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In quotes - Friday in Sakhir

17 Apr 2015

After an intriguing opening day of running in Bahrain, all ten teams report back on the action...


Nico Rosberg
FP1 - 15th; FP2 - 1st

“It was a good day today. The afternoon session wasn't very useful as the conditions are so hot and really quite different to what we see in the evening - which is of course when qualifying and the race will be held. That makes the second session very valuable and we learned a lot - for example that Ferrari are very good on the long runs. On qualifying laps we look quicker but on race pace they are really strong so we will have to do a lot of work tonight to find the perfect setup. Tyre wise it's all been pretty straightforward. Both compounds are robust - it's just their absolute pace that should be a factor. Qualifying will be important as we saw in the last few races. But I'm feeling good about my pace on one lap and the long runs too so confidence is high.”

Lewis Hamilton
FP1 - 16th; FP2 - 2nd

“We've had a good day in terms of getting the long runs in and understanding the tyres. Working on race runs was the priority - although we did also show strong single lap pace. On my fastest lap I locked up into Turn 8 so lost out a bit there and there's a few areas I need to work on to find a bit more time. It's difficult to say how long each compound will go but the option feels great. From what I can see it shouldn't be as tough as it was in Malaysia from a tyre perspective and we're definitely in a better position this weekend than at the same stage in Sepang. Despite that, I'm sure it will still be very close with Ferrari, who look very good on the long runs. Generally, though, it's been a positive start.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes-Benz head of motorsport

“We did a lot of laps today, got through our planned work and did a number of important experiments, especially during FP1. The track conditions between FP1 and FP2 were very different, with only the second session really relevant for Qualifying and the Race, and you need to understand properly how the big change in track temperatures affects the cars. We saw some very strong long runs from a number of teams today during FP2 and Ferrari looked the quickest car during the session, with some very stable and quick lap times. So our boys are at the top of the timesheets, yes, but we have a lot of work to do tonight to analyse and understand the data. But like always, this is only Friday and it's Sunday that counts.”

Paddy Lowe, executive director (technical)

“The afternoon session started with a power failure in the garage that disrupted our programme slightly. But after that we cracked on with long run analysis on the prime tyre. The hot conditions meant it was not the ideal scenario for setup work but we managed to gather some very useful data. In Practice Two we ran our normal programme in a trouble-free session. Our pace looks very close with Ferrari so, as usual, we will have plenty of work to do tonight to ensure we are optimised for qualifying and the race.”


Kimi Raikkonen
FP1 - 1st; FP2 - 3rd

“I still haven’t had a look at the lap times of the session, but I think we are not as good as we want to be. In the second session it was a bit tricky with the set-up, we had some problems with the handling and we struggled in a few places. This evening we’ll analyse all the data in order to improve and do a better job tomorrow. Having a clear qualifying makes life easier in the race. I don’t know if we can challenge Mercedes, tomorrow is another day, conditions can change and this plays a big part, so let’s wait and see.”

Sebastian Vettel
FP1 - 2nd; FP2 - 4th

“I came out of the garage and had a problem. I hit the brakes but suddenly there was a blow and I couldn’t brake properly. Therefore I hit Sergio Perez in the corner. Of course I’m sorry, but I couldn’t do anything else in that moment. I was looking for Sergio to say sorry, but he was still sitting in the car. My fast lap was not perfect, but everything in the car feels good. Of course tonight it was quite different from this afternoon, as it was much colder. It’s hard to say if we got closer to Mercedes, everybody seemed to be closer to them but I’m sure they didn’t show everything today."

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo
FP1 - 5th; FP2 - 6th

“I had an alright session, I think we’re looking pretty good. We’re more or less where we expect to be. We’re a little bit more competitive in cooler conditions so the night session should be good. The tyre degradation is quite high here, it will probably be a two stop race, but we’ll see. It’s going to be windy tomorrow so we might have some sand on the track.”

Daniil Kvyat
FP1 - 9th; FP2 - 9th

“It was a normal long run for me and we managed to get some good laps in. Tyre degradation was as expected but we were disrupted by the red flag. There is some wind expected for tomorrow and we’ll see how that affects the car behaviour. It was a good Friday for us overall.”


Valtteri Bottas
FP1 - 3rd; FP2 - 5th

“It has been a good Friday. The car feels good but it’s only Friday so it is hard to compare us against our competitors. We are still focusing on tyre performance in a race situation and have made progress, especially with the option tyre, although I think there is a bit more performance to find. We look quite strong for qualifying, but the race pace is important and we need to work hard tonight on this area.”

Felipe Massa
FP1 - 10th; FP2 - 10th

“I struggled with the balance of the car today but the team have shown there is good pace. We need to work hard tonight and make the right changes to get the car balance right, and then show the pace that Valtteri has shown today. We have also been working on tyre performance and have certainly made steps in the right direction.”

Rob Smedley, head of performance engineering

“It has been a really good day for the team. We had a lot of work to get done over the last couple of days and have hit every target that we set ourselves. There is an awful lot of data that we collected with regards to specification and management of tyres. We are where we expect to be on a Friday with regards to both high and low fuel runs, which is encouraging for qualifying and the race. The team has worked very well and to get through the arduous programme we had set was impressive. We used the conditions to our advantage and gathered data during FP1 as the track temperatures were hotter than we will experience in the race. We used this data and then focused on tyre and car performance in FP2.”

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg
FP1 - 13th; FP2 - 15th

“It was quite a straightforward Friday. This morning we did a few aero tests to continue our process of understanding the car and learning about it, exploring different ways to optimise our performance. Our mileage was good, so we should have plenty of data to analyse tonight. The afternoon session went quite smoothly as well: we were able to use both tyre compounds and completed short and long runs. We got all we needed from the session, so that we could skip the final run and save a bit of engine life. We have a fairly clear idea of where we stand and of our performance level, so tonight it will be a matter of tweaking our set-up to improve the balance and be more competitive tomorrow.”

Sergio Perez
FP1 - 11th; FP2 - 17th

"It's been a good day for us, despite the final incident with Vettel. I was trying to overtake Nasr and, when I got to the apex of turn one, the gap I had on Sebastian was gone, as he had a car problem, and he made light contact with my right rear. After the session he came to see me and said he had an issue with the brakes. It was an unfortunate incident but nothing more than that. Before that moment, we had done a good job throughout the sessions and I feel we have made another step forward. We tried some different set-up options and we had the opportunity to make some big changes between the two sessions. We seem to be a bit more competitive compared to the previous couple of races, especially over the longer runs, but it’s too early to make any predictions.”

Robert Fernley, deputy team principal

“We split an extensive aero test programme between both cars in FP1, gathering lots of data to help us with the correlation of the car. This evening the focus moved towards the long run performance: trying different set-ups between the two cars to give us the information needed to ensure we have the best possible race car come Sunday. We now turn our attention to extracting more qualifying potential from the car and we have plenty of good data to analyse tonight.”


Jolyon Palmer
FP1 - P14

“It was a great session for me and it felt far smoother than last time out. It was great to be back in the car so soon after Shanghai as I’ve been able to maintain a good momentum. I set my quickest time quite early in the session, so I didn’t stay as high up the order with the long runs later in the session, but I was happy with my progress. The car felt improved since China, with similar characteristics enabling me to feel comfortable and push. I’m happy with today’s work.”

Romain Grosjean
FP2 - P13th

“It was a frustrating session for me as I couldn’t get the car exactly how I wanted it, but we can see from Pastor’s lap time that the pace is there once we get the set-up working. The circuit is always great to drive and we run qualifying and the race in similar conditions to those we saw in FP2 today, so we really need to get the car where we want it overnight.”

Pastor Maldonado
FP1 - P12; FP2 - P7

“I was very happy with the car in the hot conditions of the first session and also in the cooler, later session too. This is very positive as we didn’t have to spend too much time working on refining the set-up for the different track temperature but could work on our usual tyre evaluations. The track condition was good, even at the start of FP1 so we were able to have a productive day. I think we have good potential here this weekend.”

Alan Permane, trackside operations director

“Friday in Bahrain is a bit of an usual day now as we run FP1 in hot daytime conditions, then FP2 is in much cooler conditions similar to those of the race and qualifying. This gives us more of a challenge for set-up as work done in FP1 isn’t as relevant to later, but we are well versed in these situations. Once more, we had three drivers in the car today, each of which delivered as we’d expect. Jolyon drove very well in his second session in the car and had more pace than his lap time showed due to small technical issue on his fastest lap. Pastor had a very strong day and was happy with his car throughout both sessions. We still have some work to get Romain’s car where we want it, but we have a clear direction of what to do.”

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz
FP1 - 4th; FP2 - 14th

“Even if we didn’t have much track time this morning in FP1 and had to face some brake issues during FP2, in general it’s been a decent Friday. The car feels nice to drive and we don’t have any major problems, so we just need to keep working hard. It’s my first time driving here and I like the track very much, I’m enjoying it, especially during the night, the circuit looked stunning.”

Max Verstappen
FP1 - 6th; FP2 - 16th

“It was a bit of an up-and-down day. I think the first practice in general was quite alright and I used it to get used to the track and didn’t take too many risks. Everything felt good and I like the track, so that’s important. Not being very happy with the set of brakes, during FP2 we decided to change it and luckily it all felt better towards the end of the session, but I carried on taking it easy. It was a bit of a scrappy practice but now we have all night to prepare for tomorrow and that’s what we’ll do.”

Phil Charles, chief race engineer

“We worked through our programme with both cars today. Carlos and Max were new to this track and I think they’ve settled in well as always but had a lot of learning to do today. FP1 ran smoother than this evening’s FP2, which was quite scrappy. We had some brake problems which have definitely made things a little bit trickier. We know we’ve got a little bit of work to do tonight.”


Will Stevens
FP1 - 18th; FP2 - 18th

“I’m pleased to say we’ve had another predominantly smooth day of running and that has been important in reaching a good baseline set-up and getting to grips with the track conditions. We’re really starting to get into the swing of things in terms of our run plan and the improved pace is coming off the back of that, so I feel well prepared for tomorrow.”

Roberto Merhi
FP1 - 19th; FP2 - 20th

“It has been a very good and straightforward opening day and as this is another new circuit for me, we’ve been able to get into a good rhythm to help with acclimatisation. We made good progress through our set programme and now the focus tomorrow is on extracting a little more of the pace. A good day for the team.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“It is very encouraging to have the benefit of another smooth and consistent day of running. Once again we’ve been able to make incremental steps with the setup of the car and understand the spectrum of track conditions in preparation for race representative conditions later in the day. Both drivers have done a solid job and consequently we have been able to start the weekend by edging a little closer to the midfield in terms of our early pace, steadily reducing that delta in line with our objectives for this stage of the season.”


Marcus Ericsson
FP1 - 17th; FP2- 11th

“The first session was not ideal, as I did not feel comfortable in the car. In FP2 we made some adjustments and it was working better again. We still have some parts to optimise, but overall it was a good step forward. It was quite a decent session in which we collected valuable data. We did short and long runs on the soft and medium compounds. I think we are where we want to be. For tomorrow we have to make sure that we put it all together, and then we will be strong again.”

Felipe Nasr
FP1 – 8th; FP2 - 8th

“It was a good day. The car was behaving quite well during both practice sessions. During the first practice session we had a few issues with the brakes. After that was sorted out, I felt the car was going in the right direction. In the late afternoon we were able to confirm this as we had a good pace. We also seem to have quite a reasonable balance for the car during the long-runs. Overall, I think we anticipated some changes here in Bahrain so prioritised traction and the braking zones. Tomorrow we have to make sure we go in the same direction.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Head of Track Engineering

“On the programme side it was a smooth day. Neither Sauber C34-Ferrari had major issues, so we were able to run through the planned schedule. The first practice session was not of any significance for the race, as we were having extremely high temperatures. We managed to put together an aero programme for both cars which was quite productive. In the late afternoon we started to work on the race preparation by evaluating the car and doing long-runs. Our programme was slightly interrupted by the red flag at the end of the session. Otherwise, it was a good day.”


Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“The pattern of wear and degradation today was exactly as we expected, especially in FP2, which was the only really relevant session. From a tyre perspective, there was less to be learned from FP1, which was nearly 20 degrees warmer. While the pattern of data collection is a little bit different to other races because of these temperatures differences, we’re seeing that the soft tyre will be key to the race - which is around two seconds quicker than the medium. However, there is talk of a sandstorm tomorrow and that’s not generally good news for tyres or anyone! So we’ll see what qualifying brings…”


Jenson Button
FP1 – 20th; FP2 - 19th

“I guess it wasn’t a great day, but at least we got a lot of useful data on the car. The slightly frustrating thing, though, is that both cars were set up quite differently today, to get comparative aero info, and we weren’t really able to benefit from that on my car. Hopefully, we won’t have further issues; that way, I can get some decent running tomorrow so as to see what the car is doing.

“Whatever happens, though, it’s not going to be an easy weekend. We knew that already. And qualifying will undoubtedly be tricky again!”

Fernando Alonso
FP1 – 7th; FP2 - 12th

“Today I had a very smooth day, and I was happy with the car in every condition, so tomorrow we just need to make sure we optimise the performance of the car and try to get a good result. Still, today is only Friday, and we saw in Shanghai that we had a decent performance on the Friday but then not so good on the Saturday – due to the fact other people were running more fuel than us on the Friday.

“Even so, we can see that we’re getting closer and closer to the mid-pack with every race. Definitely we’re moving in the right direction, we just need to do it that bit quicker!

“We don’t have any ‘magic bullets’ here, since we’re only four days after the last race, but we have some little tweaks that are putting some performance in the car.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same for Jenson today, so we’re missing some information, but we’ll try to recover tomorrow.”

Eric Boullier, racing director

“Today, to quote that hackneyed footballing proverb, was for McLaren-Honda a game of two halves.

“On the one hand, Fernando enjoyed a trouble-free morning followed by an equally unproblematic afternoon, running through his planned programme without mishap. On the other, Jenson was forced to endure a frustrating day, the result of not one but two major interruptions, compromising his ability to complete satisfactorily not only FP1 but also FP2. We apologise to him for that.

“Even so, we’ve gathered valuable data, which our engineers will study this evening and tonight.

“It’s too early to say where we are, pace-wise, but Fernando’s best FP2 lap-time was 1.5s off Nico’s [Rosberg] FP2 benchmark. That isn’t where we want to be; having said that, I believe it demonstrates that our progress, although not always linear, is nonetheless directionally positive overall.”

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

“Today, Fernando's FP1 and FP2 running programmes were completed as planned, and we were more or less able to set the driveability control on the power unit.

“As for Jenson's power unit issues, we were limited on running time owing to an electrical shutdown in FP1. We were able to put the car back on the track for FP2, but the control data that monitors the power unit status was unstable and we had to bring the car back to the garage several times, which was unfortunate.

“We’ll need to utilise tomorrow's FP3 to set the control data for qualifying.”