Malaysian GP: Sunday Quotes and Press Conference
1 - Sebastian VETTEL (Red Bull)
2 - Jenson BUTTON (McLaren)
3 - Nick HEIDFELD (Renault)
Q: Sebastian, never an easy day at the office here in Malaysia but as you told the team on the radio, 'I love coming to work', and when you take home the win it is hardly surprising.
Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah I guess so. Another great day. The start was crucial. I thought I had a really good start and then I saw Lewis lining up behind me quickly. Then I was surprised going into turn one as all of a sudden I saw something black in my mirrors. I knew it was a Lotus and then I realized it was Nick. Obviously for the first stint it was a good thing to happen as I could pull away lap by lap. I think the grand prix was different to what we saw two weeks ago especially with tires going off. On the one side you do not want to be the first in as the shorter you get the more stops you might have to do in the end, but on the other hand if someone goes in he has the advantage on new tires and might undercut you. I think it was quite difficult and it was tight with Lewis but I always had a couple of seconds in hand so we could control that - but still it was never easy until the last stint. Lewis had a problem, I don't know what happened to him but I realized Jenson was behind and I could comfortably control the gap so with not too many laps to go it was quite good. Very pleased as I said. I love what I do and I don't think I can be happier at this stage.
Q: Different to Australia but in some respect very much the same. Lap 29, you are told you cannot use KERS. Did you know the problem and how much of a difference did it make to your car and your feelings at the time?
Vettel: Yeah, it was not according to plan, but then it was coming back. It was a little bit on-off during the race. It is something we have to work on but still never forget two weeks ago we didn't race it at all and today it was very crucial at the start. Without KERS again we would have been in a completely different position and the race would have unfolded in a different way. It was giving us what we needed and being in a luxury situation, being a little bit ahead, we had a little problem so we turned it off and it went back on. But coming here only 10 days overseas, reacting the way we did, we can be very proud of ourselves. We cannot stop pushing. We have seen how close it is, much closer here than in Australia, so that's how quickly things can change. We have to keep our heads cool, keep working, keep pushing, but I am not worried to be honest. All the guys, they know that this is the only way forward so for today we all enjoy and we can be very proud.
Q: Jenson, I would imagine you will enjoy second place?
Jenson BUTTON: Yeah, it was a really confusing race in a way, trying to understand the pit-stops and whether it was worth looking after tires or not through the stints. So it was pretty tricky. Then, the last stint, when we put the prime tire on, the car came alive and I had so much more grip. I had a feeling that the tire wasn't going to go the same way as the soft tire and my pace was much better in the last stint. A fun race. A couple of really good battles. Happy to come away with a second. I had the team telling me to back it off and look after the tires but in a racer's mind you want to push as hard as you can as you want to try and catch the leader. Even though it was not really on you have still got to give it a go, so I had a lot of fun out there and great to get 18 points.
Q: The team told you no-one had achieved a 19 lap stint on the prime tire at any stage this weekend and you did it in your final stint. Give us an indication as to how difficult it is to preserve these tires.
Button: Well the thing is it's very difficult to understand what to do with the tire. If you try and preserve it sometimes you make the situation worse as you are not carrying as much speed through a high-speed corner and then you get less downforce and you damage the tire more so it is a very, very tricky situation to be in. But I think we did pretty well. As we went through the race I think we understood the tire a lot more and our consistency was much, much better with the tire and we didn't get down to the canvas so a big thank you to the team. They did a magnificent job today with the pit-stops and the strategy and I think we have made some good progress so, looking forward to China, we should be excited and hopefully we can challenge these guys.
Q: Nick, congratulations on your first podium since Malaysia in 2009. So much happened in the middle of the race but, specifically, tell us about your start and then tell us how you managed to hang onto third place under pressure from Mark Webber at the end?
Nick HEIDFELD: The start was fantastic. Good fun. In Australia I made up many positions on the start but I didn't expect the same happening when starting from sixth rather than 18th or whatever it was in Australia. I found myself actually fighting with Sebastian who watched me in the mirror and just paced himself to keep me behind. After that I did the best I could but Sebastian was quite a bit quicker. Then in the first stint there were some drops [of rain] coming down and I called the box to say my tires were going off and they said 'stay out, there might be rain coming so we don't want to do an extra pit-stop'. Then, our first pit-stop was not perfect, lost one or two positions, and after that I was a bit lucky with Fernando (Alonso) who lost his front wing or damaged his front wing and had to do an extra pit-stop. I had some good pace later on, especially on the prime tires, similar to the McLarens probably and had to defend from Mark towards the end when he came flying by. But I think once he was behind me his tires also started to degrade. I used my KERS just in places where I needed to defend and it is great to come third. Second podium for Lotus Renault. It is a great step forward from last season.
Q: Sebastian, defending champion and two wins out of two in your defensive year. I would imagine you are feeling very positive going through to China now - or is there a renewed threat from McLaren?
Vettel: Well I mean first of all we can be happy today and enjoy and try to take that momentum into the next race. As you said two races, two out two is perfect, couldn't be any better but there is still a very long way to go. The championship is far away. There are a lot of points still to get so we have to keep our feet on the ground. At the moment things are looking good. I think we worked hard over the winter so if that is the reward then I think there is no problem putting even harder work in. I am very happy with that and tomorrow starts China and we see how we get on there.
Q: Sebastian, what a start to the season. Your 12th win and I think it is four wins in a row if we count last year as well.
Vettel: I don't know. I don't count. I think it is better not to. Yeah, very good result. I was very pleased with yesterday's result especially as we knew going into qualifying it will be tight and we expected similar in the race so the start was very important. Again thanks to the boys, thanks to the team. I think it shows how - I mean we had some bad experience two years ago so we don't need to do that again -important KERS is and it saved our life today at the start. I was focused on Lewis behind me and all of a sudden Nick was there so it was quite funny in a way. I had to defend a little bit into Turn Two, focus on a good exit which was crucial as then I was ahead and could use the first stint to build up a little gap. I think we were a little bit quicker than the Renault, which was behind, or the Lotus. Then I tried to take that gap into each stint. It was a bit of a luxury situation as we could wait for other people to do the stop. Of course, they were closing then as it is quite powerful. If you change tires you come out and you are much quicker than the guys out on the circuit with the used tires, But with a couple of seconds in hand we had this luxury so there was no need to panic. Coming in first, especially the first stint, it started to drizzle quite heavily and I was surprised. It didn't have a really big affect on the handling and the grip level but still there were drops on the visor and you could even smell it. It was quite big. Then it started to get less and it was not a problem anymore. When you come in for your first stop and you know it is drizzling around turn five-six-seven-eight then you just pray for the rain to stop as other people might stay out, one or two laps, and they get a free stop as it starts raining. It was tight. All in all I think it was a difficult race today. As Jenson said you never knew how hard to push, how hard to save your tires. Everyone was trying to do the same. I think there was a lot to learn today and a lot to take into the next race but for today very, very happy obviously.
Q: The only time you did seem to lose a little bit of time was to Lewis in the second stint. Did you have a problem with the tires?
Vettel: Not really. As I said we had a decent gap. He pitted earlier than Nick and earlier than us and I think he went to another set of options after his first stop. As I have just tried to explain it is very powerful and I think we were stopping at the right time in the first stint but tried to push probably a bit longer for the rain whereas he came in and that one lap can make three to four seconds difference. Naturally he caught up and then I was just trying to look after the tires and look after the gap. He was closing in three-tenths a lap at this stage but we again tried to push that stint as far as we could so I wasn't worried when he was catching up these couple of laps.
Q: Jenson tell us about the start first of all?
Button: Well as we all do I have watched the footage from the last five year here and the inside line has always the best into Turn One so it was my aim to get to the inside as quick as possible. I even had a little go at Lewis down the inside and then I heard an almighty racket down the outside and (turns to Heidfeld) what shall we call you now?
Heidfeld: Lotus Renault GP.
Button: ...it was the two Lotus Renault GPs. They had an amazing start, but also the guys did a great job into Turn One. I was in a safe place on the inside but I obviously lost a position to Nick. Then we got underway and I realized I had been very conservative with my front wing angle. I think we are all trying to look after the tires and I backed out too much front wing and I was really struggling at the front end. Sometimes that can also cause degradation of the rear as you have to put in so much steering lock and then when you get on the power with steering lock it causes oversteer. That was why my first stint was not very good, then every stint from then on I improved. A good day. Good points, an exciting race I am sure to watch. I don't think anyone really knew who was going to finish behind Seb and nice to get 18 points on the board.
Q: And you had the Ferraris behind you at the end of that first stint. How close were they and did that precipitate your pit-stop?
Button: With these tires as soon as they go, they go. It is what they are supposed to do and it is exactly what they do do. As I said I had the wrong balance on the first stint and I thought that the rears would be okay but they went off a lot earlier than I expected. I didn't expect the Ferraris and the Lotus Renault GP to be as consistent as they were and our degradation was bigger so made a few set-up changes in the stops and improved from there. But a big thanks to the guys. They made some really good calls in the pit-stop. The first race of the season we had a good race and this is again a step forward in terms of performance in qualifying and the race. We've just got to hope it keeps happening as we can't let the Red Bulls have it their own way for much longer. Our aim is to challenge these guys, but it is not easy. They are very, very fast.
Q: How hard did you push to try and jump Lewis, or did that just happen?
Button: He had a long stop, but obviously I also wanted to jump him, because on my third stint of the race, I was behind him, and I felt I could have gone quicker, and I think on the last stint I really felt good on the prime tire and I could pull out a really big gap on the rest of the field, and try to chase down Seb, but he was just too quick, but I had to have a go.
Q: Nick, quite a lively race. Jenson said it was quite confusing; was it for you?
Heidfeld: No, not at all. I think it's easier if you have a good start from the back to see what the guys in front of you are doing. I was kind of lucky that there was enough space on the outside opening up for me just to concentrate on a good braking point. I not only had a good start, but also a good braking into turn one and managed to secure second position.
Q: And how hard was Mark pushing at the end there?
Heidfeld: He came close, there were big, big steps. I guess he was on quite fresh tires but then he must also have started to get some degradation and luckily that was enough to keep him behind me. On top of that, you know that we have KERS and I tried to use it, not for lap time but more for defending, and I don't think he had KERS, did he? Did he have problems towards the end? That's what I was told. That was a big help for us in defending.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Livio Oricchio - O Estado do Sao Paulo) To all drivers, Formula One is a little difficult to understand. In qualifying, some teams are one second slower than in race conditions where everyone is together. Can you comment on that?
Vettel: Racing has changed. I think the big secret is to be on top of your tires all the time. If you told everyone that on lap 11 or lap nine for instance, please go as fast as you can, it would probably look a little bit different. On the other hand, you try naturally to go as fast as you can but also at the same time try to look after your tires, trying to predict what is going to happen. Obviously, you know strategy-wise what is your sort of plan, how many laps you need to achieve etc etc. There are a lot of tactics going on. Sometimes you're holding back, other times you're pushing flat out, so, therefore, I think the gaps between the cars, how quick people go, who's quickest on whatever lap might change quicker than what we are used to seeing. I think that's one of the biggest reasons, from my point of view.
Button: Yes, I totally agree. We're all trying to find a pace that we think is right for consistency but also speed, and it's very tricky to find that balance. I was a little bit surprised, personally, in the first stint, how quick the Lotus Renaults were, and, also, I was surprised by the Ferraris. But I got a bit more of a handle on it in the second and third stints and I think we had pretty good pace.
Heidfeld: Adding to what was said, probably some cars are better on long runs than others. That's what will be more crucial this year with the Pirelli tires, because there's more degradation. It seems we already had a better pace in the race in Melbourne than we had in qualifying. On top of that, I think this weekend was not easy for us because we lost a lot of time on Friday and we definitely didn't have the perfect set-up and there's probably a bit more to gain there in the future.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Jenson, you and Lewis had different strategies with the tires, he went onto the hard tires earlier than you. Was there any reason for that?
Button: I think it was the preference of the tires after qualifying. I think he flat-spotted a tire in qualifying and that meant that he would run on the prime tire. I don't know what we feel now, but before the race we felt that the tires were very, very similar in terms of pace, but also in terms of the degradation, which was very surprising. For me, strangely, I had a much better balance with the prime and I was quicker on the prime compared to everyone. So it worked for me, but maybe that was just the balance I had on the car.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Moto und Sport) Sebastian, halfway through the race, your engineer asked you not to use KERS any more. First of all, what was the problem and secondly it seemed from that moment on you were half a second quicker per lap?
Vettel: That didn't work, then! Yes, correct, at some stage he told me not to use KERS, then we activated it again. I don't know what was the problem. Obviously, something was wrong, otherwise, as I have said many times, it's lap time. Obviously, as I tried to explain before, I think it's very difficult to read the true pace. At some stage, in the third stint, I think, so my last stint on options, I was lapping a second a lap quicker than Lewis for two or three laps, I think. At that stage, I don't think I used KERS, I think that's the time you are talking about. But surely, I can assure you that not running KERS, for us, is a disadvantage. As I tried to explain, we worked very hard and we got it working, but in the race something happened, I don't quite yet know what it was but we used it for the majority (of the race) and I don't think pace has anything to do with it... especially turning it off and then going quicker, has anything to do with that.
Q: (Joris Fioriti - AFP) To all of you: do you think high degradation tires have really brought more show to F1, because it looked very confusing and somehow messy for the spectators. And secondly, especially to Jenson and Nick, do you think that Sebastian Vettel will be the man to beat this year, to become World Champion?
Button: At this moment in time, yes, is the answer, I concur with you regarding Sebastian being the person to beat. He's got a 24-point lead and that's a lot after two races, but there are still another 17 to go, maybe 18.
Vettel: You have already calculated that in the car?
Button: I know everything. You should be careful, right! Of course, the Red Bulls' pace is very good. He's won two races out of two and nobody else has been consistent, first off. I think in terms of pace we, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team are the second best but I think we need to find some improvements. That's in the pipeline. It's exciting for us that we've made some good improvements already and hopefully in China we can make a really good race of it.
From what I heard, the race was pretty good. There were people all over the place which is good, isn't it? Was it better or not? I was in the car, I don't know. It is complicated, and I think at this point of the season it's going to be because there's a lot that we're trying to learn ourselves on the circuit. If we had one tire for the whole race and didn't have pit stops, would it be exciting? I don't know. I think that it's the correct thing to do, to make the tires that they have and I think Pirelli have done a great job of actually getting tires that have degradation in the time that they've had to build these tires. I think that in the time they've had to build these tires they've done a very good job. I think it made the racing exciting today. For me, I didn't know who was going to finish behind Seb. I did in the end, which is great. I think it's working well and I think that as the season goes on we will realize and understand the tires a little bit more every race. The races will calm down, but hopefully not too much. Hopefully, they will still be exciting.
Vettel: Well, regarding the up and down, Jenson described how he struggled on the first stint, he was very happy in the last stint. Within one race, with a different set of tires, there were some things that you can fine tune in the car. Potentially, that can make a big difference. The fact that if you feel comfortable in one stint compared to the other, it can make a difference in pace. Regarding the show, it's hard for all of us to judge because we are very busy with our own race and looking after our own tires but I think there are more battles going on, and that's obviously something people want to see. For all us, I think there's a lot to pick up and a lot to learn, because there are so many things going on: more than one stop. So the racing has changed. Obviously, if you look at the race speed, the lap times compared to last year, we are much slower. In qualifying, the difference is not that big, but in the race there's quite a difference. There are some things you lose, there are other things you gain, so it's always give and take.
Heidfeld: I think both things are true. It's probably more complicated to understand from the outside, but at the same time the show's better, because for sure there was more overtaking going on. I think it's quite easy to answer that. Regarding Vettel and Red Bull being the team to beat, I think that's also obvious. They've been the quickest for the first two races. I think McLaren have done a very good job, having finished where they have in the first two races, compared to winter testing, but I also like the fact that I'm asked, being a Lotus Renault driver, if it's the team to beat. Unfortunately, at the moment, I think we are a bit too far behind. On the other hand, we made some good progress, we finished two races on the podium, so we hope to keep the momentum going.
Q: (Paolo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Sebastian, last year in the first two races you had a technical problem in Bahrain and you gave away a win. In Australia you had a problem with the front brakes. Now you have won two races out of two; how different is your approach to these two races?
Vettel: No difference. Obviously, what happened in Australia, what happened here today was good but that's two out of 19. I can't calculate as quick as Jenson, but I will take it a bit easier. He was obviously good at maths. Shame he became a racing driver then! Obviously, there's a long, long way to go. I don't have to tell you, from the experience that I have: ask Jenson, two years ago, how important it is to have a good start to the season. Ask Michael. I think he had a couple of good starts to the season. Every point you can take on board is important and how important, we've seen the last couple of years where the championship has been decided by not much, only a few points, so every point you can take, the better it is. For what we did in Australia, and what we did here, we can be very proud. We have worked very hard and we have a very strong package, but that's it. Tomorrow, we focus on the next race. I'm sure the boys are very happy but they are already packing up and getting ready for the next one so step by step: there's a long long way to go, a lot of things can change. We've seen within 10 days how the pace can vary. It was much tighter here than in Australia. Some people were already talking of brutal dominance or whatever. I tried not to read anything and we came here and it was completely different. That's just two races in. I don't think I need to explain how many things can change. Look at last year. I think Fernando is a very good example. People wrote him out of the championship, he came back, then they wrote him off again, he came back and he was the favorite going into the last race. It will be very similar this year, I guess. It's all about being consistent and getting your stuff together and making sure you use everything you have.
Q: (Sarah Holt - BBC Sport) Jenson, Sebastian has spoken about the season ahead. How important was it for you to kick start your championship push here and be the man chasing Sebastian?
Button: Yes, it was very important. The first race didn't really go my way. It was a frustrating race and I made a mistake and got a drive-through for it and had to find my way back through. So, it was just one of those races really. But the pace of the car was very good, I was happy with the performance and in the race also. So, I came here looking for a good result and until the last lap I was still trying to fight for the victory. I know it was a long shot but you've got to give it a go. I'm happy to take away 18 points. It gives me confidence not just to come away with second place, but the feeling of the car is good. We need to improve, but the feeling of the car is good and that's important to me. We've only got a few days before the next race, but we're doing everything we can to make the small improvements and the details that we can and hopefully have a better race in China.
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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