Malaysia GP: Friday Press Conference and Quotes
Eric BOULLIER (Renault)
Ross BRAWN (Mercedes)
Paul HEMBERY (Pirelli)
Christian HORNER (Red Bull)
Colin KOLLES (HRT)
Monisha KALTENBORN (Sauber)
Q. A question to you all. How did things go today. Colin, would you start?
Colin KOLLES: A little bit better than last time.
Q. We saw Narain Karthikeyan stop , we saw Tonio Liuzzi stop. Can you tell us why?
CK: These were really minor issues, otherwise we would not have had the possibility to go out again. There was some electrical issue and the big smoke was just too much oil from Cosworth.
Q. So basically some progress made today?
CK: I think so, yes. This was our first test day basically.
Q. You said you wanted to get miles under the belt.
CK: I think we made some progress and we will make tomorrow some progress. I think it was not too bad, we have no major issues, it is just a matter to find some set-up.
Q. Ross, today for you?
Ross BRAWN: A better day than we experienced in Melbourne, so we made reasonable progress with the car. One or two minor issues but we should be able to resolve them overnight and the car wasn't too bad. We have got to find a better balance on high fuel. The tires are pretty critical here, perhaps more akin to what we experienced at Barcelona, and when we got onto high fuel we didn't have the right balance so we suffered because of that. We have got to focus now on finding a better balance on high fuel.
Q. How did you find the wear rate, particularly on the softs?
RB: I think if you don't have a good balance it is quite high, but if you get the balance right then it is manageable.
Q. Eric, tell us about your day. A bit dramatic?
Eric BOULLIER: Yes, a bit dramatic. We had a couple of failures this morning on the uprights on the cars. First we thought it was a brakes problem, very difficult to understand and to have a proper diagnostic. It took us a lot of time to investigate properly obviously as it is a safety issue. We found out that the two failures were coming from the same batch, a different one, so we had a back-up plan and we took the decision to run and it went okay
Q. So basically they are different uprights that you are running at the moment.
EB: No, no no. The same but different materials. We suspect there is a materials issue because it is the same design, everything is the same except it was a new part.
Q. You wouldn't send out a dangerous car, obviously, but you feel it is perfectly safe now.
Q. Paul, from Pirelli's point of view how did things go today?
Paul HEMBERY: Well, from our point of view it is almost early days. It is right we got more degradation here and there is quite a big difference between the soft and the hard, probably a second in the absolute times, so the teams are probably working out their strategies now based on that. I am guessing on a three-stop strategy, but we were surprised obviously in Melbourne with a one-stop which we certainly could not have envisaged beforehand. But three would appear from what we have seen so far today to be probably the most likely scenario.
Q. You mentioned the degradation. What about between soft and hard?
PH: The softer grains a lot. I think that was quite clear. Everyone was doing a quick lap and then some people were backing off trying to see if it would come back. They are looking at about eight to nine laps from the data I have seen briefly.
Q. When can you imagine them changing tires. It looks like one minute, 43 seconds we were seeing at the end which was the fastest time?
PH: I think you have to ask this lot that. That is what they will be are working on tonight and tomorrow to work on their strategy.
Q. Monisha, for Sauber I guess it all starts again really.
Monisha KALTENBORN: Well I hope not.
Q. After what happened in Australia?
MK: Well, of course, the last weekend was a very disappointing one for the team. If you look at the performance I think the team did an excellent job. The drivers did a great performance, especially with Sergio Perez having that one-stop strategy and they just deserved to keep the points. With all that, if you are penalized in such a way, it just feels very, very harsh. But we focused on what we had to do and get it sorted out which wasn't a big issue as such. All it was, was a minor error. It is an annoying mistake as it cost us 10 points, but there was no great issue we had with that radius. We looked at our entire legality check procedure again to make sure that this doesn't happen again.
Q. And today, how did things go?
MK: It wasn't a bad day for us. We had set out our program which we could pretty much fulfill. We also had a balance issue, trying to understand the tires better, so we have enough to do.
Q. Christian, today?
Christian HORNER: Yes it was a good day for us. We worked through a program with both of the drivers looking at the soft and the hard tire and some other bits and pieces. It has been a productive and good day. We have covered plenty of laps trying to understand the characteristics of the tires, so it adds an extra dimension this year with the strategy. It is going to be fascinating to see how it pans out but on top of that we have also got the weather to keep an eye on as well so it is going to be an interesting weekend.
Q. It was a fairly astonishing margin this morning wasn't it?
CH: Yeah, but again you cannot read too much into that. Different people are running to different programs. There was even a margin between our two cars. As we saw in the afternoon certainly the McLarens look competitive and Mercedes not too far away. I don't think Ferrari have shown their full hand yet, so very difficult to draw too many conclusions, but in terms of our own performance it has been a productive Friday.
Q.Colin, I think it was a fairly tough winter for you. Just what sort of effort has it required to keep the team going?
CK: Some effort I would say.
Q. How much? Give us an indication. You have run teams in the past.
CK: I am not a person who is making a big issue out of this. We are here. We worked hard in December and in January and February and we have to improve, that's the point. If I look backwards and I go into a corner and start to cry, nobody will help me. It is past and we have to move forward.
Q. You can tell me whether this is true or not, but I believe you have failed a couple of crash tests. How much has that set things back?
CK: Well, I don't think we are the only ones who are failing a crash test, but due to the fact that we were quite tight, obviously we had some issues in Australia. We failed a crash test with 0.07G, for one millisecond we were above 20G so we could not run the front wing, we could not the front nose, so this is how it is.
Q. Was it this Wednesday that you passed it?
Q. So it was all a bit tight?
CK: It was tight, as obviously you need an FIA observer, so you have to make appointments and bring the people together. We were confident that we would pass it so everything was set up that it would be passed and we passed it so we can run the new noses.
Q. Ross, how frustrating was Australia? Does the season really start here now?
RB: I think it does for us. It was frustrating, but really, problems of our own making. We just had too many issues with various things in Australia. You can normally deal with one or two things but we had quite a flood of problems and it was just difficult to keep the car running consistently and work out what we needed to do. Then, of course, that was capped by a couple of issues in the race so It wasn't a great weekend for us. Frustrating, as the car is not where we want it to be yet, but it was a lot better than it looked in Australia and I hope this weekend we can demonstrate that.
Q. Looking at the margins that we have seen today, is it Red Bull Racing versus McLaren or can Mercedes be in there as well?
RB: I think we have got a little while to go before we can certainly trouble RBR. We have got lots happening. There are some things we still need to understand and obviously running the car consistently as we did today means we can get a better understanding. I think the warmer weather, the different conditions with the tires, is presenting some new problems that we have got to get our heads around compared to what we saw in Barcelona so we need to make some progress but it looks a lot better than what we had in Melbourne.
Q. Eric, how much has changed since Australia? Why did we not see the problems you had this morning in Australia?
EB: First, because as I told you, we suspect, I mean very strongly, that we have heat treatment or a material issue. That's it, so it is a new part from a new batch. That's it. Shit can happen unfortunately. Since Australia, we have brought some new parts here so obviously the lack of track time is not helping us to understand car balance. I agree with Ross, it will be crucial to run at least some decent degradation so we still have a lot to think about tonight and to work tomorrow morning.
Q. After the third place in Australia, what was the atmosphere within the team?
EB: It was clearly a big relief for many reasons. First, it was a reward for the tough winter we had with everything which happened. It was also a relief to see Vitaly (Petrov) deliver properly a full weekend so for the whole team I think it was a big reward.
Q. Paul, you have brought some harder tires here as well, a new generation of hard tires if I can call it that, so how did those shape up today?
PH: Well, we only had a limited running this morning with them. I think there was a comment they were "slower and warmer, less degradation". They are a generation of product that goes towards, I guess, something that won't degrade at a different level. We are trying to find our feet, knowing what the right point is, so that we don't over-stretch or exaggerate but equally, if we are too conservative we will be back to square one. It was all part of our learning. It was an opportunity to see in a real track condition how the product performs as we do have limitation on testing. We do have the Toyota that we ran last weekend in Istanbul Park but it rained for a couple of days so it wasn't as successful as we wanted. But it is a way we can get close to the teams in a real-life situation and have real data.
Q. Might you bring those again?
PH: Well it depends on the race. We will see how the race goes. The track evolution is something that we are also having to learn as you can't do that when you are running on your own, you need to see all 24 cars on the circuit. Support races have a big impact as well. I think we saw that in Melbourne. That was one of the major factors in the changes in strategy, the reduction in pit-stops from what we thought maybe on the Saturday. That may happen again here. We will make a decision on that direction on Sunday night.
Q. It was generally judged to be a success in Melbourne. What would be a success here?
PH: Well, I think everyone else has to be a judge of that. It is a long season for us. It is new. This track in particular, from a tire-maker's point of view, is very interesting. The surface, in particular, is the sort of surface that we saw in American racing. It is hard to distinguish it between almost a concrete surface. You are almost lacking grip. You come here thinking certainly after Melbourne, higher speed, higher temperature, more abrasive but in reality you are almost missing grip so it is interesting. If you were in a competitive environment you'd have a compound just for this circuit.
Q. Monisha, just to go back to the rear wing. What was required? Did you just make new rear wings to come here?
MK: Yes, that was just it. We were by a few millimeters not in conformity with the technical regulation concerned so we just had to make sure that the radius fitted into this template, R100, the FIA template. So it wasn't really much to do. More important was to make sure that this doesn't happen again, as this small mistake cost us 10 points which is quite a lot for us. We evaluated the whole process again. We reinforced it. We added a few measures. We do, as such, have a procedure which worked and proved to be right but, of course, with people mistakes can happen and it should have been caught up.
Q. Tell us about Sergio during the Australian Grand Prix. A lot of people are looking and saying 'why couldn't we do a one-stop strategy as well'. Has he got a particularly light touch?
MK: Well, we also were very surprised by his driving to be honest. But it is too early to say how his driving style is and this is just the first race and we still have the entire season to go. He definitely can handle tires in such a condition, we could see that, but it is just too early to make a final call on that.
Q. Christian, would you explain why the front part of your car seems to be lower?
CH: There's been so much said about the front wing that I probably don't need to add to it in this forum. I think that, at the end of the day, our car conforms with the regulations. We're very happy with that. We run the car, set-up-wise, slightly differently. We run a bit more rake in the car when, inevitably, you run the rear a bit higher, the front a bit lower and you end up, potentially with a visual difference. That's the way it is. The car complies with the regs. The FIA is happy with that and we're obviously very comfortable with that.
Q. And after the performance in Melbourne, what was the atmosphere within the team?
CH: It was excellent. The winter had been very, very busy, because the challenge of winning the championship last year, with it going all the way down to the wire, obviously consumed a huge amount of energy and focus and attention, and then not to be totally distracted by that in the meantime, in the background, to be designing a car to different regulations, different challenges with KERS re-introduced, with the rear wing and a different tire manufacturer, obviously posed its own challenges. I think the team just worked phenomenally hard, collectively, as a group, to produce the car in time for the first test - effectively in a shorter period than they've had to design and build the car previously. Then, we enjoyed a good pre-season, probably one of our best ever pre-seasons, where we were, ironically, disappointed that the first race in Bahrain was cancelled, for understandable reasons. We felt that we were ready, at that point in time. We turned up in Melbourne, not knowing the true extent of how competitive we were in respect of our rivals. Obviously, Sebastian's performance throughout the weekend was a truly dominant performance. He drove an immaculate weekend really. Obviously, the challenges of the new format of racing, with the strategy playing a key role, it was important to get that right. So, it was a great satisfaction to win the opening race in Australia, a race where we have historically had indifferent results, our best previous result being a fourth place there. The only thing that was missing for us from that result was not to have the other car up there as well, But, to have book-ended 2010 and 2011 with race wins was a fantastic team performance.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q. (Joe Saward – GP Plus) We have a regulation for engines for 2013 and yet you lot are having meetings all the time about engines for the future. Can you tell us what's going on on that count?
RB: Well, we're designing an engine for 2013. There's a set of regulations and we're designing an engine to them. As always there's a lot of debate going on but that's the regulations the FIA have issued, so unless the FIA change their position, that's what we will be racing in 2013.
CK: We will see.
EB: Yes, we are working on designing a new engine following the regulations that have been released for 2013. That's it.
CK: We are no engine manufacturers.
CH: Renault are focused on the 2013 regulations as they currently stand.
MK: Same for us here. We know Ferrari is working on it. For us, it's important that whatever engine we have, we have to make sure that financially independent teams can afford it, so that's the biggest issue for us, and of course we also have to make sure that we have innovative technologies coming in, so we have to make sure a balance is created.
Q. (Joe Saward – GP Plus) Monisha, you were talking about ten points; what are those ten points worth?
MK: That I will tell you at the end of the season.
Q. (Joe Saward – GP Plus) It's an awful lot of money, isn't it?
MK: It could be, but we are still confident that we can manage to make that up again.
Q. (Joe Saward – GP Plus) Ross and Colin, can you just have a little chat about your wind tunnel deal that you have between you?
CK: This is a commercial Mercedes issue.
RB: We have two wind tunnels. Because of the FOTA constraint regulations we only use one of them for our own Formula One program so the other one is let out to customers and Colin, along with a number of other activities, is renting sometime in the tunnel. It's really as simple as that. We have a tunnel which we don't use, (that) we used to use before the constraints came in – it's the original tunnel that was built at Brackley - and we rent it out to whoever wants to buy time in it. It's really as simple as that. I didn't know it was Colin until my commercial manager told us he was buying some time in it, which is great, if we can help, but it's just rent on normal commercial terms.
Q. (Joe Saward – GP Plus) Christian, can you talk about KERS a little bit. In Australia you didn't appear to have it on the cars, are you running it here? What was the problem in Australia?
CH: In Australia we ran the system on the Friday. We felt that there was a potential reliability risk and the benefit of KERS in Australia is arguably less than (at) other venues, so we decided not to take that risk and remove the system from both cars on Friday evening, with a view to running the system here again, which we've done today. The system has run well and obviously reliably, so a decision will be made on it no doubt later this evening.
Q. Could you just clarify: is it your own KERS system or is it a Renault KERS system?
CH: It's a system that has commonality with Renault. It's been designed in conjunction with them. Obviously, the installation of the system tends to be more personalized to each team, but there's a great deal of commonality, certainly between the two Renault-powered teams that are running KERS.
Q. (Dan Knutson – National Speedsport News) For the team bosses: it doesn't make much sense that the drivers can use the movable rear wing any time they want during Friday and Saturday and then only once a lap during the race. Should the rule be changed, how soon should it be changed, what you can you do to change the rule?
CH: I think we probably need a few more samples. In Melbourne, the wing obviously wasn't that powerful. Arguably, it put a few cars in a position to make an overtaking maneuver but it is one of the shortest straights. We will have a much better view on the impact that the DRS has here this weekend with the length of the straights. Certainly the FIA seems open-minded as to the activation points. We probably just need to gather a few more samples before becoming able to judge it effectively. It's an interesting question. I think, in many respects, it might be easier to have consistency of use but it's a little bit of a voyage of discovery that we're learning about as we go.
EB: I think it's common sense as well to run it even if it's – let say – when we want, so when the driver wants, during the free session and qualifying, at least for reliability issues and to get the driver used to the top speed, rather than the inverse.
RB: I think we have to run it in practice, for sure, to get the thing set up, it's all about ratios, getting the drivers into using it. Qualifying is an open point. In the race, the reason it's used is to enhance overtaking so there are particular parts of the track where you want to make it available to one car and not the car they're trying to overtake, so that's why it's triggered by proximity systems. I think this will be a race where we will see the true value of it. It's a system which is very easy to turn off or increase the usage of and we want to see how it develops and see if it's really a benefit to the show of Formula One.
(Julien Febreau – L'Equipe) Question to all of you, except Mr. Horner and Mr. Hembery: what is your opinion of the Red Bull front wing and are you working on or do you plan to work on a similar system?
MK: We, of course, we had another issue we had to sort out regarding wings, so we focused on that and not Red Bull's front wing. Red Bull's car has been checked, and if the FIA think it is legal, it is alright. We will keep on looking at it, of course, Red Bull knows that, but I think we should focus more on our own car than looking at other cars that much.
CK: I think I have little bit different issues than the Red Bull's front wing at the moment. I'm focusing more on my issues. I think Ross can maybe say more.
RB: There's a regulation which says that the bodywork should be rigid. We all know that's impossible because everything moves. It's a question of degrees, so the FIA has a series of tests to measure the degree to which bodywork moves and as long as you pass those tests then your car is to all intents and purposes legal. Those tests can change, in fact they changed over the winter because, as they do in a lot of areas, the FIA try and improve those tests. There's a new test this year. Red Bull obviously pass it so that's all there is to say about it. They've got a philosophy of their car and approach and teams have got to decide if that's the reason – or one of the reasons - for their level of performance. If it is, then you need to consider going that route yourself, or make sure it's not an excuse for the fact they're winning everything at the moment. It's a philosophy. It ties in a lot with the whole car concept. It's fair to say that probably, over the winter, a lot of teams assumed with the new test that the situation was going to change and it hasn't so we're faced with what we have and we have to make sure we produce as competitive a car as we can and comply to the FIA tests.
EB: I'm not going to repeat what Ross said but obviously I agree with what he said. There is a regulation in place, there are some tests done by the FIA, especially regarding the flexibility of the bodywork parts and if Red Bull is complying with the rule then there is nothing much to say. Back to the question: again it's a philosophy. As Christian said, they are running a different set-up with more rake and we also went a different way, with a different philosophy, so we keep an eye on them, obviously, because you also look at the fastest cars on the track, especially when it's constantly fastest. But we don't know if we will go this way or not.
Q. (Joe Saward – GP Plus) Paul, have you had any nasty surprises this season or has it all gone pretty much according to plan?
PH: No nasty surprises, no. Surprises, yes, but no nasty ones. I guess it's very different for us to be on the track with 24 cars as I mentioned earlier. The lack of testing facilities or ability for us is tough and would be tough for anyone coming into the sport. That's been interesting. We're going to keep learning. I'm quite sure that it's going to be a season of learning for us, as each track is different, has a different challenge. I think at the end of the season we will then have enough data for everything we need to do.
Q. (Joe Saward – GP Plus) When the teams are doing all their simulation work back in their factories, can you tell us about Pirelli's simulation? How does that work and can you learn an awful lot from that?
PH: Well, going forward, with the lack of testing, ultimately we will want to have our own simulator or means of simulating vehicle and tire inter-reactions and that's something we will work on going forward. At the moment, of course, we're just supplying data to allow the teams to run their own work, but going forward we want to use simulation, and we do it for road cars in reality, simulations to allow us to make our product development without going testing, or at least do a screening to get to a point where you can arrive at a solution without having to go on the track. But a lot of our performance is obviously related to the surface and weather and there are still a lot of unknowns in our business in that area.
Mark Webber (1st, 1:36.876): "We look okay, but it's still early days in a race weekend. We got some dry running in and the car performed well. It was reliable, which is always a nice bonus. We got to check all the tires - including the new tire that Pirelli brought here. It's very hot. We need to look at the information we got today, but so far so good for us."
Sebastian Vettel (4th, 1:37.090): "We completed quite a lot of laps this morning because of the extra tires - and this afternoon we did more or less what was planned. We didn't have any big problems, but we got a lot of mileage and took a lot of things onboard. Obviously tire wear is different here to Melbourne. I think it's the same for everyone, at least, it is for us. We'll see where we are tomorrow."
Jenson Button (2nd, 1:36.881): "This afternoon's session was much better than this morning's. We found things a little difficult during P1; after Melbourne, we chose to head in a certain direction in order to resolve the issues we had in the first race, but the track is very different here. So we went back on a few of those changes, and everything is performing better now. But, actually, everyone appears to have been struggling with rear grip today. The tires feel very different from those we had in Melbourne. It's very tricky, but that's what we saw in winter testing, so we have good experience with that. We don't know what fuel loads the other teams were running, of course. What's important, though, is that we changed a lot of things on the car and they were all positive steps. We feel like we've found a good direction - and hopefully there'll be more to come."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd, 1:37.010): "Today has been interesting. We seem reasonably close to the top of the time-sheets - and I think we've made some positive steps with the set-up of the car. We've still got time to find, but it's been a constructive day. The track conditions are massively different compared with the cold conditions we experienced in Australia, so the tires don't last as long. Maybe Sunday will see a three-stop race. I think the bunch of teams at the front is tightening, so it could be a good race. I hope we're also closer to the front than we were in the last race, but we'll have to wait and see."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Today we made good progress - especially when you consider that we were conducting our first high-temperature runs on the new Pirelli tires. In this morning's session both Lewis and Jenson expressed the view that our car was somewhat lacking in balance, but by this afternoon our engineers had worked hard to make the relevant improvements and the result was that both drivers were much happier with the 'feel' of their cars. As a consequence, both of them achieved good pace over both short runs and long runs. However, we still believe there's a bit more pace in the cars to 'unlock' this weekend, and we fully intend to work as hard as possible to do just that over the next two days."
Felipe Massa (6th, 1:38.089): "It's logical that I had expected and had hoped to be quicker, especially when compared to the two teams that are clearly in front. Let's see what we can do between this evening and tomorrow to improve the car. There is not much grip and also tire degradation is very high and, as could be seen in the final part of the second session, when everyone was presumably running with a heavy fuel load, we were not the only ones having a problem. If the race was to take place in the dry, choosing the right strategy would be very complicated. The soft tires work better, giving much more grip and they are much quicker, although there is a lot of degradation. The hard seems to be slower and, at first, seems a bit more consistent, but it does not last that much longer than the other. We will have to be ready for anything this weekend. In the last two days, we have seen that at the time qualifying and the race are due to start, it always rains. If that also happens in the next two days, anything could happen."
Fernando Alonso (9th, 1:38.583): "Given how things went today, it looks like being a difficult weekend, but we will do all we can to get close to the quickest. Today, things did not go well and we struggled to find a good balance on the car, so this evening we will look at how we can improve. On a track like this, with such variable weather and with tire degradation being what it is, there will be a lot of factors in play in the fight for the top places and just being quickest will not be enough. This morning we did a lot of work on the aerodynamics to understand what had not worked the way we had expected in Australia, but even if we had been quick in Melbourne, there would still be work to do. This is only the start of the season: we are not quick enough to fight for the win and pole position, but that does not mean that we have to throw in the towel. Instead we have to step up our efforts to quickly reduce the gap that separates us from those who have done a better job than us."
Pat Fry: "We got through a lot of work on this first day of free practice. In fact, apart from the usual Friday program, we wanted to carry out a whole series of aerodynamic tests to try and gather as much data as possible on the handling of the car, especially in terms of the front end. In quantitive terms we achieved our aim because the program was completed as planned. Now it's up to us to analyze the data and get the answers we are looking for. It will be a tough job, but a vital one to understand in which direction to go in the development of the car. Having done that, we then concentrated on all the usual Friday tasks, which means looking for the best set-up and especially on comparing the two types of tire we have here. From what we could see, it looks like being a very busy weekend for the pit stop guys, because the degradation, at least in these conditions, seems higher than in Melbourne. The alternative scenario is rain which seems likely for Sunday...From a performance point of view, allowing for all the unknown factors on a Friday, the situation does not seem that different to the one in Australia: our aim is try and make the most of what we have got at our disposal."
Michael Schumacher (5th, 1:38.088): "We had a pretty good first day on track here in Sepang. We definitely made a step in the right direction, we were closer to our level of performance from Barcelona than in Melbourne, and I am hopeful there will be more to come. We had two typical Friday sessions, trying out a lot of things for future developments, and it looks we can make further improvements. Today, our aerodynamics and our KERS system worked very well, and I look forward to more to come in the next two days."
Nico Rosberg (7th, 1:38.585): "Today was a productive day for us. We made progress on our set-up work compared to the last race and the team worked well. There are still issues that we have to solve, but I think we are a bit closer to the pace. I'm now looking forward to qualifying and we will look to take another step forward tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We have had a much better day here than we experienced in Melbourne. There are some issues which we need to look into and resolve but it is, without doubt, a more positive start to the race weekend. Our basic lower fuel pace looks reasonable. We need to improve the race pace as the car wasn't consistent enough and that will be the focus for our work tonight."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "It was a productive day for the team, with many laps completed and few problems. We focused on our race set-up today, but there is still more work to be done tomorrow."
Nick Heidfeld (8th, 1:38.570): "Because of the issues this morning, we didn't run very much at all today. We therefore had to prioritize what we did in the afternoon and we felt it was best to do a long run on the soft tires. Although we didn't do many laps, we got some data and we learned a few things, especially about the high degradation rate of the softs. Considering that we did no real set-up work today, it's quite encouraging that I was in the top ten in both sessions. We now have to concentrate on making good progress in the final practice session tomorrow morning."
Vitaly Petrov (13th, 1:39.267): "It wasn't the best day. The problem in the morning was quite a surprise and we decided not to run until late in the afternoon when we had understood things properly. When I did finally get out, the car felt fine, but the time we had was very limited and we didn't really manage to do any set-up work. As we expected, the degradation rates are very high here, especially for the soft tires, but they definitely had more grip and were a couple of seconds quicker than the hard. However, tomorrow is a new day and I think we can still have a good weekend."
James Allison, Technical Director: "Both Vitaly and Nick suffered failures under braking in the front uprights early in the first session. As a precaution we stopped running the cars until we had understood the problem. We quickly established that the two failed items had come from the same material batch and that nothing from this batch had run prior to today. It took a little longer to rule out other potential causes but once we were confident that the failures were related to a material problem we released the cars for the second half of afternoon practice where they ran without problem."
Pastor Maldonado (11th, 1:38.968): "I think today went well. The car is looking competitive and I have a good feeling. There is some margin for improvement, from myself and the car, but it is looking positive for us tomorrow. The spin happened because I had little rubber left on my tires, so I was slipping around a lot as I was making my way into the pitlane. I spun and ended up in the gravel. Fortunately, even with the damage, the mechanics managed to turn the repairs around quickly and send me back out for the last part of the session, so I thank them for that."
Rubens Barrichello (12th, 1:39.187): "Obviously we covered our program. That went ok, but we still have some issues on my set-up which we need to improve before tomorrow. Right now, I'm not fully happy with the balance, but we completed the long runs fine."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "After some minor electrical issues with the KERS in the morning session, we had good reliability this afternoon. Our main target was to evaluate various new parts and to do some long run comparisons using the two tire compounds. The characteristics and performance of the Pirellis look similar to that which we saw in Melbourne. Our focus is now on getting the cars ready for qualifying tomorrow."
Paul di Resta (16th, 1:39.625): "We got through the program we wanted. It was quite difficult to find the ultimate set-up, but I think we found relatively where we need to be on old and new tires, and certainly how to get the wear out of them because they don't seem to be lasting quite as well as in Melbourne. Given that this was my first session here I think that it was productive, so hopefully we can sit down tonight, analyze it and go forward tomorrow."
Adrian Sutil (17th, 1:39.809): "We had a disappointing day. I went out on the first lap of the morning session and straight away we had some KERS issues, which affected the car's balance and power for the rest of the running. In the afternoon the guys fixed this problem, but we then had a downshift issue, which we don't seem to know exactly what it is, and the car was difficult to drive. So we need to understand this problem as it upsets the car, and with reliability and pace not there at the moment, I am a little concerned. But we shall discuss these tonight and work on them for tomorrow."
Nico Hulkenberg: "It was a positive Friday session for me. We ran the super hard tire for first time; it was interesting running and we collected some good data. We successfully carried out some aero work and I got in some good laps, which I was very happy about. Obviously P4 is a good result; it's where we want to be but it's not realistically where we are at the minute. Overall though it was a good session for the team and I am generally happy."
Dominic Harlow, Circuit Engineering Director: "We completed our work today despite the high temperatures, particularly in the afternoon, and we are satisfied with cooling levels, which of course tend to be tested here. We have some issues to address with Adrian's car as he had problems on the downshift that affected the stability but will work on those overnight. On the hot track the drivers found quite high tire degradation and certainly a bit of oversteer as the rear tires degraded. It's a different scenario to the weekend in Australia, and we'll be looking through the data to define our best set-up for the race considering both the tire behavior and the possible weather conditions."
Kamui Kobayashi (14th, 1:39.398): "Although I don't personally mind the high temperatures, they do make a difference. I can't complain about the tires, as they are fine despite the conditions. However, we are struggling with the set-up. Most importantly we have to improve braking stability and I think that's what we are going to do overnight."
Sergio Perez (15th, 1:39.603): "It is obviously very hot in the car, and it is clear the race will become very demanding physically. My run with the soft tires was not good because I had to pit after a yellow flag came out. Generally I think we have some work to do to improve the car for tomorrow."
James Key, Technical Director: "We had a standard program to work through this weekend, and also two extra sets of tires from Pirelli, which was a development tire. We ran one set in the morning and one in the afternoon. That gave us some useful data, but I am sure also some useful data for Pirelli. It seems here with the ambient conditions and particularly the track temperature, as we thought was likely to be the case, the tires are certainly reacting in a different way to what we have seen before. The degradation is higher and the warm up is no issue at all, as you would imagine. In the afternoon we just worked through the tire programs and a race run for each driver on tires. I think we need to look carefully at the data this evening because we are losing about three tenths in the first couple of corners, and a little bit of time in the middle sector. The balance of the car in low speeds is not ideal for the drivers, so we will look at that overnight and look forward to running in free practice three with a better balanced car."
Jaime Alguersuari (10th, 1:38.846): "A good number of laps and a reasonable lap time in FP2 after we managed to make big improvements from the morning session. We need to keep all our focus on the race, because that is going to be the priority, unless the weather produces something strange. Tire degradation will be the key factor here in Sepang, as we expected, so we must concentrate on our performance over a long run, improving our autonomy on the rear tires. In general I am happy with the improvement we saw during the day, but I am still not one hundred percent satisfied as I believe there is room for improvement from my side and also from the car. The heat? You get used to it and as long as you keep drinking a lot and stay hydrated it actually gets better during the weekend."
Sebastien Buemi (18th, 1:40.115): "I only had the one session today and it did not go that well, although we did acquire a lot of data on long and short runs. Now, we must look carefully at the figures, because on track, I did not manage to put everything together perfectly: I had a yellow flag, when I was on what would have been my fastest lap on new soft tires, so in terms of outright lap time it is a long way off what we can do, not reflecting our real pace. We expected tire degradation here and in fact we have seen a very different situation to what we had in Melbourne. However, we have to be quite cautious about drawing conclusions too quickly. It might change the order a bit, but honestly I don't expect big changes. We can improve for tomorrow. As always, it's very hot here, but nothing we don't know how to deal with."
Daniel Ricciardo: "There's a bit less pressure here than in Melbourne, where I was kept very busy at my home event. I felt more comfortable in the cockpit today and got stuck into the program. It was a productive session for me, on a similar program to Australia, going out with a baseline set-up to build on. I was able to provide some feedback which will hopefully be useful to the team, covering areas like where on the track the KERS might be used and what the car needs, as well as basics like helping out with gear ratios. It was good for my learning curve too. The first half hour the track was a bit dusty, but of course it will get better over the rest of the weekend. I last drove here in 2006 in Formula BMW, which is quite a long time ago. I remembered most of it, except that this time, everything seemed to happen 30 seconds quicker!"
Jarno Trulli (20th, 1:41.890): "We managed to get through most of the program but the fact the traffic held up my quickest lap I think masks how we're really looking in outright pace. It's a bit tough as we have had a great build-up to the race here, and the support we have had from the fans and the media in Malaysia has been just great, so we'll work hard to make sure we put on a good performance tomorrow and on Sunday."
Heikki Kovalainen (23rd, 1:44.886): "That was just one of those days. I went out in the second session and felt something go at the rear so came straight back in. It looks like a differential problem and despite the fact the guys worked really hard to try and get me back out the time beat us. However, we'll work on it overnight, and on the data Davide and Jarno have collected today and get back on with it tomorrow."
Davide Valsecchi: "It was nice, so nice and such a good feeling to be in the car here in Malaysia. My lap times weren't incredible as I had a bit of an issue on the last run, so I didn't have the chance to test the car with the different tire set up which would have given better times. It's hot and a bit humid, which never makes it that easy, but the track was fine. The car felt really good but with the limited time I had it was important to take it easy and not push the car to the limit. Heikki gets back in this afternoon and I'm sure he and Jarno will do a good job for the team, so let's hope for a good race this weekend."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "The day started very well off track, with the announcement that Dell has upgraded their relationship with us to become an official Technical Partner. When a company of the stature of Dell wants to increase their partnership with us it is a clear sign that we are going in the right direction, so that was very positive. On track it was a day of mixed fortunes. It started well but ended up fairly mediocre, but there are still many positives that have come out of today. If Jarno had not had traffic issues we would have been much closer to being able to show our true pace than we were in Melbourne and even though we keep being dogged by reliability issues we are still very excited about the weekend ahead and what will happen in qualifying tomorrow."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "Today really was a day of two halves. This morning we had a pretty good session, with Davide having his first run in the car here at Sepang and he did a good job for the team, although his last run was cut a bit short. With Jarno we tried both the hard tire and the development tire and have good feedback on both. This afternoon we had what looks like a differential problem on Heikki's car which meant his afternoon was cut short, so apologies to him for that. With Jarno we managed to complete most of the program, despite changing his power steering, but unfortunately when he was on the soft tires traffic held him up which meant he wasn't able to extract the maximum speed from the car. Despite this it is clear that the pace of the car is closer to the midfield than we were in Melbourne and now the onus is on us to make sure the reliability issues are solved and give the drivers a chance to show what the car can really do."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "I think we have done a good job today. We have learnt a lot about the engine behavior here at Sepang and that puts us in a good position for qualifying and the race. We have completed a lot of work on the qualification maps and we have had some good feedback from the drivers on that part of the program. With all of this in mind I think we will be able to extract more performance from the engine in qualifying tomorrow so we'll look to confirm that in FP3."
Narain Karthikeyan (21st, 1:43.197): "In the morning we didn't have the best of starts, I lost a lot of time because there were some issues with the oil level in the car. The balance is alright, now we are just exploring what the car is doing. There are a lot of things to work on. The second session was good, we only did 15 laps because there was an issue with the car that lost me half an hour again. We've done 25 timed laps so we still have a lot of catching up to do and that's what we're doing. The point is not to complain with what you have but try and get the best out of it."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (22nd, 1:43.991): "The morning session went alright, we started with hard tires and couldn't do many laps because we spent most of the time doing aero-setting in order to understand the balance of the car. But we did some laps and the car didn't look too bad. We had some issues with the balance, a few traction problems also. Therefore we made some changes for the afternoon. The afternoon session wasn't easy because we had an issue similar to Australia with a switch. Basically after riding over a bump, the ignition switch turned off and the car stopped. So I had to stop when we were starting our new tire runs which was a great shame because we didn't get to test as much as we wanted. When we got out to d o our last lap there was a lot of traffic so we weren't able to test and evaluate the tires."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "Although Narain and Tonio were forced to stop today, they were minor issues as proven by the fact that they were able to get back out on the track again. All in all we could say today was a good day, I believe we made some progress and will make some more tomorrow as this is our first real test of the new car. It's good news that Narain was under the 107%. We didn't run a qualifying set-up today and the car didn't look too bad, we didn't have any reliability issues just a small problem with a switch which we will have to sort out for tomorrow. Our target is to improve as quickly as possible, the only way to do this is by working consistently and pushing, you can't get anywhere by complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. We have new updates which will hopefully be completed for Turkey, we have a wind tunnel program in place, everything is falling into place, now we have to work on it in order to take another step forward."
Timo Glock (19th, 1:40.866): "It's difficult to gauge everything that was going on up and down the pitlane today, but I think we had a reasonable day. It's a shame we couldn't get Jerome's car out in the second session, because it would have been good for tire evaluation. In general I'm happy with how the car is working here, but it's all about the tires; they are fine for one lap but then drop off and it's all about keeping them alive over a distance. The team did a good job. We were a little late going out in FP2 but overall everything went well. Let's see what tomorrow brings."
Jerome d'Ambrosio (24th, No Time): "The day started well and we were able to get out on track quickly. Unfortunately we had a problem with the front right suspension at the end of the morning session, and the resulting damage meant that I couldn't take part in the afternoon session. It's very hot but I'm coping well with the heat, and to drive a Formula One car on this track is great. I really enjoy driving here. We hope for a better day tomorrow."
John Booth, Team Principal: "We've had a challenging start to our weekend's running in Sepang today. This morning we experienced what we suspect was a suspension failure to the front right of Jerome's car, which was obviously disappointing. The combination of the wheel flailing on its tether and the car ending up in the gravel trap meant that the damage was quite considerable. As the problem occurred just a few minutes before the end of Free Practice 1, we faced a major battle to rebuild the car and get out on track in Free Practice 2 for at least an installation run at the end of the session. Despite a monumental effort by Jerome's crew we missed out by just a few minutes, so it's been a challenging day on that side of the garage. Thankfully things went better on Timo's side and he seems reasonably happy with the car, which has at least provided us with some opportunity to gauge where we are. We have a lot of work to do tonight to ensure we are in a better position for tomorrow."
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