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Friday in Singapore - team by team

16 Sep 2016

A round-up of the opening day's action from the 2016 Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay...
Mercedes

Rosberg said he had no lasting issues after his FP1 crash, while Hamilton said he had two good sessions despite losing 27 minutes of FP2 through a small but awkward hydraulic problem. As he noted, Mercedes’ times were much more competitive than they were this time last year, so while things clearly remain close there’s a feeling of relief in the Silver Arrows camp that 2015 appears to have been put firmly behind them.

Nico Rosberg - FP1: 1:46.513, P5; FP2: 1:44.152, P1

"It's been a solid start to the weekend. Definitely better than last year. The first session was going okay until I hit the wall at Turn 18. That wasn't ideal - but luckily the impact wasn't too heavy, so I managed to get the car back to the pits and the guys had it ready in time for FP2. The second session felt better but we still have some room for improvement. It's really close between ourselves, Red Bull and Ferrari - much closer than at some other tracks for sure - so it looks like a big battle ahead. I'm looking forward to it."

Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:46.426, P4; FP2: 1:45.275, P7

"Two relatively good sessions today. Running the halo was no real issue. I barely noticed it, to be honest - just in my mirrors, where it blocked the view slightly. We had a small hydraulic issue at the end of FP2 but it doesn't look like anything serious. The guys are working on it and it should be fine for tomorrow, which is the main thing. Our pace looked okay today. Definitely much better than last year so I'd say we're looking relatively strong."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical) 

"A busy evening, with a lot of work to do to get our setup correct and study performance on all three tyre compounds - including the Ultrasoft, which appears at this circuit for the first time. It's completely open in terms of what will be the best tyres for the race, so we have a lot of homework to do. Unfortunately, we lost most of the second session with Lewis' car due to a hydraulic leak. The issue itself is quite simple to fix but we lost valuable track time - particularly long run experience on the SuperSoft, which had been the plan for Lewis. We do, however, have plenty of data from observing the other teams, so we'll be busy tonight trying to improve the car further for qualifying and the race. Overall, though, not a bad start to the weekend."

Manor

Wehrlein admitted that the team are struggling on a circuit less suited to their car. Ocon’s best run on ultrasofts in FP2 was only three-tenths off his team mate’s, but came at the price of wall-banging with first his left-rear wheel and then the right-rear during the lap. No damage was incurred, however.

Pascal Wehrlein - FP1: 1:51.112, P19; FP2: 1:48.505, P21

"I find this track very cool; I really enjoy driving here. As expected, we are not yet quick enough compared to the other teams; this track requires a lot of downforce and good traction, which we're struggling with.

"There are so many corners here - no long straights - so we knew it was going to be more difficult. So far we have gone through our programme for the weekend, so that's all good."

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:52.379, P21; FP2: 1:48.823, P22

"I think it was a pretty good day overall. The important thing was to stay on track and get to know all the corners. On the quali lap I started to explore the limits of the car a little more and I touched the wall, but luckily there was no significant damage to the car. I lost a bit of lap time but that was not a problem for today. On the long runs, we are very happy with the car.

"I'm looking forward to tomorrow, and to racing at night time. The heat makes it harder of course, and it's a tiring lap here because you never rest - you're always turning. All of that makes it more challenging and I like that."

Dave Ryan, Racing Director

"Obviously a difficult day and it's very clear we're not even close to where we want to be. However, we still have FP3 tomorrow to work on the car and hopefully we'll be able to make up some of the time to our competitors. As everyone is perfectly aware, this race has a history of unpredictable results and it's very important to be around at the end to take advantage of any opportunities, so that has to be our goal."

Ferrari

Raikkonen said he was very happy with his car in FP2 and got plenty of confidence from it, but Vettel admitted that he was still struggling to get his balanced properly. At one stage he glanced a wall in FP1, but reported that it was just “cosmetic”.

Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:46.287, P3; FP2: 1:45.161, P5

"Overall we had two decent sessions. In the second one I was not entirely happy, I was struggling a little bit with the car balance, and therefore not really finding the rhythm but in general it has been a good day. It is very difficult to pass here, obviously we'll try to trim everything towards qualifying. Now we have a lot of stuff to look into, before tomorrow comes: there will be another session and the opportunity to do a few more laps. If we get everything right we have a good chance tomorrow to position the car well."

Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:46.890, P6; FP2: 1:44.427, P2

"The first practice session was tricky, I struggled a little bit, but the second practice was good: everything worked and the car was handling pretty well. Here in Singapore, if you get the car right, it's a lot easier to go faster. Today we had quite a good feeling, but for sure there is still something to improve. It's hard to say if we can be strong, it's only Friday, but the feeling was positive. So far so good, but tomorrow is another day, we'll see where everybody is and then we'll go from there. We'll give our best and hopefully we have the speed to challenge our rivals."

Force India

Hulkenberg thought he got plenty of decent homework done, but Perez said he lacked crucial confidence in his car after issues with the brakes and understeer on left-handers.

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:48.214, P12; FP2: 1:46.063, P11

"It was not the easiest day in the car. There are a few issues that we still need to solve and it means that I'm lacking confidence with the car – and that's not ideal for a street circuit. We need to make some good decisions tonight to find a direction that works for me. I also had a brake problem during our long run towards the end of second practice, so my session was not very smooth. Even when you don't have the best Friday, you can still recover and have a good weekend. I won't change my approach tomorrow – the focus remains getting the car in the best shape for qualifying."

Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:48.359, P13; FP2: 1:45.182, P6

"It's a good starting point for our weekend: we stuck to our plan, completed all our runs and got plenty of learning out of the laps we did. There's still some work to do to be fully happy with the car, but we looked quite competitive. We are still trying to understand where we stand in terms of long run pace, but the first impression is that our one-lap pace looks good. Most teams usually take a big step forward between Friday and Saturday, so we are not getting carried away. We've done some good preparation work ahead of the race, which means tomorrow morning we can move on and switch our focus to qualifying."

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal 

"It was a typical Singapore Friday with dirty and tricky track conditions, especially during the opening 40 minutes of the first practice session. Nico had a straightforward day – getting through the run plan without any significant concerns. He's quite happy with the car, but there remain areas where we know we can find extra performance overnight. Sergio's day was not quite so smooth and some set-up issues have left him chasing the ideal balance. Despite those issues, we showed some reasonable long run pace and we have a good understanding of the three different tyre compounds."

McLaren

Alonso twice hit walls, one in each session, but was comfortably in the top 10 in FP2. Button lost time early in FP1 when his MP4-31 cut out due to a fuel problem and had to be pushed back to the pits. There was a sting in the tail at the end of FP2, too, when Alonso encountered gearbox problems. Altogether, there’s plenty of overnight work to do.

Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:48.202, P11; FP2: 1:45.779, P9

"Our expectations were quite high before coming here – although, to be fair, I’d said beforehand that there are circuits coming up that should suit us better than Singapore.

"We’ll have to fight to get into Q3 tomorrow because I think Force India and Toro Rosso both look pretty strong around here. Hopefully we can find a couple of tenths overnight so as to battle them for the final three or four top-10 positions in qualifying though.

"Our biggest problem is an overall deficit of grip – we need to find a bit more downforce for tomorrow, and then we need to make the tyres work better over a single lap. We’ll work hard to do our best to achieve those two important goals. It’s not so easy to overtake around here, so a good grid position will be important."

Jenson Button - FP1: 1:49.615, P16; FP2: 1:46.574, P12

"When I stopped the car on track, I was fortunate enough to be pushed back to the pits because there wasn’t an opening on the circuit to park the car.

"Our pace hasn’t been quite as good today as we’d anticipated. As a result, we’ve got quite a lot of work to do before we can be as competitive as we want to be this weekend. We just couldn’t quite access the grip out there today, so we’re going to need a decent gain in pace to be competitive.

"Having said all that, hopefully we can improve things overnight – it’s going to be a busy evening."

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director 

"Today wasn’t the easiest of practice days. Jenson and Fernando were each affected by on-track stoppages – but, fortunately, neither failure significantly affected their running. Equally, both drivers and engineers had to work hard to dial the cars in after discovering that their initial balance wasn’t fully delivering on track.

"Singapore’s Marina Bay track is fast and unforgiving, and finding a perfect balance isn’t always easy –especially when you have to contend with the changing track and ambient conditions that occur between FP1 and FP2.

"We struggled a little today, overall, but I think we made some solid progress between the sessions and we’ve got a good direction to pursue ahead of qualifying tomorrow."

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

"With such big changes in running conditions from FP1 to FP2, it’s always difficult to prejudge how the car will fare throughout the day. Both sessions ran according to plan, with just a couple of small issues.

"The focus was predominantly on set-up changes, with the team confirming the use of the tyres, chassis and power unit balance. Honda’s particular focus was on catering the set-up to the stop-go nature of the Singapore street circuit.

"During FP2, we were able to test our long-run pace and stability using multiple compounds and were able to gain good data and setting direction for Saturday and Sunday.

"The final confirmation and tweaking will be done overnight."

Sauber

Sauber had a tough day, not just learning how to get the best from the ultrasofts but also having to change Ericsson’s Ferrari engine between sessions after a problem arose in FP1.

Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:51.479, P20; FP2: 1:48.487, P20

"It has been a difficult day. In FP1 I struggled with the car due to power unit issues, so we decided to change the engine for FP2. In this session I had a good feeling on the supersoft tyres, but for some reason on the ultrasoft compound I struggled to get them to work. So far we do not understand why that was the case, so we need to look into it and analyse what happened."

Felipe Nasr - FP1: 1:49.595, P15; FP2: 1:47.531, P18

"It was a productive day. In FP1 we continued our evaluation of the aero package, as we were running a high downforce configuration for the first time. It was good to collect data and to get a feeling for the balance of the car. For the rest of the weekend we still have some work to do in terms of the set-up of the car. With regard to the race, it will be important to have good tyre management."

Red Bull

Verstappen was the only Renault driver to get the latest version of the engine, on which three tokens had been spent for undisclosed internal modifications. He was fastest in FP1, and fast again in FP1, while Ricciardo was right on his tail both times with the old power unit, so things are looking good for the Milton Keynes team at this early stage.

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:45.872, P2; FP2: 1:44.557, P4

"This circuit is always difficult. You’re pushing the limit on a street circuit and you want to be comfortable in qualifying so today is the day to experiment. I had a bit of a spin and touched the barrier but the car was more or less okay. It’s hot, it’s tricky and everything is a little bit on the edge here for sure, but to find a few tenths on this circuit can be quite easy, because there are so many corners and with the tyres overheating in the last sector you can lose or gain a lot. We still feel that we can get a little bit more speed out of the car so that’s what tonight is for. Even if we find a few small things, then they will hopefully add up to quite a bit of lap time here tomorrow."

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:45.823, P1; FP2: 1:44.532, P3

"It was a positive day for us and we can be happy with the balance of the car. For FP2 we weren’t fully there but we know what areas we need to work on and improve. But the car felt good, we are more or less there and we had a good start to the weekend. The tyres worked really well as well, I was happy with the ultrasofts, there was quite a difference between them and the supersofts. I think it will be an interesting battle between us, Mercedes and Ferrari, and I’m looking forward to it."

Williams

A normal day for Williams, which meant assessing the usual aero upgrades, as well as working on different suspension geometries and set-ups ready for FP3 and qualifying.

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:48.453, P14; FP2: 1:46.960, P15

"It was a tricky day today. We really struggled with the car balance all day and we didn’t finish today happy with it. We’ve been doing different kinds of tests and set-up changes to try and get the car to work well, but it’s been difficult."

Felipe Massa - FP1: 1:48.044, P9; FP2: 1:46.856, P14

"It’s always tricky to understand Friday in Singapore. You always need to work hard to understand the tyres here. We have a lot to do to improve the car for the short runs, especially with the new tyres. The long run had a better feeling, I think we were quite competitive but we don’t know the fuel of any other cars. It’s difficult to overtake here, so for both tomorrow and for the race the most important thing now is for us to have a better understanding of the tyres."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

"It was a fairly normal Friday for us and we didn’t have any big issues. We tested different suspension settings and geometries this afternoon. We also tested some aero upgrades and they seem to have worked well, so that’s a boost for this stage of the season. But, apart from that, it was just about trying to get the tyres ready for the first timed lap and trying to make them last for the longer runs. This is a low-speed street circuit so that first timed lap is really tricky and that’s what we need to work on. Looking at our high-fuel pace, I would say it’s reasonable for a circuit like this, so the low fuel pace will definitely be our priority tonight to ensure we understand the set-up of the car and the tyre management for optimising the first timed lap."

Haas

Grosjean had a flat battery that was a symptom of a deeper problem in FP1 which was ultimately traced to an air inlet leak. He then spun at the final corner and hit the wall backwards in FP2, destroying the rear wing and doing damage to the rear suspension and floor, after complaining of poor handling under braking and a strange feeling in the rear end of his VF-16. Gutierrez had a more productive day, hovering around the top 10.

Romain Grosjean - FP1: No time, P22; FP2: 1:48.391, P19

"It was the worst Friday you could imagine for us. I didn’t get a lap in this morning, and then we had some issues this afternoon that we need to solve. There was just no performance. It’s a very bad way to start one of the most difficult grand prix of the year. Tomorrow is another day."

Esteban Gutierrez - FP1: 1:48.109, P10; FP2: 1:46.727, P13

"It was quite an interesting day. We brought some updates and it was very interesting to get a feeling from them. We were exploring the package, and at the beginning it’s hard to judge – you really need to run it and try to adapt as best as possible. We ended up experimenting a little with the setup, even into FP2. I think we have plenty of data to analyze. It’s unfortunate that Romain’s car wasn’t able to run. Obviously, having two sets of data to analyze is more important. We have plenty to look at though, and we’ll focus on that tonight and make the best of tomorrow."

Guenther Steiner, team principal

"Two quite difficult sessions for us. Esteban had to do all the work because Romain had a problem with the air intake system in FP1. We lost all his session with that. Then in the afternoon, Romain only did 12 laps, but had a spin and went backward into the wall. He damaged his rear wing, his floor and the rear suspension. We had to stop the car to change the rear suspension because it was too dangerous to go out again. When you have new parts on the car, you normally want to do as much running as possible to learn and to find the balance. We’re a little behind in our program today, but hopefully we can make up for it tomorrow in FP3. Hopefully, we can get some good results there. We will be thinking hard overnight and see what we can come up with."

Renault

Renault’s drivers both said they had straightforward days, but that it took longer to get speed out of the car than it had at Spa and Monza. Overnight work will focus mainly on pursuing the direction arrived at today but also improving behaviour over the numerous bumps.

Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:50.263, P18; FP2: 1:47.161, P16

"There were no issues today so we were able to do everything required. We look a little further up the order than last time out and certainly we want to get a bit more quicker tomorrow. It’s certainly hot in the car but there were no surprises so we should be able to make good progress over the weekend."

Jolyon Palmer - FP1: 1:49.794, P17; FP2: 1:47.166, P17

"That was a pretty straightforward evening in the car and we’ve achieved everything we wanted today so that’s a positive. You could definitely feel the grip level improving over the sessions and we have a pretty solid base set-up. It’s certainly a pretty special lap around here."

Bob Bell, Chief Technical Officer

"We completed everything required today and have found a reasonable direction for the set-up. The second session was more about setting up the car for qualifying and the race, particularly to learn about the tyres, and we completed a good number of laps in this quest. The R.S.16 looks reasonably well balanced, albeit we have still a little work to do with the ride in relation to the many bumps on the circuit here."

Toro Rosso

Sainz’s hopes for a competitive car here appeared to have been borne out with strong performances from both drivers in both sessions. With plenty of data to work through, they are hopeful of maintaining their top 10 places tomorrow.

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:46.936, P7; FP2: 1:45.507, P8

"I think we can be happy with today. For the last three races we had been struggling a bit on Friday, finding it hard to classify further than P15 or P16… So it was good to be back in the top ten today in both practice sessions. Of course, we will push to do the same tomorrow, we’re strong here and it motivates the team to move forward – the car works well and we will go through plenty of data tonight in order to be ready for the rest of the weekend – I look forward to it, I enjoy racing at this track!"

Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:47.683, P8; FP2: 1:46.029, P10

"We tried many things today and I think it was a stimulating Friday. We will now try and learn as much as we can for tomorrow and try to maximize the potential which I feel we’ve got here – I think we can be strong and I’m happy to see that we are looking more competitive than in previous races. Obviously we need to keep working hard, but I’m ready for it!"

Phil Charles (Chief Race Engineer)

"Each year I tend to forget just how good the Singapore event is. The night race aspect is cool, the track is technically challenging, requires lots of concentration from the drivers and it is physically difficult, with the temperatures and bumps. It is a great mix. For us as engineers we need to maximise the driver’s time on track and give them a setup, which allows them to position the car well so that they can precisely navigate their way through the 23 corners, which arrive quickly one after the other. Today we set targets to do just that and we continued the re-evaluation of some of our recent aero upgrades. Some interesting data has been collected in this respect. In terms of our performance today, this track is definitely more sympathetic to our package than recent events, where straight line speed has been a high priority. This track also favours more peak downforce and we are relatively stronger in that respect. As a result, our performance here has been a bit better and I think the short run performance is ok. Daniil did not get a great last sector, Grosjean went off in front of him as well on his fastest lap, so he would have been even better. The long runs are perhaps where we need to do a bit more work tonight."

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

"We saw a lot of teams experimenting different technical solutions in FP1, whereas the work was more specifically focussed on qualifying and the race in FP2. On this type of track strategy can make a very big difference, so this is sure to be a big focus of tonight’s data analysis as teams consider the best tactics for what’s set to be a multi-stop race. The way that the track evolves in Singapore is considerably different from a daytime race, and the teams had a good opportunity tonight to assess the pattern of wear and degradation as the night went on: vital information for the rest of the weekend."