Belgium GP: Friday Press Conference, Team Quotes
TEAM PRINCIPALS: John BOOTH (Virgin), Ross BRAWN (Mercedes), Mike GASCOYNE (Lotus), Martin WHITMARSH (McLaren)
Q: A question to you all. This time of the year some people tend to wind down on the development of the current car, perhaps work more on the 2011 car. Some people less so as they are still in the championship. Can I just hear what your team's concentration is on for the rest of the season?
Mike GASCOYNE: For us it is very clear that we are fully focused on next year's car and have been for several months now. I think while it is still important for us to try and maintain 10th place in the championship I think the most important thing as one of the new teams is that we make that step and close the gap to the established teams and we are able to race them properly. I think just being on the grid for us was a huge achievement but you are only a new team once and we are not a new team next year, we are a Formula One team and we have to make sure that we are performing as one, so we very much switched our focus onto next year's car. It is quite an auspicious day for us. Today was the day a year ago that we actually first walked around our factory and there were three of us. Now there are 220 of us. We hope that we can do a better job for next year, so that is clearly where our focus is.
John BOOTH: For us it is a little bit different. We still have a few steps forward to come this year that we didn't have on the car because of reliability problems at the beginning of the year. The focus has changed the second half, so there is still a little bit more to come this year but working full speed on the new car.
Martin WHITMARSH: We are still working hard on this year's car. There is still a good championship ahead and we are pushing hard. Inevitably you have got to have your mind on next year as well but we are certainly pushing hard on this year's car as well.
Q: Is it just in mind car or have you already started? Have you got another team working?
Whitmarsh: There is a team working on next year's car as well.
Q: So they have already started quite some time ago?
Whitmarsh: Yes, in reality you have R&D programs which hopefully are going to come to fruition and the resources gradually build. There is a lot of effort to bring performance improvements here and to continue bringing them for the rest of the year.
Ross BRAWN: I think our priorities are clearly with next season. We have not had as good a year as we want. We don't realistically have any chance of competing for the championship this year, so we are pretty strongly focused on next season to make sure we can get into a more competitive position for next year. We have got a little bit of development on this year's car. We have got a few things we want to put right for the remaining races but in terms of development very little and the major work is for next season.
Q: Mike, looking at the performance so far have you been happy with that? Has it come above or below expectation?
Gascoyne: I think it is pretty much where we expected it to be. As I said earlier we didn't have an entry this time a year ago and we didn't know we were actually going to be in the sport, so we missed several months of development. If we had had that I think we would have done a much better job. But our aim coming into this year was always to try and be the best of the new teams, try to close the gap to the established teams and do a thorough, professional job. We had some big updates which moved us forward but in reality we were never going to challenge for ninth place or any of the established teams, so I think we have pretty much delivered exactly what we wanted to do. We would prefer to be a bit closer but time just hasn't allowed that for us. I think we would have been much happier being more reliable. That has been a disappointment to us. Some of that has been out of our control through outside suppliers and we have got to make sure we put that right for next year. But I think we have pretty much delivered what we expected to deliver and on budget as well as my boss keeps reminding me to be.
Q: Particularly in Germany recently you seemed to have major gearbox problems. Has that been the major problem so far this year?
Gascoyne: Gearbox and hydraulics have been a particularly weak area. We haven't had the resources to put all the fixes in place and I think we have been let down by some suppliers who have not done as good a job as they should have done. But you cannot make excuses. You have got to put things right. I think we are now very much on top of it. We want to have solid two car finishes for the rest of the year as I think if we do that we have got the performance and the drivers to secure 10th place. But it is something that has been a disappointment for us as a team.
Q: John, similar question to you. The performance so far - has it been above or below expectations?
Booth: I think it is pretty much where we expected it to be. Very much enjoying our battle with Lotus and overall to be about three to three and a half per cent off the front teams. I think we should be very pleased with that.
Q: We have also seen some comments in the press on the future of the team. What is your response to that?
Booth: This time of year there are always comments from certain quarters but we are here for the long haul. Plans are well in place for next year, well advanced for next year. Our sponsorship base is very good. We have brought eight new sponsors to Formula One this year and we have got a solid base to go forward on.
Q: So you would rubbish those stories.
Booth: Absolutely. Perhaps we haven't kept certain people informed of our position and maybe we should have done but there are no thoughts other than going forward next year.
Q: Martin, you talked about unlocking the performance in the car. It sounds like a black art to me. If you knew how to do it you would do so but you feel it is there. You have been quoted as saying there is performance in the car.
Whitmarsh: No, I think at the last race certainly when we dissect the performance of the car. Obviously we know the raw material, we know the data and then we have expectations in terms of corner speed etc. We weren't achieving those in Hungary and I think we needed to have a look at that, understand it and try and get that performance out of it. Too early to say. Today has been an interesting day. A frustrating day, I am sure for all of us, for everyone to understand your car. To do the engineering development program that you try and do on Fridays when the conditions are this changeable is almost impossible. Certainly to do it quickly. There is a lot of instrumentation on all of our cars, so I am sure most of the teams ran different components, different systems on their car today but most of them couldn't tell you if they have made any progress until they have gone into the detail as clearly the track was evolving one way or the other according to the weather conditions. But overall I am convinced that we can do a better job than certainly we appeared to do in Hungary and we will see as the weekend goes on.
Q: There is also conflicting statements about whether to use the F-duct or not. Can you give us the reasons behind that, particularly not just here but in Monza as well.
Whitmarsh: I think you will find we will use it here. It is on the car. It is running. I have not heard that conflicting statement. I have heard some statements about Monza but I don't see, personally, any merit in us declaring what we are going to do to our competitors before we get there.
Q: Surely Monza is all about straight line speed and the F-duct is all about straight line speed.
Whitmarsh: Well, as I said, we will see when we get there.
Q: Ross, the season has been interesting; have you maintained the pace of development that you have wanted to up until now?
Brawn: Not really, no. We saw some interesting technologies on other cars and it was difficult to understand how much they were worth. We followed those paths and they are worth performance but it wasn't enough to make the real differential up on ourselves and the real front of the grid. I think during the season, some races we get back to where we think we ought to be and other races we're not so good. I think we've had a very deep analysis of our performance this year. I think we understand where we need to make improvements and I can see already, with next year's package we're making those improvements because the fundamentals are all the same. You need a lower centre of gravity, you need less weight, you need more aerodynamic downforce, you need to use the tires properly, you need a structurally stiff car. The basics always count, and I can see from the progress that we're making with the basics for next year that we haven't done a good enough job this year.
Q: And has the Brawn mind been hard at work while you've been casting the odd fly on the water during the break?
Brawn: I didn't do too much of that unfortunately. You never switch off in this business. It's very difficult to switch off - perhaps for a couple of weeks at the end of the season you can turn your mind off if you get away but yeah, thoughts have been flowing on what we need to do.
Q: Are there any mysteries about the regulations next year?
Brawn: Not at the moment, but there may well be when cars start appearing because that's the nature of this business. We had the example last year with the double diffuser, we had it this year with the F-duct. People are clever enough to take an interpretation of a regulation to gain an advantage. We haven't found that yet. At least, if we have, we're not going to say so, so the regulations... I think everyone did an honest and diligent job to try and create regulations that achieve the objectives, so the diffuser should be much simpler next year. There should be no F-ducts next year, so first or second or third read of the regulations, that's what we're achieving. But it's the fascination of this business that someone may be able to find a little wrinkle somewhere that they can take advantage of.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Mike Doodson) This is apropos of what Ross just said, actually, because I've got a philosophical question about the future of Formula One. We already have an engine freeze and now we seem to be getting into a pattern of clever engineers introducing technology which they are only allowed to exploit for one year until it gets banned at the end of the year. For example, McLaren gave us the F-duct and I'm absolutely sure your engineers are working hard on the G-spot for next year, but does this mean that Formula One is developing into a stage where technology will be restricted and we're going to have a spec formula?
Whitmarsh: Well, I think over the last - Ross has been involved longer than I have - but over the last twenty-odd years that I have been involved there's always been that fear. If you think about it... going back a long way we had active ride, we had power braking, ABS braking, we had a whole range of different technologies which have been prohibited and that's the nature of our sport. It's a little bit about cost-control, it's a little bit about trying to give a level playing field and it's deeply frustrating when you're an engineer involved in a particular development because you get passionate about it and certainly Ross has seen me get passionate over the years, fighting for some of those things. I think now I just accept that that is the nature of our sport and I think that what's fantastic is that there are creative engineers who come up with ideas like double diffusers and F-ducts. There will be something next year, I suspect, on a car and we'll all be talking to our engineers about why they didn't think of it and talking about how they can catch up very quickly. There's tremendous creativity, driven by the competitiveness of the sport. There are restrictions, I think they are probably in the long term in the interests of the sport. We have a duty to put a show on, we have a duty to make it affordable, to make sure that we can get new teams into the sport and that hopefully they can establish themselves, build and thrive, because we need that in the sport. When they happen to you it's deeply frustrating but you've got to really say 'OK, we had a run, now let's invent the next thing that's going to cause controversy in future years.'
Brawn: I think as Martin kindly said I've been in it a long time and you do get frustrated when a concept or idea that you've introduced gets stopped but that is the game, the competition is within this envelope of the regulations: what ideas, how do you do the best job? The thing I constantly tell my engineers is that they're working under the same restrictions as the other eleven teams and the competition is to do a better job within that envelope. I've been fortunate to have been involved in cars with active suspension, with active aerodynamics, with all sorts of things which were fantastic things to play with and really exciting but goodness knows where the cars would be now if we didn't stop it. And we've got to keep it as a sport, we've got to have it as a balance of the driver's skills as against the engineers' skills, that's the fascination of Formula One that it's not just drivers and it's not just engineers. It's that combination which is pretty rare in motor sport, so I don't believe for a moment that it's a spec formula and we just accept the challenge of the new regulations and the regulation changes because it is part of the DNA of our sport.
Gascoyne: One of the things you've always got to bear in mind is... OK, if you ban something like the F-duct, its advantage has gone away over a few months anyway because everyone's copied it and implemented it themselves. I think history just shows, over the years, that people are still coming up with those ideas. The rule book now for the technical regulations is probably four or five times as thick as it was when I started in Formula One, but it hasn't stopped people coming up with these ideas. Twin chassis cars being banned before they ever raced and all that sort of thing, it's always been this and it just means that you have to think in different areas but you've got to do that anyway to maintain a competitive advantage because people will always be implementing any idea you've put on, so you've got to keep ahead of the game.
Booth: I think Colin Chapman probably led the way with innovation and it's been part of Formula One ever since and that's the way it should be.
Q: (Alberto Antonini - Autosprint) Ross, you appear to be the one who started the discussion about flexi-wings and as a follow-up, we're now talking about flexi-skid blocks and possibly dipping noses. Can you just clarify what in your mind is going to happen in the future, and what the consequences may be for some teams?
Brawn: I'm not sure I was the one who started it, but certainly I gave my opinions and there was a clear obvious effect on the track between certain cars that was not explainable and we sought some clarifications on how the rules were to be applied. When we talk about the process that's gone on through the years, that is the process that we all do, that is the nature of Formula One. I know that some of the teams involved were not very happy with comments I made, or McLaren made, but then I was not happy about comments they made about the double diffuser last year. It is the nature of Formula One. That's the way we are and that's the way we work, and if we see something we don't like on another car, we will challenge it with the FIA, and if the FIA eventually say 'no, that's the way it's going to be' we join the club. It's just that process that happens all the time. I don't know the status with... today we've had a very mixed day, so it's been impossible to judge.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix Special) Can we talk about engines for next year? There have been some rumors in the last couple of days about Red Bull getting Mercedes engines next year. We have two Mercedes teams sitting in front of us here; can we have your views on what you think of that idea, given their performance with the Renault engines?
Whitmarsh: Well, I've heard the rumors but that's it. I think we can continue doing the best job we can with a great engine that we have from Mercedes Benz. I don't know of any plans, I haven't been consulted or asked and nor do I necessarily need to be. I'm sure Ross is much closer to this than I am - he is a troublemaker by the way! - but I'll let him account for himself.
Brawn: That's the first time I've heard the rumor, genuinely. I wasn't aware of that rumor. I don't think there are any plans for Mercedes Benz to supply more teams.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix Special) To the new team representatives, are there any plans to change your engines and how difficult do you think it will be to do that?
Gascoyne: We're using Cosworth engines, we've been very happy with their performance this year, their first year back in Formula One. I think as teams we always evaluate every option that's out there but at the moment we're very, very happy with Cosworth and the job they've been doing.
Booth: Yes, same as Mike. We're very happy with Cosworth. The service has been fantastic and there are absolutely no plans to change at all.
Q: (Joe Saward - Grand Prix Special) We've got an FIA hearing coming up with Ferrari about team orders; I'm curious to know whether you think that Ferrari did anything wrong in Germany and what you think the punishment should be?
Whitmarsh: I don't know if you can claim sub judice here but the fact is that there is a hearing, I don't have any influence on that hearing and I think I said at the time my own views on it I wished to communicate to Ferrari personally which I did. I think me expressing a public view on it is inappropriate, particularly when there's a hearing just coming up.
Brawn: I think that having been a long term member of Ferrari it would be inappropriate for me to comment, Joe.
Booth: No, no real comment at all.
Gascoyne: I think they've said it all!
Lewis Hamilton (3rd, 1:49.248): "The weather made it a bit of an up-and-down day. It started off very wet, so we didn't do too much running in the morning. But we got a few more laps this afternoon on the Intermediates and then the Option tire. Because the rules don't allow us to use too many wet-weather tires - we only have three Extremes and four Intermediates - we really need to look after them, so we were very cautious, just in case we need to use them later on in the weekend. We're definitely making small steps forward. This track does seem to suit our car better [than in Hungary], but let's not get ahead of ourselves. If it rains, then we seem to be competitive, but we have realistic expectations for this weekend - I didn't score in the last race, so it's important that we get more points on the board on Sunday."
Jenson Button (7th, 1:49.755): "Considering the conditions, I think today was a reasonable day. We've still got some more work to do, but I'm happier with the car here than I was in the last couple of races. I've got a reasonable balance and a good basis to work on, and that's important. We got pretty much everything Spa could throw at us today. And, despite the weather, we still got some running done on the Extreme, Intermediate and Option tire. I'm happy with how the car felt in the different conditions - it's a positive. I purposely didn't do too many laps on either wet-weather tire, as I didn't want to destroy them. You can't afford to do that. So we looked after the tires, which could be useful for us ahead of qualifying."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "The weather made things interesting, if challenging, today. Both our drivers were forced to conserve wet tires in the expectation of needing them later in the weekend, which limited our running. However, they were satisfied with the balance of their cars - although in these conditions it's almost impossible to establish competitiveness relative to rivals. So, overall, I guess I'll just say that we're pleased to end the day with two undamaged cars!"
Michael Schumacher (12th, 1:50.341): "It's obviously a beautiful feeling to be back on this track which is still great to drive. It's also beautiful because I have a lot of good memories linked to Spa. But this doesn't help a great deal with the situation that we are facing here and having a ten place penalty makes it difficult to go into the weekend with big hopes for a good result. The weather might help a little by mixing up the field and so I hope it does not change too much over the race weekend."
Nico Rosberg (13th, 1:50.382): "It's been a difficult day for us as we have been trying to get our revised parts for the car to work. The weather conditions have complicated our program and whilst we've tried a lot of different things, it's been tough to get any consistent feedback. I've suffered with understeer all day and really struggled with the balance on the wet tires. The inters were better and it's difficult to say for the slicks really. I was quite far off with my car balance with the dry tires so that didn't help. So a tricky start to the weekend for us and we need to sit down overnight and try to solve the problems."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "It was a very challenging day but then these types of changeable conditions may provide the opportunities that we can take advantage of this weekend. Nico's day was hindered by a few car issues which will be resolved by tomorrow whilst Michael was slightly happier with his progress."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A difficult first day for everybody with changing weather conditions which we all are familiar with at Spa and which seem to belong to this circuit like Eau Rouge and La Source. It seems that our upgrades can improve the car but we need tomorrow's practice session to get more running with the parts. The weather forecast is predicting rain which doesn't help when our target is to put new parts on the cars. However even in these tricky conditions we can continue to learn and make progress."
Sebastian Vettel (6th, 1:49.689): "It's always tricky with these conditions, track time is limited and tires are limited. We would love to run more despite the rain, but we don't have so many tires and looking at the weekend we might need them for qualifying and the race, so we didn't want to use them all today. We were looking at the balance, it feels good, but it's hard when the conditions are changing. We still have some work to do for Saturday and Sunday."
Mark Webber (18th, 1:51.636): "Today was a bit of a messy day with the changing conditions, but it was actually pretty good for us. We got some good information to go through and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. There are a few quick guys out there, but we're not slow either. It's hard to get a feel for what everyone's doing with the changing weather. It's a beautiful track here, it's special - today we got to sample it in all conditions."
Fernando Alonso (1st, 1:49.032): "The impression one gets on Friday does not always get confirmed on Saturday and Sunday, therefore we have to evaluate today's results with a lot of care. Having said that, it has definitely been a positive day, because the car seems to respond well in all track conditions that we encountered today. The times count for little, or nothing at all, because when the track changes so quickly, times can improve or get worse by two or three seconds depending on the moment when you are out on the circuit. I think the weather will play a key part, both tomorrow and on Sunday: anything could happen. We tried to test all the new components we have here. If the track was to be dry tomorrow, then we must try and improve our set-up, because obviously it is not yet at its best for these conditions, given that we only had a few minutes to test on slick tires. In fact, I felt the car was a bit nervous, while in the wet it was easier to drive. When thinking about going for pole position, first of all we will have to see what the weather is doing: for sure if it was to rain we will go out immediately because you always learn from bad experiences..."
Felipe Massa (5th, 1:49.588): "I am very happy to be back racing at this track, having been forced to miss it last year: I love driving here. From what we could understand on a day like this, the car seems reasonably competitive and that was particularly true on the rain tires. However, it is only Friday, so we will have to wait to see how the Red Bulls go, given that so far they have proved to be the quickest cars, as demonstrated in qualifying. We had so many things to test today, which explains a few slow laps this afternoon. On the intermediate tires I immediately had good grip, but even on slicks the situation was not that bad. On the final lap, the only one on the soft tires, I made a mistake, but the car felt good: obviously there is room for improvement and that is what we will try and achieve tomorrow."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "Given the way things went in both sessions it is really difficult to give a correct evaluation of the situation. That is the main reason that one must be very cautious in terms of drawing any conclusions from the two sessions. From the little that was possible to understand, there are some teams that seem more competitive than previously, which could create some surprises in the first five rows of the grid. We tried to work through all our planned program, which included evaluating some new aerodynamic components. Looking to the rest of the weekend, we can say that, as ever at this track, uncertainty over the weather could play a significant role. Finally, I take this opportunity to add, on behalf of the entire Scuderia, our congratulations to those of President Montezemolo, to our former driver, Rubens Barrichello on the occasion of his three hundredth Grand Prix participation, which is a truly significant and important milestone."
Chris Dyer: "It was quite a complicated day because the weather evolved continuously. On top of that came the red flag in the final part, which considerably reduced the amount of time we could run in the dry. Both drivers were reasonably pleased with the handling of the F10 in the differing conditions encountered today, which is definitely positive. We had various new components to test, but clearly, with track conditions changing all the time, it is harder to make a correct assessment: we will have to study the available data carefully in order to draw the right conclusions. The forecast is predicting the chance of rain for both qualifying and the race: we will have to think calmly about whether to go for a set-up that veers more towards a wet track or if it is better to opt for a more dry oriented configuration."
Rubens Barrichello (9th, 1:50.128): "Today was a classic Spa scenario with the weather and I love it because it throws everything up in the air! The car is fine, but like everyone, we had neither sufficient dry or wet running to really optimize in either condition, which leaves some question marks for us and I am sure everyone else, to resolve, but we had a productive day nevertheless."
Nico Hulkenberg (15th, 1:50.831): "Of course it has been a typical Spa day with very mixed weather, but it was been quite alright for us. The most notable issue has been the intermediates and the full wets being soft for the track here and degrading early. Other than that, the day has run pretty well and we seem to have found good downforce settings for the circuit. I think we were P8 although it was not on the sheets because of the red flag, so it is all positive today."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "With wet running in both of today's practice sessions, we had to re-prioritize the test items we had on our list, but the rain would have affected all of the teams today. This is Spa as well, so we're used to it here! There's a reasonable chance that the remainder of the weekend will be wet, so we were also saving tires throughout the day. We are now working on strategy and our ideal qualifying and race set-up."
Robert Kubica (4th, 1:49.282): "It was quite a good Friday for us. The conditions in first practice were pretty bad, but our main aim was to check how the f-duct system was functioning on our car. We focused on getting experience of the system, for the engineers and for myself, and to get everything working properly - and we managed to do this in spite of running in the wet. In the second session, I ran every type of tire: extremes, intermediates and both compounds of the slicks. The car felt reasonable in all conditions, but I think we can make further improvements to the balance tomorrow."
Vitaly Petrov (11th, 1:50.251): "The first target today was to find out how the f-duct was working, and it looks pretty good. You can feel a good difference on the straights when the system is operating, and we are even driving with one hand in some of the corners. It gives the drivers a bit more work to do in the cockpit, but it's nothing difficult to handle. This afternoon, we started to do some set-up work, but the conditions were changing all the time. Hopefully we can make more progress tomorrow, in order to get really comfortable with the car ahead of qualifying."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "This is the first time that we have brought our f-duct to the track, so we spent the morning learning about it in the wet conditions, completing lots of single-lap runs to gather data. It appears to be working very well, but we will need to go through the data thoroughly tonight, and check the installation on the car, to be sure everything is functioning as expected. It's always difficult to judge performance on Friday, because you don't know the fuel loads that other teams are running. Robert seems happy with the car, although he is still suffering from a little understeer. It was a very similar story (for Petrov). He is running exactly the same system as Robert, but he was less happy with the balance and complained of more understeer. We still have some work to do get the car balance to his liking. In terms of the weather, it's been a pretty normal day at Spa! The conditions for the rest of the weekend look unsettled: on Saturday, there's a chance of rain in the morning, and a higher probability in the afternoon; and it's the same for Sunday. As usual, we're expecting a mixture of everything for the rest of the weekend. We ran both types of tire this afternoon, and didn't encounter any difficulties with either compound. Although we didn't do a great deal of running, I don't think cool conditions would pose a problem."
Adrian Sutil (2nd, 1:49.157): "With the weather it was quite difficult but I enjoyed it a lot and we had a good balance straightaway. I was very comfortable and every run I went out I was one of the quickest, so a very positive start to the day. In the dry the car was just getting better as grip improved. In the second session I did a run on the hard tire and then had time for one single lap on the soft right at the end, but there was so much traffic out on the track that getting a time was always going to be hard. But at least we have an idea about the tires and how the car will perform on the different compounds. We know it's going to be difficult to replicate this form tomorrow when we expect conditions to be drier but overall I'm feeling good, the car is fast and I am in good shape."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (16th, 1:51.520): "Overall a difficult day, not just because of the weather, but because of the program we were running. We had a different program from Adrian, running with some newer development parts. We have a really good speed into the corners and the car is very balanced. The blown diffuser does the work we expect it to and is performing quite well, but we tried a few things that we still need to define before tomorrow. We are down on top speed and are losing a bit of time on the straights and of course that's not what you want when you're at a place like Spa that has such long straights. I'm positive for tomorrow though and looking forward to getting a complete package tomorrow."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "Two wet sessions today, and a busy test program for the team. The morning conditions permitted only running on the wet tire, as we compared different car configurations with Adrian and Tonio. The car was quite well balanced in the wet, but we occasionally did suffer from a bit of understeer. During the afternoon the circuit became dry enough for us to use prime and option tires, but it wasn't really an evaluation because of the evolving circuit, yet all the same it allowed us to collect more data on the blown diffuser that seems to be working as we expected. However we will be investigating the F-duct performance on Tonio's car this evening as there is a top speed differential between the two cars. Overall our performance seems reasonable and if we follow the conditions sensibly should be able to achieve our twin objectives of Q3 and scoring more points this weekend."
Jaime Alguersuari (14th, 1:50.682): "It was actually good fun driving today, as we experienced every track condition possible. From what we saw today, I will be hoping for a wet race on Sunday, as I think we are more competitive in these conditions, giving us a better chance to get into the points. Because of the rain today, there is a question mark over tire performance in the dry on high fuel loads, but that is the same for everyone. The car felt quite good in both the dry and the wet, but we still need more data on the tire front. Because of the different conditions with teams running various types of tire at different times, it is very difficult to understand the order amongst us, so I think we can expect another very interesting day tomorrow."
Sebastien Buemi (17th, 1:51.523): "We had an issue on the gearbox in the morning, but in reality we did not lose much running time because it was raining so hard at that time. At least it meant I saved the wear on my rain tires. In the second session, when it dried up, it was difficult to get a true picture relating to our performance, as everyone was trying something different. The important thing now is to do a good job of analyzing all our data, in terms of car set-up and the difference between the two slick compounds and see what we can do for tomorrow. In the dry, I was quite happy on the hard compound, but with the option, I did not get the tires to work properly, so I did not get the most out of them and we will have to look at that in tomorrow morning's session."
Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer: "A typical day at Spa in terms of the weather. In the morning we had a gearbox issue with Sebastien's car, but luckily, as conditions were very bad, we did not lose so much track time. In the morning, we only used the extreme rain tires and then in the afternoon, we got the chance to run the intermediates and both types of dry tire, so altogether it was quite a good day in terms of collecting a useful amount of data. The forecast for the rest of the weekend is predicting more mixed conditions and wet weather would definitely suit us best for the race, so that is what we are hoping for."
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:53.480): "It wasn't too bad today considering the weather, but at least everyone was in the same position. There were no big problems - the car seemed to work well in all the conditions, but it's always hard to draw a conclusion when the weather keeps changing and teams keep running different tires. So you can't read too much into the times today. The track itself feels fine - it's a great track, and in the dry it will be really good. Fingers crossed for blue skies tomorrow!"
Jarno Trulli (20th, 1:53.639): "It feels good to be back. It's always nice to be back on track, especially in Spa as it's such a good track. Practice today went very well for me and I'm pleased with where we ended up. Unfortunately on the last run this afternoon I was blocked by another car which prevented me from going quicker with the same set of tires as everyone else, but before that I was looking pretty good, so I feel confident for tomorrow."
Dieter Gass, Sporting Director: "It was a difficult day today with the mixed and changing conditions. This morning's run was pretty much meaningless, because of the weather, but at least it was better in the afternoon. We got a bit of dry running in in FP2 which gave us a chance to look at the tires, but with the continuously changing conditions it was difficult to work on the set up. We'll look at the data now and make a call on the set ups, downforce levels and ratios that we are going to run tomorrow, so I think we've got quite a bit of work to do this evening. Whatever happens, I'm confident we can maintain our position ahead of the new teams if the conditions stay stable. In the mixed conditions anything can happen, and you need a bit of luck to keep up the momentum, so let's see what happens."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "Obviously the weather today made it an interesting first day for everyone. The first session was very wet and we just ran on the full wets. In the second session we switched to the inters and then managed to run both sets of dry tires, but the changing conditions make any meaningful work or comparisons very difficult. But I'm reasonably happy with where we are and look forward to some dry weather over the weekend."
Bruno Senna (22nd, 1:55.751): "Today it was tricky with a wet practice in the morning and a dry one in the afternoon. It was a good experience to run with all types of tires and we got a lot of good data out of it. In the wet, we were competitive and in the dry we hope to pick up the pace. We will see what the conditions are tomorrow in terms of finding the right set-up for the car in qualifying and the race."
Sakon Yamamoto (23rd, 1:56.039): "We could get a lot of data in both sessions today under wet and drying up conditions. We fulfilled our testing program and I could get more experience in the car. Before the end of the session in the afternoon, I had to stop the car when I got an alarm message on my display. Now, we are looking forward to the qualifying and we will see, what tomorrow brings."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "It was a useful day for our team with the typical weather here in Spa under difficult conditions. We could run many laps and both drivers got a lot of track time. This was very important, as it prepared us for racing on the wet track, but also when it is drying up. Sakon Yamamoto stopped his car at the end of the second practice because of an alarm message displayed on his dash board and to avoid further damage. We got a lot of experience today and we will see, what awaits for us tomorrow."
Pedro de la Rosa (8th, 1:50.081): "Given the track conditions we managed to complete a lot of work including some dry running, which was very important for me as I haven't raced here for some years. To get this chance was a bonus as we didn't expect it. In the fully wet conditions we were pretty competitive. My conclusion from the afternoon's session is we are good in the fast sectors one and three, but have to find something to improve the car for the middle sector. I'm very much looking forward to tomorrow and I'm curious to see what the weather will do."
Kamui Kobayashi (10th, 1:50.200): "Overall it was okay for me today. We had no technical problems and quite a variety of different track conditions, which means you can learn a lot about the car and the track. In the wet my lap time was okay, but the tires didn't last long and that makes it difficult to judge where we are and where we should go. It is not easy to set up the car for tomorrow as here in Spa you basically can never know what the weather will finally be like. Nevertheless I have a good feeling for the car and the track."
James Key, Technical Director: "It was obviously a very eventful day with extremely changeable weather conditions. However, it was useful with the two different sessions we had because it allowed both drivers and the team to evaluate the tires in all conditions. We could also test different set-ups and wing settings. I think both drivers did a good job in the circumstances, as did the team. We had to change the car quite a bit to match the changing situations. It looks okay, but it's extremely difficult to judge where everyone is, because the conditions were never consistent. Therefore we need to be cautious not to make too many judgments from today's classification. However, we can be happy with what we have done so far. We made quite good progress. It's now a case of sitting down and analyzing the data to make the right decisions for tomorrow."
Lucas di Grassi (21st, 1:54.325): "A very productive day. We were able to run the car on all the types of tire available - extreme wet, intermediate, prime and option. The forecast is the main doubt for the weekend but I'm happy with the progress we've made. I think we have covered pretty much every situation and after a problem-free Friday I'm looking forward to a good weekend for us."
Timo Glock (24th, 2:03.179): "A good morning. I would say the first free practice was pretty good, we had no problems and the car felt quite okay in wet conditions. Then I unfortunately made a mistake in Free Practice 2 - I touched the white line, lost the car and hit the tire barrier quite badly and the session was over quite quickly for me. But in general it didn't look too bad and I hope it will stay wet for the whole weekend as the car felt good in the wet. I was happy with it so let's see how it goes tomorrow"
Nick Wirth, Technical Director: "An interesting day in some interesting conditions! The morning was quite productive with both drivers trying some different setup solutions for the wet conditions. Timo's afternoon started in a promising way but his crash early in the session will require a change of monocoque tonight as there is some damage that can't be repaired at the circuit. Lucas had a more productive afternoon, and chose to run his option tires earlier in mixed conditions and the primes at the end, in contrast to most of the others. The drivers are feeling quite confident so we should be ready for round two with the Spa weather tomorrow!"
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