SEPTEMBER 24, 2004
CHINESE GP - FRIDAY - PRACTICE SESSION 2 REPORT
Anthony Davidson wrapped up a good day for BAR as he set the fastest time in his 555 BAR-Honda ahead of his team mate Jenson Button in his similar (but differently branded car). All in all it was a good day for tobacco advertising in China with West McLaren Mercedes third and fourth fastest thanks to the efforts of Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro fifth quickest thanks to the efforts of Rubens Barrichello. Michael Schumacher, who seems to be out of sorts with his team for some reason this weekend, was only eighth quickest.
Sixth fastest was Giancarlo Fisichella in his Sauber, ahead of Ralf Schumacher's Williams, while the top 10 was completed by Ricardo Zonta and Olivier Panis, ninth and 10th for Toyota. Juan Pablo Montoya was a lowly 14th in his Williams-BMW while Renault seemed to be struggling with Fernando Alonso 13th and Jacques Villeneuve 15th.
The big disaster of the day went to Takuma Sato who blew an engine mightily and so will have to knock 10 grid positions off his efforts tomorrow.
Rubens Barrichello (5th, 1:34.448): "We had a pretty good day. I like the track very much and think it's amazing. The number of corners and different lines into the corners make it interesting. It will be tough physically and I think there should be some good overtaking opportunities. This place is superb, but I don't understand why there are not yet any Chinese F1 drivers, because on the roads it is mad. They say Brazilians make good racing drivers because of our traffic, but here they should have much better ones than us!"
Michael Schumacher (8th, 1:34.776): "This has been an interesting Friday for us, mainly because it is a new circuit. We only saw it for the first time yesterday and today we tackled it for the first time in the car, when I got a slightly different impression. Several corners have a blind apex and, generally, it is a very challenging circuit. We still have to adapt our car to the demands of the track and it is not yet perfect. So there is still some work to be done. This morning, I had a small problem with software at the end of the session, but I am confident we can have a good weekend."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "This has been an historic day for Formula 1, making its first appearance in China, the most heavily populated country in the world, which, for the past few years has been experiencing a period of amazing economic growth. As we were able to ascertain back in June, at its official opening, the Shanghai International Circuit is a grandiose facility, with some amazing avant-garde buildings. As for the track, the day was spent learning it, paying particular attention to finding the best set-up and evaluating the two types of Bridgestone tyre. Obviously, there is still much work to be done. However, I am confident that, after analysing the data we acquired, we will know how to find the right solutions in order to be competitive for the rest of the weekend."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "We have not yet found a very good balance for the cars and we have a bit too much understeer. So we have some work to do overnight, even though we made some improvements in between today's two sessions. But we are not where we want to be. The track is changing quite a lot at the moment, which does not help as it means we are trying to hit a moving target. Even without this minor difficulty, tyre choice would always have been a bit of an educated guess as this is a new track."
Ralf Schumacher (7th, 1:34.714): "Everything ran smoothly today. The circuit is really well designed. Driving here is a lot of fun as it is something really new, especially the long corners which offer brilliant overtaking opportunities on exit. There is still some work to do on the set-up and the tyre choice is not going to be too easy. All in all we expect a challenging but interesting weekend."
Juan Pablo Montoya (14th, 1:35.646): "It's a nice track. It was quite dirty this morning to start with but then it cleaned up and was pretty good. I spent the first laps learning it and I think that I've got it now, but I didn't manage to put a very fast time in because I had some traffic on new tyres. Still we had a pretty consistent run and the data we have collected should give us the right direction. I know there's definitely more in the car and I am looking forward to some more running tomorrow to get the right set-up."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We had no mechanical problems and a productive first day here. Because of the new circuit it is even more important to go through the programme on tyres and brakes. The circuit is challenging in that it has a variety of corners. It is quite dusty now but it will undoubtedly clean up during the weekend."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "The new circuit has passed its first test. It is full of different characteristics and demanding on drivers as well as on the technical side. The 1.2 km long straight is the most demanding part for the BMW engine. Especially in the first practice session, the track was very dirty. We will need to be very careful in the pit-stops, because the asphalt there is very slippery. Our drivers completed their programme without any problems and we are therefore happy with this first day."
Kimi Raikkonen (3rd, 1:34.289): "We did what we meant to do today and the car's performance is good, so I'm pretty satisfied. Our tyres seemed to be working well, which is crucial. Obviously we had an idea of set-up before we arrived and whilst we did make a few changes we should be in a good shape. The circuit is interesting and the first two corners are particularly challenging. The first corner was a little bit slippery but the more we ran the less of a problem that became. We will see in the race where the real overtaking opportunities are, and I'm already looking forward to it."
David Coulthard (4th, 1:34.362): "It was a good day today. We completed our tyre evaluation and the pre-planned programme, but as always we shouldn't read too much into the times. This is quite a challenging and interesting circuit especially the first section with the tightening of corner one which despite being slow is very technically demanding. You have to be careful with your rear tyres here because you generate a lot of mechanical grip coming out of the slow corners. All in all it's an impressive facility and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A wonderful facility with a challenging circuit. We are particularly pleased with the simulation work done by the engineers which has allowed us to come to grips with the circuit after only a few laps. Clearly the lap times will drop as the track develops grip. However so far so good and we look forward to the rest of the weekend."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A good beginning to the race weekend with our programme running as planned. However we shouldn't overestimate the order on a Friday. This is a marvellous and impressive facility with a demanding circuit lay out. It will be tough on Sunday for drivers, chassis and engines."
Fernando Alonso (13th, 1:35.514): "It was a tricky day today. I was still trying different lines at the end of the session and I can still find time all the way around the lap. The tyre choice will be quite hard as well, because the circuit was changing all the time and it was difficult to get a clear idea of which type was the best, but we did a lot of laps and collected plenty of data, which should allow us to make the right choice this evening. I expect tomorrow to be a more normal day. Looking at the circuit, it is a difficult layout and the surface was very slippery today, but it is clear that we cannot afford to make any mistakes. The thing that really makes this track different to the others is the long corners at the start of the lap and before the main straight: you don't find this kind of corner at any other track. I think it will be a tough circuit to get right."
Jacques Villeneuve (15th, 1:35.851): "Today was all about getting to the limit for me: the circuit is new for me, like all the other drivers, but I am still learning about the R24 as well. Everything was going pretty well by the end of the day and I was setting consistent times, but I still need to work out how to get the best out of a new set of tyres for a single flying lap. That is one of the areas I need to concentrate on before qualifying tomorrow. I think that the circuit itself is gorgeous! It includes a bit of everything, with quick corners and slow corners, and it is challenging for the drivers. It is not easy, but you can find a good rhythm, it really flows well."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Today was all about learning the circuit, so we ran a busy programme: both drivers did a lot of laps, much like our competitors, and particularly during the second session when the track conditions were becoming more representative. On the engine side, we didn't have any problems at all: we worked on the basis of our usual simulations, and we completed a structured day that allowed us to evaluate our performance in all areas. We need to make some small changes this evening to the gear ratios and electronics, but overall we completed a typical opening day to our race weekend."
Anthony Davidson (1st, 1:33.289): "It was a good day for us, and obviously I am really pleased to be fastest in both sessions. It's a good circuit and I got to grips with it quite quickly. Initially it was very dusty, so we had to work on the set-up to find more grip quite early on. Unfortunately, I had a high-speed spin on turn four at the beginning of the long run on my first set of tyres, so we had to quickly change our schedule slightly, but I am confident in our tyre choice for the race. We found a good balance in the car after that and so we are happy with our days' work today."
Jenson Button (2nd, 1:34.174): "I am reasonably happy with today's running and the work we have achieved for our race preparation. It's disappointing that we have been unable to get the information that we wanted from Taku's car or the tyre comparison from Anthony over the longer runs. However, the car seems to be working well here and I am enjoying the circuit. I think we'll have a very interesting race with some good overtaking opportunities. Despite the ups and downs of the day, I'm looking forward to hopefully extending our lead over Renault."
Takuma Sato (25th, :.): "It has been a very disappointing first day for me because we had an engine failure on the out-lap of the second session, which means I haven't had the opportunity to complete a timed lap and I will have to move back 10 places from my qualifying position tomorrow. On the positive side, the car is working well as far as we can see from the other two cars, which is very positive. Because this is a new track, we have lost crucial running time and we have a lot of work to do to prepare for tomorrow morning. Hopefully we can deliver a good qualifying position despite the penalty. The circuit was very dusty at the beginning of the day but towards the end it seems by the timesheets that everyone benefited as the grip level improved and the track rubbered-in. Our hosts have done a great job to provide this excellent facility and I certainly found the track very interesting."
David Richards, Team Principal: "It is certainly a good start to the weekend being at the top of the timesheets in both sessions today. Taku's engine failure was disappointing for him, but I know that Honda are continually extending the boundaries of performance, and we must be prepared for the unexpected. Tomorrow will be very important, especially for Taku, as we learn more about how to get the best from the circuit and set ourselves up for Sunday's race. Overall, I am extremely impressed with this new addition to the F1 championship, and I would like to congratulate the organisers for providing such a spectacular setting for the first F1 race in China."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "The first day's practice has been both good and bad for the team. The circuit conditions changing significantly throughout the day and having complained about low grip throughout the morning session, the drivers were very happy with the car balance by the end of the afternoon. Jenson was able to complete his full day's programme but we did have a number of minor problems on Anthony's car and so we were unable to complete part of his programme. Unfortunately we had an engine failure on Takuma's car which has penalised him in two ways. Firstly he lost all of the second session's running and we will be taking a 10-place penalty for the start of the race on Sunday. Nonetheless it is good to finish the first day at a new circuit at the top of the timesheets and although circuit conditions will continue to change, we are in a good position for the rest of the weekend."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "Obviously a mixed day - our latest engine spec has helped us to P1 and 2 but we have suffered an engine failure on Takuma's car. We have looked competitive in both sessions so I am optimistic for tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella (6th, 1:34.680): "I'm quite happy, and it's been a good day. We are going in the right direction, and the balance is getting better and better. We had a graining problem, but considering that this is the first day on a new track it is encouraging. I'm optimistic for a start in the first four or five rows tomorrow."
Felipe Massa (12th, 1:34.959): "I was on a really good first run with the fastest first and second sector times until Sato had his engine failure. After that I still managed the fastest time at one stage. The car is quite competitive, and though we were struggling a little with tyre graining that will improve when the circuit gets more rubber down tomorrow. It's a really nice track. Turn One is very technical, the two quick corners are great fun and I can see some good overtaking opportunities. My first impressions are even better than I expected."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Today enabled us to take our first laps on a beautiful new circuit. Both drivers - and the C23 itself - seem very comfortable with it, and I'm pleased with our initial result."
Mark Webber (16th, 1:35.886): "It's great to be here at this new circuit. It's got some good corners and I think we are going to see a good competitive race this weekend. The R5 is feeling good around here and we have managed to collectively complete over 100 laps today allowing me to complete my test programme successfully. My focus has been on tyre comparison and race set-up evaluation. With a variety of fast and slow corners the track is going be quite demanding on the car, however, we have come here with a strong package and I am keen to get out there for qualifying and see what we can do tomorrow."
Bjorn Wirdheim (17th, 1:36.363): "I enjoyed today and was pleased with my testing programme. I focused on engine and aero development, as well as mechanical balance and tyre comparison. Since the track is new we were keen to complete as many laps as possible, and so this is when having the third car really helps the team. The R5 was reliable today allowing me to total up 38 laps during the two sessions. The team did a great job today as they made a lot of planned mechanical changes on my car and my data will now be used to assist in set-up decisions ahead of qualifying tomorrow."
Christian Klien (20th, 1:37.111): "I have been using our new chassis the R5b-06 today as part of our continued development programme. During the sessions I have been working on tyre comparison as well as race balance and tuning. The car generally feels really good around here and I am having fun driving on this new track. It has a good mixture of fast and slow corners and this is making both the car and driver work hard. I am keen to get back out in the car tomorrow and see what we can do in qualifying."
Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance: "We have enjoyed a productive and extremely busy day here at the new Shanghai International Circuit. The R5 has been reliable allowing us to tally up over 100 laps between our three drivers. Christian has been using our revised chassis the R5b-06, which has been designed using new layout technology. All three drivers got up to speed with the track very quickly and I am also very pleased with the way the team worked through what was a very demanding programme. I am pleased with our progress overall today with all three drivers and the car is looking competitive as a result. They collectively delivered some good work today on tyres, engines, aero and mechanical balance. We made some major mechanical changes on Bjorn's car in particular and we are now well prepared as well as motivated for the remainder of the weekend."
Ricardo Zonta (9th, 1:34.868): "We did a very good job today. China is a new race for Formula 1, so we had to spend some time in the first session learning the technicalities of the Shanghai circuit. The car also looks quite encouraging here and we enjoyed a trouble-free day. We did well to set the car up and to put everything together over one lap. In terms of setting up the car, we have had to find a compromise because we have a long straight, as well as slower sections, but I think we have found the best solution for this."
Olivier Panis (10th, 1:34.870): "What we did today is highly promising for the rest of the weekend. We completed our standard Friday work of evaluating tyre compounds and the Michelins look consistent and competitive, which is important for this new track. We still have some work to do, but I am still in a positive frame of mind. The circuit is fantastic, really. It is quite complicated, especially the long first corner. It took some time to find the best line and to be precise all the way through there. Everyone has done a fabulous job on this circuit and I am pleased to be here."
Ryan Briscoe (11th, 1:34.881): "That was a good opening day for us. We completed a lot of laps, which is especially critical at a new track in order to gather data. It is a very interesting circuit and our TF104B car seems to be working very well. In the first session, I was fairly comfortable with the circuit early on and I was able to get straight on with our usual tyre programme. I had a lot of fun in both practice sessions and we appear to be in good shape for the weekend."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "A good job from the whole team meant that we could work through our programme with no trouble. Of course Friday means we are focused on Michelin tyre evaluation and we can clearly see from today's running which compound is the best for us this weekend. Ricardo, Olivier and Ryan are separated by just over one-hundreth-of-a-second and generally, I think we are more competitive than we expected to be at this track. We have to ensure this trend continues for the remainder of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend."
Nick Heidfeld (18th, 1:36.630): "It's great fun to be at a new circuit and the people here did a very good job. I really enjoyed the first corner, as I - and many other drivers - expected to. It's really special and very nice to drive, although it gave us a lot of graining understeer, especially in the beginning. We managed to improve the car but as it's a new circuit we will try many more things so we have a lot of work to do before tomorrow."
Timo Glock (22nd, 1:37.728): "It was cool to drive here today and I really like this circuit. In the first session I had problems with the car understeering and in my first outing I pushed too hard on the out lap. In the second session I lost some time because we had a hydraulic problem at the beginning and then at the end I was unlucky with traffic when I went out doing runs on new tyres. Although we had a couple of problems, overall the day was not too bad."
Robert Doornbos (24th, 1:39.051): "I'd like to thank all the guys at Jordan for giving me this chance and my sponsors Burgfonds and Muermans for making it possible. This morning my dream came true and I had a big smile on my face as I drove out of the pit lane - it was an amazing feeling. I got to grips with the car quite quickly and I think I surprised a few people. Between the sessions the team amended my programme so I could do more work helping them with race preparation. It worked out well and we found some good data. A problem relating to the engine at the end of the day cut my track time short slightly but that was a minor dip in an otherwise great day."
James Robinson, Director of Race and Test Engineering: "It was an exciting day running for the first time at a new track and it's particularly interesting here because it is the latest layout in the grand scheme of circuit design. We had a couple of technical problems: a hydraulics leak with Timo's car which cut his running short as we had to change his power steering unit during the session, and Robert's day was cut short by an engine-related problem. Nick had a good run and overall the day was fairly encouraging, with a lot of good data to work on tonight if we are to reduce the understeer and reduce the tyre graining."
Zsolt Baumgartner (19th, 1:37.076): "I'm happy with the progress we made today. It is always a challenge to learn a new circuit, and this one was made trickier by the fact the surface was initially very dirty. We did some useful work today, although we are still searching to find a good chassis balance. We had a gearbox problem at the end of the morning, but it was fixed between the sessions and we were able to complete our full Friday programme by the end of the second practice. The guys worked hard today, because there was a lot for them to do between the two sessions, and I was pleased to be able to reward them with a good lap time."
Gianmaria Bruni (21st, 1:37.431): "Things didn't turn out as well as I had hoped today, but I'm still quite happy. We made progress with the car and definitely went in the right direction with the chassis set-up. Unfortunately, Massa got in the way on what would have been my fastest lap of the afternoon and cost me maybe six or seven tenths of a second. In the end, I did my best time on the second lap of that run."
Bas Leinders (23rd, 1:38.522): "It has been a bit of a difficult day. We were looking for a good chassis balance, but never quite found it. We tried a new direction in terms of set-up, and this proved promising. We're not there yet, but it is definitely the basis for making some interesting progress next year."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "On a positive note, what a fantastic facility and all credit to the Chinese for building what is without doubt now the state-of-the-art F1 track. This week's news, however, concerning the withdrawal of Ford and Jaguar Racing from the World Championship has shaken the sport to its core. As a result, there continues to be much speculation concerning the future of F1's independent teams, notably Minardi and Jordan, which rely on Ford-owned subsidiary, Cosworth Racing, for their engine supplies. Despite unfounded comments from some quarters to the contrary, Minardi has an engine for 2005, and there is no doubt whatsoever that the team will be lining up in Melbourne for the start of the 2005 F1 season. That said, our sincere best wishes go to all our colleagues at Jaguar Racing and Cosworth Racing, and we wish them every success in their quest to find a buyer over the coming months. It is not Ford and Cosworth that have failed F1, but F1 that has failed Ford and Cosworth."