MARCH 4, 2005
AUSTRALIAN GP - FRIDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Michael Schumacher (4th, 1:26.081): "It is always a nice moment to be back on track for the start of a new season. I am quite happy with this first day. We nearly completed our full programme although I had a small electrical problem in the morning, which meant I had to pit earlier than expected. It was fixed very quickly, so we did not lose much time. In my view, we have enough information to make our tyre choice. It looks as though our pre-season idea of who would be our main opposition was pretty accurate, although I was surprised at the pace of the Red Bull and Sauber cars."
Rubens Barrichello (9th, 1:26.639): "I am happy with the situation although it is very difficult to understand everyone's true pace. Tomorrow, we have a qualifying session on low fuel, so it is possible some people were already trying that configuration today. I had a slight problem with the balance of the car, a bit of traffic and I also went off the track. I expect to be looking better tomorrow."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "The first day of the first Grand Prix of the season was different to usual for various reasons. First and foremost, the championship starting today is the longest in the history of Formula 1. Then there is the introduction of new technical and sporting regulations - one engine for two Grands Prix, one set of tyres for qualifying and the race, among the most important changes- which have given a different flavour to what we were used to seeing on a Friday last year. There has been an immediate effect as a result of the engine rule, with all the teams doing less laps. These three days are very important because, for the first time since winter testing, we will get a reasonably clear picture of the pecking order between the teams. Unlike our rivals, we decided to come to Australia with an updated version of last year's car, the F2004 M, preferring to take as much time as possible in the design phase of the F2005, which was launched exactly a week ago in Maranello. Tyres will play a decisive role and we know we can count on a great partner in Bridgestone, in whom we have total confidence."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "This was the first day of running, getting used to the new format. It seems that everyone was following quite similar programmes, with not much running in the morning and a reasonable programme in the afternoon. We did more laps on one type of tyre than the other, but I think we have enough information to make a judgment for tomorrow. The cars are handling quite well and there have been no major problems. We are quite pleased with the work we have done and the position we are in."
Jenson Button (8th, 1:26.611): "It's great to be back on the racetrack again. It's still difficult to know where we are in respect to the other teams but I think our sessions went to plan and everything seemed to run smoothly. We know which direction we want to go in tomorrow, so generally I'm pleased with the start we've made here today."
Takuma Sato (18th, 1:27.891): "I had a difficult start today. I didn't have good grip and there was a small issue with the brakes in the first session. I was happier with the balance when this was fixed for the second session. I think that we can continue our improvements tomorrow but there is still a lot of work to do."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director: "It was interesting to have our first day of practice under the new tyre regulations. With only one type of each tyre available today proper tyre evaluation is the main task. As expected all teams ran fewer laps than we used to see on a Friday, so the circuit took a long time to clean up and improve. The whole day has gone very much to plan and we now have all the information we need to make our tyre choice for tomorrow. We are quite happy with our performance level and will continue to work on car set-up in the morning."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Honda Engineering Director: "A reasonable result for us on the first day of the new season. We have had no engine issues today and I am very happy to be back in 'race mode' here in Melbourne."
Fernando Alonso (7th, 1:26.562): "As always on the first day in Melbourne, conditions were very slippery, and the poor grip makes it hard to achieve a good balance on the car. The tyre choice is not clear at the moment, and we will have to analyse our data this evening in order to make our decision."
Giancarlo Fisichella (10th, 1:26.667): "Positions were not important today, as it was about testing the two tyre compounds. We had a good day overall, and did the laps we needed. There is still work to do on the car balance, but I am still very optimistic for the rest of the weekend."
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations: "Under the 2005 regulations, every lap in practice is precious, and we therefore had to accomplish as much work as possible in parallel today in order to make the necessary evaluations and tests for our technical programmes. The second session provided us with plenty of information, and was free of incident; on this basis, we possess as much information as possible in order to make our choices on tyres and engine settings for the rest of the weekend."
Nick Heidfeld (3rd, 1:25.940): "It's been a better fist day than I had expected after the winter testing. I only had a small electronic issue this morning that slightly delayed my programme and prevented me from completing all the laps that we had planned. In the afternoon everything went according to plan and it was a nice finish to this first day."
Mark Webber (15th, 1:27.329): "We've got the first free practice sessions out of the way, which is always a good thing to do at the start of the season and we have now completed our tyre comparison. In the second session we had a small problem with the fuel system of the car and we lost some time there but the mechanics got it fixed pretty quickly. We spent our time mainly testing tyres and also saving the engine for the race and the next race weekend. We're on the way and so far, so good."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It's good to start the first race weekend of the season. On both cars we spent the day evaluating tyre compounds and race set-up. On Mark's car we had a problem with the fuel pressure sensor which cost him some time in the second session. Generally we are about where we expected to be. Now we are concentrating on the set up for qualifying but the forecast looks like it will be a full wet day tomorrow."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "We are happy with our Friday's practice. The most important work was the choice of the right tyre compound. Therefore both the drivers concentrated on long runs in order to compare the different tyres under race conditions. For this tyre evaluation we didn't use our full engine rev potential, but we didn't limit the lap numbers. Both our drivers achieved more mileage than the average of the other teams."
Pedro de la Rosa (1st, 1:25.376): "I focused on evaluating our Michelin tyres today. This is the first time we have been able to run at relatively high track temperatures, so we learnt a lot. On one of my laps during a long run in the second session one of the Jordans and me touched and I ended up in the gravel, but there was no damage so I was able to carry on. I really enjoyed driving in front of the enthusiastic Australian spectators and will spend the rest of the weekend helping the engineers."
Kimi Raikkonen (2nd, 1:25.676): "Juan Pablo and I did limited amount of running today. After my first run we decided to change the gear ratios, which meant I only did one run in the first session, but it didn't affect our programme. It's good to be back racing again, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
Juan Pablo Montoya (5th, 1:26.227): "The track got faster and faster as more rubber was laid down. I limited my running to conserve the package, and we will rely a lot on Pedro's feedback in the debriefs to help us make the right tyre choice. Its great being in Australia with my new team, and I look forward to tomorrow when we will get more of an idea where we are compared to the competition, but so far so good."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Today we went through our planned programme focusing on tyre evaluation and finding the optimum set-up and it's been an encouraging start to the weekend. The entire team has worked hard to prepare for the first race in 2005 and today was no exception."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A productive first Friday free practice under the new regulations. All three drivers ran tyre comparison programmes with Pedro undertaking different race weekend simulation programmes without any problems."
Felipe Massa (6th, 1:26.357): "I'm happy with the way things went today. The car was quick, consistent and stable, and for our first proper run against everyone else it was good. I did a long run and the performance was reasonably consistent, so everything is working right and it's a good start to the new season."
Jacques Villeneuve (16th, 1:27.513): "The new rules on engine life mean that you don't get much time for set-up work on the car, but the long run I did seemed okay. The first lap on the tyre seems to be the problem, for me at least, and we need to do some more work on that. This morning it also felt as if I had a long brake pedal, but really we just need to do a small adjustment to suit me."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "It is good finally to stop all the talking and to move into action. It has been a long winter! This first Friday of the season has been positive for us as we have adapted to the new rules governing the tyres, aerodynamics and preservation of the engines, and developed our new relationships with Michelin and our new driver, Jacques."
David Coulthard (12th, 1:27.017): "We are reasonably happy with the progression of what we did today. The use of the tyres and car ran without any mechanical problems so now the questions is our tyre choice and what the weather will do tomorrow. I am really looking forward to knowing exactly where we stand, in term of performance against the other teams."
Christian Klien (17th, 1:27.544): "I didn't do many laps this morning, when the level of circuit grip was very low. In the afternoon I planned to do three runs to check tyre consistency with the two different compounds. The chassis balance felt good, so I was quite confident, but the brakes started to feel a bit soft as temperatures increased. I had a throttle problem on my third run, which forced me to stop early. My lap time reflects as much."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (21st, 1:28.926): "My first hour on the track was quite good because we improved throughout the session. I am trying to do the best job I can for my team mates and was pretty happy with the way things started. The RB1 responded well to changes and everything seemed positive. The morning turned out to be much better then the afternoon, of course. I put a wheel on the grass while overtaking another car - one of our own that had just come out of the pits, I think - and spun because I picked up some dirt on my tires. That ended my day, which was a real shame."
Gunther Steiner, Technical Director: "The main objective today was to establish which tire compound will be most suitable for the race. We managed to accumulate some useful data, although we were obviously compromised a little by the problems that Tonio and Christian suffered. We traced Christian's throttle trouble to a faulty sensor."
Ricardo Zonta (11th, 1:26.808): "Use of the third car this weekend is very important to assess the Michelin tyres for the grand prix, especially with the introduction of the one-race tyre regulation. We did two long runs to see the effects of each of the compounds and I think it was a useful day. We now just have to look into the data to see which tyre type is best for our TF105 car here in Melbourne. As always, the Albert Park track was dusty and slippery in the first session and kept on improving as more rubber went down. We saw a lot of cars going off in both sessions and that made it difficult to get a clean lap."
Ralf Schumacher (13th, 1:27.162): "Generally, I am quite satisfied with the work we have achieved today. The car did not have any technical problems in either of the two sessions. We did a lot of work in preparation for Sunday's race and we are developing things in a positive direction. I am a little surprised because I think our performance is better than I expected but we still have a lot of work to do overnight to improve the car further. I am looking forward to qualifying already!"
Jarno Trulli (14th, 1:27.195): "Today, we spent time developing and improving the balance of the car for this track. We also carried out some important tyre testing for the race, but we honestly have to wait and see what happens tomorrow. There is a good chance that the weather will take a turn for the worse and, if it rains, we will be faced with completely different track conditions, which will make Saturday a bit of a gamble for everybody. Nevertheless it is nice to be back in Australia racing after the winter period."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "It is good to get the first day of running under our belt after the many weeks of pre-season testing. We have spent today simply getting used to the new regulations, especially concerning the tyres. Ricardo worked on tyre evaluation and long runs to compare both Michelin compounds. It is always difficult at Albert Park because the circuit changes so much throughout the weekend, but the data will tell us more ahead of tomorrow's sessions. Ralf and Jarno concentrated on improving the balance of the car as the track evolved and overall, I think we can be reasonably happy."
Narain Karthikeyan (19th, 1:28.168): "I lost a lot of time this morning because of an oil leak, so after that I have been pushing very hard. Now I just need to calm down a bit because I was under pressure to perform."
Robert Doornbos (20th, 1:28.620): "It is great to be back in a Formula One car after three months. This morning went very well. I felt very comfortable in the car straight away and I learnt the circuit very quickly. This afternoon, we have made some changes on the car as the circuit conditions were changing and we worked very well with Bridgestone and I am sure we are going to find a good solution for Sunday."
Tiago Monteiro (22nd, 1:29.671): "It was my first contact on the track today. It was not very easy because I have to adapt myself to the bumpy conditions and work more on the set up to feel more comfortable in the car. It is the first day of acclimatisation but I am confident we are going to improve tomorrow."
Trevor Carlin, Sporting Director: "We are generally quite satisfied today with picking which tyres we are going to race on this weekend. After resolving Narain's oil leak this morning, everything ran very smoothly. The drivers are just learning the circuit. We are very happy with the progress we have been making."
Christijan Albers (23rd, No Time):
Patrick Friesacher (24th, No Time):
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal:
THE KNOCKOUT PUNCH
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FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
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FRIDAY TEAM QUOTES
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