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Friday practice - selected team and driver quotes

19 Sep 2014

A philosophical Sebastian Vettel on why he is upbeat despite missing almost all of FP2; Jean-Eric Vergne on encouraging early signs for Toro Rosso; and Lewis Hamilton on the balance issues that affected him even as he went fastest in FP2. The drivers and senior team personnel report back after the opening day at Singapore...

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, P1 - 1:50.122, 5th; P2 - 1:47.790, 3rd

"I've got a feeling Mercedes probably have a bit more in the bag. I saw Hamilton is about three tenths up the road and Rosberg was improving and then he caught the red flag or the yellow flag so I don't know, I think they've got a bit more in the tank. I think we do too, but probably not enough to get on par with them yet, but hopefully a good night of homework will pay off tomorrow. I wasn't expecting such a big difference between the tyres, it just doesn't seem the prime is working as well, the supersoft seems normal but the prime is tricky to turn on so that's making it a bit hard. The tyres are going to make a big difference in the race - to be quick on the tyre is one thing, but to make it last more laps is another and that could save you doing an extra pit stop in the race."

Sebastian Vettel, P1 - 1:49.874, 4th; P2 - 1:48.041, 5th

"Was today unlucky? I don't believe in good luck and bad luck. I think we did a lot in the last few years that was right and we weren't just lucky then; this year it's a bit different and we have had some problems, but that's part of life. We have overcome the troubles that we have had and it's progressively getting better. In terms of pace it's looking good this weekend. It was important to get a good feel on the supersoft tyre. The mechanics were pushing hard and changed the engine in less than three hours after FP1, which is a massive job, so thanks to them that I was able to get out in the second session."

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat, P1 - 1:50.990, 9th; P2 - 1:48.770, 10th

"It was a good session, not a bad performance at the end of today's sessions but we obviously always aim for a higher position. Generally we are quite good on Friday evening in analysing all the data and improve the car for Saturday so we will certainly do our homework in the best possible way and be back tomorrow in a pretty good shape, with a faster car."

Jean-Eric Vergne, P1 - 1:50.539, 6th; P2 - 1:48.800, 11th

"I'm quite happy today, even though we had a problem in FP1 which did not allow me to run that much. But the feeling was good and I'm confident that we have a competitive car this weekend. The lap time is not really representative as, apart from losing time on track, I didn't complete a perfect lap but the long run pace looks pretty good. We will now do our usual work in trying to improve our already not too bad performance for tomorrow and Sunday's race."

Phil Charles, Toro Rosso chief race engineer

"Not a bad day for us. Even though Daniil has raced here once in previous categories, this remains a hard track to learn and he's done pretty well getting up to speed quickly. Jev has had a bit of a difficult start as we had some problems on his car in FP1. Despite this, overall we got through most of our programme with both cars. We are a little bit disappointed with our short run pace so we've got a little bit of work to do there with both drivers. As for the long runs, Jev's pace is quite good, while Daniil still has something to do to improve it further. I expect he will do his homework tonight like he normally does and we can make the next step. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow."

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, P1 - 1:49.178, 2nd; P2 - 1:47.490, 1st

"Today was a work in progress. We made some changes between P1 and P2 and, whether it was those changes or the track itself, the balance didn't feel right. It felt like we lost a bit of performance but we'll look into the details and see what it was tonight. The long run was okay - I had a bit of traffic which wasn't ideal, as when you back off to rebuild the gap the tyres come back to you a bit which may not give an accurate picture of exactly how long they will last. Pole here has always been very important. The right side of the grid, for example, always seems to get the better starts. Being up at the front will be crucial and that's obviously my target for qualifying tomorrow. Nico looks very quick, as do the Ferraris and the Red Bulls, but I'm feeling good this weekend and I'm focused on the job."

Nico Rosberg, P1 - 1:49.205, 3rd; P2 - 1:49.075, 13th

"I had a good feeling in the car. The only pity was that I had to abandon my quick lap due to the red flags. Although I didn't get the second part of that lap, though, in the first part the car felt great. We then decided to do more laps on high fuel to learn more for the race and overall it was okay. It will be difficult with tyre degradation on the softer tyre so we still need to work on that. But it's generally a great challenge driving here. This is one of the most difficult tracks out there but to fight through all the curves and bumps - especially with this amazing Silver Arrow - is a great feeling."

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"The track conditions looked pretty difficult for both sessions and it took a while to dial the car set-up into that. In the second session Lewis wasn't happy with the car on the prime tyre, while Nico lost his chance to set a time on the super soft tyre as he had to abort his quick lap when the red flags came out. So not a perfectly smooth afternoon but we managed good long runs today on the prime and the option tyres and there is plenty for us to work on tonight. Our rivals are looking strong and we know we need to be on top of our game to stay ahead of them tomorrow and on Sunday."

Paddy Lowe, Mercedes team executive director (technical)

"Generally we enjoyed pretty good and reliable sessions with both cars - although Nico was happier with the car in the second session than in the first and vice-versa for Lewis. We saw a bigger performance gap between the prime and option tyres over one lap than we had expected, which will certainly require some consideration in terms of race strategy - as will tyre management, which will undoubtedly be a big factor on Sunday. We still have a lot more homework to do in order to fully understand the tyres, the race strategy and also to maximise the potential of the car. But a good start to the weekend and great to be back in Singapore."

Caterham

Kamui Kobayashi, P1 - 1:54.607, 21st; P2 - 1:52.075, 21st

"We still need a bit more time to fully understand the car here in Singapore, but I have a good feeling for this weekend, it's a track I enjoy driving. This morning in FP1 I wasn't entirely happy with the balance of the car and, even though the car improved slightly from FP1 to FP2, it's still not enough. We have a lot of homework for tonight. We need to improve but I'm confident that we can."

Marcus Ericsson, P1 - 1:54.475, 20th; P2 - 1:52.936, 22nd

"It's been a good start to the weekend; we completed plenty of laps in FP1 as well as trying a few different settings. I felt good in the car straight away - I already knew the track from my GP2 days, so there were no surprises. It's a circuit I really like and it's even better to drive in an F1 car. FP2 wasn't as positive as the first session, but we still managed to complete many laps which is always important for us. Performance-wise, we were not as competitive as we would've wanted to be - I didn't put a lap together on the option tyres so that was a bit disappointing, but it's only Friday so it's not a big problem, we still have time to fix it for tomorrow. We can all be reasonably pleased with our start, but now we need to work even harder throughout the weekend.

"It's definitely the toughest race of the year - it's going to be important to drink a lot and keep getting mineral and salts over the weekend because Sunday will be a challenge, but I'm more than ready for it!"

Cedrik Staudohar, Renault Sport F1 track support leader:

"Our focus was on getting to grips with the fuel consumption as clearly this will be a key point for the race. We used a very old PU in Marcus' car with no issues. This is good news as we can save a bit of mileage on the race engines for a push in the last part of the season. We will change Kamui's unit overnight as it was showing some signs of trouble, but we have a good margin in the engine plan so it will not be a problem. Overall we've had two useful sessions today."

McLaren

Jenson Button, P1 - 1:50.922, 8th; P2 - 1:48.435, 7th

"It's always good getting to grips with this place - it's so different from most of the circuits we visit, and it's such fun. We tried a few things on the set-up this afternoon that didn't work so well for us; but at least we know what to do tomorrow, and, all things considered, it's not looking too bad, particularly compared with some of the others around us.

"The difference between the two tyre compounds is particularly apparent around here - it's around 2.5s per lap - and I can't see that changing over the course of the weekend. We normally don't profit from that, as we're usually very good on the Prime tyre, but this looks like being a decent opportunity for us, particularly as qualifying is so important here.

"In terms of radio traffic, I think the situation has ended up without much being taken away. They've stopped the engineers from coaching the drivers, but I've never been coached around a lap to go quicker, so not much has changed for me personally."

Kevin Magnussen, P1 - 1:51.217, 11th; P2 - 1:49.971, 18th

"It's a nice track. It's very warm and humid out there, and it gets extremely hot inside the cockpit, but it's a good feeling to drive around this place. It's still difficult to say where we are right now, pace-wise, but I think we ought to be okay. We're still trying to evaluate and get the best from the new package - but we'll study it carefully tonight and see if we can get any more out of it for tomorrow.

"Today's runs showed us that the Option tyre wears out very quickly; the Prime lasts longer and is more consistent, but we'll look more closely tonight so that we can get a better idea for tomorrow. Hopefully, we can improve and find a bit more pace."

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director

"There's a certain magic - a je ne sais quoi - to the Singapore Grand Prix: it's an incredible, unbelievable race. And, even on the first practice day, it's clear that this is no usual racetrack, and no ordinary event. These cars look spectacular around here, and it appears that we'll have a close, unpredictable and exciting race on Sunday.

"In terms of our own preparation, today has been both problematic and productive: problematic in that not everything we tried proved fruitful, but productive in the sense that we moved quickly through a busy aero programme, gained a stronger understanding of this weekend's package, and look like being respectably competitive for the remainder of the weekend.

"There's a lot of work left for our mechanics and engineers tonight - we gathered an awful lot of information from our aero and set-up runs, and I think we can further improve for tomorrow."

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:49.056, 1st; P2 - 1:47.623, 2nd

"As always, Friday in Singapore is a bit different to what it is at other tracks, as its characteristics mean it is one of a kind and driving here at night is always exciting. The feeling is more or less the same as usual on a first day of practice, as we were reasonably competitive in both sessions and we got through the programme without any problems. The two compounds we have for this race behaved as expected and of the two, the Supersoft produced more grip. The restrictions on radio communication did not affect our work much and it was a regular day from that point of view and everything went off as normal."

Kimi Raikkonen, P1 - 1:50.783, 7th; P2 - 1:48.031, 4th

"Overall this was a positive day, even if, as usual, there is room for improvement. In the first session we concentrated on looking at different set-up solutions and on my first set of Soft tyres I managed to do a good lap, then unfortunately some technical niggles prevented me from getting the most out of the second set. At the end of the session I had a problem with the brakes overheating, but the team managed to sort it out quickly and prepare the car for the second session. The changes we made to the set-up improved the handling of the car and with the Supersoft tyres there was plenty of grip."

Pat Fry, Ferrari chassis director

"The Marina Bay circuit is always very demanding, both for the drivers and the personnel, who, among other things, have to deal with extreme atmospheric weather conditions. This Friday's track action that just ended was not perfect, as we had to deal with some reliability problems, especially on Kimi's car, although the performance more or less matched our expectations. Cooling the various components of the car is a hard task and, in performance terms, so too is getting good traction out of the corners. As usual on street circuits, over the course of the weekend, the grip level improves significantly and so it's important to get a clear understanding of tyre behaviour. The time difference between the Soft and Supersoft compounds is possibly greater than expected and I'm sure this aspect will make qualifying and the race very interesting. Although Friday's times count for little and it's difficult to string together a run of clean laps because of traffic, our drivers' pace is encouraging. It's very difficult to overtake in Singapore and it will be very important to do as well as possible in qualifying so as to be well placed for the race."

Sauber

Esteban Gutierrez, P1 - 1:52.171, 16th; P2 - 1:49.290, 16th

"I lost a lot of track time in the first practice session because of the problem with the control unit. In the second practice session we tried to get the maximum out of the programme. Overall, I did not have a good feeling for the car in the afternoon. I believe that we made a small step forward on the aero side. However, on this track the aerodynamics are not essential, and therefore we cannot see a clear benefit straight away. We have a lot of work to do for the rest of the weekend."

Adrian Sutil, P1 - 1:52.237, 17th; P2 - 1:49.170, 15th

"Both practice sessions were interesting, and it was lot of fun driving on this track. I was able to run many laps without major incidents. However, we could not charge the battery perfectly because we had some issues with the power unit. Due to the restricted energy, we had less power during the long runs. Regarding the new aero parts, I cannot really judge so far, but the engineers are going to analyse the impact as we tested several modifications. We have to work on the set-up of the car as the balance is not ideal yet, and I think we can surely improve it."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara , Sauber head of track engineering

"Although we lost quite some time when we had to change the control unit on Esteban's car, we were able to go through most of our programme. However, we have some more work to do with the energy management. We ran into some unexpected limitations which have no effect on our qualifying speed, but which affected our long run performance. Together with our partner we are working on a solution. There are some ideas, and we hope to get improvements for the remainder of the weekend."

Williams

Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:51.953, 13th; P2 - 1:49.361, 17th

"t was a very difficult day today as we were struggling a lot to balance the car and we need to resolve this tonight otherwise it will be a tough weekend for us. We saw some improvement between FP1 and FP2, but we need to find more gains in FP3 if we are to have a qualifying that would satisfy us. We knew that this track wouldn't suit our car as much as recent power circuits, but we have done lots of tests that will help us tomorrow."

Valtteri Bottas, P1 - 1:52.146, 15th; P2 - 1:26.758, 5th

"Today wasn't an easy day for us as we struggled with the balance of the car from the very beginning, especially with the rear. The primary focus tonight will be squeezing more lap time from the option tyre as we only gained half a second over the prime, whilst other teams gained as much as two seconds. I don't think the position we have finished today is truly reflective, but the car is certainly not as easy to drive here as it has been recently so we need to work hard to find more lap time."

Rob Smedley, head of vehicle performance

"We managed to get through all of our planned work today which is the main thing. We tried various different directions on set-ups and tyre management, with some looking good and some not, and we believe we have enough information that can be pulled together to make positive steps forward tomorrow."

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, P1 - 1:51.604, 12th; P2 - 1:48.751, 9th

"Completing all these laps with no major issues and ticking all the boxes in our schedule was a good starting point. It was a regular Friday, from that point of view, even if I am not totally comfortable with the car just yet. We have a bit of work ahead of us, trying to understand the car a bit better and fine tuning its balance ahead of qualifying. Tomorrow will be about getting some more performance out of the car."

Sergio Perez, P1 - 1:51.131, 10th; P2 - 1:48.653, 8th

"We had a good day in which we managed to complete our programme. The first indications show that it will likely be a very close battle in qualifying; we need to keep working to find another couple of tenths because a good starting position will play a big part in the race. On Sunday it will be a matter of getting the strategy right and looking after the tyres. We ran on both compounds today and were able to assess their performance, but we know the heat will play a big role so being gentle on tyres will be a priority."

Vijay Mallya, team principal and managing director

"We had a lot of work to get through today, which included evaluating some aero parts that we hope to race with on Sunday. The programmes went smoothly and we will review all the data and decide how we want to proceed for the rest of the weekend. We also worked to assess our cooling requirements for the race: the heat always plays a big role here and I am satisfied with the work we have done. Both Nico and Checo are happy with the way the day progressed and we are looking forward to the qualifying battle tomorrow."

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

"The time difference between the two compounds was perhaps slightly bigger than we expected, but the nature of the track and the conditions are such that this is unlikely to alter considerably as the weekend goes on. With the high incidence of safety cars and the speed advantage of the supersoft, strategy will be an important consideration right from the very start of qualifying. Strategies will obviously have to be flexible, and we would expect to see three stops. As expected thermal degradation will be the biggest challenge here, with the degradation levels of the soft and the supersoft tyre actually not so different. We need to look at the data from tomorrow as well in order to have a more complete idea of the optimal race strategy, but tyre management will clearly play a significant role."

Marussia

Jules Bianchi, P1 - 1:54.113, 19th; P2 - 1:50.612, 19th

"I think it has been a good day overall. In FP1 we did not quite have the set-up but we made some adjustments during the break and the car was better balanced in FP2. I think we showed this improvement during the option tyre run. It's good to be back at this track. It's such an interesting challenge, made even more interesting by the change to the rules regarding use of radio. It was something new and felt quite different; not as much chat as usual. Generally though, a good first day here."

Max Chilton, P1 - 1:55.170, 22nd; P2 - 1:51.558, 20th

"In FP1 I wasn't so happy with the set-up and there seemed to be a bit of work to do, but I'm quite happy with the progress we made from session to session. Towards the end of FP2 I was happier with the car but then suddenly we experienced a powertrain issue and I was forced to pull over to protect the car. Hopefully that's an isolated problem that we can resolve and which shouldn't affect us through the weekend."

John Booth, Marussia team principal

"A tough day for all the team and the drivers today with the heat and humidity of this circuit however overall the hard work seems to be paying off. This morning we ran a fairly standard program and worked on developing the set-up, which of course is very different to that required in Monza. Overall the starting set-up seems to have been a good baseline and the engineers step through a few planned set-ups which had been developed in conjunction with the factory last week. These were again positive and so it seems we are heading in the right direction. Jules is confident and happy with the balance and put in a good lap on the option tyres. Max has been suffering a little with the ride of his car throughout the day and at this circuit this needs to be good in order to give the driver the confidence. We will be looking into this tonight and see what we can do to improve it. Max unfortunately stopped with a powertrain issue towards the end of the session, which did limit his long run. Another busy night ahead but hopefully a rewarding one once we run tomorrow."

Lotus

Romain Grosjean, P1 - 1:52.906, 18th; P2 - 1:49.062, 12th

"The car performed well today, better than previous races which is something we expected to happen, but nevertheless is good when it goes the way that has been predicted. With more downforce on the wings the car works better. We also had a few new parts to try on the car – some worked really well and some provided us with a good idea of the direction to go for next year's car."

Pastor Maldonado, P1 - 1:52.125, 14th; P2 - 1:49.139, 14th

"For one lap on the softer tyres the car feels quite good. We've made a bit of a step forward here in terms of our relative pace and we're much closer to the times in the top ten. We hope to be slightly more competitive for the race. The balance was quite snappy when the tyres were a bit older and I lost it in the middle of the corner, then the exit is quite narrow there which meant nowhere to go so that was the end of my session."

Alan Permane, Lotus trackside operations director

"We're much happier with the E22 here as we look more competitive than of late, particularly when on the lower fuel levels where we haven't excelled recently. We had a reliable car through both sessions but Pastor's mistake was unfortunate as we lost track time, however we completed a good number of laps with Romain. There's a lot to monitor here with power unit temperatures, cooling levels and the brakes in particular needing close attention. We're also evaluating tyre performance between the two compounds. We have a solid basis looking to the rest of the weekend."