, even during the practice sessions, because you have to find your rhythm quickly and build up speed with each lap. It has been a good day with no issues and we’ve collected the information we need on all three tyre compounds. I’m not completely happy with the car yet so I think there’s more to come. That’s what we need to look at tonight and tomorrow to make sure I feel totally confident with the car, which is especially important here.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

“Our main aim today was to give the drivers as much time on track as possible and in this regard they both did a great job, keeping their noses clean and clocking up the laps. It was a classic Monaco Friday, where a mistake can cost you a lot of time. We had quite a busy programme today, with both aero and mechanical test items in our plan. One of the main tasks was understanding the three tyre compounds, including the new Ultra Soft tyre, as each presents its own challenges around this track. As usual, we saw a lot of track evolution as the day progressed so this will be taken into account when we look at our data. We are quite happy with the long run pace and the drivers’ feedback is positive as well, so we have a solid base on which to build. We have a lot of data to analyse, courtesy of nearly 160 laps, and plenty of time to look at it. Our focus now is to extract some extra performance from the car for qualifying, which is crucial around such a narrow track, where overtaking is very hard.”

Red Bull

Ricciardo gave the latest version of Renault’s power unit a very promising debut, though he was quick to suggest that his 0.606s advantage over Hamilton’s Mercedes in FP2 was as much down to confidence and commitment as it was horsepower. Nor does he expect that margin to be as large on Saturday, though he does believe that Red Bull can stay ahead of Mercedes. The goal therefore is clear: pole and victory.

Verstappen matched his team mate in FP1, but was a second slower in the afternoon and thus needs to find some pace for FP3 and qualifying. That said, he had traffic on some of his short runs, and was running quickly when Vettel went off in front of him, thus losing a better lap.

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:16.308, P4; FP2: 1:14.607, P1

“The engine has helped a little bit but obviously we have a good car around here as well, I think it’s down to a little bit of both. Let’s see how we go in qualifying on Saturday. We are in a good position, depending on what the track is going to do on Sunday. I have good confidence with the car which is very important around here. I have always loved the third sector, I’m usually pretty quick in that sector. I am a bit disappointed the second apex by the swimming pool has been opened up, it’s less challenging. We have a bit more downforce than other cars so that keeps us a bit steadier. If you’re going to pick the races on the calendar to win then Monaco is up there, it’s so prestigious, and you can really show personality around this track. Come qualifying and race day Mercedes will turn it up but hopefully I can stay in front. I’ll be surprised if we can keep the gap we have today in qualifying but we will see how we go. If the weather stays the same for the race and qualifying we won’t change too many things. The goal here is pole and win.”

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:16.371, P5; FP2: 1:15.571, P4

“It looks like we are not too bad, so I think it’s a good start to the weekend. There’s always a lot of work to do but I think it’s a good start. It’s good to get back in the car and this track is very challenging so that’s always nice to do. On my short runs I had a bit of traffic and also when Sebastian spun I was behind him, but these things happen in practice and of course it was a great lap time by Daniel. We are almost there, tonight I will look into the data a bit more to improve my car but the most important thing is to stay out of the walls and get confident. You have to build up over the weekend so that’s what we did today and we’ll try to improve everything for Saturday. I think the feeling was there, we just built it up lap by lap and we didn’t have a crash so that’s the most important thing. The conditions were OK, we just need to work on the car balance and getting a bit more confidence in the car and from there on we’ll see what happens. We are not too far off, we’ll try to improve our car but I’m sure others will do that as well so we’ll see.”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“We’ve had some good feedback from the ultrasoft tyre, which has delivered everything we wanted from it so far: extra performance and the potential to have an effect on strategy. From what we can see so far, we’d expect to get more than 15 laps out of this tyre before it’s necessary to come in and change: the interesting question will be whether or not this diverts any drivers away from the one-stop strategy, which has been the winning choice at the Monaco Grand Prix in four of the last six races. There will be a lot of data for everyone to look at tonight, in order to draw the final conclusions about strategy during free practice on Saturday morning – by which time, with the unusual day’s break between sessions here, the track might have quite a different feel to it.”