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In quotes - Thursday in Monte Carlo

21 May 2015

A dry opening practice session was followed by a largely wet one in Monaco on Thursday, leaving everyone guessing about the ultimate performance they will be able to extract from their cars and Pirelli's new supersoft tyre. The teams and drivers report back on day one in the Principality...

Marussia

Will Stevens
FP1 - 19th, FP2 - 19th

“Not a bad start to our weekend here in Monaco. The day began reasonably well this morning but this afternoon’s rain hampered everybody’s progress. There is plenty of room for improvement with the car set-up and then I think the day has reminded everyone that a lot can happen here, which in turn creates opportunities, so we’ll be ready to take advantage of whatever surprises spring our way.”

Roberto Merhi
FP1 - 20th, FP2 - 18th

“I had a really good start to the day this morning and was quite happy with the car. I love racing here and I think the combination showed in possibly my best session of the season so far. Early in this afternoon’s session I lost the car under braking out of the tunnel, where it was quite slippery. It’s a shame but as things turned out, the rain meant that we would not have been able to achieve any meaningful running, so I’m looking forward to picking up where we left off on Saturday.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“This was always destined to be a difficult day due to the poor weather forecast. This morning we were making good progress, with both drivers running well. This afternoon, track time was significantly compromised due to the rain and our progress was further hampered when Roberto lost control under braking on the exit of the tunnel, causing quite a bit of damage to the front of the car. Fortunately we have an extra day tomorrow to prepare for FP3 and qualifying.”

Williams

Felipe Massa
FP1 - 10th, FP2 - 12th

“It hasn’t been as productive a day as we would have liked as the rain restricted our running. Our focus is on Saturday and the forecast says no rain, so there was nothing for us to learn running in the wet. We had a good first session running on the soft tyre and will take the data we have from that. Free practice on Saturday morning will be important to get the car set-up correctly.”

Valtteri Bottas
FP1 - 17th, FP2 - 13th

“We struggled to get the soft tyre working at its optimum and missed the chance to try the supersoft due to the weather, but that is the same for everyone. We have a lot of work to do to make sure tyre temperatures are correct but have little data to go from. It was a tough day with the weather but it’s the same situation for everyone in the pit lane.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“It was a bit of a truncated session because of the rain so we’ve missed out on valuable time to learn about the track and our set-up, but this is the same for everyone and is something you just have to get on with and adapt to. Hopefully FP3 will allow us to complete our set-up work. We managed to work through some of the things we wanted from a technical perspective, but practice in Monaco is normally about getting the drivers on the circuit and feeling comfortable. We have a bit of work to do to understand the balance of the car and how to manage the tyres, and we now have an extra day before we are next on track to work on these areas.”

Sauber

Marcus Ericsson
FP1 - 18th, FP2 - no time

“In the morning session the concern was on the set-up side. We were not able to complete as many laps as I would have liked. But the kilometres that we drove took us forward from run to run with regard to the speed and confidence in the Sauber C34-Ferrari. At the beginning of the afternoon session an ERS problem occurred and, therefore, the second free practice session was over for me. That's a shame, but the disadvantage is very limited due to the rain - anyway not many laps would have been possible. I am still looking forward to the weekend.”

Felipe Nasr
FP1 - 16th, FP2 - 17th

“It was not an easy day for us. In the morning it was difficult to get the front tyres to work properly. This was influenced by cooler temperatures and also a lack of downforce. In FP2 we did a couple of laps before the rain started. We identified that our main limitation at the moment is not a lot of traction. We need to improve that for Saturday.”

Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen
FP1 - 8th, FP2 - 4th

“The feeling with the car today was pretty ok, obviously there are some small issues but they are more related to the tyres: it’s difficult to make them warm up, especially the front tyres, but overall it’s not too bad. In order to get the tyres working, it would have been nice to see how the supersofts work, anyway I think they are much easier. Due to the rain we couldn’t learn as much I wanted, but it was the same for everybody. We did the most that we could in these conditions. For Saturday we have to see how the weather will be, we still have some work to do on the car and make sure the tyres work well, then we’ll go from there and do the best in qualifying and in the race.”

Sebastian Vettel
FP1 - 4th, FP2 - 3rd

“When it rains it’s the same for everyone, you don’t tend to run. Today the car felt ok, we wanted to test a couple more things but time went out. We have to wait and see until Saturday to understand more and we’ll only find out on Sunday how close we are to Mercedes. I think we can’t take Monaco as a reference, it’s for the nature of the track that everybody is a bit closer, but for sure I hope to reduce the gap even more. This is why everybody went out in the end of the session. There was no reason to do more laps, we don’t have unlimited tyres and if the rain comes again we need them, even if the forecast looks dry. It‘s a shame we could not get an idea on the supersoft tyres but I think we will see on Saturday.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo
FP1 - 3rd, FP2 - 16th

“The car felt good today, I think we’re more or less where we need to be and on the right track. With each passing race, we are managing issues better and if we put a good lap in for quali, we’ll hopefully be in a good position. I think some teams are catching up to Ferrari but it will still require a big effort to get in front of them. But hopefully we can get ahead of the Williams. We’ll see how we go on Saturday.”

Daniil Kvyat
FP1 - 7th, FP2 - 5th

“The car felt alright today and we are heading in a good direction I think; I did a couple of good times. Monaco is a unique track, a bit unusual and I think the package we have is working well so far. We had a limited run in second practice because of the rain, but we were able to get enough laps in the wet to get a feel for how the car handles. The re-surfacing has made the track slightly smoother and changes to the swimming pool entry are good. We have the day off tomorrow here and we’ll start again on Saturday with better weather hopefully.”

Lotus

Romain Grosjean
FP1 - 13th, FP2 - 10th

“We had a good day. Pastor was happy this morning, I was more happy with the car this afternoon. It’s a track where you really need to drive to find the best set up and we made some good progress today so I’m happy with that. Of course the rain in the afternoon wasn’t ideal to evaluate the super soft tyres but we’re going to do that on Saturday morning. Preparing for qualifying tends to be the focus at this race; no one did a long run today but I don’t think it’s very important to do one here. Saturday morning will be about prepping qualifying again and having two sets of super softs will be good!”

Pastor Maldonado
FP1 - 6th, FP2 - 14th

“The car didn’t go badly today, maybe even better than we expected. Of course, the track improves a lot lap by lap so it’s difficult to determine where you are exactly, but it was a good day even if we were interrupted by the rain in the afternoon. This meant we didn’t get time to run with the super softs, but I think we should have time on Saturday morning and it will be interesting to see how the car reacts to the softer compound. Of course, qualifying in Monaco is always very important so we’ll do our best to get the car where we want it for then.”

Nick Chester, Technical Director

“We had quite a good first session with Pastor going sixth quickest. He was happy with the car this morning, whereas Romain wasn’t quite content with the grip and balance of the car. There were some changes made over the break and Romain was happier in FP2 as a result. Pastor never really got a good lap in the second session due to traffic and so didn’t show his speed. We’re satisfied with how the cars are going and I think come Saturday with some decent runs, they should get nicely up the timesheets for qualifying.”

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, Motorsport Director

“We had very little meaningful running today, which means that our new supersoft tyres will be run properly for the first time during Saturday morning’s session. This is clearly going to be a crucial hour when it comes to determining race set-up and strategy. While it’s hard to extrapolate much data from today, the new surface should have the effect of decreasing wear and degradation still further, on what is already the least strenuous track for tyres of the year. This should make a one-stop strategy entirely achievable, although some teams may try to gain an advantage by doing something different. Most of all, I feel sorry for the fans today who sat through a lot of rain for very little action. With such a small amount of data for the teams to fall back on though, it’s more likely that we will see an unpredictable qualifying and race over the weekend. Before then, we’re looking forward to demonstrating a new GP2 tyre concept tomorrow, which underlines our capacity to produce a variety of different tyre solutions to meet any request.”

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg
FP1 - 15th, FP2 - 9th

“I think the morning session was pretty straightforward and the one from which we can draw the most positives. I could only manage one run in the afternoon before the rain came and it would have made little sense to run given that the rest of the weekend will have very different conditions. It’s a logical decision for the team, but it’s a shame for the fans as they didn’t get to see much running in FP2. We still managed to go through most of our preparation work that we would normally do on a Friday: there is room for improvement with our set-up, but we still have time ahead of qualifying.”

Sergio Perez
FP1 - 14th, FP2 - 11th

“We achieved even more than we expected this morning and managed to include some long runs in our programme. We did some experimentation with our tyres and, although the track conditions were not ideal, we decided to try some higher fuel runs. We learnt a lot this morning and we were quite optimistic about the afternoon session, but unfortunately the rain cut the amount of running we could do. We couldn’t do all of the tyre testing we hoped for, but we should be able to do that in FP3 and have enough time to study the data ahead of qualifying. What matters is that the car is giving me the confidence to push it hard, which is really important around a place like Monaco.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

“Rain always affects proceedings, but even more so when the forecast for the race is dry: it would have made little sense to go out and risk damage in order to get data of little significance. Both drivers are quite happy with the initial balance of the car and we were able to plan our session to give them as much track time as possible, which is crucial to build their confidence around this track. Given the reduced amount of running in the afternoon session, the bulk of our work was done in the morning: we managed to complete our planned programme with no interruptions, getting some good mileage and information. We knew of the likelihood of rain disrupting FP2, so we included a few runs on high fuel in the morning session, which was a decision that paid off.”

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen
FP1 - 2nd, FP2 - 7th

“It was a good day today. I built it up slowly in the first practice because it was all new for me, but I felt really good in the car immediately. This gave me a lot of confidence and to finish the morning session in P2 made me feel great! In the afternoon it was a bit of a shame that it rained, as we couldn’t complete as many laps as we wanted, but to still finish in P7 is not bad, I can be happy with my first day driving here in Monaco.”

Carlos Sainz
FP1 - 5th, FP2 - 6th

“I enjoyed it today and had a lot of fun out there! The first time driving a Formula 1 car in Monaco is always special and something I had been dreaming for many years. In terms of performance, we were not too bad and maybe even better than where I expected to be on my first day here. But it’s still early days and we don’t really know what the others have done. It was a shame that we couldn’t do more laps in FP2 due to the rain, because this is very important for a rookie driver like me but, all in all, the car feels good and I feel confident.”

Phil Charles, Chief Race Engineer

“A pretty good first day for us here in Monaco, we can be satisfied. Both drivers settled in here really well. We can’t forget that neither of them had driven a Formula 1 car here before and this is a super difficult circuit to come to for a first time and do well straight away! We’re really pleased with both Carlos and Max, they took the right approach, starting off with a little margin and building themselves up through the sessions. We can definitely say that today’s been very positive for us, the car seems to be working okay and as usual we will do our homework and build on all the positives. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to do our long runs in FP2 because of the rain so it will be a bit of a tricky Sunday without that information, but we will work on this tonight and make sure we are well-prepared for the rest of the weekend ahead.”

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton
FP1 - 1st, FP2 - 1st

"I had a great first day here. Every year, it stuns me how fast we have to think out there, with so much information coming at you, and you have to be more reactive and agile than anywhere else. The target is always to get on the pace as quick as you can and to be very specific and precise in the set-up changes you make, so you don't go down the wrong path. The balance today was not far off, so we have been tuning that with our programme, and there are still some areas to improve on. When it rained, we didn't need to take any risks so stayed in the garage, but the lap I did at the end showed that the black paint covering the white lines is even more slippery than the lines themselves! Now we need to work well tomorrow, make the right steps forward with the car, and pick up on Saturday where we left off today."

Nico Rosberg
FP1 - 9th, FP2 - 2nd

"It's great to be back at this legendary circuit, the car felt great. Monaco is the highlight of the year for me. We are very quick here again, so I'm quite confident for this weekend. I didn't get it all together today, I had a lot traffic, so the next practice session on Saturday morning will be very important."

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"It was a pretty satisfying first day here in Monaco, in unusually cool and then wet conditions. Lewis settled into his rhythm quickly and looked really confident out there today, topping both sessions. Nico had a good day too, running a little ahead of everybody else in FP1 and brushing the wall, which put him down the timesheets as the track improved - and then setting competitive times in FP2. The car is working well but there are still areas for us to improve before Saturday. There is a day's break in running but it will be busy tomorrow as we complete our preparations for the business end of the weekend. It will be an intense battle between both drivers and with our rivals. We're looking forward to it."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
"It was a fairly trouble-free day and a solid start to the weekend. The rain for the majority of the second session reduced our planned running but nevertheless we covered all we needed to do today apart from running the Super Soft tyre. The conditions were a bit cooler than we expect over the weekend and this made it extremely hard to get the harder Prime tyre to work. Nico was slightly affected by a small brush with the barrier at Tabac which caused some slight damage to the rear right wheel. We made some precautionary changes to the front suspension between the sessions but fortunately everything looked fine with the car. Overall, we're happy with the pace of the car so far, but the changeable conditions today mean we still have a lot of work to do in the final practice session on Saturday to perfect the setup for qualifying."

McLaren

Fernando Alonso
FP1 - 11th, FP2 - 8th

"I always enjoy driving around Monaco, especially in dry conditions, when you can really get close to the barriers: the rush of adrenaline is intense. Nonetheless, you never feel comfortable here - you have to drive the car on the very limit; you're close to the barriers, which is difficult for everyone. 

"Today, we got very little running on the Supersoft, but hopefully we can take advantage of that on Saturday, when everyone will get limited running on the softer tyre. That should help level the playing field. Then, if it's dry on Sunday, it's going to be a one-stop race, for sure. Our chassis is responding well, so hopefully we can take a step forwards on Saturday. However, as we've seen before, everybody seems to improve in qualifying. Saturday is when you have to deliver a magic lap - so I'll be trying my very best."

Jenson Button
FP1 - 12th, FP2 - 15th

"I lost quite a bit of running time in FP1, which was a shame, but it is what it is. Then, in FP2, I had a brake temperature issue, which cut another of my runs short. In terms of balance, the car feel all right - but there are areas where we know we can improve, so things aren't too bad. In the wet, however, I had a few problems - I couldn't generate enough temperature in the tyres, so we need to look into that. Tyre warm-up in general is pretty tricky here - even on the Primes, it normally takes four or five laps, and the quickest lap of the run tends to be the last one.

"Looking at the re-profiling they've done ahead of this year's race, I don't like Tabac as much as before. They've made it tighter now, whereas it used to have a nice flow to it. Mind you, I've been taking that particular corner for 15 years, so the change catches you unawares a little bit. The first part of the Swimming Pool is a bit faster, and it helps to stop you drifting wide into the exit barrier on the left. Saturday morning will be crucial for everyone, because it'll be the first time we've properly sampled the Option tyre. It's the same for everybody, so it doesn't really matter."

Eric Boullier, Racing director, McLaren-Honda

"As everyone knows, getting your eye in during Thursday practice is crucial for the drivers, and, unfortunately, we weren't able to give Jenson that opportunity today. He missed the first half of running during FP1, and was hit by a couple of niggling problems during both sessions, so he probably didn't get enough laps under his belt to establish a proper rhythm.

"Fernando made good progress in both sessions, and his pace looked promising when running in both wet and damp conditions. It's impossible to get an accurate read on overall pace until everyone samples the Supersoft tyre, but this has been a promising start to our Monaco weekend."

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

"In the time between the test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last week, and the start of the Monaco Grand Prix, we've been focusing on improving the driveability data of the power units. The plan today was to use the two practice sessions to test the power-assist and throttle response to power output, but unfortunately we were unable to complete the programme due to the wet conditions in FP2. Saturday's FP3 will now be a busy and important session, when we plan to test the remaining items.

"As for qualifying, we aim to improve the low- to mid-speed driveability further to match the circuit. Time is of the essence, so we'll do our best."