MARCH 19, 2004
MALAYSIAN GP - FRIDAY - PRACTICE SESSION 2 REPORT
Wait till tomorrow
Practice in Malaysia probably did not prove very much on Friday as Kimi Raikkonen was fastest in his McLaren-Mercedes. No-one is expecting the same result tomorrow but a little good publicity is probably not a bad idea for the under-pressure team from Woking. It was probably more significant that Ralf Schumacher was second and Mark Webber third quickest with Michael Schumacher fourth quickest ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya, Janr Trulli, Fernando Alonso, David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello.
The top 10 drivers were all covered by a single second.
Michael Schumacher (4th, 1:35.094): "It was an interesting Friday session, we did all the work we wanted to do. The car seems to be working well and I am quite happy with its balance, but there is still room for improvement. It certainly seems to be a step forward from what we have seen in the past here. But the signs are that it will be a tight competition tomorrow."
Rubens Barrichello (10th, 1:35.373): "We had a bigger advantage over the others in the morning session, but I am not concerned about our performance this afternoon, as we ran the whole time in race configuration and we can be happy with our work. I think we still have the edge over our rivals."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "This was a closely contested Friday, characterised by very high temperatures. Obviously, as we do not know what fuel levels our rivals were running, it is difficult to interpret the results. Along with Bridgestone, we worked on a comparison of the two types of tyre at our disposal. We still have some work to do on fine tuning the set-up on both cars. From what we have seen today, I think the rest of the weekend should see a close contest and we will be on the pace."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "It was a useful day during which we did a lot of race work. The other teams seem much closer, which is perhaps more normal and is what we expected here. We gathered plenty of information, but we are not completely happy with the car yet. Tonight we will study the data and make some progress tomorrow. As far as tyre choice is concerned, we did plenty of long runs in race conditions with both types of tyre, so we have all the information we need."
Ralf Schumacher (2nd, 1:34.693): "I have to say that I am very happy with the car. We focused on our homework intensely and have completed our programme without too many problems. This fact makes me very confident for tomorrow's Qualifying. We are still discussing about what our tyre choice will be, but I am sure we'll find a good solution."
Juan Pablo Montoya (5th, 1:35.100): "There's still†room for improvement. I know there's more to come in the car than what I could show today, so it's just a matter of exploiting my FW26 at its best. I had some grip problems, so not ideal conditions for setting a fast time however, I am confident we can improve for tomorrow's Qualifying."
Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "We've had a productive day as we went though our programme of testing tyres on both cars, and had no mechanical problems. We are sure we have enough information to make our tyre choice. The pace of our cars looks reasonable in the high ambience temperature, but we won't know until the end of Sunday what everyone's true pace is."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "We had a trouble free Practice, today. Both the drivers could complete their programme. In the First session we focused on the car set-up whereas the Second session was spent collecting data in order to make the right tyre choice. In spite of the heat, the engine temperature†always remained within green levels."
Kimi Raikkonen (1st, 1:34.395): "A productive practice session, and of course it's pleasing to be fastest, but it's still early days. We went through our tyre evaluation programme, and the car feels good and is handling well, but we will see what happens tomorrow. It's definitely too early to say how much we have improved since Melbourne, but I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
David Coulthard (9th, 1:35.301): "A reasonable practice today showing that we are in better shape than a few weeks ago. I had a small problem which caused me to struggle with the accelerator pedal, so I was unable to go for fast times. However, where we really are performance wise we will only find out tomorrow and Sunday."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "David's practice was hampered by a small problem which significantly reduced the accelerator pedal's travel, which of course impacted on his laptimes. Kimi's day was troublefree, and so far we are pleased with the consistency and pace of our Michelin tyres. But it's still early days."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A reasonable start to the weekend with good and consistent times. Whether this continues throughout the weekend we will have to see."
Jarno Trulli (6th, 1:35.115): "We ran a big programme today, particularly in terms of the set-up and the tyres. The first positive to draw from the day is that we had no problems at all, the second that we are not far from the quickest cars on the timesheet. We still need to work on the general grip level as well as the handling, but we can nevertheless be pleased with the progress we made today."
Fernando Alonso (8th, 1:35.300): "The main job today was to do the tyres, and we have completed a good amount of work on this point. The car seems quite sensitive to changes in temperature, with the handling altering significantly according to the weather conditions, and we still have a fair amount of work to do in order to get the set-up right."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "The concentration today was on tyre selection for the race. Before arriving in Sepang, we felt there would be little to choose between the two tyres we brought here, and that indeed proved so: we have some data analysis to conduct this evening in order to determine our final choice. In terms of the cars? balance, both were rather nervous at the beginning of the day and while they improved, there is still some way to go in this respect. The engine performed well in the high ambient temperatures, and the cooling of the car seems under control."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Our objective was to avoid any incidents and have a trouble-free day: we achieved this, experiencing no problems in terms of cooling or performance. The times suggest that the battle at the front will be very close and, given that everybody ran a similar number of laps today, any potential advantage will be found in how well we prepare the cars for race conditions. This will be our primary focus tomorrow."
Jenson Button (11th, 1:35.407): "We were able to complete our planned programme with my car, but I've struggled with to get a good balance for most of the day and we haven't been able to get on top of it yet. There is more to come from the car, we just have a lot of work to do in order to find it. We'll be spending the evening examining the data and trying to get to grips with the problem ahead of tomorrow."
Takuma Sato (15th, 1:36.292): "I had a problem with the brakes which compromised my running and I ended the day having completed only 10 laps, which is quite disappointing. We have a lot of work to do this evening and a lot of laps to do tomorrow morning in preparation for qualifying. Generally, a tough day."
Anthony Davidson (17th, 1:36.708): "I've really enjoyed my first taste of the Sepang circuit, despite these being the hottest conditions I've ever competed in. It's one of the most technical tracks on the calendar but I got to grips with it pretty quickly. It's a lot fun to drive with some great late apex corners. I had a very positive morning focusing mainly on short runs to find the performance over one lap. The car felt good so I was pleased to end the session in third place. This afternoon, I was five laps into a longer run when an engine problem stopped me out on track. It's very disappointing because that run would have provided us with much-needed tyre information to help us with our selection for tomorrow."
David Richards, Team Principal: "Despite the fact that it has quite obviously been a frustrating day, the times are relatively close and we have improved the car over long runs, which was one of the issues we had to address after Australia. The heat is certainly taking its toll on the team and we're facing very different conditions from those that we've tested in throughout the winter. However, the drivers are looking extremely fit and I'm sure this will be one of our strengths when it comes to the race on Sunday."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "We got off to a positive start this morning, but the afternoon session has been somewhat frustrating. Anthony completed most of the running in the first session, and to plan, but unfortunately he stopped out on track early on in his first run of the afternoon. The plan for the race drivers was to complete most of their mileage this afternoon but on Takuma's first run he damaged the nose and front wing when he spun under braking. On his subsequent run he had a problem with his brake pedal being held on by some debris which found its way into the cockpit. Jenson was able to complete his full programme but we now have to make our tyre choice from the somewhat limited running we have had today."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "We made some progress with Jenson's car which gives us a base to work on for the rest of the weekend. Taku and Anthony's sessions were cut short by problems, which we are looking into at the moment. We need to make sure both Jenson and Taku get a good number of laps in tomorrow morning."
Felipe Massa (7th, 1:35.288): "This morning my car was so nervous at high speed that it was incredibly difficult to drive. That's why I went into the gravel at one stage. We changed the set-up completely for this afternoon and immediately it was much better. The track was getting better all through and we did our tyre comparison without any problem, so I'm pretty happy with things so far. We can still work on the set-up, but we have made a reasonable start to the weekend."
Giancarlo Fisichella (16th, 1:36.353): "The balance of my car was getting better on the long runs this afternoon, but we still have to improve over short distances. We were changing things all the way through the second session, which helped, but there is a lot of work still to do before qualifying."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "The Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix is our home race, so first of all I would like to extend a warm welcome to the Malaysian people. We have had two productive sessions today which have given us a lot of valuable data, especially in our tyre choice which is particularly important at the Sepang track."
Mark Webber (3rd, 1:35.054): "I've had a good day here and despite the very hot humid conditions I am enjoying being out on track and seeing what we can do. The team have done a really good job in preparing the car and this is making it easier for me to get the most from the R5. Versus where we were last year when we were here with the R4, there is really no comparison. I spent most of today working on tyres and also set-up. The track is actually quite bumpy so its quite hard going on the car and as we could see there was a lot of people spending time off-track too!"
Christian Klien (14th, 1:35.996): "Again this was another new circuit for me so this makes it more difficult for me to spend time working on the set-up and balance. I spent most of this morning working on circuit familiarisation and it is quite a hard track. There are some fast corners and I was doing my best to stay out of the gravel. This afternoon I spent more time working on tyres so I can discuss my option for the rest of the weekend, although Bjorn really helps out here. The conditions here are very hot and even with my training in Langkawi this is certainly more intense than Melbourne."
Bjorn Wirdheim (18th, 1:36.883): "I have enjoyed today and although this was my first time at the track I got to know it pretty well in the first session as I really had to get on with the job of testing the tyres and set-up. Unfortunately my car came to a stop at the end of session two and I believe this may have been a sensor problem, although the team are working on this just now."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "All three drivers today have done a really good job considering the conditions that we are working in. We completed successfully our test programme and despite Bjorn's car coming to a stop we are pleased with our reliability so far. The humidity that we experience here is challenging on both the drivers and the car so I am encouraged by what I have seen and Mark's time was particularly excellent."
Olivier Panis (12th, 1:35.524): "For me, it has been a highly positive Friday in Malaysia. Compared to the last race in Melbourne it feels like a different world. I am very impressed with the job the team has done to put new aerodynamic parts on the car and to make improvements at such an early stage of the season. The grip level has also improved as a result of the new aero parts and the good choice of tyres from Michelin. Now we have to continue to set up the car with the new parts we have, but things are looking quite positive for the weekend."
Ricardo Zonta (13th, 1:35.850): "I think we have found a good choice of Michelin tyre for this weekend. We tried both of the compounds and quickly found a fast, but consistent tyre. My lap time was also encouraging. With the last set, I was about 5-tenths quicker than my previous best lap, but then I hit traffic at the exit of turn 11 exit, which lost me time. Nevertheless, I am pleased with my second race weekend of driving the third car in Friday practice. I think the team and my crew worked extremely well and things appear to be going in the right direction."
Cristiano Da Matta (19th, 1:36.907): "There is nothing much to say really. We again opted to run just a handful of laps in the first session, but shortly into the second session I went off after entering turn 14 a bit too fast. It was completely the wrong time to make a mistake like that because I lost the remainder of the hour. I now have to rely on the information and data that Olivier and Ricardo gathered today."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director, Chassis: "In the first session, Ricardo worked on a basic set-up, whilst the race drivers ran just a few laps to get a balance on their cars. Unfortunately, Cristiano had an off in the second session and, although we got the car back to the garage, we couldn't clean it out in time to send him back out. Olivier and Ricardo concentrated on tyre comparison and the tyre choice is very clear for us. The level of grip was perhaps a little better than we expected, and it showed that the changes we have made since Melbourne have had a positive effect. Overall, it was a good day with the cars well balanced and the gap to our competitors much reduced, highlighting the excellent and focused job that everyone in the team has done since Melbourne."
Nick Heidfeld (20th, 1:37.725): "It's positive that we had no technical problems today and did the planned amount of laps. However, the car is quite difficult to drive and we are struggling to find a good balance. We were hoping for some different tyres this weekend however Bridgestone are working hard to achieve this for us at the next race. We will look at the data now."
Timo Glock (23th, 1:38.796): "It is unbelievably hot! I had a productive test, finding good set-up variations for the different tyres. It was really good for me to drive in both sessions to the end, finding data for the race and qualifying. My engineer Olly (Oliver Knighton) did a good job and the car was quite positive in the programme we worked on."
Giorgio Pantano (24th, 1:39.324): "I have to say I'm not happy about today. We need to understand what's happening because I don't feel good with the car at the moment - whether it's me or the car I don't know yet so we will look into everything and try and make sure we can be better tomorrow."
James Robinson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "It was a day of usual Friday homework; evaluating the two Bridgestones, looking for a race tyre. The heat we saw today is similar to what we expect to experience on Sunday so it was important to get some longer runs in, which Timo carried out successfully. It's a difficult decision on which way to go so tonight we will carefully study data from the three drivers."
Gianmaria Bruni (21th, 1:37.818): "It has been a good day, and even though we had a small technical problem this morning, it was solved quickly. I'm happy with the work we did today, and also with my lap times, which were reasonably consistent. I made a few little mistakes on my quickest lap and I know for sure we can improve on that time tomorrow."
Zsolt Baumgartner (22th, 1:38.588): "I was reasonably happy with my time at the end of that last session. I was also pleased that I didn't make any serious mistakes and there were no technical problems, which meant we were able to run through our full programme for today. I learned the circuit quickly, and in the course of the sessions, we were able to find a good tyre compound, although we still need to get just a little better balance between the front and rear of the car. We'll work on that for the race. The latest tyres from Bridgestone are very good, and I hope we will have a strong qualifying session tomorrow."
Bas Leinders (25th, 1:41.485): "My first day of testing with the team has been a very positive experience. I'm very satisfied with the way things went, especially since I had to learn everything today - the track, the car, the tyres. I started off gradually and just worked on picking up a bit more time each lap. It was also good to be able to get to work quickly and start assisting the team to develop the car. We tried some new parts, which seemed to provide an improvement, and these should eventually find their way on to the race cars. I'm happy to have been able to help with this work, and I want to thank the team for making me feel very welcome today and helping me to settle in quickly."
John Walton, Sporting Director: "We're pleased with the outcome of today's practice sessions, and other than the problem with Gimmi's car, things have gone very smoothly. It's also worth noting the latest Bridgestone tyres earned excellent reviews from the drivers. The team would like to thank Bas for a mature job today. He played himself in steadily, produced consistent lap times and provided useful feedback to the engineers. I would also like to thank the boys, who put in an excellent effort in the high heat and humidity to repair Gimmi's car quickly and get him back out again before the first session was over. We're looking forward now to a good day tomorrow."
TOYOTA LOOKS TO MUMMY FOR HELP
F1 BUDGET-CAPPING "NOT REALISTIC"
F1 TEAM BOSSES DISCUSS QUALIFYING FORMATS
TEAM BOSSES SPLIT ON MORE TESTING AT RACES
DENNIS HAS A NEW CONTRACT AT MCLAREN
THE 2005 TOYOTA DRIVERS
POLITICS AT SILVERSTONE
FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
PRACTICE 2 RESULTS
PRACTICE 1 RESULTS