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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes

25 Jul 2014

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton on why poor grip out on track made life difficult for all the teams; Toro Rosso duo Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne on their contrasting fortunes; and Nico Rosberg on why the Silver Arrows' pace comes as a surprise despite their proven advantage over the rest of the field. The drivers and senior team personnel report back after a error-strewn opening day at the Hungaroring...

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat, P1 - 1:28.208, 13th; P2 - 1:26.689, 11th

"It was a busy Friday as usual where we tried to get as many things done as possible. I enjoy driving this track but I wasn't too happy with the car balance in FP1, but we made a step forward during the afternoon's session. Hopefully we can make another step forward tomorrow."

Jean-Eric Vergne, P1 - 1:27.683, 7th; P2 - 1:26.703, 12th

"There is some good and bad today. This morning I was quite happy with the car's behaviour but in the afternoon the balance got worse, making it difficult to drive. We need to understand why we lost performance in FP2 to get the best out of the car tomorrow but I still believe we have the potential to improve."

Phil Charles, Toro Rosso chief race engineer

"The morning session was quite good, but this did not continue into FP2, where we lost a little bit of balance with the car. At the end of the session, Daniil was happier with the balance, while JEV was not too pleased. There was a slight increase in track temperature which has given us a little bit of unhappiness with the car, so we need to understand the effect of the track temperature on the tyres and how we correct for that over the weekend. In terms of working through the programme, we managed to tick off most items on our relatively long test list. But all in all we are not yet where we want to be with the car, so there is still some work to do tonight."


Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:25.814, 1st; P2 - 1:24.482, 1st

"We struggled with poor grip on track today. I don't know if that's down to the tyres or the track itself but it was quite bad throughout both sessions. It's going to be important to get a good grid position tomorrow as it will be difficult to follow cars on this track and it's always tough to overtake here. We have some work to do overnight to ensure we get the best setup for the weekend as we're not fully comfortable with the car just yet, but our race pace looked okay. We'll have to look through the data to really know where we stand."

Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:25.997, 2nd; P2 - 1:24.720, 2nd

"I was a bit surprised that we had the quickest car here today as I expected the Red Bulls to have gotten a bit closer again, so that's a really encouraging start to the weekend. The car feels great and is super quick in the corners, so overall I'm quite happy. I definitely still need to find some time and there is some setup work for me and my engineers to do tonight if we want to achieve that. But I'm confident that we can make it happen. Qualifying will be crucial here, as overtaking is not easy at this great track. We'll work hard as always during the evening and see what happens tomorrow."

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"It was great to re-join the team today after my short "break" in Vienna! There was no place I wanted to be more than with the guys and girls here in Hungary today and it felt good to be back at work. In that respect, it was great to see Lewis and Nico performing strongly on both single lap pace and over the long runs. This is a demanding circuit for many aspects of the car and we will still have work to do overnight to dial both set-ups into the circuit. But the initial indication on the relative performance was good. Now we need to properly analyse the situation in order to make sure we are in strong shape for tomorrow."

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes team executive director (technical)

"We enjoyed two trouble-free sessions today with both cars and had plenty of laps in which to do our homework for tomorrow and Sunday. Generally, the grip levels on track were low and we had to work to get the cars balance to the drivers' liking. But, as always on a Friday evening, there is still some margin for improvement here. This circuit traditionally sees among the highest track temperatures of the year and once again today they peaked at 57 degrees centigrade. In these conditions, the tyres were holding up well, which is a positive indication for the race on Sunday."


Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:30.363, 19th; P2 - 1:28.370, 19th

"Overall, it's been a better Friday than we've had for a while. We made good progress on nearly every run and it looks like from our times today that we may be quite a bit more competitive with our nearest rivals than for quite a few races. Good reliability has been one of the keys to that, from us and Renault, so we should be pretty pleased with how Friday's gone for us in Hungary.

"In FP2 we went straight out on a set of mediums for the first run and I immediately had quite a lot of understeer pretty much everywhere. We tried another mechanical change and the balance did improve a little, but on my quickest lap on the second run I had a small spin so we boxed to go onto the soft tyres for the first time. The car definitely felt better on the softs than the mediums, and on the long run they held up pretty well, so that gives us some good strategy options for Sunday. Now we have to continue this performance through to tomorrow and Sunday and aim to fight as hard as we can in quali and the race."

Marcus Ericsson, P1 - 1:30.892, 20th; P2 - 1:29.036, 22nd

"At the start of FP1 the grip level was just so low - the car was sliding around everywhere and I couldn't push anywhere around the track. I know the Hungaroring is always pretty green at the start of the weekend, but it was worse than I'd expected. You can go chasing the track when it's like this, trying to find set-ups that work, but we have to let the track come to us as the grip level improves overall, so for the next run we continued with the plan and were improving, little by little as the session went on.

"The track temps had gone up a lot in FP2 and for me the car was behaving quite strangely on the first run. It was switching from understeer to oversteer through most of the corners and, honestly, it was quite hard not to make a mistake. On the options the balance improved quite a bit and as the track was rubbering in the grip levels finally started improving. It's good to see we've made progress here from setup, it gives us a chance to be much more competitive with Marussia than we've been for a while, so after we've been through all the data from today we want to continue to improve tomorrow, and again on Sunday."

Christijan Albers, Caterham team principal

"From all aspects of our team operations this has been a much improved Friday for us. Our performance levels have increased, both in the garage and on track, and good reliability from us, Renault Sport F1 and Red Bull Technology has helped us achieve all our targets today. We also have a number of new sponsors on the cars here in Hungary which shows that we are making positive progress across all areas of the team - now we aim to continue this upward trend for the rest of the weekend."

Cedrik Staudohar, Renault Sport F1 track support leader:

"We had a positive day today and were able to complete the entirety of our programme on both cars. We conducted a couple of tests with energy management and ignition settings and everything went well - all in all a positive Friday that we hope to build on tomorrow."


Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:28.593, 17th; P2 - 1:27.021, 17th

"The car feels pretty reasonable here even if we missed a lot of the afternoon session because of a problem with the cooling system. It's a circuit I love so of course it was frustrating to miss track time as it's what you want to improve the car. As always, we have a reasonable amount of work to do ahead of tomorrow's qualifying, where we will be pushing all the way as grid position is so important here."

Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:28.266, 14th; P2 - 1:27.019, 16th

"It was an okay day for me and we didn't have any problems with my car which is always a positive. The car balance doesn't feel bad but getting grip from the tyres is the biggest challenge here. It's pretty hot and we expect that to be the same tomorrow, which should be good for tyre warm-up. I think we could perform better here than we have of late; that's certainly the target."

Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director

"It was a fairly normal Friday for us. We completed aerodynamic evaluations during the morning practice and focused on tyres and on long runs work in the afternoon. Unfortunately Romain had a problem with the water system on his car which limited his running quite a bit. It's been a productive day and there's more potential in the car. We have collected some useful data to enable us to be much further up the timesheets tomorrow."


Jules Bianchi, P1 - 1:31.248, 22nd; P2 - 1:28.469, 20th

"We've struggled a little with the balance of the car today, which has made it very difficult to arrive at a good set-up. This morning was very problematic but we seem to have improved a little for this afternoon, just not quite enough to be back ahead of Kobayashi. So, we will continue to push to find something more from the car in time for qualifying tomorrow, as we need to ensure a good position relative to the cars behind for the race."

Max Chilton, P1 - 1:31.004, 21st; P2 - 1:28.586, 21st

"It was another difficult start to the day with the small fire we experienced at the start of FP1. This lost me most of the session, as we had to change the gearbox, but credit to the Team for achieving such a quick turnaround and enabling me to get even five laps of running as a benchmark. This was enough to tell me that this afternoon the car was very different at the beginning of FP2, maybe in part down to the temperature increase and an overall lack of grip. We've made some good progress but we're not where we want to be yet, which is ahead of the Caterhams."

John Booth, Marussia team principal

"A tough day for the Team all round, with Max experiencing reliability issues in FP1 and the car generally not quite being on the pace we expect. Unfortunately, on the installation lap, we had a small fire at the back of Max's car, which was traced to oil from the gearbox burning on the hot exhaust tail pipe. Whilst the actual fire damage was minimal - although the effect in the pit lane was rather dramatic - in the end it was clear that the gearbox had suffered some internal problems and had to be changed. All credit to the guys on that side of the garage for pushing to get the gearbox change done, allowing Max to get a lap at the end of the session. Max has gone reasonably well today but still he sees that further improvements can be made with his car balance, which will be the focus tonight. With Jules, he has struggled with car balance all day. The engineers and crew have made several set-up changes and the car has not really responded as we would expect. Tonight will be a long one for him and his crew, trying to improve the balance on the car. Once we have this we are sure it will result in better pace."

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:28.101, 12th; P2 - 1:26.789, 13th

"Today was fairly reasonable: it was a routine Friday and we did a lot of running with no big issues. We got through all the test items we had on our list, so from that point of view it was a very smooth day. We still have some work to do on our one lap pace, so we can find a little time there, but when we look at our long run pace we are in a good shape. The car felt okay, which is promising at this early stage in the weekend. The key factor come Sunday will be tyre management, as in almost every race. The weather is uncertain, but it will still be hot whatever happens and we will need to make the best of this situation."

Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:28.376, 16th; P2 - 1:27.013, 15th

"It's been a difficult day, especially during running with the prime tyres. We need to go through all the data we have gathered, every single lap, and analyse it to solve the few issues we have been having. On a more positive note, we seem to be more competitive when it comes to race pace. We just need to address a few set-up options to make the most of the very tight battle in the midfield. Grid position is crucial here in Hungary because it is very difficult to overtake, so it will be important to qualify well, and this will give us a good chance on Sunday, especially with the really hot temperatures we're expecting."

Vijay Mallya, team principal and managing director

"It has been a busy day on a track that has been constantly changing and improving. We have been trying different things on the two cars, working to achieve a good balance and we were happy to complete more than 120 laps with no problems. Our race balance is promising, but we still need to work a little on the qualifying side, especially because this is a track where a good starting position is crucial. Our tyres are performing very consistently so there is a good platform on which to build overnight."


Esteban Gutierrez, P1 - 1:27.967, 11th; P2 - 1:27.480, 18th

"It was a good day. We worked on different set-ups and tried to find out more about the car. The morning session was a bit better than second free practice. We made some changes to the set-up in the afternoon to see which one works better. We collected a lot of data and are going to analyse it in order to find a compromise for tomorrow. Everybody is doing their best to find the right balance. We should keep on going in this direction."

Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:29.025, 18th; P2 - 1:26.919, 14th

"Today we worked through our usual Friday programme. We tried the soft and medium tyres, and it was clear that the softer compound worked better for me. The track is quite slippery, and the driveability of the car is still difficult. We have less downforce than last year, which makes it difficult to keep the car under control. However, the team did a good job and from that point of view we had two positive sessions."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara , Sauber head of track engineering

"Overall, the performance today was more or less what we expected. However, there are a few issues which we need to address. We had a big delta between the two cars in the morning, which was down to Adrian having problems getting the medium tyres to work, so we have been addressing this before FP2. On Esteban's car we didn't make major changes, because he was quite happy. In the afternoon we did the normal race preparation programme comparing the tyres and doing short and long runs on the two specifications. We experienced the opposite a bit with Esteban who was struggling on the soft tyres, so we have to analyse all the data in order to understand this and find a solution."


Jenson Button, P1 - 1:27.804, 9th; P2 - 1:26.234, 9th

"I had a relatively good run on the soft tyre using high fuel, so I'm feeling happier about that, but the balance over a single lap is something we need to concentrate on tonight. It was quite difficult to be consistent; the car felt different from corner to corner, from lap to lap. I like a precise car, and we didn't quite nail that today - but I think we know why that is and we'll change it for tomorrow. I'm not too worried.

"Looking at the timesheets, it's quite difficult to know where we stand - we're not up there with the Mercedes or the Red Bulls, but the Williams cars seem a little less competitive compared to the last race. We still have a lot of work to do tonight."

Kevin Magnussen, P1 - 1:27.357, 6th; P2 - 1:25.580, 5th

"We had a reasonable day, with no real problems. We also managed to get through the whole testing programme complete, which was a positive. The new components that we introduced in Germany still feel good - we're still getting more from them - but there's always further fine-tuning to do. We just need to keep up this impressive rate of development into the second half of the season. I may have ended FP2 fifth-fastest, but I think our job is going to be a little more difficult than it was last weekend. At Hockenheim, the car's pace was good enough for the top five, but we're probably a little bit further behind than that this weekend."

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director

"On such a tight circuit, and with so much traffic, it's sometimes difficult to get a clear read on pace and performance during practice at the Hungaroring. During both sessions, Jenson and Kevin noted that their runs were being interrupted by traffic - but it's the same for everybody, and I don't think it disrupted our programme too significantly. While neither driver really felt like they discovered the sweet-spot of their cars today, I think we nonetheless managed to gather some useful long-run data. There's quite a bit of analysis that needs to take place tonight before we can feel confident about the rest of the weekend, but I think we've made a solid start."


Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:27.960, 10th; P2 - 1:26.402, 10th

"It was not an easy day for me. I didn't have the most clean day to do long runs, but there is still tomorrow to come. It's not a perfect track for us but we'll try everything we can for qualifying tomorrow to be as competitive as possible. We have run both cars with the new rear wing and it's very positive so far."

Valtteri Bottas, P1 - 1:28.330, 15th; P2 - 1:25.999, 8th

"It was an interesting Friday, we went through all the updates and I'm really happy that they have worked as we expected, so we've made steps forward with the car. This circuit is tighter and it's going to be more difficult for us than the last three Grands Prix. It's going to be really close tomorrow so we need to work hard to find every tenth and maybe even every hundredth of a second we can gain with the set-up."

Rob Smedley, head of vehicle performance

"We completed our schedule and tested all of the upgrades, which seem to be working well. The main work has been on the balance of the car and we still have a bit to do for the option tyre. We seem to have good pace on the prime. We have a lot of data to go through to be ready for tomorrow."


Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:26.872, 4th; P2 - 1:25.437, 4th

“Going from one race to the next doesn't usually involve many changes, but here, unlike what usually happens on a Friday, we had to work a lot on the set-up, to try and adapt the car to the circuit, the tyres and the high temperatures. So there was rather more work than usual, but it produced results and we improved run after run. Sure, there’s still a lot to do to be as competitive as we’d like, but I think we’re on the right road. There’s less grip here than in previous years, but it’s the same for everyone and now we have to try and prepare the car as well as possible for qualifying and the race. High temperatures like those we saw today are always challenging for the tyres, but the forecast is for cooler conditions from tomorrow and maybe rain on Sunday, so we have to be ready for every eventuality.”

Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:26.421, 3rd; P2 - 1:25.730, 6th

“In the first free practice session, we managed to do a good job, testing various solutions on the programme and I was feeling reasonably pleased with the handling of the car. Then, in the afternoon, I went out for a second run on the medium tyres, because the behaviour of this compound seemed worse as the temperature went up and that affected the handling of the car, while on the soft I had no problems. In the second part of the session I did a race simulation with both compounds: unfortunately when I fitted the mediums I had a problem with the left rear and I had to pit earlier than planned. The telemetry didn't show any problem on the car, so I hope that the data will point us in the right direction for the next two days.”

Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director

“The Hungaroring always presents a major challenge for drivers and also engineers, especially during free practice. All the teams know this track lacks grip and, especially on Friday, one has to adapt to the gradually improving conditions, as the rubber gets put down on the surface. Today, because of instability that seemed to affect other cars as well as ours, we had to pay particular attention to set-up, trying to improve the balance at the entry and exit to the corners. This track is very demanding on the aerodynamic front and today’s high temperatures had a significant effect on tyre behaviour, although it's due to get cooler for the rest of the weekend. The lap is particularly short and will make managing the ERS system very interesting during the race and this is an area where we are learning a lot race after race. The performance level over short and long runs are similar to those seen in recent races and it looks like being a very tough weekend. Overtaking opportunities are strictly limited and so, more than elsewhere, you need to get the best possible result in qualifying.”


Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“We’re satisfied that the medium and soft tyres are working as we expected them to in Hungary, which is a circuit that can actually work the tyres quite hard despite the fact that it is low speed, especially if the set-up is not quite right. We’re seeing about 1.6 seconds between the two compounds at the moment, and this is likely not to change much, especially as the soft tyre in particular was showing low levels of thermal degradation. We think that this should be a two-stop race but we will have to analyse all the data fully before having a more concrete idea as to what the theoretical fastest strategy will be.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:27.782, 8th; P2 - 1:25.983, 7th

“To be honest we struggled quite a lot today trying to find the grip. This circuit does tend to ramp up a lot over the weekend, this morning’s session the grip was really low for everyone and we saw a lot of people sliding. We thought we would find some more this afternoon but we didn’t quite evolve with the track, so we’ve got a bit of work to do tonight to understand that, but that’s what Friday’s are for, you learn, you try things and hopefully you put it all together Friday night in the best way for qualifying.”

Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:27.220, 5th; P2 - 1:25.111, 3rd

“I think we could be a little bit closer this weekend, at least today it looked a bit better, but then again we saw that people can make a big step from Friday to Saturday, particularly Williams, so we have to be careful. We hope we can do a big enough step to keep the pace of today (for tomorrow) and to be able to use a little bit more power, but we’ll have to wait and see where we are.”