SEPTEMBER 10, 2004
ITALIAN GP - FRIDAY - PRACTICE SESSION 2 REPORT
Raikkonen goes top
Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time of the Friday afternoon session at Monza, although the Finn's best lap was still slower than the best time achieved by Michael Schumacher in the cooler morning session. Rubens Barrichello tried his best to knock Raikkonen off the top of the timesheets but failed to do so by just 0.053s, while Schumacher was two-tenths behind his team mate. Jenson Button and Takuma Sato continued to show the pace of the BAR-Hondas with fourth and sixth, the pair being split by the Williams-BMW of Antonio Pizzonia, although the Brazilian ended the session with his car in the barriers after a high speed incident at the Parabolica. Seventh quickest was Juan Pablo Montoya in the second Williams with BAR test driver Anthony Davidson eighth ahead of Fernando Alonso (Renault) and David Coulthard (McLaren). The first nine cars were all within a second of pole position.
There were useful performances from Toyota test driver Ryan Briscoe (12th) and Timo Glock 16th, while Nick Heidfeld's activity was short, his Jordan stopping after just two laps.
Rubens Barrichello (2nd, 1:20.899): "The fight for first place this weekend will be decided by thousandths of a second. From what we have seen today, we seem to be competitive. But we need to work very hard and concentrate to make sure we get the most out of our package. The F2004 went quite well in these two hours of free practice, confirming what we found at last week's test. I would like to give our tifosi another opportunity to celebrate on Sunday afternoon."
Michael Schumacher (3rd, 1:21.080): "It is always nice to race in front of our tifosi and so I am happy to be back at Monza again after two days of testing last week. We hope to put on a good show for all the fans who will be here to celebrate our recent winning of both titles. The colours of the Italian flag on my helmet is a small thank you to Italian Ferrari fans for all their support in the bad times as well as the good."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "It is great to be here in Monza in front of our fans, having already achieved our objective of winning both titles. However, our will to win is as strong as ever. Last week's test produced useful data which led us to believe that our car, engine, Bridgestone tyre package should be competitive over the race weekend and today's practice has confirmed that. In order to interpret today's results we have to take into account the different programmes undertaken by the various teams. For our part, we concentrated mainly on the race, working on set-up and comparison of the two types of Bridgestone tyre available. The F2004 is fitted with a further evolution of the 053 engine, validated last week, with significant support from Shell in terms of defining the fuel and lubricants. I think it will be a close fight both tomorrow and in the race and we should be on the pace."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "It was a straightforward Friday without any real problems. The cars went well and we managed to fine tune the set-up based on the data acquired last week. Both drivers were happy with the work we did. We were able to do a series of runs to evaluate the behaviour of the Bridgestone tyres over a number of laps. As expected, the softer one seems to be quickest on the first lap, but a little less consistent overall. Now we have to look at the data along with the various strategies available to us to make the best choice for qualifying and for the race."
Antonio Pizzonia (5th, 1:21.264): "We did our normal Friday homework today, mainly consisting of tyre evaluation and set-up work, and I am pretty confident with what we have achieved. The grip was not ideal today, especially in the first session, because the track was quite dirty but we had some good running here last week, during three days of testing. With 20 minutes to go of the second session, when I was at the Parabolica, I felt something had happened with the brakes and it caused me to go off the track. There is a wide runoff area there and fortunately I didn't hit the barriers too hard."
Juan Pablo Montoya (7th, 1:21.419): "We have gone through our working programme today and I am reasonably happy with the balance of my car. The data we collected in last week's test is proving very useful as well as the new aero parts that we have brought to Monza. The track conditions improved quite a lot throughout the sessions and consequently the traction became better and better. We have some more work to do, but this is normal on a Friday."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "After we had done most of the testing here last week, we used today's practice basically for selecting tyres and fine tuning the wing level. In the second session Antonio had a heavy crash. Thankfully he is ok. This was due to a front left brake disc failure. We are currently investigating the cause of this."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Until Antonio's accident, we had a proper test day, today. We did our standard programme and did not have any engine problems. Antonio was in the midst of completing a long run in order to find out more about the tyre performance over a longer distance. However, I think we have still recorded sufficient data for our tyre choice. Now we are obviously checking that the engine in Antonio's car was not damaged. So far it appeared ok."
Kimi Raikkonen (1st, 1:20.846): "A good start to the race weekend but still a long way to go. The car feels reasonably good, and my quick lap was not perfect as I was sliding a little bit more than expected. However we will work on fixing that in time for qualifying. It's always nice to be fastest, but it's too early to say where we will be tomorrow."
David Coulthard (10th, 1:22.052): "We tested here last week, so I think we are pretty clear on tyres and really spent today adjusting the cars to the conditions we have this weekend. As always it's early days and as a result I'm not making any predictions. We will continue to focus on our planned programme and then get excited if we are still top of the time sheets after Saturday's qualifying."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "It's far too early to make any predictions, but so far so good."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A nice beginning to the weekend, but it's impossible to make any predictions yet. Ferrari remains the benchmark, but to be quick on Friday can't be bad taking into consideration that we prepared for the race. Tomorrow the plan is to improve step by step."
Fernando Alonso (9th, 1:21.630): "It was a normal Friday for me: as usual, we had to evaluate the tyres and collect enough data in these conditions to make the right choice. In terms of set-up, we need to improve the car for tomorrow: the R24 lacks grip at the moment and it feels very slippery on the circuit. When you are running with low downforce levels like we do here, you need to be able to drive with precision and today I was struggling to find my braking points. The grip levels will improve during the weekend, which should help us, but we need to improve our baseline performance as well."
Jarno Trulli (11th, 1:22.191): "I struggled to find a good balance today: the car was oversteering and the track conditions were not great, with low levels of grip. We have a few small problems to solve on the car for tomorrow and taking that into account, our performance is not too bad."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Following our three days of testing at this circuit last week, we did not expect today's running to generate too many surprises - and that proved to be the case. Our day was devoted to making our tyre choice and this confirmed our initial conclusions from the test. The car balance is not perfect but that is normal for a Friday: both drivers have found the car unstable at the rear, which is understandable given the low levels of downforce here at Monza, and we will tune the set-up tomorrow to improve the handling. Overall, we completed a smooth, well-organised day."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "On the engine side, our work today was reduced significantly by last week's test session. Circuit-specific parameters such as oil levels, fuel consumption and cooling had already been calculated, which meant much of our normal Friday programme did not need to be run. Consequently, we spent the day fine-tuning the engine for the ambient conditions but overall, learned little new information. The two sessions proved the competition will be extremely close, as expected, and we find ourselves in our traditional Friday positions among the top ten runners. However, only eight tenths of a second cover the top nine cars, and we will need to continue to make progress tomorrow ahead of what we expect to be a very tight qualifying session."
Jenson Button (4th, 1:21.124): "4th place isn't too bad at the end of Friday. My lap on new tyres was pretty average so I feel this is a good start considering that we have tomorrow to focus on set-up. The times of the top six cars are very close so it's still quite early in the weekend to make any predictions. I think we have a good car here though and I'm sure we have a strong weekend ahead of us."
Takuma Sato (6th, 1:21.313): "This was a good start to the weekend. We came from testing with a lot of positive information and put in a competitive performance today. It is warm here once again, but we have all three cars performing well so the team are very happy. If we continue to work well on set-up tomorrow then I feel that we should have a strong qualifying session."
Anthony Davidson (8th, 1:21.544): "I had a good first session this morning finishing 3rd behind the Ferraris and then achieved the fourth fastest time of the day overall. I'm really happy with my performance today and we gathered lots of useful data for the rest of the weekend, which will make our tyre choice much easier. The times are very close at top, so it looks like the weekend could be quite hard-fought, with B*A*R in the thick of it."
David Richards, Team Principal: "Given that all of the teams were here a week ago it is no surprise to see the top nine cars covered by less than a second, and it satisfying to see all three of our drivers in the top eight today. With over 100 laps completed between the three of them we have a very good basis on which to make our decisions for the rest of the weekend, and I feel confident that we are in good shape for tomorrow."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "Friday running is normally straightforward at Monza since we follow straight on from our three-day test here. We have been competitive throughout the sessions and have had no problems with the chassis or engine. As usual the track conditions have not been quite as good as at the test, but we expect this to improve throughout the weekend. The only incident we encountered today was when Anthony, like a number of other drivers, was caught out by the slipperiness of the kerbs which have been repainted since last week's test."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "A good day today for all three of our drivers. We're running a new spec engine this weekend so I am pleased we have done a lot of laps and have a lot of useful data to go over tonight. Overall it's great to be back at Monza, and I'm sure tomorrow's qualifying session will be very exciting."
Felipe Massa (13th, 1:22.258): "The car was very good today, very consistent. I had a bit of traffic otherwise I could have gone a little faster on my best lap, but I'm happy. I've had good handling balance all day, and I'm feeling very optimistic for the race."
Giancarlo Fisichella (15th, 1:22.302): "I was struggling just a little bit as the car lost its balance on new tyres. The track was very dirty and on my last run the front tyres were past their best by Turn Four because of this, but we were consistent on long runs which is most important."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "It was another normal Friday practice for us. It is always difficult to make accurate assessments of performance after these initial sessions, but here it is particularly tricky because the gaps in the midfield are so small. However, I believe that we are well prepared for the race."
Mark Webber (17th, 1:22.392): "Today has been good for us and overall very productive. Having been here last week for three days has really helped us too and we came here very prepared. The car is feeling good and has been reliable today throughout my sessions. I spent a lot of my time working on tyres with Michelin and we have some good data for the rest of the weekend and to help with our decision tonight. The balance out there is good, but this is where our test data has come into play. I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend, it promises to be a closely fought battle for position both in qualifying tomorrow and in the race."
Bjorn Wirdheim (19th, 1:22.914): "I have had a successful day today and I am really pleased with how the R5 feels. It's well-balanced and I am enjoying driving here in Monza. I really like this track and I am pleased that we have completed our test programme completely. The team has really prepared well for this weekend and I think the test last week also really helped. Lets see if we can now score some more points."
Christian Klien (20th, 1:23.199): "Today has gone as planned for us and we have come away with some really good information on our tyres and the R5. I did a good number of laps today and we have been working on our balance and general race set-up. I had a bit of understeer at one stage but we have been looking into this and I am pleased with our progress. We still have some work to do between now and qualifying but I am keen to qualify well and add to our points tally on Sunday."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "All three cars have been reliable today and this is reflected in the number of laps that we have completed. We have been working on our tyre programme with all three drivers and we have some very detailed feedback from them. We have also been looking at a comprehensive aerodynamic performance and tyre management programme based on our previous test work. The circuit continues to change however and we have made continuous developments to ensure that the balance remains good for all three drivers. I am pleased with the job that the team has done over the last few weeks and we are now looking to reap the benefits over the next two-days."
Ryan Briscoe (12th, 1:22.197): "I am extremely happy with the work we managed to achieve today. We had a few difficulties with the car set-up in the first practice, but the team worked well to make improvements over the lunchbreak. Consequently, the car was in good shape right from the start of the second session. We completed both sets of long runs perfectly with no problems whatsoever. Combined with the work that we were able to complete at last week's Monza test, I hope we can be quite competitive this weekend."
Ricardo Zonta (14th, 1:22.298): "After a productive test session here in Monza last week, I think we continued our work in a positive way today. During the test, we concentrated on a variety of things in preparation for this race, but we did not work so much on the balance of the car. Today's two sessions were very useful to work on fine-tuning the set-up and I am very happy with the balance we have. We also carried out the usual Michelin comparison and we found a consistent tyre for qualifying and the race. It was a good first day and we have learned a lot for the rest of the weekend."
Olivier Panis (18th, 1:22.813): "It was not such a good day for me, as my car was suffering from a rear vibration and a problem with the brake pedal. Unfortunately, we could not find the source of the disturbance during the sessions, so I struggled to carry out the usual Friday programme. Now we must check the data carefully in order to find out where the problem comes from, so we can fix it. Due to the time we lost today, it is important that we can make full use of tomorrow's free practice sessions."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "It was a mixed start to the weekend. Ryan completed his standard programme of evaluating the two Michelin compounds that we have here and both tyres seem to be very consistent. Ryan was happy with the balance of his car and he did an excellent job throughout the day. Unfortunately, Olivier felt a vibration at the rear of his car in both sessions that we could not trace. We will find and cure the problem for tomorrow morning. Overall, though, we seem to have a competitive package here for this weekend with a reasonably strong pace over the long runs."
Timo Glock (16th, 1:22.332): "I think it was a really good day. We made progress on finding a tyre for the race distance and also there has been a big improvement in car set-up compared to the test last week. We found some good things for the car and for the first time I would say that I am satisfied with the job I have done: the long runs for tyres were good and at the end my flying lap was not bad either. Any driver will always say perhaps I could have been one or two tenths faster but today I'm quite pleased. The team and especially Oliver (Knighton, Glock's engineer) have done a good job."
Giorgio Pantano (21st, 1:23.818): "Today we worked on the car balance towards finding the best set-up for the race. We were evaluating the conditions and how the car behaved, particularly on long runs. Apart from some problems I experienced with the rear of the car, we are relatively happy."
Nick Heidfeld (25th, No Time): "The first session worked out quite well because, encouragingly, the car was balanced a lot better than it was at the test. Unfortunately before I could do a timed lap in the second session, I had a technical problem which stopped the car on track. That's a bit disappointing obviously but so far this season we have had a reliable engine and this can happen every once in a while. It's not nice though to lose a whole practice session because it meant there were a few things we were not able to test."
James Robinson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "A mixed Friday for Jordan. It was very unfortunate to lose Nick's car on the circuit in the first laps of the second session and we are examining why that happened and if we can recover the situation. Meanwhile Timo showed good pace which was very encouraging, following on from a successful test last week. The tyres look to be working very well and the team has worked hard to improve the car based on the information from the test."
Bas Leinders (22nd, 1:24.045): "Today, we had a very good day. It was useful to have been testing here last week, and together with my engineer, we worked very well to find an improvement on the set-up from last week. It's why I was able to go quite fast in the morning session with low downforce. This resulted in setting one of the highest top speeds, but also made the car quite difficult in the braking areas. We completed the morning in 20th place, which was good. In the afternoon, we concentrated primarily on carrying out tyre comparisons, as usual, but I still managed to set a good time, even though the low-downforce configuration was not quite so effective in the higher temperatures. It might have been better with just a little more downforce in the afternoon session, but nonetheless, we had a productive day, the team worked very well, and we had no major problems."
Zsolt Baumgartner (23rd, 1:24.063): "It has been a good start for us. We struggled in the first session to match our test times here last week, but then we got closer in the second session. The situation wasn't helped by the fact the air temperature is different from what it was when we tested at Monza last week. We did some good work today, but we still have to find a good race balance for the chassis. I could definitely have gone quicker on my last run this afternoon, but was held up in traffic."
Gianmaria Bruni (24th, 1:24.225): "It was a good day overall. We made some useful changes to the car during the sessions, and as a result, I am quite confident for qualifying. The car felt good for the strategy we plan to use tomorrow, so I'm happy."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "It was an interesting day for the Minardi team in that we completed our entire test programme with all three cars. It's also always pleasing to end the day between the Jordans. It shows the testing we did here last week paid dividends, with Bas today almost equalling the team's best time set in testing. The drivers, and the whole team, did a great job as Minardi prepares for one of its 'home' races."