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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes

31 Oct 2014

Valtteri Bottas on why he believes Williams have pace in hand; Sebastian Vettel on the frustrations of gearbox issues on his Red Bull RB10; and Williams' Felipe Nasr on the exhilaration of driving on the Circuit of The Americas for the first time. The drivers and senior team personnel report back on the first day of action in Austin...


Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:41.907, 11th; P2 - 1:40.457, 5th

"I always enjoy driving this track and we've had a productive day and completed what we set out to do. It was very windy in the afternoon which made it difficult to really judge the car balance and the car was feeling different from the morning to the afternoon because of this, although the wind is likely to change for Saturday and Sunday which may result in us having to adapt our set-up slightly. I'm happy with how the car is feeling and we're looking on the pace going into the weekend."

Valtteri Bottas, P2 - 1:40.828, 11th

"We gained a lot of information about temperatures and the tyres in FP2 and seem to have found ways to get more performance out of them. The car was not particularly easy to drive today because of the very windy conditions and it was not easy to find the optimum balance, so we have a lot of work to do tonight to understand the car and its true performance at this track. Personally I still think I can find a bit more lap time out there so FP3 will be a chance to push the limits more."

Felipe Nasr, P1 - 1:41.545, 8th

"This was my first time in the FW36 since Barcelona so I had to get back up to speed quickly and this is also a new circuit for me. The track is very fun to drive and has a good flow to it, especially the first sector which has a lot of fast and exhilarating corners. The car has improved a lot since I last drove it with improved grip in all areas and it's easier to drive. It was a very positive session for me and we managed to cover some good mileage."

Rob Smedley, head of vehicle performance

"On the whole a good day for us - we completed our programme and looked strong on both high and low fuel runs which is encouraging. Having said that we can expect different conditions over the weekend because the track always evolves the more running we do and we're also expecting different wind strengths and directions alongside slightly cooler conditions. I think we have a competitive package so a prime target is to make sure that we stay on top of the track evolution."

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:42.598, 17th; P2 - 1:40.390, 4th

"It was tricky out there today, the wind makes it difficult; it's quite an open circuit, so any form of cross wind or tail wind upsets the car a lot - we saw a few spins in FP2 from a few guys. We got the car in a good window to work with and hopefully tomorrow we can find a bit more speed. We didn't run much this morning but in FP2 we ended up in the top five and the long run looked reasonable, so I think we had a pretty good afternoon."

Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:41.463, 7th; P2 - 1:43.980, 18th

"It was a different practice today, as we focused on Sunday preparation. We had an issue with the gearbox this morning so we lost some time, but overall it was okay. It's not great knowing that you can't go out and fully go for it in qualifying tomorrow, but we knew it from the start of this weekend, so we focus on the race and hopefully we will have a good come back from the pit lane on Sunday."

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat, P1 - 1:40.887, 4th; P2 - 1:40.631, 7th

"It was a quite standard Friday for us. We have to understand the characteristics of this circuit and we will work on finding the optimal settings as we always do between Friday and Saturday. Now we have some homework to do for tomorrow, which is usually something we manage to do quite well. So hopefully we'll come out with something extra to improve our performance. As for the track, I enjoyed it a lot."

Jean-Eric Vergne, P2 - 1:41.110, 13th

"It was a good Friday. There is still something that we need to understand in order to get the tyres to work better, as this is the key point. The performance of the car on Prime tyres was not bad but we need to improve it on the Options. The long run looks good and even though I missed FP1 I think with a few adjustments from my side there is certainly a good margin of improvement for tomorrow. We will have to analyse all the data tonight but I think the car is there and I'm confident we can have a satisfying rest of the weekend."

Max Verstappen, P1 - 1:41.785, 10th

"The main difference between here and Japan was how the tyres behaved. In Suzuka the fastest lap was the first and after it there was no way to improve, while here it took some time to get the lap in, but it's good for me to see these differences and learn something more every time I'm in the car. Today I was also trying to understand the tyres better, lap after lap. I would say that the tyres aspect is the main point here. But the car in general was good, considering also Daniil's performance. Anyway I am not here to set a lap time but just to get confident with the car and learn as much as possible for next year. I don't need to find the limit now, there is time for that."

Phil Charles, Toro Rosso chief race engineer

"Not a bad day for us today. Max had a decent FP1, with a solid performance on such a tricky track, where he adapted pretty well, doing a good job. With Daniil we did some tests with the rear wing level during FP2 and we have learnt something quite interesting there. As for Jev, obviously missing FP1, it takes us a certain amount of time to settle in during FP2, so I don't think he is completely happy about the car balance yet, but he did a good job. We will have some work to do tonight to understand better the tyres' behaviour, which is a little bit different from what we were expecting here, and improve our performance for tomorrow and Sunday's race."

Ricardo Penteado, Renault Sport F1 track support leader

"All in all it's been a very good day. Daniil again set the tone in the morning and we're now hopeful of translating that into strong race pace. All three drivers achieved a good amount of mileage and we've had no problems with either car's Power Unit. We just got on with the usual mapping and energy management work ahead of tomorrow and Sunday. Our simulations prior to coming here were pretty accurate and there were no big surprises, even though CoTA is reasonably tough on the PU."


Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:39.941, 1st; P2 - 1:39.085, 1st

"The car felt good today and we were able to improve consistently over the two sessions. I only got a couple of laps of my long run which was unfortunate as we lost a bit of track time but Nico got the data for the team so we should be ok. I'm not sure exactly what the problem was and we had to stop as a precaution but I'm sure they will identify and fix it overnight. These small glitches happen and I'm confident that we won't have problems moving forward. It's better that it happened today rather than later in the weekend, of course. It looks very close with Nico out there and I'm expecting a very tough battle this weekend. I love being here and it's great to see so many fans around the circuit already, so I'm excited for the rest of the weekend and feeling ready to put on a show for them."

Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:40.233, 2nd; P2 - 1:39.088, 2nd

"Our Silver Arrow feels very quick around this circuit which is very impressive to see. Between Lewis and myself, the times were very tight as usual. But it was worrying to see that Lewis had a problem with his car as it shows that our car is still not 100% robust at the moment. We need to work on that but overall I'm really looking forward to the weekend. It looks like it will be a close battle between my teammate and I, so let's hope we can put on a great show for the fans here in Texas."

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"While it is positive to see strong pace from our car, the main focus must be on ensuring bulletproof reliability. Of course, it is better to have these problems on a Friday than on a Sunday and we will be working hard overnight to ensure that this is not the case. It is great to be back in Austin and to see Formula One growing in stature here in the United States. It is a key market for the sport, so to see the reception we have had already this week is a big positive."

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes team executive director (technical)

"We've shown good pace here today and both drivers are happy with the performance of the car. Unfortunately, however, Lewis had his afternoon cut short by a hydraulic problem. We spotted something in the data and decided to call Lewis in to play it safe. That aside, we ran to our scheduled programme throughout the day. The tyre compounds nominated for this race - medium and soft - are a step softer overall than those seen last year. As such, they are coming into their window quite quickly and we are seeing a reasonable amount of degradation on the long runs - both on the prime and option. This should lead to a notably different race from a strategic perspective to that in previous visits to this circuit - or indeed at the last race in Sochi."


Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:41.065, 6th; P2 - 1:40.189, 3rd

“Today we did some good testing, helped by the track conditions, which were definitely different to previous years. It’s possible the races they had here a few weeks ago helped to clean the track and as far as grip levels were concerned, we didn’t have too many problems. In the second session, the situation was slightly worse because of the strong wind, but that was expected over the weekend and did not affect our work too much. The soft compound seems to last less than expected, but we are well aware how much tyre performance can change as the track evolves. Certainly the race looks like it will be different to past editions, because the likelihood of two stops opens up different strategic possibilities. Today we tried the virtual safety car system and I think that, for a first try it went well, although there is still much to do. All us drivers agree it's a very worthwhile idea, we just need to get used to it.”

Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:41.965, 12th; P2 - 1:40.543, 6th

“The day began with a few difficulties in the first free practice session, in which we concentrated on analysing various aerodynamic components. I did not feel comfortable with the set-up we had and controlling the car wasn’t easy. In the afternoon, we made some changes and the handling of the car was definitely better. On the Medium compound, I managed to do a good lap and I think if I had not been held up in traffic, I could have done even better. We still have a lot of work to do before tomorrow’s qualifying, but the improvement we saw from one session to the next seems to indicate we are going in the right direction. We just have to continue doing our best.”

Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director

“Contrary to what we saw at the two previous races here, today the track surface was less slippery and that means we can expect a further evolution in terms of grip. However, before we can confirm anything, we must wait and see over the next couple of days. Overall, it’s been a positive day and we managed to complete our planned programme without any problems, including carrying out some tests aimed at 2015. Obviously, the priority was working on the settings of the two cars, looking at finding the best aerodynamic configuration, working on the power unit control units, so as to adapt them as well as possible to the characteristics of this track. It wasn’t easy finding the right balance and a set-up that suited both drivers, partly down to the strong winds which had a major effect during the second session. This evening, the engineers will assess the various solutions we tried today. Tyre behaviour is definitely different to the last race in Sochi: this means we can look at different strategies for the race, while we are aware that we are up against extremely competitive opponents.”


Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“In the three years that we have been racing at Austin, the track has definitely evolved to provide more grip - and we saw further track evolution during the course of today, exacerbated by the wide variety of temperatures that we were running in. We’re expecting a similar variation in temperatures for the rest of the weekend, including conditions that might be a lot cooler for qualifying tomorrow. From what we can see so far a two-stop strategy looks to be the most likely, but also with the potential for some mixed strategies going down the grid, depending on track position. ”


Jenson Button, P1 - 1:40.319, 3rd; P2 - 1:40.698, 9th

“Our car sometimes struggles in windy conditions, as do I: it’s a lot more difficult to be precise when you’re driving in the wind. It’s in slower corners that we’re most affected - such as the start of sector three. And it was certainly very windy today - especially this afternoon.

“The issues with our pace on the Option tyre can be solved. For some drivers, the softer tyre immediately suits their car’s balance; for others, it doesn’t. It didn’t suit ours this afternoon - but we can work around that. We’ll get it working tomorrow.

“There were positives and negatives to today’s virtual safety car test. I like the idea, but you spend a lot of time looking down at your steering wheel in order to ensure you’re correctly driving to the delta. If you drop below it when the restart happens, you get a 10-second penalty. In that respect, it’s very tricky.

“With my grid penalty for the gearbox change, it’s going to be a difficult weekend. This isn’t an easy place at which to overtake, but we’ll do our best.”

Kevin Magnussen, P1 - 1:40.987, 5th; P2 - 1:40.641, 8th

“This is my first visit to the Circuit of The Americas, and it’s a good track. It has a unique first turn, and the high-speed corners in the first sector are especially interesting. I think overtaking should be possible around here, so I hope I can have an enjoyable race.

“Today’s running showed that we seem to be stronger on the prime tyre than we do on the option. We looked competitive on the prime this morning, but we need to see if we can find some better pace on the option. We’ll work on that overnight.

“The virtual safety car test worked as it should - it seems like a good idea.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director

“Today was a very busy day. We spent the morning undertaking a comprehensive aero study that will inform the work we do for 2015. It was a productive session, but meant there was a necessary knock-on to our afternoon running, when we have to incorporate much of our usual FP1 learning into the 90-minute FP2 session.

“Perhaps as a result, we looked somewhat less competitive on the option tyre than we did on the prime, on which we completed all our morning running. Using the option, we struggled to find the same sort of lap time improvement as our rivals.

“Nevertheless, we feel we have a good baseline from which to develop for the rest of the weekend, and we’ll be working to recover some of that lost pace on the option ahead of qualifying tomorrow.”


Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:42.333, 14th; P2 - 1:41.332, 16th

“It was a normal Friday. We went through our planned programme without having any issues. We tested several set-ups on the car, as well as the soft and medium tyres. Tomorrow we will try to get more out of what we have.”

Esteban Gutierrez, P1 - 1:42.516, 16th; P2 - 1:41.420, 17th

“It was quite a tricky day, but it was positive that we completed our programme well. On the other hand, I had some issues which we are trying to solve. The car’s balance is overall reasonable, as we were experimenting with the set-up in order to find a suitable one. The conditions were not easy today, because it was very windy. We need to consider this for tomorrow. In general, the tyres were working well. The soft compound is degrading more than the medium tyre. It looks like both compounds are a good choice for this track.”

Giampaolo Dall'Ara , Sauber head of track engineering

“It was a smooth day on the operational side. We were able to fulfil the programme and gained knowledge for the weekend. We are pleasantly surprised by the usability of the tyres, as we were expecting to struggle a bit more, but they seem to fit the track. They were degrading during the long runs, so there will be more options for different strategies.”

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:41.722, 9th; P2 - 1:40.800, 10th

“I think we can be reasonably happy with our Friday. We did all the work we set out to do at the start of the day and it's always good fun to practice on a track like this. There was a big shift in conditions between the morning and the afternoon - it was much hotter and there was a very strong wind which was challenging. All in all it was a good day: we will have the usual amount of fine-tuning to do on the set-up and we will need to look at the tyre data to understand how the compounds work, but that's all standard stuff on a trouble-free Friday. It's Halloween tonight, so hopefully we'll get more treats than tricks for tomorrow's qualifying!”

Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:42.359, 15th; P2 - 1:41.123, 14th

“It was definitely not a bad start for the weekend. We had some upgrades on the car and our main target was to do as much running as possible to assess their effectiveness. We were able to do some good progress on the balance between the two sessions so I am feeling quite positive for the rest of the weekend. There's still plenty to look at tonight, especially in regard to the two different compounds, to try and squeeze out more performance ahead of tomorrow. I am quite optimistic even if today's times don't really show where we stand, but the points are given out on Sunday and that is what my focus is on.”

Vijay Mallya, team principal and managing director

“It was a very windy day, which makes it hard to assess the balance of the car as the conditions change continuously, but it was the same for everybody so we just have to carry on with our work. We had a very busy day, testing upgrades and collecting lots of data: this is very important as a lot of it will feed directly into our designs for next season. In FP2 we achieved a pretty good balance with our car and we were able to switch our attention to the long runs. Overall it was a very good Friday and we're looking forward to tomorrow.”


Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:43.229, 18th; P2 - 1:41.054, 12th

“It was a bit of a rodeo ride out there at times and we’re still working on finding the best set-up for the car today. Certainly the wind in the afternoon didn’t help us with trying to get the car easier to drive although our position on the timesheets at the end of the day wasn’t as bad as we’ve seen on occasion this season! There are a few areas we know we can change which should make an improvement so there is progress to be made.”

Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:42.329, 13th; P2 - 1:41.158, 15th

"It was great to be out on track again in Austin at the Circuit of The Americas as it really is a fantastic facility. We worked through our usual Friday programmes and learnt a reasonable amount. The car was a little tricky at the limit as myself and Romain both found, but we expect that to improve tomorrow.”

Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director

“It was a solid day for us with a good number of laps completed and some interesting evaluations undertaken for the rest of this weekend as well as for the development of next year’s car. Romain ran in the morning with a front nose concept relevant for our 2015 car whilst Pastor evaluated the latest iteration of the 2014 nose. Both cars ran reliably so it’s now the usual trawl through the data to determine the best set-ups for qualifying tomorrow and the race on Sunday.”