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In quotes - Friday in Abu Dhabi

27 Nov 2015

The drivers and teams report back on the first day of F1 action at the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit...


Jolyon Palmer
FP1 - 18th

“It was good to get even just a handful of laps today and the crew did a great job to get the car fixed. When I saw the car stripped down before FP1 I certainly didn’t expect to be lapping before the end of the session. I pushed hard for the laps we had and I did have a bit of a spin, but no harm done.”

Romain Grosjean
FP2 - 15th

“It’s been a frustrating day as time in my car was limited in both sessions and with me only driving FP2 we’re quite a bit behind where we hoped to be. We have quite a bit of work on the set-up to get it to my liking. Everyone at the track has worked really hard over the past 36 hours and I want to be able to give them a great reward tomorrow.”

Pastor Maldonado

FP1 - 9th; FP2 - 10th

“Today was pretty straight forward and we’ve made good progress. We’ve completed a pretty full programme and we know where we want to go with the car. There haven’t been any surprises for us today so we’re pretty happy and looking forward to tomorrow.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

“We’ve displayed quite reasonable pace here today which is a credit to all of the crew who have worked in a very tight timeframe. Jolyon was able to complete a handful of laps despite a water leak from his car delaying his track time whilst Pastor was able to set solid laps straight out of the box and his side of the garage had a solid day. Romain’s car experienced a fuel tank related issue and he wasn’t happy with his car, but there’s nothing we shouldn’t get rectified for tomorrow.”


Nico Rosberg
FP1 - 2nd; FP2 - 1st

“It’s been a good start here in Abu Dhabi - but it will be a tough weekend for me as I have quite a high mileage engine in my car. After the Monza problem, we have had to stretch the engine life more than we had planned over the 19 races, so I definitely have a small lack of power on the straights and therefore need to make up extra time in the corners. It will be a big battle with Lewis here. He didn’t really bring together his quick laps, so it will be even closer tomorrow I’m sure. I’m looking forward to it and I definitely want to win this race and give the boys in the garage a reason to celebrate at the end of the season.”

Lewis Hamilton
FP1 - 1st; FP2 - 2nd

“It’s been a pretty normal Friday. The track is behaving very similarly to how it did last year so there’s not much new to learn there. I didn’t get the best out of the tyres but they’re actually really strong here - especially the super soft. I made some changes to the car between the sessions and so far it’s felt relatively good. The long run pace doesn’t feel quite as strong so that’s something I need to work on. I’ll probably make some more tweaks tonight and hopefully tomorrow it will be better. It’s very hard to overtake here, so of course it’s better to be up on pole. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to win from further back.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“It’s a funny feeling, running through the final sessions with this great car. Although, I’m sure it will come as some relief to everyone having the final late-night car build of the season tonight! We had a very full programme in P1. Track temperatures are very high in the afternoon here and not really representative of the competitive sessions - i.e. qualifying and the race. So, this was a session with a bit more bias towards R&D than race preparation. We had quite a few different programmes spread across the two cars, which all ran fairly well and provided a lot of good data. In P2 we then moved into our regular Friday routine of low and high fuel running on the prime and option tyre. Our pace on low fuel looked to be quite strong - but the long runs were harder to distinguish with different fuel loads and run plans. Degradation is quite high here - particularly on the option. We have some work to do overnight, as the setup isn’t quite where we want it to be on either car.”


Fernando Alonso
FP1 - 14th; FP2 - 9th

“Many things could be behind this afternoon’s performance: first, I think we’ve made some improvements to the car - the team has kept pushing hard to bring performance. But, second, we probably ran the Supersoft tyre at the optimal point of the session, a little bit later than the others.

“I’m happy with the car, and our progress, but, unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be ninth-fastest tomorrow.

“I tried the Supersoft on my long run - as we expected, there’s a bit of graining on that particular tyre, so the race will be tough, but it’ll be the same for everybody.”

Jenson Button
FP1 - 13th; FP2 - 16th

“Our side of the garage was trying very different things from Fernando’s. Our programme was all about gaining an understanding for next year. I’ll be changing my car over to his settings tomorrow, which’ll make it a bit more enjoyable, but it’s all useful learning.

“Fernando’s performance was very encouraging - we’re pretty happy with that - it’s very promising. I’ll be running that set-up on my car tomorrow, so we’ll see how it goes.

“Our biggest issue on the Supersoft tyre is overheating in the final sector. That makes the car quite pointy, so it’s about looking after the rears while also pushing the fronts hard to make them work in the first sector. It’s a tricky balance and will make for an interesting race.”

Eric Boullier, Racing director

“This was a very busy day, as we had a number of important test items to evaluate during free practice. Happily, we made good progress, and we’ve got some very useful data to take home and study as we busy ourselves with preparations for next year’s car.

“Moreover, it was pleasing to see Fernando set a time on the Supersoft tyre that was within a second of the fastest time of the afternoon; to have achieved that, on a circuit that we did not expect to favour our package, was encouraging, and bodes well for the rest of the weekend.

“Jenson didn’t find a comfortable balance in either of today’s sessions, something which was probably exacerbated by the shift in conditions from day into night, which didn’t smooth his progress.

“Nevertheless, we have a good baseline to take forward into tomorrow, and we’ll make progress tonight - of that you can be certain.”

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport

“Our first day of the last race in Abu Dhabi went smoothly. Both FP1 and FP2 sessions were completed according to the run-plans, and we were able to confirm the data-mapping on both power units.

“Fernando’s car had a high-voltage sensor go into fail mode at the very end of FP1, but a quick parts replacement was all that was necessary to prepare for FP2. He had a very good feel for the car during the evening session, and seemed satisfied with the overall set-up of the car and the power unit.

“Jenson ran smoothly during both sessions, but seemed to struggle to get the spot-on settings that he preferred. However, we gained an abundance of data from both drivers today, so it will be a busy night to analyse and further tweak the set-up tomorrow in preparation for qualifying and the race on Sunday.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo
FP1 - 7th; FP2 - 4th

“Today was a good day for us. This afternoon we made some adjustments with the set-up from this morning and the evening session is the one that reflects the conditions we will see in qualifying and the race. I was happy with the balance and think we were more or less where we want to be. As always, there’s some fine tuning to do but I’m pleased with where we ended today. Force India were quick and surprisingly strong here. I’m happy with the car. We are pretty much 95% to where we want to be so that’s good for a Friday. As always on Saturday, Ferrari and Williams seem to make a bit more of a step. Hopefully the others don’t close the gap too much but let’s see what happens tomorrow. Sure we can find a little bit more but probably not a whole lot. If we qualify top 5, we’ll be happy.”

Daniil Kvyat
FP1 - 4th; FP2 - 6th

"It didn’t look too bad today. Overall, the balance wasn’t so great so we have plenty of work to do tonight, to try and find some more stability in the car and try to make it a bit more driveable for me, but it think this is usual on a Friday. It looks very tight from P3 onwards, so I think P3 is an open battle at the moment, but you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Obviously we are aiming to fight for those positions, that would be nice and I'm hoping that the P3 spot will stay as open as it was today and we are able correct the little things we need to correct from today and we will be in the right place tomorrow."


Kimi Raikkonen
FP1 - 3rd; FP2 - 7th

“It was a normal Friday, everything worked apart from some difficulties with the Supersoft tyres in the long run. Maybe the lap times could have been a bit better on the single lap, but overall it was not too bad. I haven’t seen the data from today yet, but it’s only Friday and we don’t know what the others were doing. Obviously there is always something that we can improve, the Mercedes seem to be very fast, but we’ll try to do as good as we can tomorrow. This is a nice place to finish the season, hopefully we can do well.”

Sebastian Vettel
FP1 - 5th; FP2 - 5th

“All in all it is Friday, I think we can still improve and we have to improve. We are a little bit too far behind, I would like the gap to be smaller, and bigger to the cars behind. Force India was surprisingly quick and so was Red Bull Racing. In the first practice session I took some notes on my pad, but this is only my “to do” list for today and tomorrow…”


Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director

“We saw two very busy sessions and quite a wide variation in the rate at which teams improved by switching from the soft to the supersoft tyre. This was largely a result of the changing track temperatures, which affect different cars in different ways. However, the track is still evolving, so we’ve not quite seen the full picture yet. During FP1 we experienced some thermal degradation as expected: however this stabilised during FP2, which was more representative of race conditions anyway. Nonetheless, we’d anticipate some degree of thermal degradation to remain a factor during the race, with drivers having to look after the rear tyres in particular.”


Valtteri Bottas
FP1 - 11th; FP2 - 11th

“It was a normal Friday, going through our set-up tests with both cars. We got all the results we wanted but we are a little behind our performance goals, so we're trying to find something for better lap times tomorrow.”

Felipe Massa
FP1 - 10th; FP2 - 12th

“I expected a little bit better. We didn't improve so much from the soft tyre to the super soft, compared to some other cars, so this is the point we need to make better tomorrow. Also, the tyres were not 100% ready for the first lap on the super soft. I don't think these are big problems to understand, so I hope everything can work well tomorrow.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“Everything went according to plan. We were doing some development work for next year's car as well as the work for this weekend on the tyres and the set-up. We need to find a bit of time on both the low and high fuel, looking at where we were today, but we've got a lot to go through from today so that shouldn't be a big deal. If we can find that bit of time, we can be towards the front.”


Marcus Ericsson
FP1 - 17th; FP2 - 18th

“A quite challenging day. We tried some set-ups on the car under different track conditions, with higher temperatures in FP1 and lower ones in FP2. Overall, but especially in FP2, it was difficult to find a set-up for the car I felt comfortable with. Now we have to analyse the data during the night, so that we can make the right changes which could put us in a better shape tomorrow.”

Felipe Nasr
FP1 - 15th; FP2 - 17th

“In the morning we did some aero measurements to collect further important data. After that on the car side we tried out different adjustments. In FP1 the temperatures were, of course, higher than in the late afternoon session, so we had to make the right changes. However, I do not think we worked the tyres in the right direction for the lower temperatures in FP2. There is still room for improvement in finding the appropriate tyre temperatures. It is only Friday, so we need to look into the data to understand things better.”

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen
FP1 - 12th; FP2 - 13th

“This morning’s FP1 was a good start to the weekend. We started to understand the track and the car, as well as working on the balance. Of course, the position where we ended up this morning isn’t where we wanted to be, but we are not that worried yet. We had a similar situation in Brazil and in the end we were competitive. In this afternoon’s FP2 we continued our programme, trying to set up the car in a better way and I think we went in the right direction. If we now put everything we’ve learned from today in place, we are almost there. I hope for a good rest of the weekend here in Abu Dhabi.”

Carlos Sainz
FP1 - 16th; FP2 - 14th

“It hasn’t been a straightforward Friday… definitely not the day we wanted. We had a few issues in the morning which didn’t allow us to run as much as we would’ve wanted. Therefore, it wasn’t a very representative FP1. This afternoon everything was going well, but with 45 minutes of the session left the engine suddenly switched off… It’s not a good way to start the last race weekend of the season, but luckily it’s still only Friday and we can work on this in order to come back stronger tomorrow.”

Phil Charles, Chief Race Engineer

“I am sad to say that this is another day where I am apologising to Carlos as he had more problems in both FP1 and FP2, when his engine switched off due to an oil pressure drop, which limited his running today. In terms of the car performance, we struggled in sector 3. This is a section of the track where we would usually expect our car to be strong, so we clearly have got some work to do. Our long pace looks relatively better so we will carefully analyse car set-up and tyre temperatures tonight. Looking forward to Sunday, from what we have learnt today I think managing front graining will be key to good performance and could well give a big advantage in terms of strategy freedom.”


Roberto Merhi
FP1 - 20th; FP2 - 20th

“It’s fantastic to be back in the car again; I’ve really missed the racing. Today was my first taste of the Yas Marina Circuit and it’s great. The track was a little bit green today maybe, but I’m sure it will improve as the weekend continues. I experienced quite high tyre degradation on the longer runs, but tonight we’ll be working on set-up and I’m sure we’ll have a solution for tomorrow. I’m looking forward to my first qualifying since Sochi, and of course the race.”

Will Stevens
FP1 - 19th; FP2 - 19th

“It’s been a really good Friday, with plenty of work completed. I love the circuit and it has special memories for me, having made my debut here last season. We need to work on the set-up a little more, to improve some issues with tyre degradation on the option tyre on longer runs. We’ll look at that some more this evening, but last year the track came up quite a lot, so hopefully the graining we’re seeing on the front tyre will be easier to manage in the race.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“We’ve made a positive start to the season finale, with a solid day of running achieved on both sides of the garage, which enabled us to complete our programme. There’s a little bit of fine-tuning to do with the set-up, to cure some graining we’re experiencing on the front tyres, but all in all I think we’re in pretty good shape at this stage of the weekend. It has been good to welcome Roberto back to the car here and he has made good progress with acclimatising to what is a new track for him. He has certainly come back with the bit between his teeth. For Will, who has prior knowledge of this circuit, he has made good use of that experience and was quickly up to speed, ending the day with a significantly improved margin to the cars ahead. We’re looking forward to our final qualifying session of the season.”

Force India

Sergio Perez
FP1 - 8th, FP2 - 3rd

“Today has been a good start to our race weekend, despite the brake issue we experienced in the evening session. The first session is not very representative of race conditions here, because the track temperatures are much higher than you would have in the evening, so we took the opportunity to try a few test parts that will help us in the development of next year's car. FP2 was a very positive session: I felt comfortable in the car from the start and the changes we made worked well. Our long run programme was interrupted by the brake issue, but we have plenty of data from Nico's runs that we can analyse tonight. The baseline set-up we worked on is already quite good, so we're in good shape for tomorrow."

Nico Hulkenberg
FP1 - 6th, FP2 - 8th

“I’m feeling pretty happy with a successful day and lots of laps under our belt. In the morning we had a busy programme with several test items and future development work, which went to plan and gave us a lot of information. The afternoon was straightforward with no issues and our one-lap performance looks quite competitive. There is still room to improve with our long runs so we need to do our homework tonight and understand what we can change for tomorrow. Overall I’m feeling positive about our performance today.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer

“The car has been working well straight out of the box and both drivers were happy with the baseline balance, which allowed us to push ahead with an extensive test programme to gather data with a view to next year. The cooler temperatures in the second session were much more representative of what we expect for qualifying and the race, and both Nico and Sergio remained happy with the balance and the changes we made between the sessions. We look quite competitive, but the margins between all the teams are very small. Sergio lost some track time towards the end of the second session with a left rear brake issue, the cause of which we are still investigating. It means he missed out on doing a long run with the option tyre, but fortunately Nico completed a full programme so we have enough information to analyse this evening.”