EUROPEAN GP - FRIDAY - PRACTICE SESSION 2 REPORT

McLaren goes fastest

Kimi Rakkonen, European GP 2004

Kimi Rakkonen, European GP 2004 

 © The Cahier Archive

Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time of the afternoon session for the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring but the McLaren-Mercedes team will have to do the same again tomorrow if it wishes to convince the F1 world that this was anything more than a publicity stunt for Mercedes-Benz. The Finn has struggled to be competitive all year in the car and there is little evidence that anything has dramatically changed in the last few days. Jenson Button was second quickest in the afternoon. Local hero Ralf Schumacher was third fastest in his Williams-BMW.

The times do not seem to have any particular relevance compared to the other races so far this year and it is anticipated that tomorrow we will see a rather more representative list of times.


Ferrari

Rubens Barrichello (6th, 1:29.943): "Over the years I have been with Ferrari, I have come to know the Agnelli family and I have a good friend in Andrea. News of the death of his father hit me hard, so at this difficult time my thoughts are with Andrea and his family. From a work point of view, I can say that it was a good day for me. We gathered sufficient data, so now we must prepare as well as possible for qualifying and the race. From what we have seen today it will however be a very tough weekend."

Michael Schumacher (9th, 1:30.227): "I was shocked this morning to hear of the death of Umberto Agnelli. Our thoughts are with his family, especially his son Andrea. I have so many memories of Mr. Agnelli, who always supported us and with whom I spent many happy times. Here at the circuit, my day was slightly handicapped by a hydraulic problem and we will now have to investigate to see what caused it. In general, we have enough data to make a tyre choice thanks to the work done by Rubens."

Jean Todt, Team Principal: "This is no ordinary day as the tragic death of Umberto Agnelli has touched us deeply. This morning the whole team got together to ensure we could focus on doing the best job possible, but naturally our thoughts were with the Agnelli family. As for the day on track, we carried out the usual set-up and tyre programme. Now we have to study the data to get the most out of our package, taking into consideration the demands of one-lap qualifying and the race."

Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "The second session was not so good for us as we had a hydraulic problem on Michael's car which curtailed his running. So we did not get much work done on that car. Rubens worked on a tyre comparison programme, so we will be able to study all the data to decide which type to use for the rest of the weekend. As usual we have one that has better performance over the opening lap and is less consistent and the second where the opposite applies. So we have to weigh up the various strategic options in order to make the best choice."

Williams-BMW

Ralf Schumacher (3rd, 1:29.677): "I am not unhappy with my result in Free Practice today, even if it's clear that there's quite a lot of work ahead of us. With regards to the set-up, we are on the right way but it's clear that there is some good room for improvement. Tyre choice will be very difficult and critical. We need to have a careful look at the data we have collected, before taking a decision."

Juan Pablo Montoya (11th, 1:30.337): "I wasn't on the same wavelength as my car today. I was expecting some difficulties in setting it up and this caused more of a problem than I thought. The car is quite hard to drive and most of all unpredictable. If you look at what Ralf has achieved, it's clear that the potential is there, so we just need to focus on our problems and hopefully solve them by tomorrow."

Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer: "We have gone through our programme for the race, testing different brake ducts and tyres. We should be competitive here. There is some more work to do on the set-up and we need to carefully analyse the tyre data."

Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "The field is very tight today, with eleven drivers squeezed in just one second. Both our drivers could complete their programme and neither engine experienced any problems. Encouragingly, Ralf set a very fast lap."

McLaren-Mercedes

Kimi Raikkonen (1st, 1:29.355): "A good start to the weekend but there is still a long time to go. As always we will do our best and hopefully continue to make some progress. We completed our planned programme and experienced no problems, which is encouraging. The car seems to behave well here, but its tomorrow that really matters and we will see where we end up."

David Coulthard (4th, 1:29.700): "Obviously it doesn't look too bad for us today despite only running a limited number of laps. We completed our tyre evaluation programme and found a reasonable basic set up, so our pace seems quite encouraging."

Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Two uneventful Friday practice sessions. We seemed to be moving forward, but its early days and the weekend has only just begun."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "We completed our planned Friday's programme and found a reasonable basis for the race. However, we will have to continue to make progress during the weekend because it's qualifying and the race that matters."

Renault

Jarno Trulli (5th, 1:29.919): "A standard opening day: our running was designed to help us choose tyres and begin the car set-up programme. The car was lacking some grip today in these conditions, and we hope to see the circuit evolve some more by tomorrow. However, we still seem quite competitive."

Fernando Alonso (8th, 1:30.163): "As usual, the Friday programme was focused on assessing the tyres available to us. Beyond that, we began fine-tuning some set-ups but the main part of that work will be done tomorrow. The circuit should improve during the weekend, and we hope to pick up grip as it does."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "A traditional Friday programme for us today, but the circuit seems to be changing more between the sessions than it did last year. The level of grip is quite low, and this has a subsequent detrimental effect on the balance. However, this is nothing out of the ordinary."

Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "The day ended with a very tightly-grouped pack at the head of the field. The number of off-track excursions we saw today indicates the drivers are finding it difficult to adapt to the changing circuit, and the small gaps mean we have a very close battle in prospect. Tomorrow, a good qualifying position will hang on very little: a good flying lap, and tuning the car and engine correctly. We will be working on that beginning this evening."

BAR-Honda

Jenson Button (2nd, 1:29.618): "We've had a good first day today and have obtained a lot of information from all three cars. The lack of grip has been a problem throughout the day though. We struggled this morning and were expecting the grip level to improve this afternoon, but it didn't. Probably because the temperature is quite cool and it's a little windy. Anthony has done some good work on the longer runs but this is something we still need to improve on. It's only Friday and it's difficult to see how much of today's results is down to teams improving or their fuel loads. Generally, we have some work to do but I think we're going to be strong here. After Monaco, it will also be good to race at a track where it's possible to overtake."

Anthony Davidson (7th, 1:30.028): "I'm really pleased with my performance today. This is another circuit which I have no experience of, so I'm really pleased that I was able to set a new lap record at the end of what is essentially a familiarisation session. It's an enjoyable track to drive as it has a bit of everything - slow, medium and quick corners. After six races I've really got into the swing of working closely as a team with Jenson, Taku and the engineers, and I'm happy to be making a valuable contribution. We've made a good start to the race programme so it looks like we have another exciting weekend in store at BAR."

Takuma Sato (10th, 1:30.283): "We struggled a little to achieve the right balance today so we need to work on that for tomorrow. But we do not foresee any problems and will be spending a lot of time looking at tyre data from today's runs with all three cars. I hope that the track will improve tomorrow because we were struggling for grip throughout the day today. Overall I'm feeling quite positive about the weekend ahead."

David Richards, Team Principal: "It is only a few days ago that we were sitting in the sunshine at Monaco harbour and now it's back to work up in the cool air of the Eifel mountains. We saw another very strong day's running by Anthony and good ground work by our two race drivers. Observing all the incidents on the track, it would appear that, like ourselves, most teams are experiencing balance problems with their cars. I'm sure these will be resolved during the course of tomorrow morning and there's no reason to think we cannot be as competitive here as we have been on the last few races."

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "The primary task for today was to obtain data in order to make our tyre selections for the rest of the weekend. All three drivers successfully completed their programmes and we now have good information for analysis this evening. Despite dusty and low-grip conditions, which have caused problems for most of the field, we have been able to make steady improvement with set-up changes and as a result we have been consistently very competitive on both old and new tyres. Once again, Anthony has done an excellent job on a circuit that is new to him, giving us very valuable data for the tyre comparison. We're pretty happy at this stage of the weekend and we have good reason to be optimistic for tomorrow and Sunday."

Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "We have had a busy day. Anthony once again did a solid job and has provided us with a lot of data to look at tonight. Jenson and Takuma are both looking in good shape for the remainder of the weekend."

Sauber-Petronas

Giancarlo Fisichella (16th, 1:30.974): "It was most unfortunate that I had an engine problem after such a short time this morning. Obviously that lost me valuable track time, but by far the most serious effect is that I must lose 10 grid places tomorrow. Right now I am feeling a little bit unlucky..."

Felipe Massa (20th, 1:32.310): "This afternoon something went wrong with the electrics on my car, and I stopped by Turn 10 where Giancarlo stopped this morning. There was no warning, it just cut out. I was on a new set of tyres but never got to use them. On the positive side, the car felt nice and consistent on old tyres this morning and initially this afternoon."

Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Neither driver was able to complete his planned programme today. Giancarlo was stopped this morning by an engine problem and this afternoon Felipe ran into electrical trouble. We used our remaining time on race preparation."

Jaguar-Cosworth

Mark Webber (12th, 1:30.466): "I spent most of today working on tyres. The car is well balanced around here and it feels pretty good. The guys have done a good job turning everything around in time since last weekend so I will be looking to reward them with a competitive qualifying position tomorrow. The weather plays a huge role here at this track so anything could happen tomorrow, I am looking forward to it."

Bjorn Wirdheim (17th, 1:31.780): "My morning started slightly slower than I have anticipated as I had a minor fuel leak on my installation lap. My mechanics took the car apart incredibly quickly and I was back out for the end of the session. I know this track and enjoy driving it so this made my job easier today. I have been helping the team with tyre comparisons and I know that this information will be invaluable for them tonight when they have to make their tyre choices. The R5 is feeling good on the track and mine was well balanced."

Christian Klien (19th, 1:32.217): "I like this track and the car is comfortable around it. I had a productive session first thing when I was working on a few performance tests but this afternoon I was braking hard when the rear of the car went and I could do little to stop it going off-track. I was fortunate that I was near a good run-off area and the car was fine. The mechanics checked it over and I was back out for the end of the second session. I am excited about tomorrow and qualifying as we have a good car and it would be good to see it as high up the grid as possible."

Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "A productive day for us here at the Nurburgring as we worked through a full test programme with all three of our drivers. Mark worked mostly on tyre comparisons as he knows this track well and is satisfied with the balance and general set-up on his R5. Christian also knows this track quite well although he suffered a spin under braking which forced him off-track. The track personnel did a good job to bring the car back to the garage and we had him back behind the wheel by the end of the session. Bjorn has done a good job today and he managed 35 laps despite at one stage suffering a fuel leak. We sorted this out very quickly and he did not lose much time as a result. He has been spending most of his time on tyre comparisons and balance. Overall a pleasing day for us and we are very much looking forward to getting back out on track tomorrow working towards a good race and qualifying balance."

Toyota

Olivier Panis (13th, 1:30.497): "I think it was a positive day. We worked quite well and we seem to have found a clear direction with selection of the tyre compounds, which is one of the most critical things about Friday's practice sessions. This morning I was not really confident with the car but the team reacted quickly to make improvements in time for the afternoon session. At the end of the second practice, I was on a very quick lap, but I lost at least four-tenths through the driving of Leinders in the Minardi. I know it can't be easy for him, but he should really learn to use the mirrors."

Cristiano da Matta (14th, 1:30.531): "We didn't expect anything special in terms of the car performance around the Nurburgring this weekend. On a positive note, the car is quite well balanced, even if it is bumping much more over the asphalt compared to last year. We still need to find more grip, but we know that already. Something that concerns me, though, is the high rate of degradation on the tyres. We have to look into this more closely because it will be important when it comes to preparing for the race in tomorrow's practice sessions."

Ricardo Zonta (15th, 1:30.949): "Generally I am happy, although it was actually quite difficult to choose the tyres today. We did two very long runs in the second session to contrast and compare the performance and the degradation from each of the two compounds. In the end, we did a very good run and we found a good balance for the race, but at the moment it is difficult to tell how well we will run in qualifying. The team has another 90 minutes of practice tomorrow morning to fine-tune the car from the solid base we have set today."

Luca Marmorini, Technical Director Engine: "It has been a busy but productive day, starting with some difficulties with lack of grip on the track. All three drivers did an excellent job to find a good set-up and balance on the TF104s. They are still complaining a bit about tyre degradation and the general lack of grip, but I would say that what we have achieved today is positive. From the engine point of view, we have brought the same spec engine that we used in Monaco and we have experienced no serious issues today, so we hope to continue in this way for the rest of the weekend."

Jordan-Ford

Timo Glock (18th, 1:32.080): "It was a good two hours' work today. We didn't have good grip on the track in the first session as it was a little bit dirty and the car was quite nervous. It improved after the first twenty minutes of the session and the car was quite good, although we stopped early because we had to make a repair to the floor of the car. The second session was really good with long runs and some good results for the tyres and at the end I did a low fuel run which wasn't too bad. I made a mistake at the first corner and locked up the wheels, which affected the rest of the lap, with vibrations as the tyre was really quite damaged. Overall thought, a positive day with a good job done by the team; Oliver (Knighton, Timo Glock's engineer) and the mechanics."

Nick Heidfeld (23th, 1:33.175): "As the lap times show, it was a pretty hard day for us, doing homework on tyres and brakes. I'm sure other people were running varied fuel levels so it is difficult to judge exactly where we are. My feeling about the car is not good in terms of the balance today and it has not been as good as the last couple of races so we have to work hard to improve that tomorrow. The car is difficult to drive and it's difficult to get the tyres working for one lap. I imagine other teams also have a similar problem with tyre grip on a single lap, but we have some work to do."

Giorgio Pantano (24th, 1:33.393): "Today was about understanding how to set up the car and understand a little bit about the tyres ready for tomorrow. I think we are going in the right direction with set-up but we do need to see if we can find a little bit more grip and downforce."

James Robinson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "At Nurburgring it is very important to be on the right tyre for the race as it's a circuit that you can race at, and that is what we have been focusing on today. We will have to look at the data very carefully to decide which way to go in terms of tyres for the rest of the weekend. It was a good day from a mechanical point of view with no problems and we got through our programme of concentrating on getting a good race car."

Minardi-Cosworth

Gianmaria Bruni (21th, 1:32.643): "It has been a positive day. We found a good balance on the tyre that we are likely to choose for qualifying and the race, and I'm also reasonably pleased with my lap time, particularly since it is my first time driving a Formula One car at the Nurburgring. I have to thank the engineers, who really helped me a lot today. I am definitely going to bed early tonight in an effort to get rid of the cold that I picked up after Monaco."

Zsolt Baumgartner (22th, 1:32.986): "We had two positive sessions and found a good chassis balance, so I'm happy with the outcome today. I had a problem with two other cars in the second sector of what should have been my fastest lap this afternoon, but other than that, things went well and I hope we can work on improving further tomorrow."

Bas Leinders (25th, 1:34.538): "Our job today was to try some different set-ups in an effort to find additional chassis stability. Gimmi and Zsolt went in a slightly different direction, and it's clear from the lap times that they found a good solution. As a result, it has been a good day for the team."

Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "All three drivers performed well today and it's good to see the times reflecting their strong performances. It's also very pleasing that we're beginning to see the benefit of some of the new components developed from our wind tunnel programme as they start to come through the system. This is down to the hard work of the guys back at the factory, and I'd particularly like to thank them for their efforts. Hopefully, we can build on today and carry this performance through the weekend."

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