Chinese GP: Friday Press Conference and Quotes
John Booth (Marussia)
Ross Brawn (Mercedes)
Christian Horner (Red Bull Racing
Franz Tost (Toro Rosso)
Claire Williams (Williams)
Q: Claire, how have your duties changed within the team?
Claire WILLIAMS: First, thank you very much for having me here today, I feel privileged to be sitting among such amazing company. They haven't changed hugely. My primary focus has always been the commercial side of the team - to get the budget in, to keep us going racing. That won't change, that will remain my primary concern. Obviously with the Deputy Team Principal title comes some responsibility for the technical side of what we do, so I'm going to be working with our technical director Mike Coughlan to ensure we have the resources we need to get us back up to the top. And then inevitably there's the governance side of the role as well, so working with FIA/FOM issues.
Q: So how does the team structure work now?
Williams: It hasn't changed hugely, as I said. We have a board at Williams made up of an executive committee that runs the team and the wider business on a day-to-day basis. That doesn't change but personally I suppose I will be going to every grand prix, so that's a slight change. I used to before. Frank is still our main leader and that doesn't change.
Q: Christian, you might have hoped that Malaysia was dead and buried and we could moved on but your driver has reignited the subject by saying that he doesn't apologize for winning and that he would do the same again. Where does management stand on this?
Christian HORNER: You don't want to talk about Malaysia the race, or the pitstops or anything like that? In Formula One you're always going to have a conflict between a drivers' interest and a drivers' championship and a constructors' world championship and I think unlike other sports you don't have those two elements going on at any point in time. Of course from a driver's perspective, the drivers' championship is everything to them. Sebastian made clear his position yesterday, some of the rationale behind that. As we've always known, the position between our two drivers, there's never been too much love lost between the two of them and it's a situation that's been clear for probably the last four to five years. It's something that we've managed and during that time we've still go on to score over 2000 points, 35 grand prix victories, six world championships. So within the team it's nothing new. Obviously it's a bit more public, it's a bit more interest for you guys in terms of what's going on but as far as we're concerned it's business as usual. I think, as far as team orders goes, what's happened, happened. Sebastian's explained himself, he's explained himself to me. He's apologized to myself and every individual in the factory and the issues been dealt with. We move on and focus on the challenges of this weekend.
Q: Has he basically been given the green light by the fact the team owner and his advisor have said that there are no team orders?
Horner: Of course in Red Bull Racing we also have a team. So there exists that conflict of what the drivers want and what the team wants. The purist obviously wants to see the drivers race and race wheel to wheel and in fact as the drivers have done on many, many occasions. Sometimes you get instances that you have to deal with. Our primary concern in Malaysia wasn't the two drivers racing each other, it was the fact we were concerned about tire degradation from all the information that we'd seen prior‚ during that weekend in terms of managing the race to the end of the race with the least risk possible. Of course the call that we made at that point in time didn't suit what Sebastian's intent was and therefore you end up in this conflict between driver desire and the team's position and it's something we've discussed, it's something we're clear on going forward where of course we will trust the drivers. We will allow them to continue to race each other, they will have the information, they will know what they need to do with that information.
Q: John, you seem to have a decent car and a decent driver pairing. How much does that contribute to your security in F1, the team's security in F1?
John BOOTH: It does play a part. Our shareholders want to see us going forward and we have to show that progression. We're very pleased with what we've produced this year. We're 170 people in total in Marussia and we're very proud of what we've produced - but we have to keep working and keep pushing forward. Our shareholders expect us to go forward.
Q: Tell us about Pat Symonds' contribution to this year's car and also his influence at the circuits?
Booth: Pat's only been coming back to the circuit this year, made a couple of appearances and very welcome too - but I rather hope he stays at home more and makes the car go quicker that attending circuits. He's a massive influence in our drawing office: brings a lot of discipline, a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience, particularly with the wind tunnel program that we've been pushing on with for the last 18 months. It's made a massive difference to us.
Q: Franz, a new technical structure headed by James Key, tell us about the changes.
Franz TOST: There were a lot of changes from the technical side, from the personnel side. James reshuffled the team, he bought in much more people in the aerodynamic department - in the wind tunnel as well as in CFD. He also brought in some more people in the design office and the way, the method of working has changed as well. I'm quite positive and convinced we are on a correct way and I also expect a successful season because James has built up quite a strong team around him and as you can imagine it takes a little bit of time. But I think from the middle of the season onwards all the positions should be fixed and people will work concentrated and so far I must say the performance increases and I think we are on a correct way.
Q: And that goes hand-in-hand with the physical expansion at the factory as well?
Tost: Yes. We built up the new composite building, which is finished now. That means we've bought in much more people in the composite department. We are producing now in-house the monocoque, the front wing, rear wing, nose, bodywork, the engine cover as well as the brake ducts as well as the floor and diffuser. That means we are much more flexible. The reaction times are much shorter and from this point of view, the team has really increased.
Q: Ross, your imposition of what might be seen to be a team order has also been perceived to be establishing a hierarchy within the team. What do you have to say about that?
Ross BRAWN: There is no hierarchy in the team. Both drivers have exactly the same status. Inevitably in a hard racing season on driver may start to get the upper hand and that may become a factor to take into account towards the end of the season. We would expect a driver who perhaps didn't have a great chance to win the Drivers' Championship towards the end to help one who perhaps does. I think that's our expectation of the drivers. Certainly we don't have any different status between the two drivers. In terms of our situation in Malaysia, I think there are some similarities with Christian's situation. We had‚ certainly Lewis was very tight on fuel and Nico was low as well. Not as bad as Lewis but still not in great shape. So it seemed that it could lead to a problem where we had both drivers racing each other, because one gets past and then you can slipstream and use the DRS and start saving fuel when you get past and I could foresee a situation where it could get very delicate at the end and for me there wasn't a great deal to gain, because we were third and fourth and no threat and no real opportunity to catch the cars in front. Fortuitously our driver, because it mainly affected Nico, respected the request and did what he was asked to do. But it's a very emotional situation when you tell a driver he has to back off. He has the bit between his teeth, he's charging and he feels he has an opportunity, that's what they're there for. As I think I said afterwards I would have been disappointed if he hadn't been upset, because they're very, very competitive individuals and that's what we pay them for. But it's a very delicate situation and I've been there several times. I think what we mustn't do is push it underground. I think if we have clandestine team orders then that makes us look far worse than accepting the situation we have, which is that it's both a team sport and an individual drivers' sport and the teams will try to find the balance between those two objectives. And they don't always marry easily. We want our drivers to race. The rule is don't hit each other and that's all we ask of them and we want them to race. We have demonstrated many times that we're happy to let our two drivers race. But there will be occasional circumstances where the risk is very high and for the good of team we'll make a team decision about what we need to do.
Q: One more question. There is a new management structure at Mercedes, how is it working?
Brawn: OK. I think we all know Niki, he's quite a colorful character and I'm not talking about his hat. He has a lot of input, often a lateral view on different things, which is worth listening to. He doesn't have an active day-to-day role. Toto is now based in Brackley, taking over a lot of what Nick Fry did, thus getting more involved in the sport and politics as Nick did in the latter few years. I think we have our areas to look after and on that basis I'm happy.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (Ian Parkes - Press Association) Christian, coming to you first. Obviously Sebastian has apologized, as you've mentioned, but yesterday his remarks were basically as if that apology never existed. As Bob has mentioned he said he would probably do the same again under the circumstances, that he'd effectively undermined you as team principal and that it was indirectly, quote-unquote, payback for what Mark had done previously in not helping either himself or the team. On that basis, has your authority been shattered and do you have a driver who, when he sticks two fingers up to you and the team, is uncontrollable?
Horner: First of all, the drivers need the team. They're an essential part of the team and one element of 500 or 600 people. Has my authority been undermined? In that race he didn't do what I asked. Was I happy about it? Of course I wasn't. Did we discuss it? Yes, we did. Did he apologize? Yes. Has he learned from it? I'm sure he has. Would he do it again? I think he'd think twice but I think as he explained yesterday there is an awful of history between those drivers. It's something that isn't new. It's something that's been there between the two of them for the past four or five years. Let's not forget they are one of the most successful pairings that the sport has ever seen. They have won three successive Constructors' World Championships for the team and Sebastian, of course, has become the youngest ever triple world champion. Is my leadership undermined? I don't think so. I've led the team from the time that Red Bull entered the sport to those 35 victories, to those world championships. Of course there have been lumps and bumps along the way, there have been incidents between the two drivers. But we retain them because they are both fiercely competitive individuals, they drive each other forward and they bring the best out of each other and at some points of course it's uncomfortable for the team. But I think it's a healthy rivalry, even though they took things into their own hands. They gave each other just enough room and whilst it was uncomfortable for us on the pit wall to watch, it was spectacular driving, just giving each other room to work with, as they've done on numerous occasions. What's happened has happened. We can't change it, we can't go back and it's a question of looking forward and focusing on this event and obviously the next 16 events after this. As a team we're working as closely as we've ever done, as in both drivers to work closely together, to continue to improve, to continue to give their feedback to the team to keep moving forward because our competitors aren't far away. Sebastian hasn't achieved the success that he has in his career by being submissive. He saw an opportunity, he took it into his own hands, he'd saved a set of tires from the previous day and he wanted that victory more than anything else. I think he justified to himself that previous events that had taken was part of his judgment on what he chose to do that day.
Q: (Dan Knutson - Auto Action/National Speedsport News) John, Jules has been doing a good job; what has impressed you most about him and what do you think his potential is?
Booth: His calmness has impressed me immensely. Very likeable guy, we thought he may have been disappointed to lose out on the Force India drive, but he's just been positive from day one. As for his ultimate potential, it's very early to say. I've worked with him for two races and one and a half test days so it's a bit too early to see, but the potential certainly looks very good.
Q: (Dieter Rencken - The Citizen) I believe the president of the Federation circulated a letter last week to all team principals regarding its role in the cost-cutting process or cost control process and that it no longer intends playing a regulatory role in the process. This seems to be an about face after last year having called various meetings about this issue. How do you feel about this?
Horner: I think it would be inappropriate to comment because it's a letter between the teams and the FIA. It's a private letter, I don't see there's any reason to comment in public about it.
Brawn: Well, we support the RRA (Resource Restriction Agreement) for instance, or we support a means of controlling costs in Formula One and we have to find a way forward, so we support whatever can be done to try and control costs or contribute towards controlling costs in the future.
Booth: I'm not sure that Formula One is sustainable, the way it's heading, so the Resource Restriction is very important and we fully support it going forward. But I wouldn't want to discuss it, it's a private letter.
Tost: The Resource Restriction Agreement - there were numerous meetings. We have the Resource Restriction Agreement for the chassis which is not so important because we more or less have the chassis costs under control. We didn't manage to come up with a power train Resource Restriction Agreement which would have been much much more important because next year the costs will increase by eight to one hundred percent regarding the power train, and there we should have worked and should have come up with something but the manufacturers, as usual, had some meetings, pushed a little bit but brought nothing to paper because everybody is doing his development and is thinking of getting an advantage over the others. The teams, the customers have to pay, they bill them at the end. This is reality and as I mentioned just before, next year will become very very expensive.
Brawn: I obviously can't comment on whoever Franz's supplier is but in our case, taken over a reasonable number of years, the costs will be no higher than existing costs so of course there will be a peak at the beginning because there's going to be a lot of activity but with the homologation procedures which are in place and it's our objective to bring the costs down, so I don't accept that the costs are going to be eighty to a hundred percent higher, not in our case anyway. We're doing the whole package with the drive train. It is a new project, I think Formula One needs a new engine, I think we've all heard the stories that Honda are coming in and there are other people looking at joining Formula One. I think it's regenerated that area, which it needed. That's our position.
Williams: With respect to Dieter's question, Williams is an independent team so we're always in favor of cost controls in Formula One but with regards to that letter, no, we don't have a comment. It's not appropriate to discuss that.
Q: (Andrea Cremonesi - La Gazzetta dello Sport) Christian, today we saw Vettel didn't go so well, so brilliantly as the last two weekends. Do you think that's a factor of what happened recently? The second question, which is also for Ross, is about the soft tire; Ferrari was very fast today on the soft tire, do you think that they are serious candidates for pole and then starting in front, for leading the race?
Horner: First of all, your question regarding Sebastian. Both drivers were working to different programs today. It's an opportunity for us on a Friday to explore different set-ups and developments so obviously the information will be looked at this evening and set-ups will either converge or diverge over this evening into tomorrow but it's certainly been a productive day.
As far as your question on the tires; it looks like the softer of the two tires is certainly quicker but not particularly durable and obviously it's a question of finding that balance between what's right for Saturday and grid position and what's right for the race on Sunday. Felipe Massa certainly looked quick today on the soft tire, but again, we've seen so many times that Friday times are meaningless in many respects unless you understand the programs that each of the teams has been running to.
Brawn: I'm presuming pole position will be set on the soft tire, because it's over a second faster than the medium tire but it has quite a short life, so you've got to work out your strategy over the whole weekend, from qualifying onwards and there may well be people who chose, in Q3, to conserve tires or plan to start on the more durable tire. But I think pole position will be set on the soft tire because it's so much faster.
Q: (Kate Walker) Christian, you've spoken extensively about the history between your two drivers and the successes that you've had as a team. However, with his comments yesterday, what Sebastian appeared to make clear was that he feels that he trumps the team. Formula One being both a team and a driver's sport, the drivers are still team employees; how do you intend to make him understand that his position is as your employee, not as somebody who has the right to decide whether or not to follow your orders?
Horner: Well, I don't think Sebastian for one moment thinks he runs the team, he knows what his job is, he knows what we employ him to do, he knows why we employ him to do it and he's been with Red Bull for a long time now, as a junior driver and as a Formula One driver and now as a multiple World Champion. He recognizes, more than anybody, the value that the team has behind the success that he's achieved in the car, and he knows that he can't operate without the team. So he doesn't put himself above the team or think that he's running the team for one moment. He's made a decision in a race as a hungry driver and obviously based that decision on all kinds of emotions at that point in time. I think that he's made his position clear, that he's apologized to the team, he's apologized to myself. It's happened and we move on but it doesn't change anything.
Q: (Chris Lines - AP) We move on from here to Bahrain; there are still ongoing political and human rights issues there. Are you concerned at all about how this reflects upon Formula One and how it reflects upon your sponsors?
Horner: I've got enough problems with my drivers, let alone Bahrain. We've got our own issues.
Tost: I don't see any problems going to Bahrain, like it was last year. I'm looking forward to going there. I think that it's very important to race over there. Formula One is entertainment. We should not be involved in politics. We should go there, we should do our race, we should be concentrated there and the political side and political topics should be solved by someone else.
Q: (Trent Price) John, Jules was able to settle down to a very quick pace, early on in that session and had quite a handy margin over his direct competitors. Was the program that he was on a reflection of that pace?
Booth: Yes, you have to allow so much time for tire evaluation in P2 now that the schedule tends to be changed around from previous years so we were on a qualifying simulation quite early.
Q: (Michael Schmidt - Auto, Motor und Sport) Christian, Mr. Mateschitz said that he doesn't want to see team orders any more in his team. Are you afraid that a situation might come up where it's necessary to have a team order, possibly a situation like Ross just described where the two drivers are down on fuel or let's say that one driver has a better chance at the end of the season to win the championship over the other?
Horner: Of course. It depends what you define as a team order, at the end of the day. During a race, you have a hundred different things that you have to manage, whether it be fuel, whether it be tires, whether it be reliability, whether it be KERS - so many parameters that you have to manage and that takes very close interaction between the pit wall and the car. Of course, the drivers have to follow those instructions. What Dietrich is keen not to see is a situation where the drivers aren't allowed to race each other. As I said, our concern in Malaysia was not the fact that the drivers were racing each other, it's what the consequence would potentially be on tire wear and the outcome of the one-two position on circuit that we managed to get ourselves into. From a Red Bull perspective, of course we want to see the drivers race and compete fairly and equally but at the same time, the drivers equally know that they need to respect the requirements from the team, whether it involves any of the elements I just discussed. Team orders are something that aren't new to Formula One, they've existed in different guises through pretty much every year that the sport has existed, and while you have a team and a drivers' championship, there will be that conflict on occasions between the two championships and the aspirations of a team and an individual driver.
Q: (Peter Stebbings - AFP) Christian, you said how there was no love lost between the drivers in the past. How would you describe their relationship now, in light of everything? Are they even talking to each other, for example?
Horner: To be perfectly honest, it's no different to the relationship before Malaysia in many respects. They're both professional guys, they're both very driven, they're both very talented race drivers. Right now, they're sitting in a meeting, debriefing, across from each other about what the car is doing and how they, as a pairing, can improve the car with their team of engineers. Of course they will continue to work professionally, to benefit the team and ultimately obviously themselves. But I doubt very much they will be spending the summer break together or Christmas, but that's not what we pay them for. Why we pay them and employ them is because we believe that they're the best and strongest pairing in Formula One, as they've demonstrated consistently over the last three or four years.
Q: (Ian Parkes - Press Association) Christian, following on from that, we've seen many times in the past when a driver pairing basically cannot stand the sight of one another - Prost and Senna, Piquet and Mansell - that it just doesn't work. At the end of the day, something has to give. Do you have any confidence whatsoever that your driver pairing this season, will be your driver pairing next season, or are you already casting your net for a potential replacement of either of your two drivers for next year?
Horner: Well, first of all, Sebastian is on a long term contract so he's committed to the team. Mark's contract has been renewed on an annual basis over the last three or four years and that's something that we tend to address just in the same way again this year. Of course emotions are still fairly raw from the events in Malaysia, but they're still a very effective pairing and we won't make any decisions until later in the summer when Mark and the team will sit down and discuss the future. But after two races, it's far too early to even be contemplating what our driver line-up will be for 2014.
Q: (Dieter Rencken - The Citizen) Ross, you have a fairly controversial suspension set-up. It was a couple of years ago here that you had double-decker diffusers etc. At that stage, there was a proper governance procedure in place to look at the matter, investigate it and decide whether it was legal or illegal. How would the procedure work now in the absence of a Concorde Agreement, technical working group etc?
Brawn: Well, first of all, there's speculation but nobody knows what our suspension system is and from what I know, it's not uncommon throughout Formula One. The old days of simple roll bars, springs and dampers are long gone, and they've been long gone for several years and I don't think it's controversial, I don't think there are any issues. On the separate matter of what would we do in the case of a dispute, then I think the situation would be exactly as it has been before: somebody would go to the stewards, complain, they'd look into the matter, it would be resolved one way or another. If people weren't happy with that, then it would be appealed and go to an appeal court. The sporting and working groups are continuing as they did before, in the absence of a Concorde Agreement, which I think is showing good spirit from both the Formula One teams and the FIA. I know our technical director attends technical working groups, our sporting director attends the sporting working groups and they are following the same voting procedures and approaches which they did before, which, as I say, I think is showing good spirit from the teams and the FIA, and the FIA have advised the teams that's how they intend to continue until the Concorde Agreement is concluded.
Q: (Ian Parkes - Press Association) John, we spoke to Max yesterday and he informed us that to fund himself for this season in Formula One, he's basically giving away part of his future earnings. Could I just get your thoughts on that first of all as team principal and whether you feel that that's a good idea going forward for a young driver to boost himself up the ladder, rather than a driver who perhaps would bring in sponsorship for a team?
Booth: It's nothing new. There are lots of schemes that have been tried over the years. I think Justin Wilson was the last one that I know that had a similar scheme; and sometimes it's required to find a way into Formula One. If it becomes self-funding then it's a great idea.
Mark Webber (5th, 1:36.092): "It was good today and we achieved a lot of mileage. There are obviously some pretty quick cars out there ‚ "we saw that in Malaysia before it rained in qualifying. We're getting a lot of information, but we're still in this early phase of learning about the tires. I think that we have a bit of work to do, but the car doesn't feel too bad, we just have to keep working on understanding the tires. It's nice to have a stable weekend in terms of weather, which is unusual in Shanghai."
Sebastian Vettel (10th, 1:36.791): "Today was a tricky day for us. I struggled a bit this afternoon and the gap to the guys at the top is a little bit bigger than I'd like. There are two or three things that we need to work on and then we should be in a better shape for tomorrow. I think we know what we need to do. It looks like the soft tire is the one for qualifying, but it seems that we won't see that many stints on the soft tire during the race."
Felipe Massa (1st, 1:35.340): "Today, I immediately had a good feeling in the car and even if, at the start, I was not completely happy with the performance of the Medium compound and we were not as quick as our rivals, the times were good all the same. When I fitted the Softs, the car improved a lot and this meant I was able to set the fastest time of the day. It was impressive, like driving two completely different cars. Our race pace looks competitive, the car is handling well on both types of tire and degradation was not excessive, even if the higher wear rate of the Soft compared to the Medium compound will be an important factor when it comes to choosing the right strategy. I feel confident and hope that the whole weekend can keep moving in this direction."
Fernando Alonso (3rd, 1:35.755): "By the end of the day, the overall feeling is positive. We worked well and on top of that, it's always great fun driving the Shanghai track which has some really unique features, such as the first corner. From one session to the next the track conditions improved significantly, because the other categories that ran after our morning session cleaned the surface. The increase in temperature means the conditions were very similar to those predicted for tomorrow. Once again, tires will play a key role in this Grand Prix because of the high level of degradation over a long run. We will have to ensure we pick the right strategy for Sunday, as well as deciding on which of the new parts we tried this morning to fit to the car. As usual, we can expect a long evening studying the data."
Pat Fry: "Today we managed to complete our program without any problems, which is extremely positive for the rest of the weekend. In the morning, we concentrated on analyzing various aerodynamic updates we brought here to Shanghai, the result of a lot of hard work back in the factory on the car development front. The first signs are that the updates appear to match our expectations, but we need to analyze the data carefully to make a more accurate evaluation, in terms of which ones we can use for this race and the upcoming ones. In the second session, we continued to work on various specifications with both drivers, doing some set-up work aimed at finding the right balance on both cars. Obviously, we did the normal comparison between the two types of tire that Pirelli has brought here to Shanghai, with the Soft compound making its debut. The race pace from both F138s is interesting, but once again there is the unknown factor of tire performance: the Softs seem to degrade quite quickly, while the Mediums offer better stability and last longer. Now we can expect a long night ahead of us to decide on the best combinations for qualifying and the race, with a lot of data to go through."
Jenson Button (6th, 1:36.432): "We can't yet conclusively tell if the upgrades we brought to this race have improved the car. They're perhaps not as big a step forward as we'd expected ‚ "the issues with the car are still there ‚ "but the car does feel a little bit better. We've worked very hard over the last few weeks to bring the new parts here ‚ "which is great. Today's been all about putting mileage on those parts; now we need to sit down and look at the data this evening ‚ "there's a lot to look through. I feel we'll be using the Prime tire quite a lot in the race. The Option tire transforms the car completely; over one lap, there's a lot more grip, but then you start to lose time over each successive lap. My puncture happened after I'd already decided to pit. I got to the braking zone at Turn 14, locked up the front left and the tire just punctured ‚ " there was a hole through it. It's a good job that corner is just before the pits. I don't think we'll be fighting at the front this weekend, but we'll definitely be fighting someone."
Sergio Perez (11th, 1:36.940): "Today was a difficult day for me, but an important one for the team. I had two offs ‚ “ in the morning, I was running on cold, worn tires, locked the wheels and just touched the barrier. went into the barrier. In FP2, we don't really understand what happened because I wasn't really pushing at the time. Still, I'm sure we will improve tomorrow. I'll effectively be starting from zero because I'll adopt a completely new set-up. That won't make things easier, but I think we've gathered some useful data today and that will ensure we make good progress for the future. The target for tomorrow is to get into Q3. For Sunday, the tires will play a big role; it'll be essential to manage the degradation and plot the perfect strategy, but I know the team is very good in these areas, so I'm optimistic. I think we can have a good result on Sunday."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Today was a very busy day for the whole team ‚ “ we spent both practice session running lots of tests, evaluating a number of new parts and gathering useful data. It's too early to say yet whether any of that work is conclusive ‚ “ there is still an awful lot of data to be analyzed by the engineers this evening ‚ “ but, as always, I'm confident that we will take a step forward in performance tomorrow. It's clearly been an incident-filled day for Checo, but it's all useful learning. I'm sure he'll quickly put it behind him and focus on having a stronger day tomorrow."
Kimi Raikkonen (2nd, 1:35.492): "If you look at the lap time it looks to have been a pretty okay day. For sure there are things we have to improve and you never know what will happen tomorrow but it's a reasonable start to the weekend. We seem to be happy with the soft tires and maybe not as happy with the harder ones. We've still got time to improve and we're certainly not struggling so it could be a good weekend."
Romain Grosjean (12th, 1:36.963): "Today was not so easy for me and I'm still looking for the right setup. I ran with the new exhaust package in the morning and the older one in the afternoon to try to help find where improvements can be made. We now have a lot of data to help find the extra performance we want. The new front wing helps, so that's a step in the right direction. In Malaysia we developed the car as the weekend continued and there are of course a few things we can change overnight. It's a new day tomorrow and we'll hopefully be able to have the car as I'd like it for a strong result this weekend."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "We're reasonably happy with what was a fairly normal Friday for us. Kimi's pace looks strong and he felt he could have gone faster on his flying lap. Romani’s lap time is not representative after he got caught up behind Lewis [Hamilton] during his option run. The grip level between the two tires through certain corners is quite noticeable and ‚ “ as we saw during winter testing ‚ “ the lifespan of the soft tire could be a talking point. There's no doubt it's the tire for qualifying, but making it last in the race will be a challenge. Overall we're pleased with the car in terms of pace, high fuel performance and tire preservation; hopefully we can look forward to a strong weekend ahead."
Nico Rosberg (4th, 1:35.819): "It was good to be back on the track here in Shanghai where I have experienced some really good moments in my career. I felt very comfortable in the car and it was a productive day for us, we definitely learnt a lot. We looked good on one lap, but there is some work still to do on the longer runs. Tire degradation was particularly high on the option tire out there today. So we need to analyze this and decide what is best to do in the race."
Lewis Hamilton (7th, 1:36.496): "We've made a good start today but there is a lot of work to do overnight. The car feels reasonable although I'm still finding myself a little uncomfortable so we made a change for the afternoon session which was a really positive step. I'm hoping that we can continue to improve as I spend more time in the car. The tires are going to be challenging this weekend, particularly the option compound. Our pace looked good and although I had some traffic on my quick lap, there was enough to give me a good feeling. We'll find out in qualifying where we really are."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We've had a pretty good day here in Shanghai. There were a number of items that we wanted to evaluate and the program has gone well. The car seems to have a good balance, the feedback from the drivers was positive, and I'm pleased with the race preparation that we have been able to complete. We can see where the challenges are for this weekend and tire life is certainly going to require some attention. We need to do a good job tonight and then we should be able to have a reasonable final practice and qualifying session tomorrow."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "This was a good and productive day without any problems for us. We tested quite a few things during the first session in the morning with positive results. As usual we ran both prime and option tires in the afternoon and did our normal long runs. Keeping the option tire from dropping off early is quite a big challenge. It's early days and we are sure that there is more performance that we can extract from our technical package at this circuit."
Esteban Gutierrez (13th, 1:37.103): "Generally the sessions were positive and helped us to understand what our issues are and to find a step forward. This is something that keeps us going and pointing us in the right direction. I think there is still a lot of room for improvement. Unfortunately, at the end of the second session we had an oil leak, which, of course, is not what you want to have. However it is good it happened now and not later in the weekend, so hopefully we will have two trouble-free days from now on."
Nico Hulkenberg (17th, 1:38.211): "I think overall the day wasn't too bad. We got quite a lot of testing done and pretty much got through all that we wanted to try. It is quite interesting with the tires, and it will be a challenge on Sunday with the soft compound. It is much quicker on a single lap. The modified rear wing we have here is a step forward, and the car definitely feels a bit better with it. How much of a step this is, is difficult to say, so we have to look a little bit deeper into the data and wait until tomorrow. Overall, it was a positive day, but there is still some work ahead of us."
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: "We evaluated some aerodynamic parts, including a modified rear wing and some other small parts, and they seem to be working as we hoped they would. Unfortunately, with Esteban we had an oil leak on his car cutting short FP2 by 20 minutes. Nico had traffic on his lap with the soft tires, but overall the drivers are reasonably happy with the car. We've got plenty of data to look at as we prepare for qualifying and the race."
Adrian Sutil (8th, 1:36.514): "I'm feeling happy with how things went today. There were no major issues and we managed to test a lot of different things on the car, especially on the aero side. The important thing now is to understand which are the right parts and the best settings to use for the rest of the weekend. In terms of the tires there is a big difference between the compounds, with the medium performing better than the soft. I think we look quite competitive, but it's too early to say exactly where we stand."
Paul di Resta (9th, 1:36.595): "I think the story of the day was mainly about tires and trying to understand how to get the most out of them. We've done as much as we could, but I think everybody found quite a big difference between the two compounds. Also, this is a track with characteristics that are always quite demanding on the tires. We worked through the program, tried a lot of different settings with the car and need to study the data carefully tonight to make the right decisions for the rest of the weekend."
Jakob Andreasen, Chief Engineer: "It has been an incredibly busy day of practice and both car crews worked well to get through such a full job list. We approached the sessions in a methodical manner and made clear decisions as soon as the data indicated the best direction to take. So much of the focus on a Friday is on tire performance, but we also managed to complete an ambitious aero program, which has given us a good understanding of where we need to focus our efforts going forward. Overall I'm pleased with the day's results and I'm confident that our competitiveness is similar to the performance level we showed during the first couple of races. The next target is to get both our cars into Q3 tomorrow afternoon."/p>
Valtteri Bottas (16th, 1:38.185): "We tried lots of things in FP1 and saw some positive results. In FP2 I had a problem at the start but the team did a great job to fix it in time for me to still complete three runs. I feel we have moved a little bit forward since Malaysia, but we'll see tomorrow where we are compared to the others in qualifying set-up. We need to work hard to maximize what we have here."
Pastor Maldonado (18th, 1:38.276): "We will see tomorrow in qualifying what steps we have made as it's too early to say. The car felt like we had made some improvements during FP1, but we struggled this afternoon so we need to analyze the data to see how best to move forward."
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "We felt we had made some progress this morning, but we ended the day two seconds away from where we need to be. We lost some time at the start of FP2 on Valtteri's car due to a problem with the throttle actuation system. The team worked with Renault to fix it as quickly as possible to make sure Valtteri still had time this afternoon to get through some of the tire work that we had planned. Long run tire degradation looks like it will make things difficult in the race, but we'll look at the data tonight to see what we can do. We feel we are moving in the right direction but there is still a long way to go and we now need to bring performance."
Daniel Ricciardo (14th, 1:37.203): "We were a little bit pessimistic coming here after how we performed in this race last year. But after today, I am feeling happier, because we definitely look to be in better shape this time. Another good point is that we made progress between FP1 and FP2 today. It's still not enough if we want to catch our closest rivals, but we are moving in the right direction. As for the tires, the Soft was very good over a single flying lap and I was quite happy with the performance advantage it produced compared to the Prime. On the longer runs the tires suffer a bit more and there are already plenty of marbles on the track, but we always expected to see quite high degradation here."
Jean-Eric Vergne (15th, 1:38.127): "Last year, the Chinese weekend did not go so well for us and I can say we have made a better start this time round. Daniel and I ran slightly different programs today as we had a lot of items on our job sheet to work through, so it made sense to split the workload between us. We will look at the data from both cars in order to find the best set-up to move forward tomorrow, so that we can have a better car. I am quite confident we can be quicker. As expected, it looks as though the tires will have a tough time here, especially the Softs, but it's the same for everyone, so no real concern there."
Laurent Mekies, Head of Vehicle Performance: "Overall it was a positive day for us, generally trouble free, with both drivers completing a lot of kilometers. This was important for our test program where we had a few minor things to evaluate, both on the mechanical side and in terms of aero. It was also good in terms of building confidence in our reliability levels. It was a busy and full program completed with both cars, with some of the program split between the two drivers. Overnight, we therefore will study the data carefully to select the best aspects from the two cars. This afternoon, Jev was slightly less happy than in the morning and we will also investigate that, but in general, we are making some progress and we hope to continue in that direction tomorrow."
Giedo van der Garde (20th, 1:39.271): "Both practice sessions for me were ok but we've had issues all day that have held us back a bit. This morning we had a KERS issue that meant we were running without KERS for the whole session, and that obviously didn't help, and then in the afternoon I overcooked it going into turn one on one of the medium sets and that meant we had to cut short the FP2 plan so we didn't use up another set of tires. Despite that we have a lot of good data on the medium tires from both sessions and the performance run on the softs went ok. Degradation levels are going to be big here, particularly on the softs which had pretty much gone by the end of the long run we did on them, so we'll have to look closely at how we deal with that on Sunday. We know this isn't going to be a particularly easy weekend for us but I still think we can fight tomorrow and on Sunday. The atmosphere in the team is good and if we can repeat the sort of race performance we had on Sunday in Malaysia we'll be ok."
Charles Pic (21st, 1:39.814): "I sat out FP1 for Ma and was then back in for FP2. It didn't start all that well as it felt like I had a hydraulics problem early on the first run but we took a look at it in the garage and managed to sort it out pretty quickly. However, that problem did mean we lost enough time to miss one of the runs and that was important for giving us enough options on car setup. Despite that we got on with the normal program, running a couple of setup options on the medium tires, then onto the performance run on the softs and finishing with a long run on the softs to see how they hold up over a longer distance. The quickest lap times seem to be on the first lap on the softs but I didn't have a clean lap on my fastest run and that hit my time, but we've completed a lot of mileage today and have a couple of setup options to look at for tomorrow so we'll look for areas to improve tonight and hopefully we can push on tomorrow."
Ma Qing Hua: "It was a very proud moment for me to be the first Chinese driver to take part in an F1 session in my home country, but to be honest I was focusing on doing my job and I'm pleased with how it went. I want to thane Caterham for this chance and for helping make me so comfortable in the car and all weekend. We did 20 laps and my times kept coming down as I was more and more comfortable with the car. It felt like we had a slight issue towards the end of the session that cut the fourth run short but after a few checks it looked like a sensor problem so I was able to finish the session with a car that felt good with the final changes we made. I've learnt a lot this weekend already and that was the main thing in FP1 ‚ “ make sure I completed the run plan and don't push too hard so I could learn as much as possible. Cyril Abiteboul told me he was happy with my performance at the end of the session so I'm really pleased with how it went."
Jules Bianchi (19th, 1:38.725): "It has been a good day today and it is very pleasing to see clear progress since the first two races, not just in terms of the results, but the way we have revised our working methods to ensure we get the best out of the package. It seemed a long time since I was last in the car but straight away I can feel the benefit of the development work which has been carried out in the break, so this is a nice feeling as we know we have to keep pushing hard in the early part of the season in particular. This morning the track was very dirty and it was quite difficult in places, but it wasn't so long before I was up to speed and by the end of the day the conditions were improving. Generally a good day and I am happy so far."
Max Chilton (22nd, 1:43.227): "For a day that started so positively this morning, it is disappointing to have suffered such a setback in the afternoon session. This morning I was really pleased with the car balance and I could feel the benefit of the updates we have here. I was less than a tenth from Jules after FP1 and feeling that we had a nice rhythm going for FP2. Unfortunately that was short-lived as I'd completed just four laps before the engine cut to protect itself and I had to pull over on track. I have to pay credit to the guys for turning the car around so quickly to try to get me out again. Clearly we hadn't quite got the full measure of the problem, but it was a great effort nonetheless. Tomorrow will be quite a challenge so a big night ahead with the engineers comparing data and doing everything we can to hit the ground running for FP3 ready for qualifying."
John Booth, Team Principal: "Definitely a day of mixed emotions. This morning, we were pleased to see that with a revised run program we managed to get the best out of the tires and this enabled both drivers to get up to speed with the circuit quickly and the engineers to get some good early data on the Medium tire. Both drivers identified similar balance problems after FP1 and the set-ups were tuned for FP2 accordingly. Jules was able to get the most out of his FP2 program and developed the set-up further in the session, getting a good mix of qualifying and race fuel running completed. Overall we were particularly pleased with his progress and that of the car in the session and the development parts we have brought appear to be working well. With Max I'm afraid we had a less than ideal FP2 session. We have to apologize to Max as he has missed some very valuable running this afternoon after such a positive start this morning. Unfortunately it looks like we have had an engine issue which was killed by a protection strategy in the first run and whilst we believed we had fixed the issue at the end of the session it appears to have re-appeared in what was Max's final run."
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