Valencia: Friday European GP Press Conference
Team principals: Aldo Costa (Ferrari), Colin Kolles (HRT), Vijay Mallya (Force India) and Peter Sauber (BMW Sauber).
Q: A question to you all about the recent decisions of the World Motor Sport Council; how they might affect your team, your particular thoughts on Pirelli or adjustable rear wings.
Colin Kolles: Well, obviously this has all been discussed in the FOTA meetings and we basically agreed on these modifications and also to the new tire supplier, so we are happy with it.
Q: Is there anything in particular which will affect your team? Are you worried about the 107 per cent rule or anything like that?
CK: I donâ€™t think we will be worried next year about the 107 per cent rule anymore. This year we are more afraid about the 107 per cent rule. I think it is the right decision to go with Pirelli, we were always in favor of Pirelli.
Q: And the movable rear wing?
CK: The more changes the better for a new team. I see it like this, to have maybe innovative ideas with the right people in the team.
Peter Sauber: About the tires?
Q: About anything. You can talk about anything, even BMW Sauber if you like.
PS: I speak about the tires. I think it is a good solution for Formula One. I am confident that they will do a good job. KERS, I think on the one hand, it is important for Formula One to use future technologies. On the other hand it makes the car more complicated and more expensive.
Q: So you are not necessarily in favor of KERS?
PS: I think the faster solution will be the better one. And the rear wing itâ€™s a kind of miracle for me and please ask me again after the first three races next season.
Q: It is interesting to see the number of new ideas to help overtaking.
PS: I think maybe it is a good idea for overtaking, but I think we have different opinions from the technicians.
Q: Doctor Mallya?
Vijay Mallya: I have the proud privilege to be a member of the World Council as well and as Team Principal of Force India. I am obviously involved with FOTA as well as the F1 Commission. I think that everything is discussed comprehensively first by FOTA, then at the F1 Commission level before it gets to the World Council, so at the World Council level these changes were voted in without any problem whatsoever. I think the FIA is focused on making the sport more exciting, to promote overtaking on one hand, maintaining and improving safety on the other hand, reducing costs which is a stated objective to make Formula One even more commercially viable and I would go along with these changes except that I would caution against repeated changes going forward. I think right now that we have a package that is to the satisfaction of all the participating teams.
Aldo Costa: From my side I think the World Council voted for solutions that have been studied for a long time, a lot of work has been done by FOTA teams and a lot of the job has been done by the Technical Working Group. I think we achieved quite a lot of interesting innovation in Formula One. One point that no-one is underling but for me the safety aspect is important. The chassis with several little modifications would be safer for next year. The FIA as usual and the teams have looked at last year and this yearâ€™s crashes and, as usual, reacted on that making the chassis safer. We will have the front part of the chassis more robust, the roll loop more robust, the side protection of the chassis more robust. Underneath the chassis in the driver area. The driver will be more protected, so all very positive aspects. KERS, we spoke about already last time here. Ferrari is in favor of KERS. Ferrari would like to do more about KERS but unfortunately the rule that we had last year will be the rule of 2011 which is for us a shame. In terms of aerodynamic change we will have a substantial reduction of downforce without the double diffuser that for us was never a legal option. We will simplify and clarify all the rear wing elemental stuff which I think will be good for the clarity of the rule itself. We will have the introduction of the new adjustable rear wing. I have the same mixed feeling like Mr. Sauber. It is a completely new element. We have not tested it. We have studied very, very little about it. We are going with it next year, so we will see after a few races. Anyway it is a movable option, so the FIA and the teams can always decide to stop it in case it is not good enough or not good for some reason. All in all I think we have done quite a good movement (inaudible word) a rule which is safer, clearer in terms of definition and again trying, a genuine attempt to improve the show.
Q: Colin, what about reliability, progress with the team. How do you feel you are coming along?
CK: Well, regarding reliability we still have some issues on the rear end. We are trying to sort this out obviously. Xtrac is pushing to find solutions. We experienced today in free practice on both cars rear end problems. I hope we will be fine for the weekend but obviously this is not satisfactory. In terms of progress obviously the team is making progress because we were just like a puzzle in Bahrain which was not really structured, so it has a proper structure now and we have a plan for next year how to move forward and I hope we will be successful with this.
Q: At one point there was some story about the financial situation of the team. Is that all settled down now?
CK: The story which you read was actually corrected one hour after the release because it was a wrong quote taken out of context. Obviously you have to look in a Formula One team every day how you find more sponsorship and how you survive. I think our situation is not better or worse than any of the smaller teams.
Q: Peter, you have had a rotten start to the season. It seems to have gone on and on. Can you see light at the end of the tunnel?
PS: First you have to solve the problem with the reliability, especially on the engine side. We have had a lot of engine failures, but, nevertheless, our co-operation with Ferrari is very good. Both parties are investigating the problems and are working hard to solve them.
Q: When it comes to other teams, what other teams are you looking at as your major rivals at the moment?
PS: I think it is Toro Rosso, maybe Williams. We are not close to Force India. At the moment they are far away. Thatâ€™s the rivals.
Q: Doctor Mallya, equally tremendous performance from your team of late.
VM: Yes, you know it has been almost an evolution. When I acquired the team the performance wasnâ€™t anything other than running around as back markers, so we put together a program with a clear vision that in 2009 we should score some points. We did score some points but we were very lucky to land a podium at Spa. The objective for 2010 was to be a regular points scoring team, meaning running and finishing within the top 10. I think we are pretty much on track. I think we could have had a little bit of better luck in a couple of races but notwithstanding that I think we have 35 points, certainly more than this team has had in a decade. We are clearly capable of being in the top 10. We are racing Renault and Mercedes which is a nice position to be and we hope to keep improving. We havenâ€™t stopped our development on the 2010 car. We will continue that as we want to score as many points as we possibly can this year. As I said next year we hope to target some podium finishes, particularly since the 2011 Indian Grand Prix is now looking like a reality. Nothing would give us more pleasure to be able to have a podium finish at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix.
Q: Give us some idea of the progress being made in India. How is that coming along?
VM: This is a very substantial group. It is called the JP Group. They are very large real-estate developers and infrastructure developers. They have got a huge tract of land and they are building sport city. On element of the sport city is the Formula One track. It is being designed by Mr. Tilke who I think has several of the newer Formula One tracks to his credit. I bumped into him today when I was coming into the paddock and he said everything was on track. We have seen pictures, photographs, and there is some real progress, so now I can safely say that I am personally convinced that the track will be built. It will be completed and that there will be the inaugural grand prix next year.
Q: Aldo, first of all, looking back at Montreal where the team was pretty convinced it could have won, are you winners? Are you now in a position to win on various different types of circuit like here, or Silverstone?
AC: I would like to have the possibility to answer you in a certain way. Unfortunately, we donâ€™t know. We are pushing a lot, we are very, very motivated. We brought a lot of improvements here, more for Silverstone, more in Germany, so we are pushing very, very hard. Canada could have been a very, very good race for us, but for a few circumstances, it wasnâ€™t as great as it could have been. So we are convinced that we can get to the position we like.
Q: Give us some idea of the modifications that youâ€™ve brought here, because the back end of the car is quite substantially modified, I believe?
AC: Yeah. Not only the back of the car but also the bodywork itself, so we have got a new radiator system in terms of the shape and concept, so thereâ€™s new bodywork. And the exhaust layout is completely different and the back of the car, as you said - floor, suspension - there are improvements as well in the middle part of the car.
Today was a very intense day because we had to do a massive amount of checks and a lot of kilometers. We solved some issues in free practice one, very, very quickly and in free practice two we were running OK. Felipe spun but this is the game. So everything in FP2 was OK.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix Special) Luca di Montezemolo has been talking a lot about third cars. Can I have your views on third cars; from the Ferrari point of view, how easy it is to do it, and from everybody else based on whether you think itâ€™s a good idea, strategically, for Formula One?
CK: For me, two (cars) are enough. We wouldnâ€™t do three cars. I think doing three cars is more for the top teams. We are not in a position to run three cars.
PS: Now we are twelve teams, I donâ€™t think itâ€™s necessary to bring three cars. If you go down to seven teams, it could be necessary.
VM: Iâ€™m obviously concerned with the number of cars on the grid. At certain tracks, I personally feel that the number of cars we currently have are perhaps a tad too much, or too many. But Iâ€™m not opposed to the idea of a third car at all. The incremental cost of building and running a third car is not that great, so if the need arises, weâ€™re quite happy to do it.
AC: I donâ€™t know what to comment, really. I think Mr. Montezemoloâ€™s proposal was done in case there were not many cars on the grid, so big teams would have been available to run three cars. Thatâ€™s what he thinks. Iâ€™m convinced that with a good notice period we can do it, not this year. It would not be possible for us to run three cars, not even next year, because with the current resource restrictions we are running with minimal spares, with very few chassis. I think all teams will be obliged to do that, so overnight we could not run a third car. If we were well programmed, yes, we are keen and available.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix Special) Just to follow up on that, the FIA made a statement about licenses for leading members of teams. How do you feel about being licensed to the FIA, and Vijay, how do you feel about licensing yourself?
VM: I was part of the discussion at the World Council on the whole issue of licensing. I think this has all come about arising out of some recent judgments whether the FIA has authority to impose penalties on people involved in Formula One. If they are licensed by the FIA, then the FIA has some jurisdictional control.
We do nothing wrong, we come here to race, we race cleanly, we race according to the sporting regulations. I donâ€™t care if I have to be licensed, Iâ€™m quite happy to be licensed.
AC: I do not have a strong opinion on this.
CK: To be honest with you, if the FIA decides I have to be licensed Iâ€™m happy with that. I have no issue.
PS: Yeah, the same for me.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix Special) Thereâ€™s been a lot of movement of technical staff recently. Aldo, youâ€™ve hired a deputy technical director (Pat Fry). Can you tell me what a deputy technical director actually does and is there any truth to the rumors that Nikolas Tombazis is going somewhere else?
AC: When we knew that Pat was free and was looking around for a new challenge, we spoke with him and with other teams as well, because from what we knew, he had quite a lot of contacts and we arrived at a final agreement which for me was very, very good. Pat has got huge experience and I think he can join us and help us to have a stronger team. Heâ€™s not coming to replace anyone, so itâ€™s not true that Nikolas will leave. Nikolas is a great asset of Ferrari and we want him to stay with us. So he will join the group and we will re-distribute the job between myself and my first level of engineers, having the possibility, with one more person, probably to follow the technical development in a wider and deeper way with the group of senators.
Q: (Gaetan Vigneron - RTBF) Vijay, following on from that, looking from the outside, in the last few weeks you have lost quite a few people on the technical side in your team. It might look a little bit worrying, so what is the reality and whatâ€™s your point of view on that?
VM: You know, the Formula One team is not the only organization that I run. I have several organizations across the UB Group and my mantra is very clear: nobody is indispensible. Having said that, if people decide to leave and join another team, they are welcome and free to do so and we will find suitable and equally competent individuals to replace them. Itâ€™s ironical that most of them are headed to one particular team. I wish them luck.
Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) Dr Mallya, you spoke about the Indian Grand Prix next year; you have the Indian team, the man behind you has the Indian driver. How long will we have to wait for an Indian driver in an Indian team?
VM: Letâ€™s be clear; motor sport is not that advanced in India for a variety of reasons, to throw up drivers who would ultimately reach Formula One. We have drivers - Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandhok, and a couple of others, Armaan (Ebrahim), and thereâ€™s a boy called Patel - theyâ€™re talented drivers. Now I must decide whether they suit my requirements in Force India Formula One or not. I have been very fair, Iâ€™ve given at least one of them the opportunity in the driving simulator and I put four drivers in and I selected the best one of the lot which happened to be Paul di Resta, so it isnâ€™t as if Iâ€™ve got a shut mind here. But Iâ€™ve got to start looking for somebody really young, and as I have said to you before and to many others, amongst 1.2 billion people thereâ€™s got to be a Lewis Hamilton somewhere. Itâ€™s like trying to pick a needle from a haystack, but we are now going to launch a nationwide program in India to identify young talent and this is a pretty complex exercise. It involves several karting tracks all over the country, a whole organized method of getting people to enter, a competitive environment, a competitive program and then we will probably take those with exceptional talent, bring them to either England or Europe, pay for them, pay for their education, pay for their karting and literally mentor them through until they can sit in a Formula One cockpit, and we are absolutely committed to do that.
Q: (Alan Baldwin - Reuters) Is that going to be a Force India driver academy, a young driver academy of some sort?
VM: Absolutely, absolutely yes.
Q: (Gaetan Vigneron - RTBF) For all of you: are you watching the GP2 races and what does a GP2 driver eventually have to do to attract your attention and to be in your team eventually next year?
CK: Iâ€™m not watching only GP2 races, Iâ€™m also watching F3 races and other categories. Thereâ€™s always a talent around. Sebastian Vettel drove in my Formula Three car when he was 15. He never drove GP2, so you have to look not only at GP2.
AC: As you know, Ferrari has started the activity on a driver academy and actually one of the GP2 drivers, Jules Bianchi, is one of our drivers, so we look at GP2 pretty closely. We are pretty close to Jules as well.
VM: Yes, I do watch GP2 and clearly there are several drivers from GP2 who have graduated into Formula One, so thatâ€™s obviously a pool thatâ€™s available to chose from. But once again, Iâ€™ve got a pretty good line-up of drivers now. Iâ€™m quite happy with them. Theyâ€™re not at the end of their careers, in fact they are at the prime of their careers. But Iâ€™d rather identify a good Indian going forward but if the need arises, then obviously GP2 or F3 is probably the most popular hunting ground, isnâ€™t it.
PS: Yes, of course, we follow most series: GP2 and GP3, but itâ€™s not so important for us because we have a rookie in Kamui (Kobayashi) and one is enough.
Lewis Hamilton (5th, 1:39.749): "The first session looked quite good for us. But it was always going to be interesting to see how quickly the blown-diffuser cars could get up to speed - and they looked very competitive this afternoon, particularly over a single lap. And the grip they appear to have through the high-speed stuff could make them difficult for us to touch. Nevertheless, I still think our race pace will be good, and we'll keep pushing: this weekend is all about us taking as much as we can from the blown-diffuser cars while they have an advantage. As for the small misunderstanding with Michael [Schumacher], well, it's always difficult to find a gap out there. I saw him ahead of me and I thought he was on a quick lap - then, all of a sudden, he slowed down to create a gap from the guy in front. Around here, it's all about managing the gap between the guy in front and the guy behind. Fortunately, I missed him, so no hard feelings - and I hear he apologized anyway, so it's all good. There's no problem. Everyone's always backing up here at the final corner, so it's a bit like Monaco in that sense. And it shows just how tricky it will be to find a gap in qualifying."
Jenson Button (9th, 1:40.029): "It's hard to get a balance around this circuit, but we changed it throughout P2 and the car feels pretty good now. Our long run was quite promising, too - we were perhaps a little over-cautious at the beginning, so I was able to push at the end. I'm reasonably happy, but there are a lot of quick cars out there. The Ferraris look very fast; so do the Red Bulls, Renaults and Mercedes. But that's because teams bring out upgrade packages at different points during the season, and we don't have an upgrade for here, and many teams do. Anyway, it evens out over the season but we've just got to fight it out here and get the best out of what we've got. This is a car we know, so we'll tweak it and try to make sure we don't make any mistakes this weekend. It's going to be a tough weekend for us, but an enjoyable one too, and we should still get some good points from it."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Today we saw just how relentless the development race has become in Formula 1, with several cars appearing to take a step forward in pace by adopting a blown diffuser and showing, particularly this afternoon, that it seemingly offers a useful performance advantage. As we've already said, we don't have any significant upgrades for this race, so the weekend will be more about pushing to maximize the potential of the package we currently have, minimizing our mistakes and pushing hard at every opportunity to score the most possible points on Sunday."
Nico Rosberg (4th, 1:39.650): "We've had a productive day and I am feeling comfortable in the car although the tires were a challenge again with graining and various issues. The option didn't seem to work well but it was the same for everyone and we made the most of it. The team has done a good job on our upgrades and I'm sure that they have improved our competitiveness. We have a few bits and pieces to resolve overnight but we are on the right track which is nice to see. We know that our race pace is better than our qualifying performance at the moment so if we can get our qualifying right, we should make good progress this weekend."
Michael Schumacher (11th, 1:40.287): "It was exciting to drive the track for the first time today, probably even to a bigger extent than I had anticipated yesterday after checking it. So this morning for me was mostly about getting a feeling for the track. You need to get used to it but I found it quite comfortable to drive even if some of the corners are blind. However it's demanding to get the real rhythm which I have not totally found over one lap yet. The long runs went okay and all in all it was not too bad today, depending on the fuel loads obviously which we need to look into more deeply now. Regarding Lewis, I must apologies as I did not see him and was not informed that he was there. As I was planning my lap at that moment and looking ahead, I was unfortunately in his way."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We had a great deal of work to achieve today with our new developments and it was essential that the cars ran reliably to give us as much track time as possible. Therefore I'm very pleased that this was the case and we have been able to carry out our planned program. It's a good start to the weekend but as always, there is a long way to go and we have a few issues to get to grips with overnight before qualifying. From our experiences in Canada, we know that we have to qualify well to avoid compromising our race performance so that will be the focus of our attention this evening and tomorrow morning."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Today was not a bad start to the weekend with our heavily upgraded car which the team has worked very hard on over the last couple of weeks. I would really like to thank them for their relentless efforts. With low fuel, our lap times could have been quicker today however Nico and Michael both had traffic on their fastest laps, as happened to other drivers. Our lap times in race trim with very heavy fuel loads have been quick and consistent today. If everything comes together as planned, Nico and Michael will be able to show in qualifying and on Sunday during the race that we have made a step forward."
Sebastian Vettel (2nd, 1:39.339): "Overall a good day, we did a lot of laps, we didn't have any problem with the car so we could follow our program like it should be on a Friday. We need to see if we keep the F-duct in the car, we need to confirm that, but all in all I think the pace was promising today considering this shouldn't be our strongest track. We did a step forward with the whole car - it was a good day for us."
Mark Webber (3rd, 1:39.427): "We had a good Friday program with no interruptions and evaluated the tires and the F-duct which we will look into tonight - as we all know it's not without its challenges getting that thing working. The track changed a lot this afternoon, the conditions were moving around a bit. But a very productive day for us: the car ran faultlessly and was pretty comfortable so looking forward to tomorrow."
Fernando Alonso (1st, 1:39.283): "Here, as in Montreal, our car seems to work well, even if it's difficult to make a direct comparison, given that the track surface is very different and that one needs a bit more aerodynamic downforce. Together with Felipe, we worked on the development of new technical solutions, but it is hard to say how much we have improved compared to the others. The F10 has turned out to be easy to drive and competitive in every situation, both with low and high fuel loads, but it is too early to say where we are: this morning, the McLarens were very quick, the Red Bulls are always on front running pace and even Mercedes and Renault are very close. However, our only aim is to be ahead of everyone, otherwise we wouldn't be Ferrari."
Felipe Massa (7th, 1:39.947): "The track was very dirty, which makes it difficult to understand exactly how much the new parts which we used for the first time today have improved the performance of the car. I never managed to get a clean lap when I was on new tires with low fuel and this explains my position on the time sheet. Nevertheless, I am pleased with the handling of my car. I think we have made a step forward in performance terms and that we should be competitive this weekend: I hope I can fight for a place on the top rows. The spin? I hit a curb, spun and then I chose to brake to avoid hitting the wall: unfortunately the engine cut out and we now have to look into why the anti-stall did not work."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "I would say that our weekend has got off to a positive start, but it's too early to draw any real conclusion. From what we saw today, we are on the pace on a track that has some similarities to the one in Montreal. Now we have to analyze all the data gathered over these three hours, to be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and especially for the race. As usual, a good grid position will be vital, especially so here on a track where overtaking is very difficult."
Chris Dyer: "Today we had to carry out a very packed program to test the various new technical updates that we have brought here for the first time. We had a few minor problems this morning with Fernando, which cost a bit of time, while in the afternoon it was Felipe who lost out on half an hour's running time because of a spin. All the same, we were able to manage the situation and gathered all the data we wanted. We are reasonably pleased with what we have seen: at the moment there do not seem to be any reliability problems relating to the new configuration of the exhaust system and the F10 is pretty competitive. At this track, tire behavior seems more "normal" compared to Montreal: the hard ones are struggling to get up to temperature but improve lap after lap, while the softs are more consistent than they were in Canada."
Rubens Barrichello (10th, 1:40.174): "We had a pretty much straight forward day during which we tested various things and they seem to work better. It's the first time we've been in the top ten on a Friday; we can't read too much into that, but at least it tells us that we can be competitive. The main aim tomorrow is to get into Q3."
Nico Hulkenberg (17th, 1:41.371): "Quite a difficult Friday for me. P2 wasn't really to my liking. I struggled with the balance of the car and I didn't get a good lap on the option tire. We need to analyze the data now and hopefully hook it all together for a good qualifying tomorrow."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "That was a productive day for us. We ran a new blown rear wing design on both cars at various stages throughout the day and will now check the data to decide what to run tomorrow. We also tested some new aero and mechanical parts, all of which delivered positive results. In the background, we carried out our usual program of tire evaluations, cooling checks and brake testing, all of which went smoothly."
Robert Kubica (6th, 1:39.880): "It was a fairly normal Friday for us and we managed to do quite a lot of laps to understand the car and the new developments that we have for this race. It was quite easy to evaluate the new parts and I was able to feel the difference with the car. Track conditions were pretty good, overall: it was quite dusty to begin with, but things improved a lot during the day."
Vitaly Petrov (13th, 1:40.618): "I had driven here before in GP2, but today was my first experience of Valencia in an F1 car. Obviously it feels very different and I had to adapt my driving style. We had a lot of new parts to try out so the car felt quite different and I spent the sessions getting used to that and understanding the car's behavior. Overall the car felt okay, but we're still working on the set-up and will continue that tomorrow morning."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "For the first session the track was a little bit dirty and we saw the usual track evolution because nobody wanted to run early on. The track was a lot better in the afternoon: a bit warmer and much cleaner, so no real complaints about the conditions in the second session. We saw a lot of cars running off track today, but that's probably because they were pushing to the limit and making the most of the generous run-off areas, rather than it being down to the track conditions. The cars started the day aerodynamically very similar and both cars ran with the new blown floor. By the end of the day they were both running with a reasonably similar set-up, although Robert tried a different downforce level towards the end of the day, which he preferred. We will look at the data tonight to decide whether we will try it with Vitaly tomorrow. We had a good look at our new parts today, including our first iteration of the blown floor. The data was encouraging and it seems to be working as the wind tunnel and CFD predicted. We expect to continue running with our updates for the rest of the weekend."
Adrian Sutil (8th, 1:40.020): "I was only out in FP2 but it went well today, according to plan. I was happy with the balance straight away and didn't change so much over the session. The switchable rear wing is working very well now and it makes a real difference. The long run pace was also good so overall there were no real problems - quite a relaxing day! At this stage we can't predict exactly what will happen tomorrow, but based on our pace today I think we are strong here and I hope we can have the same positions we did in Montreal, or around that area - Q3 is definitely possible from what we've seen in practice."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (12th, 1:40.387): "Quite a good Friday for us. I used the opening session to learn the track: it's quite a strange circuit as there aren't too many corners, but it's quite technical and the curbs are a little strange as you have to find a very precise line. The car is responding well to changes and we seem to be pretty competitive on lower fuel. We've also got some good information on the SRW and it is working better than in Turkey. We just need to make a couple of small steps to adjust the balance but we are going in the right direction and I think we can improve a bit for tomorrow."
Paul di Resta: "It felt good to be back in the car after a while watching from the garage. Valencia was again a completely new track for me but it was relatively easy to learn as there's not so many corners - it's straights, then turn in. The grip was very low at the start and the track was dusty so we found, as I think a lot of the other drivers did as well, that the tires grained up very quickly. I could get up to speed quickly though, and completed the program we wanted. I feel I know the car behavior a lot more so I'm going forward with the schedule and coming back with results that can be fed back into the weekend, so I'm pretty happy with how it went."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "We completed our normal program on the basics during FP1 and 2 today, using Paul, Tonio and Adrian to cover the various items. There was quite a substantial improvement in the track condition during the sessions and all in all we're satisfied with the way the car was performing by the end of the afternoon. It looks set to continue to be warm and we now need to follow the evolution of the conditions and tires through the event to get the best result we can on Sunday."
Sebastien Buemi (16th, 1:41.115): "We had a trouble free day, which is always important, so I am happy with that. It was an interesting day, because between the morning and the afternoon, we saw the biggest improvement in lap time that we have had so far this season. That makes life quite difficult, because as the grip improved very quickly, you had to find the confidence to make use of it immediately, which is different to what we are used to. We have a reasonably good understanding of tire behavior after doing the long stint. Now we have to see where we can improve for tomorrow and overall the work we did today was not too bad."
Jaime Alguersuari (18th, 1:41.457): "In the morning we did a useful test on the brakes, however, I preferred the previous system, which we went back to for the afternoon, therefore, FP1 did not mean much, but as the track conditions improved a lot for the afternoon, that was not a problem. In FP2, the car felt quite good and I was getting a much better feeling with the brakes, which are very important here, because on this track you can gain a lot of time through your braking. It was particularly good on the long runs, so I am expecting a lot from tomorrow, as we improved the car significantly from the morning to the afternoon and there is the potential to improve still more."
Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer: "A trouble free day for both cars, which meant we were able to complete our entire work program: it was a mix of race preparation, while also looking at qualifying. As always here, the grip level was very low in the morning, followed by a very significant improvement in the second session. Now we have to study all the data we have gathered in order to try and improve our single lap performance for tomorrow's qualifying."
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:42.467): "I feel really good. It's been an excellent Friday. We've made really good progress with the car, and every set up change we made seemed to be pushing us in the right direction, and in the end the tires seemed to be working well over the long run. The track itself is good, it's nice - a semi street circuit, but with a little more room than Monaco! It's smooth, with quite a good grip level and all in all it's quite good fun. I did arrive late today because of the French strikes - we had to drive down from Geneva and arrived early this morning. But I feel fine - it's just one night with a little less sleep than usual, so it's no big deal. My physio Petri and I shared the driving, so I feel absolutely fine. For Qualifying tomorrow, we're going to try to push it to the maximum. Our aim is to get closer to the back of the established teams as much as we possibly can so I'm always pushing, always to the maximum, and let's see where we are tomorrow afternoon!"
Jarno Trulli (20th, 1:42.993): "It was a better day for me today after some of the luck I've been having. I had one or two gremlins, but it was a good day to shakedown the new chassis properly and make sure everything was working well. We got a good idea of where we want to be on the setup and the direction for Saturday and Sunday, so I think this was much better for me. On track there was good grip out there this afternoon, and the car felt good, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "I'll be in Spain tomorrow to join Clive Chapman, his family and the whole team to enjoy this momentous race. I wanted to come in today, but couldn't get a seat on AirAsiaX so I've had to jump on board one of the competition's planes to get me in, but I'm very excited about the weekend ahead, particularly after the very solid start today. It's been good to see our reliability return on both cars today, and I'm hopeful we can put in a good showing tomorrow and on Sunday."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "It was a good day for us. Obviously the first session was dominated by tires and the condition of the track, with a lot of graining on the fronts, but, as expected, the track cleaned up and we were able to get through the whole program with no real issues on either car. We've got a lot of data from today and I think we're where we expected to be, but I think there's more to come from the car, so I'm optimistic about our performance over the weekend."
Bruno Senna (23rd, 1:44.095): "The first session was difficult because of the track conditions. It was very slippery and therefore not easy to drive. But the grip level improved in the afternoon and the lap times got better. We could do our quickest lap on the option tires and now we have to focus on the qualifying."
Karun Chandhok (24th, 1:44.566): "It was quite a tricky day for us. The first two sectors were good but then we had a hydraulic problem in sector 3 on the option tire run and therefore no representative ultimate lap time for me. We will have to look at Bruno to judge our pace and it definitely looks like we could be in decent shape to compete with Virgin cars tomorrow. The tire degradation wasn't as bad as Montreal and the option tire was more consistent as expected. The track will improve a bit more tomorrow so hopefully we can have a productive third practice and prepare well for qualifying and race in front of our team's home crowd."
Christian Klien: "It was a new circuit for me and in the first laps I had to learn the track, which was very dusty in the beginning. But the conditions got better and I could improve my lap times. In the end, it is disappointing as I only could do 14 laps in my second session for Hispania Racing, HRT F1 Team. We had a gearbox problem on the car and that's why I had to stop before the end of the session."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "Today's results were not significant for us because we concentrated on our works for tomorrow and Sunday. In the morning session, Christian Klien had a gearbox problem and Bruno Senna a problem with a drive boot. As a precaution, we investigated the problem Christian had in the morning on Bruno's car and that's why Bruno started late into the second session. But at the end of practice two, we could already work on the program for tomorrow and for Sunday."
Kamui Kobayashi (14th, 1:40.906): "We completed a huge program today and everything went very well. With the new aero package we now have to work to get the balance right. It is getting reasonable, but we have to analyze the data and I'm sure there is more to come. In the morning I found the track less dirty than expected. However, in the morning tire degradation was an issue, but not anymore in the afternoon."
Pedro de la Rosa (15th, 1:40.945): "We made a lot of changes to the car during the day to prepare for tomorrow's qualifying. The main focus was to work on the braking performance to get the car stable under braking. Both tires worked quite well on the warm asphalt, and I don't expect anything like the issues we had in Canada. For me it was the first time driving on this track. It took me a few laps to learn it, especially the many braking points, but I quickly liked it."
James Key, Technical Director: "We had no technical problems with the cars today, which was good because we had two very busy sessions. We worked on adapting the set-up of the car to the new aero package. This is the first step to make the car easier to drive. Fundamentally we have found some directions we can follow for tomorrow, but we have to analyze all the data tonight and see what steps we can make. The consistency from lap to lap needs a bit of work. If we look at the sector times they don't really reflect the lap times, so we have to make sure the drivers can get the best out of the car over one lap. We made progress in some areas but we have work to do in others."
Timo Glock (21st, 1:43.811): "It has been a reasonable day for us apart from the gearbox problem that we had this afternoon. Apart from that the car didn't feel too bad. It's difficult to comment on our pace because I lost some time at the end of the session and didn't get my Option run, but in general I'm happy with the first laps of the weekend and we'll see how it goes tomorrow."
Lucas di Grassi (22nd, 1:43.854): "Today was a very good day and we achieved everything that we needed to from our program. We didn't experience any major problems, so I'm pleased with the work we have done so far and I'm looking forward to seeing how we can improve for tomorrow."
Nick Wirth, Technical Director: "Timo lost fifth gear in the middle of the second Free Practice session, which spoiled what was otherwise a very satisfying day. We really have been focusing on understanding our first major performance upgrade of the year and it seems to be giving us the sort of advantages we had seen in our research. The team has done a good job getting a solid body of knowledge around it, and I think we have enough data to get a good qualifying and race set-up. In theory the car should be better again when we start running low fuel, so I'm expecting to see some progress in qualifying tomorrow. Our attentions this evening will be focused on understanding the nature of Timo's gearbox failure and preparing the cars for what should be an interesting day tomorrow."
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