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In quotes - Friday in Japan

25 Sep 2015

Rain interrupted proceedings on the opening day at Suzuka, with several teams and drivers opting for restricted programmes given the difficult conditions. Those involved report back on the action...

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg
FP1 - No time, FP2 - 11th

"We didn't learn a huge amount today, although we did complete a couple of useful runs on the intermediate tyres this afternoon. Of course, if it's dry on Saturday and Sunday, the work we've done today is not going to be particularly useful. It's the same situation for everybody because we are all missing the dry tyre information we need to help us prepare for the weekend. However, we have run on the hard and medium compounds at other races and we've already got a good understanding of those tyres. If the weather does improve tomorrow we will probably run a bit more than usual in FP3 to try and make up for the lack of mileage today."

Sergio Perez
FP1 - No time, FP2 - 14th

"It was wet all day and so we didn't do a lot of laps, which means we are going into the weekend with quite a few question marks. We need to try and answer them tomorrow in final practice, but it's the same situation for everybody and we just have to make the best of it. At the moment we expect it to be dry tomorrow, but in Japan you never know for sure. If the rain does come back I think we've done enough learning today to have a good direction for our wet weather set-up."

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

"Conditions like today's make for difficult choices. The forecast for the rest of the weekend should be dry, but the weather in Suzuka is notoriously unpredictable, so we used the two sessions to do some work on the intermediate and wet tyres. This is a high tyre-energy circuit so it was important we could get information on those two compounds, but at the same time we had to limit our running to preserve enough sets to account for the possibility of a wet qualifying or race. A wet Friday also means we will have to reassess our priorities for the final session tomorrow morning. Our original programme for today included work on some test items and optimisation of our qualifying and race set-ups, but the latter will take priority tomorrow as we try and learn as much from the limited track time we have available."


Marcus Ericsson
FP1 - 9th, FP2 - 13th

"It was a difficult day because of the rainy weather conditions. We did some running on intermediate as well as wet tyres, from which we collected some useful information. For the rest of the weekend, according the weather forecast, the conditions seem to be dry."

Felipe Nasr
FP1 - 11th, FP2 - 9th

"Although we had wet conditions in both free practice sessions, I am still satisfied I was able to run a few laps. As it is a new circuit for me, it is important to learn it as quickly as possible. We were able to collect some data in the wet, which can be useful in the future for the next sessions. Tomorrow hopefully I will get a first taste of the track in dry conditions. This will be a different experience which I am looking forward to."

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz
FP1 - 1st, FP2 - 7th

"Overall it was a good day and there's a lot of positives to take from today. Even though it's been raining all day and we haven't been able to complete any laps in dry conditions, I managed to learn the track quickly and showed some good pace. To finish FP1 on top was also something special, as it's the first time I lead a Formula 1 practice session. The track is amazing, very challenging, and even more in the wet! I had a lot of fun out there and I hope we can continue like this the rest of the weekend."

Max Verstappen
FP1 - 6th, FP2 - 8th

"It's a shame that it's been raining all day, as it would've been good to spend more time out on track. However, we did some running in the wet and the car felt good. I think we learned quite a bit and have a lot of data that will be useful if it also rains on Sunday during the race. We know that normally we have a decent pace in the wet and it's always enjoyable to drive in these conditions. I'm now looking forward to tomorrow, when hopefully we will have some dry running and have lots of fun at this great track."

Phil Charles (Chief Race Engineer)

"This is another very difficult track for our two young drivers to take on: Max ran here last year in FP1 in the dry but neither have run here in the wet, or in fact have had that much wet running this year. So it was pleasing to see them both settling in well in wet conditions this morning. Carlos had a particularly strong session considering he has not run here before. Both drivers learnt the track in these difficult conditions quite quickly. They also managed to negotiate the rivers in sector 1 without any worry. Unfortunately the afternoon's FP2 session did not run as cleanly as FP1, with several small problems which curtailed running on both cars. Nonetheless we still ticked off a few boxes on the program list when we did run and we have gathered a bit more info on the Inter tyres. To that end, we know we have got a little bit of work to do with the car balance overnight if there is further wet running this weekend, mainly to improve the tyre management. It will be interesting to see how the drivers and car are in the dry."


Will Stevens
FP1 - No time, FP2 - 18th

"There isn't too much to say about today's running. It was frustrating that the weather intervened to the extent that it did; 9 laps doesn't translate into a great deal of information and we haven't really started to dial in the car at all to suit this track. It was great to see the fans out in force however. They seem pretty unruffled by the rain, so I hope they'll get to see a little more action tomorrow."

Alexander Rossi
FP1 - No time, FP2 - 19th

"It is what it is in terms of the weather, so although it's disappointing that I wasn't able to get my teeth into the programme, it's the same story up and down the pit lane. Hopefully there are a few breaks on the horizon during the rest of the weekend, and we'll look to tonight to work through a few possible scenarios to prepare for tomorrow."

John Booth, Team Principal

"One of those days where there was little to be gained from venturing out on track in what were very slippery conditions. It was important to establish how the drivers felt about the car in the brief drier windows, but there wasn't too much more that we could learn without the benefit of dry tyres. The forecast for the rest of the weekend is for mixed conditions, so we'll just have to see how the weather impacts on the remaining sessions ahead of race day, which provides perhaps our best hope of some sunshine."


Valtteri Bottas
FP1 - 10th, FP2 - No time

"It has been a tricky day for testing anything really. FP1 was productive though and we have found some improvements in the car performance in the changeable conditions. We wanted to save tyres in case it rains throughout the rest of the weekend and so chose to sit out of the final session. There is a lot of work to do tomorrow, but if it stays dry we will have a busy FP3 and can have a strong weekend."

Felipe Massa
FP1 - 8th, FP2 - 16th

"Both sessions were very wet today which meant we did little running. We worked on the set-up and how to improve our wet running, which seemed to go well. It wasn't the most useful of days but hopefully tomorrow is dry and we can start our programme for the weekend and prepare for the race."

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

"It was a reasonably quiet day. This morning's wet track gave us a chance to test the car and tyres in problem situations such as when the track is crossing over between the wet and intermediate tyre. Our tests were well-executed and we learnt a lot. The rest of the day was tougher and we now have a very busy FP3 to capture all the data ready for the race. Tomorrow looks to be dry at present, as does Sunday."


Pastor Maldonado
FP1 - No time, FP2 - 10th

"A wet Suzuka circuit is a fun place to be, but there's no point risking the car when there's not much to be learnt so most of the sessions were spend in the garage. We think the rest of the weekend will be dry, but the car felt pretty stable if we do see rain again."

Jolyon Palmer
FP1 - No time

"That was a pretty good first installation lap at Suzuka! Seriously, conditions were very slippery and there was no point risking the car which is why myself and Pastor just completed a single lap before parking for the rest of the session. Of course it's frustrating not to get more laps in, but you can't change the weather."

Romain Grosjean
FP2 - 15th

"We went out and validated that it was wet and slippery then I sat out most of the session as there's not much to be learn in conditions like we saw today. The car felt okay, but it's not the time to take risks. Tomorrow will be interesting as we think it should be dry, we have a lot of tyres available and a lot of work to be done."

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director

"It was a day of persistent rain at Suzuka so we only ran installation laps in the morning then a handful of laps in the afternoon. We used both the wet and intermediate tyres, but haven't touched our dry tyre allocation. The current prediction is for it to be dry for the rest of the weekend, but we're monitoring this closely. Both cars and all three drivers did everything they needed to today."


Lewis Hamilton
FP1 - 5th, FP2 - 3rd

"Today hasn’t been a good day for us in the paddock and for the fans that were sitting there all day in the rain waiting to see the cars. There is nothing we really learned today so everything needs to be done tomorrow. It is slippery, wet and there was also aquaplaning; not the most exciting conditions. We didn’t want to take too many risks today, as there is no point in damaging the car or the gearbox. It wasn’t a very productive day overall. I hope it is dry tomorrow, but we are prepared for all conditions."

Nico Rosberg
FP1 - 3rd, FP2 - 2nd

"The car felt good in the wet today, we were able to do some laps and find some good settings for wet conditions. But it's impossible to judge about the real performance level of the field in those conditions. We have to learn a lot in FP3 tomorrow morning because it should be dry Saturday and Sunday, but you never know in Japan."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

The weather has been terrible all day and a great shame for the fans as we haven’t done a lot of running today. We only ran the extreme wet and intermediate tyres, so we haven’t done any of our race preparation on the dry tyre. We’re hoping the rest of the weekend will be dry, so we’ll need to do a lot of testing during FP3 to prepare for qualifying and the race. We managed to complete some practice starts in both sessions and some running on both tyres to look at the balance of the car in the wet conditions. We’ve been running Nico’s engine that was contaminated in Monza, which seems to be working fine so far; a good discovery for the remainder of the season.


Sebastian Vettel
FP1 - 4th, FP2 - 5th

"We tried to do some laps but it was not so easy, because sometimes there was quite a lot of water on the track. In these conditions it's a lot up to the driver if he wants to continue or not, feeling the tyres and feeling the conditions. Also, the conditions not being consistent, it's not so easy to compare your car to other people's car. In general at the beginning I think we were not where we wanted to be, but maybe in the end we learned some lessons. Now let's see how the weather will be in the next couple of days."

Kimi Raikkonen
FP1 - 7th, FP2 - 6th

"Today the weather was not very good and the track conditions were a bit tricky. It's a shame for everybody but it was a day like any other for us: we did some running and tried to learn something. We have to wait until tomorrow and see how the weather comes out to be, it could be anything. We'll try to do a good job and make the best out of it."

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo
FP1 - No time, FP2 - 4th

"It was a little difficult to get temperature in the brakes, with the weather and the short runs, but not much else happened today. In the few laps we did, I think we got an understanding of the track conditions and if they remain the same for tomorrow, we know which direction we should take with the set-up. But it doesn't look like the weather will remain the same! In that case, we will have to work efficiently tomorrow to get the car set up and we won't have much time to change the balance once we get going but we will see how we go."

Daniil Kvyat
FP1 - 2nd, FP2 - 1st

"The conditions today were tricky. The track was slippery the more it drizzled and Suzuka is a narrow circuit and there are a few corners where the car had a tendency to aquaplane. We have work to do for tomorrow but I think we are ready. The chassis is handling well, cornering in the wet has always been strong for us but we don't know what the weather will be like tomorrow. For us it would be good if the rain continued, but we will see what happens."


Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“For the drivers and fans, it was a slightly frustrating and inconclusive pair of free practice sessions, but the weather certainly did not dampen the enthusiasm of the amazing Japanese public. The drivers got the chance to use both intermediate and wet tyres, which meant that teams were able to assess the crossover points: in other words the point at which it becomes quicker to switch from intermediate to full wet tyres and vice versa. The interrupted nature of these sessions today means that FP3 tomorrow will take on particular significance, as teams try to pack in as much dry running as they can in the single hour available before qualifying.”


Fernando Alonso
FP1 - No time, FP2 - 17th

“This wasn’t too much of an important day - the conditions for tomorrow and Sunday look to be dry, so today’s running probably wasn’t too representative. Nevertheless, we ran some reliability tests in order to try to understand the problems we experienced in Singapore.

“Now those checks are done, we’ll maximise our efforts ahead of FP3 tomorrow - that’ll be the only opportunity we’ll have before qualifying to push hard on a dry track.

“The support here this weekend has been fantastic. Suzuka is the home Grand Prix for Honda, and this is the best place in the world for fans. We have such a lot of support, so hopefully we can give them something back on Sunday.”

Jenson Button
FP1 - 12th, FP2 - 12th

“We had very limited running today, mainly just conducting systems checks and making sure the aero worked properly in the wet. In the afternoon, we did some PU work, too.

“The balance needs a bit of work, but we think it’s going to be dry for the rest of the weekend anyway.

“I was glad to see a lot of cars out there today - there were a lot of fans sat out in the pouring rain, so at least they got to see a bit of a show.”

Eric Boullier, racing director

“It’s difficult to make any clear assessments of our pace after such an inconclusive pair of practice sessions - particularly as neither Fernando nor Jenson ran representatively during the driest parts of each session.

“We know that this will be another challenging weekend, but we’re buoyed and heartened by the groundswell of support from an incredibly enthusiastic and passionate bunch of Japanese fans. Their innovative and creative ways of supporting and promoting McLaren-Honda is really breathtaking, and it’s given the whole team additional motivation for this race.

“For everybody out there in the rain, loyally waving a McLaren-Honda flag, wearing a McLaren-Honda T-shirt, or sporting a homemade McLaren-Honda DRS flap-adjustable helmet, you’re all part of the bigger McLaren-Honda family, and we’ll do our very best to give you something to cheer about this weekend.”

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

“The excitement to be racing again in Japan of course puts added pressure on our team. Unfortunately, the weather was not in the paddock's favour today, so throughout both FP1 and FP2 sessions, we were limited to just confirming the fundamental data of the power unit.

“We had a slight issue with Fernando's power unit at the end of FP1, which we believe to be fuel-related, but we decided to change the unit completely as we had little time to analyse before FP2. The details are still under investigation, but the quick decision-making and teamwork in the garage was admirable as usual.

“The weather is looking to improve for tomorrow, therefore we expect a very busy session during FP3 to set up the car. We will do our best to be ready for qualifying and the race.”