Valencia: Friday quotes
Kimi Raikkonen (1st, 1:39.477): "I like driving this track: it is different to other street circuits we have known. Yesterday, when I walked the track, I thought it would be fun and today confirmed that impression. There are some very quick parts and almost everywhere there's a lot of room, maybe similar to some of the North American circuits used in the past. They have really done a good job. Today, our weekend got off to a good start, but obviously it is far too early to say where we are compared to the opposition. Overtaking? It will be difficult, as always: I hope I don't need to by getting the best position in qualifying. The set-up we have found today is not bad, but there is still plenty of room for improvement."
Felipe Massa (4th, 1:39.678): "They were two enjoyable sessions with the lap times tumbling bit by bit as the drivers lapped and got confidence in the track layout. The track surface is still very dirty and it is easy to make mistakes which can lose you precious tenths and to do a good lap time you have to be perfect. I like the track: there's a nice atmosphere and I have to say the organizers have done a good job. Today, it was important that we find a good base set-up immediately and we managed to do that."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "It was a good day. We worked well and acquired a lot of data from this track which, over the next few hours, will be used to prepare ourselves as well as possible for this weekend. From what we could see, given the usual unknowns on a Friday, we can say we are competitive. Whether we will be competitive enough to reach our target will only be revealed starting with tomorrow afternoon's qualifying."
Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "Overall, a good start to this Valencia weekend. It was important to get off on the right foot and we did. We had prepared a baseline set-up for the F2008 and it seems to be about right, which meant that right from this morning we could work on improving it. Both drivers are reasonably happy with the handling of the car. Now we have to analyze all the data we have gathered to work out how to move forward in terms of getting the best performance. Today the track has been very dirty, which was in fact predictable, however, the two types of Bridgestone tire did not show up any great difference in their performance."
Robert Kubica (8th, 1:40.149): "In the First Free Practice session we concentrated on learning the new circuit. The surface was still very dirty in the morning, so we had to wait until the track picked up some grip. In the Second Free Practice the conditions were better, although it was still quite slippery, and our main focus was on tire evaluation and basic set-up work. Anyway, the track conditions were changing every thirty minutes. Because of this it is quite tricky to make a prediction for tomorrow. We now have to analyze the data."
Nick Heidfeld (18th, 1:41.084): "I really like the new Valencia street circuit as they have done a very good job on the lay-out. Of course at the start the track was extremely dirty, but obviously the conditions are the same for everybody. We had no technical problems and I was able to do the tire comparison as planned. I'm not happy with the lap times yet, so now we shall look into the data and figure out how we can improve."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "Although this is a new track, there were no surprises for us as regards the car's set-up. The circuit is as we expected, and we were well prepared. As usual on Friday we concentrated on comparing the tires and race preparation. We were able to complete the program without any technical problems. Because we cannot use any previous information to refer to for this new track, we shall now analyze all the data. We shall pay special attention to comparing the sector times so we can make the right set-up changes for the rest of the weekend."
Fernando Alonso (2nd, 1:39.497): "We kept to our program today, which was to complete maximum mileage and verify our simulations. The circuit is both interesting and challenging, and the final sector is definitely my favorite and quite exciting from the cockpit. The initial results from today are encouraging, but we must now continue working hard to have a solid qualifying session tomorrow and ensure a good level of performance in the race."
Nelson Piquet (9th, 1:40.439): "I was able to take advantage of the three hours of practice today to complete plenty of laps and gather lots of interesting data which will be useful for the rest of my weekend. I really like the track and it's a lot of fun in the car. The level of grip was poor, but we are used to this sort of thing on street circuits. I will now work with my engineers to optimize the set-up of the car so that we can have a good final free practice session tomorrow morning and approach qualifying in good shape."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "It has been interesting learning and adapting to this new circuit. During today's practice sessions we completed our program of learning the circuit, the car and the tires. As expected, the grip level was very low to begin with and developed through both sessions. It is difficult to understand too much about our situation relative to the others, but we had no significant problems, which is encouraging for the rest of the weekend."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "We covered lots of miles today, which was the aim because the priority was all about making the most of the track time available. We had to gather as much information and data as possible to improve the car and get ready for the qualifying session tomorrow. In terms of the engine, we concentrated mainly on optimizing the gear ratios. Now we have to wait for the final practice session tomorrow morning to have a better idea of our relative performance level. Overall, though, today was trouble-free and encouraging."
Nico Rosberg (12th, 1:40.607): "The organizers have done a fantastic job; Valencia is a great track. It has a pretty smooth surface and it's going to be a pleasure to race here. We went out on new tires fairly early on, and the track ramped up a lot towards the end of the session so it's difficult to really tell, but I think the track is suiting our car. We will have to wait and see what happens tomorrow and in the race. In terms of set-up, we made a considerable improvement today which is good."
Kazuki Nakajima (14th, 1:40.742): "The sessions went well for us. The long runs were good but we need to find a bit more pace when we're out on new tires. Conditions were changing all the time and the track became easier to drive as the sessions progressed. It's not the easiest of circuits, so I'm pleased I did lots of preparation work on the simulator before I arrived. I'm feeling positive ahead of tomorrow's qualifying."
Patrick Head, Director of Engineering: "We lost a set of tires with Nico following his spin and we're obviously lucky to get away without any car damage. Otherwise, we've run through our program and have collected good information on tires while doing long runs so we're happy with the work we've done today."
Mark Webber (11th, 1:40.585): "First of all, they've done a great job with the track and it's a fantastic facility to drive, so that's good. We're not as quick as we'd like to be and we've still got a bit of work to do. The first session was very testing, but we improved the car in the second and we've got a lot of data to go through tonight to get ourselves a good grid position tomorrow."
David Coulthard (13th, 1:40.696): "The track's good. It's a typical street circuit in that the rubbered line builds up very quickly but then off line you have much less grip. You don't get on a normal track, so that will make the race interesting if anyone runs wide. This morning wasn't so good, but we worked on the set up and made some improvements for the afternoon. Let's see what we can do tomorrow."
Timo Glock (7th, 1:39.967): "It's always enjoyable to come to a new venue and I'm impressed. It was pretty hot out there but the track is good fun and the layout is interesting. I like street circuits because I raced on so many of them during my time racing Champ Car in America but apart from the harbor and the buildings this doesn't really look like a street circuit because it has long straights. We had a good day. The first practice was a bit difficult and the track was very dusty but we expected that. The afternoon was much better and the car got more and more into the set-up window. I hope we can keep going in this direction because it has been a productive day."
Jarno Trulli (15th, 1:40.877): "That was not a particularly good day for me. We need to adjust the car balance so we will have to look into it tonight. The track is good, though, and I like it. In karting we used to race on a lot of street circuits so learning it doesn't take long. But you need to find a compromise on set-up because there is a mix of slow corners and higher-speed sections with long straights. The most important thing is how much the surface will change during the weekend. The asphalt is quite smooth and while it was predictably slippery today, the grip should improve so it will be hard to get the set-up right."
Dieter Gass, Chief Race Engineer: "The most important thing when you go to a new track is to make it through your program without any technical problems, which was the case today. On the first day at a new track we amend our usual plan. Today we carried out more long runs both at the start of P1 to learn the circuit and at the end of P2 to help judge the tire behavior because we have no reference here. Apart from that you aim to find the balance and the right downforce levels. There doesn't seem to be a lot of grip around and it didn't improve as massively as we would have expected. Still, we're quite happy with where we are with Timo but Jarno is struggling a bit with an inconsistent balance. So we will have to look into that and fix it for tomorrow."
Sebastian Vettel (16th, 1:40.982): "We had a good day. This is a very interesting track and quite different to a typical street circuit, with the fact there are some run-off areas. It is lots of fun to drive and technically demanding. While it might look a bit like Canada, it's actually completely different. The corners are tricky and it took some time to find the right line. We started the day with poor conditions and very low grip because it was very dusty, but it improved during the day. Now it will be interesting to analyze what we have done and see what the others did. I think we can be well prepared for tomorrow."
Sebastien Bourdais (19th, 1:41.246): "The track is quite nice and I think they have done a good job with the design at their first attempt. Of course the grip level will come up over the weekend, because by the end of the day, the grip on the racing line was good but as soon as you put a wheel off line it was very difficult. The car is not too bad, although I am still struggling a little bit with rear end instability on corner entry and have some traction issues, so we still need to fine tune the balance for tomorrow. Apart from the beginning of the morning, when the tires wore quickly because of wheelspin and the fact the car was sliding a lot, the tires seem to be holding up quite well now the track conditions have stabilized. Let's see what happens when we go to the next step tomorrow afternoon and empty the fuel tank."
Jenson Button (3rd, 1:39.546): "It was good to finally get out on the new Valencia street circuit today after previously experiencing the lap on the simulator and having a closer look during our track walk yesterday. We were struggling with very low grip this morning and I'm sure that was the same for everyone out there. The track is very dusty and if you go offline, your tires are quickly covered in dirt, which makes it difficult to be consistent. We made a lot of changes to the car this afternoon which have proved positive and provided a great deal of useful information to study this evening. It was nice to do a quick lap at the end on the option tire. Hopefully we can further improve the car overnight and be reasonably competitive for qualifying tomorrow."
Rubens Barrichello (20th, 1:41.377): "The new circuit here in Valencia is impressive and the grip levels have been improving throughout the day, so the lap times are becoming more representative. We had a good morning session and I felt the car was quite well-balanced but this afternoon it was almost like I had a completely different car. We changed some parts for the session and unfortunately they had a real impact on the car's performance, which along with some braking concerns, meant that we were unable to progress. I'm confident that we can resolve these concerns overnight and get back on the pace for qualifying tomorrow."
Steve Clark, Head of Race & Test Engineering: "The track is very dirty as it is so new and it's very easy to lose a bit of direction as the track improves, the car balance changes and the tires behave differently. There are also some unknowns like the optimum downforce level and the drivers finding the racing line. In addition there is the additional challenge of getting the brakes to work correctly. There is quite a lot to get to grips with and we have to do so as quickly as possible. Fortunately we have two very experienced drivers which makes the process a lot easier. Jenson has obviously done a good job today and is looking extremely competitive. Rubens has some braking problems that we have had to live with during the session because there wasn't sufficient time to fix them. If we can resolve this issue then there is no reason to think that both cars can't be quite closely matched during the rest of the weekend. I think we have done a good job here in Valencia so far but credit should also go to the rest of the team for all the hard work that was achieved off-track during the three-week break. The progress we have made with honing our recent developments appears to be paying dividends."
Giancarlo Fisichella (10th, 1:40.500): "Today we ran through our normal program, even though it was a new circuit. It's a pretty good track, nice to drive, although it was very dirty and slippery in the morning. We had a very good second session with some quick times and made some strong progress on the set-up. The seamless box is working well and we can push quite hard, but let's see what happens for tomorrow and qualifying."
Adrian Sutil (17th, 1:40.999): "It was an interesting day for us to run on a new track. The circuit is very challenging, but feels more like a permanent race track than a street circuit as it has lots of run off areas and long straights and very smooth asphalt. It was however difficult in the morning with lots of dust and very hard to get a good lap out of it. In the afternoon it was better, but it was still quite dusty and once you got a little bit off line you got no grip at all. Everything was really as normal, with a standard program with the tires. We have some issues with graining as usual, but overall I am quite pleased with the day. The seamless shift is a very good step and I was happy with the progress."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "Generally an interesting day for us as it is always challenging to run at a new circuit, and particularly one that stretches the drivers. We had no real mechanical problems today, only a small brake issue with Giancarlo, which was very quickly solved. All in all we ran through our normal program and tire evaluation and, although it's hard to tell from Friday form, I think we look more competitive and have made a slight step forward that we'll look to carry over to the rest of the weekend."
Lewis Hamilton (5th, 1:39.712): "Considering the dustiness of the track, we made a very promising start on set-up this morning. We were able to go quicker on each run without changing too much and we took a very good baseline into the afternoon session. In P2, our adjustments were again spot-on but the sheer volume of traffic meant it was difficult to immediately confirm our final set-up changes. Nonetheless, we're in pretty good shape and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Heikki Kovalainen (6th, 1:39.954): "I immediately found a good balance at the front-end and slowly dialed in the rear during the first session. But the track was very green this morning which meant there was little point in making big changes to the car. In the afternoon, we made a number of changes which seemed to pay off for us - by the end of the session, the car was working well and the balance felt really good. Today's progress is very encouraging."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "It's always an interesting engineering challenge whenever you arrive at a new circuit - and today in Valencia was no exception. We spent two very productive sessions concentrating on tire choice, while running appropriate fuel levels. Lewis and Heikki also performed faultlessly, allowing us to collect plenty of valuable data which we will go through tonight."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A great circuit and a first class job by the organizers and especially Bernie for the maiden race here in Valencia. For Lewis and Heikki and our team it was a good start to the weekend with fast and consistent lap times in race trim. We stayed clear of the walls which is very important here - you definitely should not lose valuable time on a new track because your car is in pieces and needs to be put together in the pits while your competitors are learning for qualifying and the race."
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