Australia GP: Friday Press Conference and Quotes
Jerome D'Ambrosio (Virgin)
Nick HEIDFELD (Renault)
Sergio Perez (Sauber)
Paul di RESTA (Force India)
Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull)
Q. Sergio, how did things go for you today? What are your first impressions?
Sergio Perez: I think it was a good day. I felt comfortable towards the end of the session. Tomorrow I need to improve a bit more. Apart from this I think it is a good first day and hopefully tomorrow can go the same way.
Q. This is your first grand prix, although I am sure you have been to grands prix before with GP2 etcetera, what is your first impression of it?
SP: It is very tough, it is very difficult to get the most out of it with the traffic, with the tires, with all the things you have to be moving which I was not used to. In GP2 you do not have to move anything like this. It is very critical not to get everything right for just one lap but to be consistent as well, so it is quite a big step but overall I am comfortable.
Q. What's the most different thing from GP2 for you?
SP: I would say the amount of things you do have. Not only inside of the car, out of the car you have also a lot of people around you. You have to be very focused to be right and don't do any mistakes as it is very easy to do mistakes. You are very busy moving a lot of things on the steering wheel which I was not used to. You have to worry about the tires, it is a big package. It is not only one thing, I think it is a bigger picture.
Q. Obviously a good time today.
SP: Yes, today was good day for me.
Q. Paul, you were also quicker than your team-mate as well. Your feelings about today?
PdiR: Again, it is quite difficult to come to your first grand prix. I obviously sat out FP1. Nico (Hulkenberg) was in the car and session two was quite tricky with the weather. Also the traffic, just trying to get some clear laps to give me a good idea going into tomorrow. I think it was quite positive. We ran through the program we had to so we will certainly need to sit down and analyze it and try just to improve upon myself where I think most of the time will be.
Q. As you say, you sat out the morning session. That must have been quite difficult but on the other hand you had your morning session a year ago.
PdiR: Yeah, the morning session is a bit different. It gives you a bit more time. When you go out with all these guys and they are all up to speed a bit quicker, you obviously have to pace yourself a bit. But it is my first grand prix so I have to work from the bottom and try and work my way to the top. Every lap around Melbourne is key. You can quite easily make a mistake. I had to get through the program going into tomorrow.
Q. How different for you is Formula One this year from last year?
PdiR: It is quite different. Thankfully I was able to go to all the grands prix last year and also take part in some of the testing in FP1 so it is not that new to me. But at the same time there is extra pressure, extra demands on you as a race driver. But you know what the case is when you take this job. I want to stay very focused and put the effort in and keep a long-term relationship in Formula One and also with the team.
Q. A lot of people would say you were a touring car driver and now you are a single seater driver. That perhaps is over-extending it, but how different are the cars?
PdiR: They are quite different, there is no denying it. But Formula One has always been my dream to get here. It is the car I want to drive. You can't really compare them. They are both at a different level. Equally I enjoyed racing DTM with Mercedes-Benz. I had four great years there. I think it has prepared me well but this step is also very big and only time will tell how the transition is. But relatively, up until now, I feel quite confident, quite comfortable. I need to put a lot of effort in and work up.
Q. Jerome, how was today for you. It seemed to be fairly simple but not necessarily, particularly quick at the moment?
JD'A: Well it was a good day for us. Obviously we need to work hard. It is not easy, but we made progress throughout the day and for us in this situation the most important thing in the end is to get better every time we hit the track. That was our case between the two sessions. I believe it will be the case also for tomorrow so this is the main thing really.
Q. This is your first full season of Formula One, but you have driven Formula One cars quite a lot haven't you?
JD'A: About four morning sessions last year and then the Abu Dhabi rookie days. That was some experience. It was good for me to get up to speed in the winter testing. Last year I didn't know the buttons and the steering wheel. It is quite complicated with Formula One. But then a race weekend is obviously very different. It is something new. Being quick over a test day is not the same thing. I have got many things to learn from Timo (Glock) so I am really lucky to have him beside me this year so I can learn a lot.
Q. You did the Renault demonstrations as well?
Q. Which must have been fun anyway?
JD'A: That was fun. That was donuts things. Now I know how to do donuts in a Formula One car, but hopefully I won't have to use it in a grand prix weekend.
Q. How much of a worry is the 107 per cent rule as you were outside of that today?
JD'A: Well it is really nothing I should worry about as that is not going to be anything productive. The only thing I can do, and we all can do as a team, is to focus on getting the best out of what we have now. We will progress and we will get better but for now, for this weekend, we just have to focus on getting the best out of the package and that is the only thing which will bring us to a result that will hopefully be in the 107.
Q. Your aim for the season?
JD'A: It is difficult to give an aim in terms of results or points or things like that, quite concrete. There is a lot of data missing for that. I think for me I need to learn a lot from Timo and get as close to him as possible through the season. Get closer and closer and that's the main things really.
Q. Sebastian, World Champion of course. How have things changed for you in 12 months. Sebastian VETTEL: Well in terms of how I approach the first race nothing has changed. It is Friday afternoon, it is a very busy day and I cannot be in the garage now, I have to be here so potentially it is the worst possible moment of the weekend to answer your question unless you can answer me which ratios we put in the car or those sorts of things. But as I said in terms of approach, how you come here, what you want to achieve, nothing has changed. Looking back it makes me very happy and very proud. I think that is the same for everyone in the team as well. We enjoy where we are at the moment, but we know as well we have zero points at this stage just like everybody else.
Q. Looking at the various changes in Formula One. First of all the tires, how different are the two types of tires after today's sessions.
SV: Well they are different. I think it was good finally to come here and start the season and race on a different track. All winter we have been in Barcelona and I think we know it inside out and we know exactly what the tires do. Today we were, I wouldn't say surprised, but in a way probably surprised as the tire behavior is different. No doubt compared to last year the tires are different. You cannot compare. There is a big difference. But I think we expected worse conditions here in terms of how long the tires last etcetera. I think this morning and this afternoon was quite useful and helped us understand what to do in the race on Sunday. So far I think it is positive. Still we cannot race with one stop only. I think we have to come in a couple of times so ultimately we will find out on Sunday if the track improves or not as it is also something we have seen in the test. In four days running the track does not rubber in so we will see how it is here, different tarmac, different track, different lay-out, different conditions but so far we are positively surprised.
Q. What about the Drag Reduction System. It was very interesting watching you how much you use the DRS in one lap today.
SV: Well I think it is not just me it is all the others as well.
Q. No, I don't think so. I think you used it more than anyone.
SV: Yeah, I don't think the others need to wake up. We said it often enough that it works in a similar manner to the F-Duct and surely it keeps us busy. Melbourne is a rough track with a lot of bumps, lot of corners and you really feel the speed here in some corners and you don't have much time between the corners. Everything is following up quickly so it keeps you busy. Similar to the F-Duct, you try to work on it as soon as you can to try to get the biggest benefit. I would be surprised if everyone else is much later operating it. I think that is partly what we have been talking about pre-season and not all of us yet probably do understand. As you can see and as you said it was the first time a lot of people got to see it. Qualifying and practice is very different to a race as in a race ideally you use it once a lap or maybe twice, but you know where and how so it is quite different to practice conditions.
Q. How do you balance using that with using KERS as well?
SV: Yes, you have to do that on top so there is no real balance. Either you do both...
Q. Have you got enough thumbs?
SV: It is up to us, the teams and drivers to find a lay-out that suits you. Nevertheless whatever part you use or if you use your thumb, another finger. Elbow hasn't come in yet. But you need to find a way according to your liking. It depends or it varies between the drivers. Just practice and get used to it. But I think all of us, you are very busy, with both of those things plus driving. Now imagine the phone rings, then the next wall is very close.
Q. Nick, good to see you but in sad circumstances. I believe you have something on your helmet to acknowledge Robert?
Nick HEIDFELD: Yes, I have his initials, RK, on the front of my helmet.
Q. It was obviously a late change for you to take over his seat. You were obviously working with Pirelli before then as a test driver; how much of an advantage was that?
NH: Well, I think one thing that could have been an advantage was that I helped in the early part of development on the construction, so at least that should have been something that suited me well. I wasn't there when they developed the compounds and what I found out in testing was that I had no advantage at all in knowing how to set up the car, because you can imagine that when you develop a tire you don't try adjusting the set-up, you just put on new tires, new tires, new tires all the time and we didn't actually touch the set-up.
Q. So how did things go today?
NH: It was OK. It could have been better, could have been worse. We had some small issues on the car, didn't do all the mileage we wanted but most importantly we learned quite a bit. You spoke about the tires before with Sebastian; I also thought it was quite interesting. From testing in the winter we thought the soft tires would only last one lap. I did my quickest lap here today on the second lap; the third lap wasn't too bad either so this hopefully makes qualifying a bit less of a problem, because we will see more pit stops. And then on top of that, we see that the lap time difference between hard and soft tires is quite big, huge - at least, compared to last year. That means that maybe only the very quick cars like the Red Bull may be able to use the hard tires and save some soft tires, but most other cars will already have to use soft tires in Q1 to get through. That means that you only have two sets left for later on which you might also have to use in the race, so it makes things very different, quite interesting and complicated.
Q. And obviously if you get through to Q3, you're probably going to be on soft tires, you've got to start the race on soft tires.
NH: Yes, definitely. It's the same as last year. Of course they will last a bit longer but I don't think that is the big issue; the big question is how many stops is it after that? On simulations, in winter testing in Barcelona, we've seen most cars and people doing three stops but you also saw that their lap times became quite slow towards the end of the stint. That was just to find out where the limit is. So it might be that in a real race situation you would have seen four stops. That, again, will be interesting to see. Today's degradation was obviously a lot better but it should spice up the racing. It will be interesting to see how difficult it is to overtake during the race. It's going to be new for everybody.
Q. And also there's the possibility of better weather on Saturday, increased track temperatures as well. How much of a difference will that make?
NH: Nobody knows, because it wasn't that hot in winter testing. Some people believe that with higher temperatures we will see the circuit improving and the rubber sticking to the surface for once. Now we just see marbles off-line, which might also make overtaking more difficult, but as Sebastian said, throughout winter testing the circuit was pretty much the same from day one to the end.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. (Frederic Ferret) Nick how difficult was it to find your way back to Formula One in such a short time, and do you feel happy to be there, just as you were in other teams?
NH: Well, of course I'm extremely excited - as we've discussed – I've said many times that this is not the circumstances I wished for, with Robert's really, really bad accident, but the team has made it very easy for me. They were very open right from the beginning and I only missed one test so I missed two days of driving. What I missed more was being with the team but the time that I've had up to now was enough to make up for that. I was probably a bit busier than the others in those early weeks but now I think I've caught up.
Q. (Joris Fioriti) Nick, we were normally used to seeing Robert in front of Vitaly in FP1, 2, 3, qualifying etc last year. Do you think it's going to happen to you too? Do you have the same level as Robert? How do you see it?
NH: Well, I guess you asked the question because you saw that in P1 I was not in front of Vitaly but of course I will try to do my best, to do the best performance I can. I'm quite confident that I will be able to do that and will show some good performance.
Q. (Andreas Gröbl) I have a question for Sebastian and Nick, maybe. Sebastian was talking about gear ratios before. Can you give us an idea as to how much the new drag reduction system influences gear ratios, in particular your highest gear? And if so, does that compromise you on straights where you're not using the system?
SV: Basically, that's the reason why we use it in qualifying and practice. Obviously, as I touched on earlier, it's like the question why you have to operate it for all of the lap whereas you only have it available at one or two sections of the track in the race. So it would be useful to have the same regulations in qualifying and practice as in the race but that's not the case. The reason why we're allowed to use it at all in qualifying and practice is because otherwise we would probably select a different gear – top gear especially in the car – which then would not allow us to overtake because we would be sitting on the limiter as soon as we stalled the wing. So that is obviously the background, so to have the ability in practice and qualifying, to have similar ratios to in the race, working in the same range, so of course, that's the first time we are now having to make this decision and it's extremely important. Obviously the engineers can do a lot of work, but I think the driver is still very, very important and his input is as well. Practice just finished half an hour ago, that's why, to be honest, I'm not so happy to be here now unless, as I said, you can give me an answer on our gear ratios.
Q. (Gert Vermersch) Question to all drivers: the moveable wing was introduced to improve overtaking: did anyone of you use it to overtake somebody, and if yes, was it easier?
SV: Basically I tried, did not succeed. I tried but it was not enough to get past. In the end, that's a good thing because you don't want racing to be artificial, but to really answer this question I think we have to wait until Sunday when everyone is on similarly aged tires and the same fuel load.
JD'A: I wasn't really in a position to try, I guess.
PdiR: I think a lot of people have been using the DRS through most of their runs to try and get data on it. In testing, you can't really get an idea when one car is not using it and one car is allowed to use it. SP: I didn't try it.
Q. (Thierry Wilmotte) Sebastian, you have a lot of rookies around you. Do you remember your first Grand Prix and do you have some advice to give to them?
SV: Of course I remember, it wasn't that long ago. I raced with Paul, for instance, in Formula 3. I might have been in Formula One now for a couple of years but it wasn't that long ago that my memory has suffered. Yeah, it's always difficult to give advice because everyone at the end of the day has his own style and needs to find his own way. It was a little bit the same when I came in. Of course I wanted to drive as fast as the guys who were winning races but sometimes you have to accept that you're probably not in the car to win races or finish on the podium, so really I think you need to find your own way and your own happiness, I guess. In the end, I did enjoy racing when I came into Formula One, my first race with BMW and then with Toro Rosso, even though I finished 17th or 12th in some races and obviously I do enjoy it now. I think that's the most important thing.
Q. (Ian Parkes) Sebastian, you mentioned about Paul being your former teammate. He, of course, beat you that particular year...
SV: Thanks for mentioning it! …are you surprised that it's taken him so long to get to Formula One? Obviously you went down very different routes after that season, and now that he's here, what does it meant to have him here?
I had the chance, obviously, to get to know him in '06 and get used to his Scottish accent. Yes, so I understand him now! As I said, routes can be very different and in the end you have to find your own way, so I think it was quite exceptional the way he came into Formula One finally. I think he rightly deserves to be here. He's quick enough, he's proven that many times in DTM and before. I'm not again mentioning… you did it already. You know what happened in 2006 when I finished second. It's good to have him here and I think we have a lot of young drivers now, but one day we might have old drivers again so if we all get old, we still want to be here and we don't want new drivers to come in. I'm happy for every single one that has made the step because you know yourself just how hard it is. If you ask Nick the same question, he remembers very well. It never goes according to plan, even though from the outside it might always look easy for some of the people, I don't think anyone had an easy route to get into Formula One. A lot of things have to turn your way.
Q. (Matthew Cochinos) Jerome, the fact that you're flirting with the 107 percent rule come qualifying tomorrow, has the comparative lack of performance in the car surprised you or caught the team unawares?
JD'A: Obviously we worked quite hard throughout the whole winter and we probably hoped for better progress but in the end, Formula One is tough, it's a high level competition and we improved a lot compared to last year. Obviously you guys only see performance, but there are a lot of things that go around that like reliability and things like that. We did make progress – obviously we would like to be quicker but again, sometimes it doesn't go exactly according to your plan and you've got to work hard to catch up and I'm sure we will do it, but we can only get better.
Q. (Luis Aguirre) Sergio, could you tell us a little bit about your first day in Formula One at a grand prix, and are you surprised to see you name in eighth position, and how real is this eighth position for you?
SP: I have to say it was really a good day for me because in the morning it wasn't so good, because I didn't know the circuit and I also had some traffic, but I have to say that the second practice was real, if I compare it to my teammate. It was a good session. I learned quite a lot about the tires. Around here is quite different to what I was used to in testing. The conditions are really different. Normally you get your lap on lap one but now you can take more laps to set a time, so this is really something I experienced today. What really matters is tomorrow in qualifying and the race. We are trying to get the most out of it for tomorrow and try to do a good qualifying.
Sebastian Vettel (4th, 1:26.014): "It was an exciting start to the season, as there's always a lot going on in Melbourne. We were able to complete a lot of laps today, but the weather has been a bit difficult. It starts raining, but then goes dry again, which doesn't make it that easy to test different things. Despite that, I think we got a good idea as to where we are compared to our competitors. All in all I think we can be pleased, it seems we are not too bad, but we have to wait and see."
Mark Webber (5th, 1:26.283): "We had some Melbourne showers at the end of P2, which are always pretty tricky round here, but in general it was a pretty good day for us. We've still got some work to do; there are some quick guys out there. It was good to finally try the tires out on this circuit and I had a go with everything new on the car. McLaren look quick, but with Ferrari you can never tell, as they always run a bit more fuel on a Friday."
Jenson Button (1st, 1:25.854): "Today showed that, first of all, we've got reliability - which is great. That's something we've not had all winter, so to have a car that runs for as many laps as we want it to is very satisfying. It also means we can get stuck into our set-up work and improve the car. I don't think there's much to be gained from looking at today's times though, so I'm not going to get too carried away. Still, it's been a positive day because we've been able to do so much running and get a good feeling for the car on different fuel-loads. The new exhaust has definitely brought performance to the car - it feels much better, makes the handling more 'complete'. When you have downforce at the rear, you can also add it at the front, and then you put temperature in the tires - there's so much that comes with downforce. I'm so happy with how hard the guys have worked and what they've brought to this race - they've worked really hard and they've delivered something good here. We don't yet know how good, but we're encouraged by the step we've made today."
Lewis Hamilton (2nd, 1:25.986): "The car feels like an improvement over winter testing, but I'm not reading too much into the others' performance. We just spent the day focusing on our own program. The tires are behaving very well; they don't feel like they're degrading, and they're lasting well, too. Hopefully we can pick up some points this weekend - I feel positive. The grip level today felt like a big step forward. We don't know what fuel loads the others are running, but our car feels like a big improvement from where we were just a few weeks ago. And that's simply a result of hard work: all the men and women back at the factory and at the track this weekend have done a fantastic job. It's difficult to gauge how different our car is, but there's more downforce, which is something we're always asking for. This is a major positive. Our initial feeling is that the car is good, but we'll need to see tomorrow - still, I think we're in the hunt for some points."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Today was a good, solid day. Both our drivers performed very well, and we got a lot of work done. The Pirelli tires exceeded expectations in terms of reliability, and we were thereby able to complete some good long runs and collate plenty of useful data and info. We ran a brand-new floor and a brand-new exhaust today, and it's always nice to bring new parts to a circuit and see them deliver what you'd expected. Today we saw that: a decent correlation from simulator to racetrack. But you don't get any points on Fridays - so, although it's always pleasing to see your cars finish first and second in any session, we won't be counting our chickens before they're hatched. All I'll therefore say now is that today was an encouraging day: we're going in the right direction, and we're hoping to continue in that direction in our efforts to strive to find further improvements overnight."
Fernando Alonso (3rd, 1:26.001): "Nothing new yet and what else would you expect? These two free practice sessions have not actually revealed the real relative strengths of the teams: this morning Red Bull went well and in the afternoon it was McLaren's turn, with us and Mercedes always in the mix, while Williams and Renault also seem competitive. There are so many teams who could be in with a chance of going for the win and therefore it's obvious that it will be necessary to have a good Saturday, without any mistakes if you want to start from the front row. Today, we concentrated mainly on analyzing the behavior of the Pirelli tires, which seems a bit different here to what we saw in testing, partly because the track surface has very different characteristics. As far as strategy is concerned, we will need to be very flexible during the race, because at the moment, we know too little about the tires to be able to say with certainty on which lap it will be best to stop. From what we have seen today, maybe we can do ten laps on one set of tires, or maybe thirty! I am happy with the way the car is going: at the start there was a bit of understeer and we still are a way off from having perfect grip at the front, but it went better than I was expecting. We wanted to show that Japan was in the thoughts of all of us at Ferrari, which is why we ran with a sticker dedicated to the people of a country that has brought a lot to Formula 1 and where our sport has a great following."
Felipe Massa (7th, 1:26.789): "We tested a lot of things in these two free practice sessions, splitting the work with my team-mate so as to explore different ways to go in terms of preparing for the rest of the weekend. I expected to set a quicker time, especially as the softs were not at their best until the fourth lap. On the hards, on the longest runs, it did not achieve much, as there were also a few drops of rain to complicate the situation. From what we have seen, the soft tire shows less degradation than we might have expected, but we have to work out if that will still be the case in the race. This track is definitely less hard on tires than Barcelona for example, where we did so much testing. This year it will be vital to study their behavior carefully, circuit by circuit. The difference in outright performance between the two types of tire is very marked. McLaren and Red Bull seem very strong, but there are other cars that can also be on the pace."
Pat Fry: "This morning we worked mainly on evaluating a few aerodynamic updates on the front wing, while the afternoon was spent mostly comparing the two types of tire that Pirelli has brought here, running with various fuel loads. Unfortunately, the second session took place in very variable weather conditions, with rain putting in an appearance, which made it even more difficult to assess the situation. During the first ninety minutes it seemed that the tires showed less obvious degradation compared to what we had seen during the fifteen days of testing in Spain. As for the afternoon, I think we need to analyze the data very carefully, especially that part relating to the longer runs. Now we can get down to work: we can expect a long evening to prepare ourselves as well as possible for tomorrow's qualifying."
Michael Schumacher (6th, 1:26.590): "My first impressions of the 2011 season are quite positive. We learned a lot today, and are more or less where we thought we would be, although it was quite windy and tricky to drive. We will sort out some issues on our car for the rest of the weekend but I am still happy with what we have seen here so far. I would like to give a compliment to the Pirelli tires which worked very well here today."
Nico Rosberg (10th, 1:27.448): "It was a decent day for us. I had a positive morning and a good long run this afternoon which was useful to see how the tires behaved. However it was a bit difficult for me during P2 because a few things were not working properly on the car. It's difficult to say where we are the moment but I think we are in reasonable shape and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "It is good to finally get the racing action underway here in Melbourne and to start the process of seeing where we stand after the winter. Today went reasonably well for us, and we were able to complete much of the planned program for the two sessions, although some small problems on both cars this afternoon did have an effect. This was the first opportunity to try the new tires, KERS and rear wing system in a race weekend situation which was extremely useful for the drivers and the team. There is a lot to evaluate and complete tomorrow before qualifying but I'm happy with our start to the weekend."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "We learned a lot about our car and the new Pirelli tires on this track today which is obviously quite different to the ones we have been testing on. However not everything went perfectly this afternoon as we had some technical issues which influenced the lap times for both Michael and Nico. Our initial impressions are that we have basically a similar potential to that shown during the last test in Barcelona a fortnight ago."
Vitaly Petrov (12th, 1:27.528): "It's always fun to get the season underway. The weather was quite cold, but I didn't have any issues with the car during the sessions. We did the baseline set-up work and found some good improvements during the day and I already feel quite comfortable with the balance of the car here. The other good news is that the tires were performing well today and lasting quite a bit longer than expected."
Nick Heidfeld (13th, 1:27.536): "I think today was OK. We spent more time than we expected working on the set-up and so we didn't do as many laps as we wanted. The car felt alright, but I think we can still improve. With the hard tires it was quite difficult to get enough grip, and the small problems that we had meant I couldn't really do a long run in the end. Also, the wet weather conditions meant it was not ideal to learn about the car, but I think we're lucky that it stayed pretty dry. It's still very difficult to know exactly where we stand, but we do have a better picture than we had yesterday."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "The track was very green to begin with and we didn't do a great amount of running in the first session. We used one set of hard tires per driver and it all went as planned. We used flow viz paint on both cars to assess the performance of the DRS (drag reduction system). We also practiced using KERS in both sessions. We ran both the hard and soft tires in the second session and did some high fuel work on the soft tire. We have evaluated some new aerodynamic parts and they are performing well."
Rubens Barrichello (9th, 1:27.280): "That was quite a straight forward day. We were able to run KERS throughout, which is only the second time that I've had it on the car. I think we showed some competitiveness today but we need to do some work to keep it up. I enjoyed my Friday so I'm looking forward to a good weekend."
Pastor Maldonado (18th, 1:29.386): "It was a bit difficult this morning because I didn't know the track and so I spent most of the session just getting to grips with it. It was also quite slippery. This afternoon, we concentrated on long runs and were happy with the performance of the car. As we were good on the long runs, I think I can improve a lot tomorrow in terms of timed laps. I'm confident going into the rest of the weekend."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "That was a productive first day's practice. We successfully worked through our program, which included running all day with revised KERS components, testing aero modifications and a new front wing on Rubens' car. Everything worked as expected. Interestingly, tire degradation is currently looking better here than it was when we were testing."
Paul di Resta (16th, 1:28.376): "It was a good to have the opportunity to start my season today. We were able to complete our planned program and the tires performed better than I expected. Overall I felt quite comfortable with the new systems on the car, but until I get into a competitive situation it is still too early to say how we'll do. We have another practice session in the morning, and so we'll look at the data from today and work on the small issues we had and our program for Qualifying. I am excited about tomorrow, but at the same time there is a job to be done and my focus is to achieve the best result I can for the team."
Adrian Sutil (17th, 1:28.583): "It was not a bad day. We had quite a few new components on the car to test and the rear wing made a good difference. In the second session we put it all together with a few more sets of tires, but we had a small issue with the floor and lost a little bit of running. It takes a good three to four laps to get the tires working for us, on a hard tire maybe longer, and at the beginning we suffered from understeer and front locking. It is important to look at the other drivers' lap times now to see what they achieved with the different tire compounds. I am getting to grips with operating the KERS and the rear wing and am confident in the system. I am aiming to qualify mid-table tomorrow - I think that is possible, so let's see what we can do."
Nico Hulkenberg: "It was an interesting FP1 and I learnt a lot again about the tires and the car. Driving with just one set of tires was pretty difficult because I picked up a flat spot early on which distracted my further running. The rubber wore quite quickly and caused a lot of vibrations, which made it tough to run. But I got some good laps in and collected some good data for the engineers to look at. I am happy to have driven here in Melbourne again and to pick up some more experience and information for the team."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "We had two objectives for the first practice session; for Nico to gather as much data on the prime tire as possible and for Adrian to evaluate a new rear wing. Paul drove this circuit last year, so it's not completely new for him. Over the course of the season Adrian and Paul will both share their car with Nico on a Friday, so we're simply keeping things balanced. FP2 ran to program, with long run comparisons at race fuel and a test of the DRS race mode and SC systems. It's been a productive day and we are looking ahead to what will be a fascinating race weekend."
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer:
Sergio Perez (8th, 1:27.101): "I am happy with how my first day went. The second session especially was really good. I had no difficulties at all learning the circuit, as it felt familiar quite quickly. Regarding the set-up of the car, we are going in the right direction but have to figure out a few changes for tomorrow. I am very much looking forward to tomorrow, because this is when it counts."
Kamui Kobayashi (15th, 1:28.095): "I think overall the car isn't too bad, and we have learned a lot today running the car with the new Pirelli tires for the first time on this track. It is important to understand how to handle the tires, especially with regard to the track temperatures. In the first session I did quite long runs with one set of tires. In the second we hadn't really the time to let the grip of the tires develop to the best possible because we had quite a packed test program. We will now see how we can improve the car's balance for tomorrow."
James Key, Technical Director: "First of all it is good having got the season underway. Today's surprisingly cold and wet conditions in both sessions didn't stop us carrying out the program we had planned. Even with the colder track temperatures, the tires have been a little bit easier to manage compared to pre-season testing, which is good. We had a normal program for both drivers with set-up work and tire testing. On softer tires neither of our drivers had a clear lap due to traffic. Kamui was not happy with the car's balance in the second practice. Sergio was a little bit happier. He also had traffic but stuck it out and managed to put a lap together. Now we will work to improve the car's balance for tomorrow."
Jaime Alguersuari (11th, 1:27.525): "A different day, as I had to get used to seeing Daniel driving my car in the morning! I am cool with it and it's good that another Red Bull young driver gets the chance to experience Formula 1. The main thing is that we are all working for the same team helping each other to progress. I have to say, because it was the first day of the season, it was quite difficult this afternoon to fit in as much of the program as possible and the occasional rain definitely did not help. However, I am happy with the feel from the car, it seems to be competitive and even though it went well today, there is the potential to get much more out of it tomorrow. For a first day of the season I would sum it up as very positive."
Sebastien Buemi (14th, 1:27.697): "After winter testing, it's good to be back at a track for real, knowing you are going to race. I'm happy to be able to see how we measure up against the other drivers. It has been a busy day with a full program that we will now analyze very carefully, as there are all the new elements, like the rear wing, KERS and new tires to take into consideration. Currently the times show us in the middle of the pack, in a tight group in terms of lap times of those ahead and behind us. We need to get the maximum out of this evening if we want to get the maximum out of tomorrow. The circuit has not changed much since last year apart from some resurfacing at corners 8 and 9 which helps, so it is as nice as ever to drive here."
Daniel Ricciardo: "All week I was trying to prepare myself, to have the least amount of nerves and pressure as possible. Even though it was just another time being out on track, it did feel a bit different, I won't lie. When I pulled out of the pits and onto the track, I felt a little bit jelly-like for the first few corners. But once we got the procedural stuff out of the way, I was pretty happy and got into it. The first important thing is that I brought the car back in one piece, so hopefully the team is happy with that and afterwards I was just trying to build up gradually and learn. As the year goes on, it will get easier for me."
Jarno Trulli (19th, 1:30.829): "The team worked really well to get the car ready for the afternoon session but we struggled a bit with a few issues that meant I couldn't really push. We'll work tonight on setup options and there are definitely some areas to look at where we can find some pace so I think tomorrow we'll be ok."
Heikki Kovalainen (20th, 1:30.912): "It was one of those days. We had a couple of problems the guys worked hard to resolve, and once we had got through the issues we managed to complete most of the program so we have some good data to work through tonight. There is obviously more pace to come from the car so let's see what happens tomorrow."
Karun Chandhok: "I'm obviously disappointed to have had such a short run for my first time in the Team Lotus car, but I put my hands up to it and totally accept it was a combination of a slippery track and less grip than I expected from the tires that combined to put me out so early. I'm just pleased the guys could get Jarno out in the afternoon session and it shows what a great team this is that they could get the car fixed that quickly to ensure Jarno could get a decent number of laps under his belt in FP2."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "It is good to be back racing and very satisfying to see our green and yellow vision coming together on and off the track. It was one of those days that are not so good for us but this is a continuous journey and while we have work to do I'm confident we are moving in the right direction for the year ahead. It is a real mark of where we are now that the comments from the rest of the team are expressing disappointment with today. As a Team Principal it is actually very pleasing to hear that a performance that a year ago we would have been thrilled about is now being seen as us not meeting our targets, and that shows us all just how far we have already come. The team may not see it right now but this is huge progress, so I am happy and looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "A difficult first day in Australia, although we managed to complete some good work at the end of FP2. At the start of FP1 Karun was caught out by the slippery conditions and made a mistake which unfortunately curtailed his running. In the second session we had a fuel pressure problem on Jarno's car and an electronics issue on Heikki's car, both of which limited our running, but we were able to solve those issues and work through most of the afternoon's plan. For tomorrow there is a lot more to come from the car. We are clearly not quite where we expected to be in performance terms but we understand the reasons for that - it is proving quite tricky for us to get the best out of the tires but we will work on that tonight and when we improve I am confident we will move up to where we expect to be in qualifying tomorrow."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "Engine wise it was quite a good day because we managed to carry out a number of tests we had not completed in the pre-season running. We have had some positive feedback from the drivers from those tests, for example with the blown-floor strategy, so this has been a pretty encouraging day for us."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (23rd, No Time): "Even though we only did one lap today, it is very important for us to have put the F111 into action. It's been a big effort from everybody, the mechanics and engineers have worked day and night to get the car ready. It's very positive to have the car on the ground and we now have some numbers to work on for tomorrow. We are looking forward to tomorrow as it is our first chance to put in some laps together and get some information on the car."
Narain Karthikeyan (24th, No Time): "Everybody is working hard trying to put things into place. With new cars there are always bound to be problems. We have everything here, but just to trim parts and fit them into a car is a time consuming process. Unfortunately we lost a day today, so I think it's going to be a tough weekend undoubtedly but at least we have made some progress."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "The team made a great effort today. Tomorrow we can have a normal day, with both cars running on the track. Tomorrow will be another day of hard work and hopefully more progress. As for today, I must thank the whole team for their effort and hard work, they did a great job. I am very proud of them."
Jerome d'Ambrosio (21st, 1:32.106): "Today has been something very special for me for sure. I have been racing since I was eight years old so today is a dream come true. It was very exciting to drive out of the garage this morning and also to drive here in Albert Park for the first time. It's a fantastic track and I like it very much, so a lot of great things to be happy with. We have some work to do to improve, that is clear, but this is only the beginning. We showed that we could make progress through both sessions so we have to get the best out of the package we have here and then keep pushing to improve."
Timo Glock (22nd, 1:32.135): "Not an easy first day. I had a bit of trouble this morning in terms of the setup, and the behavior of the car was not right, quite difficult. In the second session we made some improvements but the gap to the top guys is quite big and that's a bit disappointing. We have to make the best out of it, get on top of it and make the car quicker."
John Booth, Team Principal: "This morning's session wasn't as smooth a start to the season as we would have liked, but we resolved a sensor calibration issue with Timo as soon as possible and got ourselves back on course. The conditions were very slippery and there was little grip due to last night's rain, so most of the teams were waiting for the track to improve. In the afternoon we were able to complete plenty of laps and both drivers are doing a good job. Clearly we're not where we need to be at the moment so we have to study the data and look at what we can do to improve. Congratulations to Jerome on a great debut today."
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