Abu Dhabi: Friday quotes
Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:40.888): "We've been hoping for some time to improve our revised rear wing. It hasn't really been working fully since we first tested it at Suzuka, so we've not been able to use it to its fullest extent. We knew that it had potential though - and to have it finally working properly is a huge plus for us. The car feels good, so I'm hopeful for a good qualifying result tomorrow afternoon. Of course, it will be tough, because the Red Bulls tend to pull out half a second in Q3, but our pace is closer to theirs than it's ever been. Of all the weekends this year, this time I feel like we really do have the right package to challenge the fastest cars. I think we can fight for the front row. My visit to the stewards was just to explain what happened out on track with Bruno [Senna]. It was a bit of a misunderstanding: he was trying to start his lap, and I was trying to come into the pits. I'll go and speak to Bruno to make sure everything's cool."
Jenson Button (8th, 1:42.132): "Today showed us there are a few areas where we need to improve my car. We changed a few things for the afternoon session, and I struggled with the balance - front locking is an issue, as it has been for the past few races. There's not enough consistency, so I think we're running a downforce level that's too low for this circuit. So that's probably not the way forward, but at least it's shown us the reasons why the pace wasn't there. It seems like Lewis's car, which was in a different configuration to mine, is still very quick - so hopefully we can find that same sweet-spot with my car. I want to enjoy the rest of the weekend - and there are lots of reasons to feel optimistic for tomorrow."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "We come to this race determined to end an already successful season on a high, and to consolidate our second position in the constructors' world championship. To that end, we've aggressively refined our rear wing design into its final iteration, and initial tests suggest it's delivering the additional performance we'd anticipated. Lewis set a very strong pace in both practice sessions, ending the day fastest overall - a result that provides us with plenty of encouragement as we continue to refine our car overnight. Jenson was less satisfied with his car's balance, once again encountering the front-locking issues that have affected him in recent races. However, he and his engineers are confident they can overcome these issues before practice resumes tomorrow. Last year, this race was 'the one that got away' from us following Lewis's early mechanical retirement after leading the opening laps. Now, the whole team will be looking to make up for that with victory this weekend - that's very much our aim."
Nico Rosberg (10th, 1:42.222): "We made some good progress today and are definitely going the right way with the set-up. It took some time and a few steps in different directions to find the improvements, and whilst there are some issues that we need to solve, overall it is looking ok. My F-duct wasn't working properly today which wasn't ideal but we will fix that overnight ready for the weekend."
Michael Schumacher (11th, 1:42.246): "It is quite interesting to drive in the day/night conditions here and it makes this track special and the event fun. The track itself was not too complicated to learn so all in all, it was okay today. We did not really face any special issues so I really look forward to tomorrow's qualifying when I will try to get a good lap together to make it as far up on the grid as possible."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We have had a reasonable start to the weekend here in Abu Dhabi with both Nico and Michael finding a good set-up direction by the end of the second session this evening. We achieved some interesting evaluations today which should stand us in good stead to have a positive final race weekend of the season here."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Our lap times in race conditions did not look too bad at the end of the session. As at the last few races, we will try to get the best possible places on the grid behind the quicker cars and then aim to improve during the race. Of course, it is our ambition to finish this long season with the best results possible and our guys are fully motivated to achieve that target."
Sebastian Vettel (2nd, 1:41.145): "That wasn't bad, the car felt strong early afternoon, although tonight it was a bit different due to the conditions. All in all I was pretty happy, I think there is some lap time still to gain - so we will analyze things now and hopefully pick up some pace tomorrow. As expected, the McLaren was quick today, Ferrari is up there and the Renault isn't looking too bad either so we will see what we can do."
Mark Webber (4th, 1:41.315): "That was a good day; we had an engine change in between the two sessions, which was planned. It was the usual suspects up at the front today and Fernando, Seb and I were pretty much on similar times. The car is close to what we had in Brazil, it's hard to develop a car which is pretty solid already. It feels a bit like we're in Bahrain here in terms of the engineers' office and in the car it feels like a normal weekend, but obviously there's a lot more at stake - that's the only thing that's changed, but you can't try any harder."
Fernando Alonso (3rd, 1:41.314): "This weekend has got off on the right foot for us, as we gathered a lot of data which is now being evaluated by our engineers. The first thing to do on a Friday is to check that everything is alright and that the handling of the car corresponds to what we have seen in the simulations and after that you have to work on improving performance by changing set-up and aerodynamic downforce levels and that is exactly what we did during these three hours. We are reasonably pleased with the car's level of competitiveness and the fact it feels easy to drive, but we know there is still more potential that can be extracted to go even quicker. I expect tomorrow's qualifying to be very tight: let's hope we can get closer to the Red Bulls than we have been in the past. There is no point in speculating over the possible scenarios that could unfold in the race: we have to concentrate on ourselves and on how to make the car go faster."
Felipe Massa (6th, 1:41.583): "Overall, it was a good debut for me at this track, where I was unable to race last year. My times came down progressively, both because of the changing track conditions and also, as lap after lap, I managed to learn where I could push harder. It was a shame I had a little problem towards the end of the second session which prevented me from doing my last series of laps with a heavy fuel load. I hope to be able to continue to make progress so as to be in the fight for the top places. The car seems to handle well: now we must analyze the data we have gathered to try and make the right choices in terms of set-up and aerodynamic configuration. I am sure that there is room to improve our performance level."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "As always you have to take Friday's results with a grain of salt because there are too many variables at play to be able to draw a really precise conclusion. We are tackling this weekend with the same sort of approach that we have adopted throughout the whole season: we are well aware of our target and we will do our utmost to reach it, without spending too much time doing the sums. We can claim to have got off to a reasonable start, but there is still a lot of work to do. We are up against very strong rivals in Red Bull and McLaren and beating them will be very difficult, but we will leave nothing to chance. This is a special event for us: we have many ties to Abu Dhabi, a country in a state of rapid growth and which has become something of a second home for us. Coming here and being able to see a fantastic structure like the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi was really exciting: everyone should come and spend at least one day at it!"
Chris Dyer: "The surprise today was the rain shower which hit the track just before the first free practice session! It's not what one expects here in Abu Dhabi, but luckily, it did not upset our planned program in any way. As for the rest, we can say that, at least from what we have seen, it was a Friday like so many others this season. Fernando had no problems and is reasonably pleased with the handling of his car on a first flying lap while there is probably still some work to do on a longer run, especially as at this track the tires seem to suffer with higher degradation than we are used to seeing at other venues. Felipe had a problem with the fuel injection system, which meant he was unable to finish his program, but the consequent lack of some data that he might have gathered does not constitute a serious handicap to the rest of his weekend's preparation. We must try and up our performance level still further, especially as regards qualifying, which will be the crucial stage of this weekend. We have all the elements we need to make our choices."
Nico Hulkenberg (12th, 1:42.449): "That was an ok Friday. The first session was pretty tricky and I wasn't too happy with the car, but it felt more together in the second session after we adjusted the balance. We aren't exactly where we want to be at the moment; it is really competitive out there this weekend and we need to find a couple of tenths in the set-up. We will see what we can do overnight and during P3 in time for qualifying."
Rubens Barrichello (15th, 1:42.914): "Today we had a few set-up issues so the car didn't perform as we would have liked it to. We have a lot of work to do, but we will make it happen."
Patrick Head, Director of Engineering: "We have a few imbalances on set-up to attend to, but we will address those tonight. Rubens' had an engine problem in P1 which resulted in a change for the afternoon, but it is not something which concerns us for tomorrow. The option is looking sensitive on high fuel, so there could be some interesting strategies in qualifying and during the race on Sunday."
Robert Kubica (5th, 1:41.576): "It was an unusual start to first practice today with a damp track, but once it had dried out, the situation was similar to what we found last year: the track evolution was huge, and the tire degradation was pretty high, too, which made it hard to do much consistent running because the circuit was getting better as the tires got worse. It's tricky to find a nice balance on the car here, because the off-camber corners are frustrating to drive and the high rear degradation means the car oversteers quite a lot. As usual, tomorrow will be a challenging day, too: we will complete final practice in daylight, before qualifying at dusk, and we will have to anticipate the change in track temperature and how it affects the car."
Vitaly Petrov (7th, 1:42.096): "The circuit was very dirty during first practice, and the tire performance dropped off very quickly because of that, making the car difficult to drive. We made some good improvements between the sessions, particularly with the brakes, and it felt much better - plus the circuit cleaned up and grip levels improved. In the end, we got more laps done than we had planned, which will give us a good amount of data to try and improve further tomorrow."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "It was a very normal Friday for us, with no dramas. We worked through our usual program of setting the car up in first practice, then doing tire evaluation and high-fuel runs in the second session. It's an odd situation because it's the opposite to what we see at other circuits - the track temperatures drop for second practice, rather than rising. The temperatures were around nine degrees cooler in the second session, which gives much more overall grip, so you have to be careful to anticipate this with any set-up changes you make to the car. They look pretty good. As we anticipated, the degradation on the option looks pretty high, but this situation will improve as more rubber goes down. We didn't have any warm-up problems with either tire. This is a circuit where you need to protect the rear tires - but if go too much in this direction with the set-up, and make the car too comfortable to drive, then it costs you lap time. We were reasonably happy with the car balance today, but we will be working to improve further tomorrow to find the right compromise between qualifying and the race."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (9th, 1:42.203): "This morning was a bit unusual - clouds over Abu Dhabi isn't something I've really seen before! The morning was OK, we tested some settings with the switchable rear wing, some of which worked and others that didn't, but in the afternoon it was pretty good. We got on top of the SRW and could concentrate on getting through our program. The balance was pretty good, and at the end of the day we're not that far from where we wanted to be set-up wise. We got a good understanding of the supersoft and medium tires and tried some different engine tuning and mapping work. We can be pretty proud of the step we made. The balance is good and we are in a strong position compared to the other teams."
Adrian Sutil (13th, 1:42.535): "In the morning we didn't do much running early on as the track was very slippery. The surface was still damp and the lack of rubber made it pretty difficult to do any meaningful work. When we did go out the first run went OK but for the second the tires had already grained up and I started to have some problems with the brakes. Unfortunately they then came back in the afternoon and stayed for the whole session. We tried to solve the issue but every time I went out the car was pulling to one side under braking and was very inconsistent. At the moment we are looking into why this has happened and I'm sure we'll sort it out for qualifying. I did at least have a good run on the soft tire. We can always improve but at least we know there is more to come from us tomorrow."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "Today's program involved some tests to understand the SRW and best wing level for this circuit, with an evaluation of a couple of developments of the blown diffuser in the afternoon session. The usual tire comparisons were also carried out, with some useful data gathered. Tonio had quite a good day, but Adrian struggled with some brake glazing which we need to sort out. Otherwise I think that although things are close, we seem a little more competitive than Brazil and we will be aiming to qualify as well as possible as we know overtaking can be quite difficult here come the race."
Jaime Alguersuari (17th, 1:43.128): "I am glad to be here for the last race of the season. I'm feeling strong mentally and physically and it seems we are doing quite a good job on track, with reasonably competitive lap times and tire degradation does not seem to be too big a problem for us here. There is more to come tomorrow, as the car set-up is not yet 100% right, but I feel we can sort that out. Towards the end, I pushed too hard, spun and the engine stalled. My tires were a bit old by then, but I was still attacking, putting the power down too early, so I lost the rear end. I was trying to find the limit and see if I could brake on the curb on the outside of the corner - I now understand that I can't! Fortunately, I did not hit anything so the car is fine. I am happy with the balance of the car on the Prime tire, because we did a short run on used Primes and it looked quite competitive. Going from daylight to floodlights is no problem, because we experienced it last year and I just removed a dark tear-off visor when it got dark."
Sebastien Buemi (18th, 1:43.584): "And so we come to the final Friday of the season. The track here is still quite a novelty as we have only been here once before and today the surface was rather green. I had a lot of degradation on the tires this morning, but we felt this would be the situation from what we saw here last year. We expected a big improvement and indeed that was the case, but I was unable to get the most out of the soft tires because I spun into Turn 16 on a quick lap. Overall, we have done a good day's work, trying various different set-ups which have shown us which direction to go in tomorrow to try and improve and there was no problem going from daylight to night in terms of visibility."
Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer: "We were expecting a standard Friday program, but this morning's rain took us by surprise and it meant that everyone only really started running until a bit later. From then on, it was a standard session, apart from losing a bit of track time with Jaime, when he spun off the track during his quick run on option tires. Fortunately there was no damage, but unfortunately the car stalled so he was unable to continue. We had no reliability issues throughout the day, going through quite a few test items so we have a sufficient amount of data. On the tire front, the situation is not black and white, which will make the next two days interesting. Last year, was very unusual with everyone finding the Prime to be behaving better than the Option."
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:45.180): "It was good for me today. As soon as I went out this afternoon the car was on the pace which was an encouraging sign for the weekend. Fairuz had set up the car very well this morning and with no issues all day we were able to get through the whole program and finished in a strong position ahead of Timo."
Jarno Trulli (21st, 1:45.612): "It was a pretty smooth Friday for me, with no problems in either session. We did some good work evaluating the tires and saw pretty high degradation so I think we'll need to keep an eye on that for the race. The balance of the car was good - we still have to improve it but all in all it was a positive day."
Fairuz Fauzy: "I'm pretty satisfied with how it went today but it was tricky for the first few laps. After the rain, which I think took everyone by surprise, the track was quite damp in places, and combining that with the fact I could only use one set of tires, meant I couldn't really push. Despite that it was great to be back in the car, and I think I did a good team job today."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "It was a good day for us and it's always satisfying to finish at the head of the new teams. Fairuz did a good job this morning, particularly bearing in mind he has had very limited running all season. Both cars completed a decent number of laps in the morning and afternoon sessions which allowed us to complete all the setup work we had planned and, despite this being the last race of the season and after a long journey from Brazil at the weekend, the whole team looked good today. Everyone is ready for the final push and I think it will be an exciting weekend for us and for the whole grid."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "Two good Friday sessions for us at the last race of the season. We had no mechanical issues all day which we hope to carry through the whole weekend. Fairuz drove for us in FP1 and gathered some useful data from his run and both Jarno and Heikki put in some good mileage this afternoon which sets us up well for the weekend."
Christian Klien (23rd, 1:47.210): "It was the first time for me at this circuit today and we used the first session to learn all about it. Unfortunately, we only had 45 minutes as it was raining in the morning. In the second practice we could work more on the set-up of the car and even if the track doesn't have much grip yet, it is a lot of fun to drive on it. The light conditions are similar to those during qualifying and race so it was good to get used to it."
Bruno Senna (24th, 1:47.434): "Due to the rain before the first practice, the track didn't have a lot of grip and we waited for it to improve. It's a shame because this made us lose time to work on the set-up of the car. In the second session, we could do more laps and work on our program for the weekend but we have to keep on working and improving the car."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "In the morning, the circuit was wet after a rain shower in the desert. Consequently, the track was hard to drive on and we had to wait for better grip conditions. Our intention was for us to do four outings, but we could only do two and they were just for checking the car. In the second practice, we could do more laps and get more experience for the next sessions. We have a lot of things to do for tomorrow, but I'm confident that we are going to improve."
Kamui Kobayashi (14th, 1:42.768): "To me it looked okay in the beginning of both free practice sessions, but for some reason there was no improvement and we were struggling. We were doing a lot of testing and have collected plenty of data. I'm positive we will find solutions for tomorrow."
Nick Heidfeld (16th, 1:42.950): "I really like driving here, the track is nice. The first session wasn't bad but in the second free practice I was very unhappy with the balance of my car. Luckily it is only Friday, and we have time to work that out."
James Key, Technical Director: "It was a late start to the first session after some unexpected rain, but otherwise we did a normal program with just two runs for both drivers. It was just a matter of looking at grip levels, working on the mechanical set-up and checking different wing levels. In the evening we were reasonably well balanced in the first two sectors with regard to the lap time. However, we need to work hard on the third sector, because we are losing a lot there, and we have to understand why. It's not just down to the downforce level. We have to analyze all the data tonight in order to understand how we can improve there."
Timo Glock (20th, 1:45.259): "Today we had a very straightforward Friday practice session. I was quite happy with the car and did some positive fine tuning. In general it looks like the Prime and Soft tires are quite difficult to handle over one run. Generally a good start to the weekend."
Lucas di Grassi (22nd, 1:46.053): "A very good day, my first here at Abu Dhabi. It's quite an amazing track that they have built in the middle of the desert with all the infrastructure. The circuit itself is mainly low speed corners with a couple of long straights, and we were able to do a lot of running and a lot of setup work. We reached a few conclusions so we will put the best on the car tomorrow and are quite confident that we can go well and we will fight to the end of the race to be the best new team - that's our spirit."
John Booth, Team Principal: "An encouraging first day. Both drivers were quickly up to speed, despite never having driven here before, and both cars ran very reliably allowing us to do plenty of laps and evaluate a number of setup options. Tire management will clearly be an issue over the weekend but we look to be in quite good shape so far and are looking forward to the rest of the event in this spectacular."