AUSTRALIAN GP - FRIDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Fernando Alonso (5th, 1:27.443): "We seem to be in good shape. The conditions were quite windy out on the track and the grip levels are poor at the moment, but I am quite happy with the car even so. The grip levels will improve as more rubber goes down on the track, which will give all the drivers the confidence to attack more. But at the moment, the Renault feels nice to drive, and our pace is good. I think we are in a similar position to the other races so far this season - aiming for the top positions in qualifying, and hopefully on Sunday as well."
Giancarlo Fisichella (11th, 1:28.280): "It was a bit of a difficult day for me. The cold temperatures meant the car was understeering a lot, and we had just started to improve the balance when I felt something strange with the engine. I brought the car back to the garage slowly, and we found the fuel feed problem after the session. On the positive side, Fernando's times showed that the car is quick at this circuit so I think we will be in a strong position."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "We anticipated cooler conditions in Melbourne this year owing to its later position in the calendar, and made our tyre choice with that in mind. Even so, it is still not easy to get the tyres working well in the cold weather. However, the problem is the same for all the teams, and we made some good changes with Fernando's car to put us on the right track. Giancarlo stopped before the end of the session when we saw signs of a potential engine problem. We will look to make up for the lost set-up time during tomorrow's session."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Fernando's day ran smoothly, and we were able to complete our normal programme with him, working on fine-tuning the engine mapping for this circuit. Giancarlo experienced a performance loss on the engine during the second session, which cost him track time. We diagnosed a fuel feed problem after the session ended, which has now been solved."
Kimi Raikkonen (7th, 1:27.773): "A good start to the weekend where we went through everything we wanted to including our tyre evaluation with Michelin. It was a bit cooler than we expected but no problems, and I guess the temperature will stay pretty much the same for the rest of the weekend. I had a small off at one point which is what happens sometimes when you try different things, and I'm expecting the track surface to improve further as more cars run."
Juan Pablo Montoya (9th, 1:28.200): "We completed our planned programme with no problems, and I'm pleased with the data we have achieved from our Michelin tyre evaluation. However, we still have to see how everything develops during this weekend once the track gets more grip."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A trouble free start to the Australian Grand Prix weekend where we achieved our objectives. The variable track conditions make setting up the cars somewhat more difficult but generally we are pleased with today's outcome."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A productive first practice day during which we worked on the race set-up and completed our programme as planned. Everything is OK so far."
Michael Schumacher (6th, 1:27.658): "Things went pretty well, apart from a bit of traffic stopping us from getting through 100% of our planned programme. One variable was the wind, which occasionally made for unpredictable handling. On one lap, I ended up running a bit wide in a corner when a gust of wind pushed the car from behind, when I had no more room to brake. As for the tyres, it will be important to always ensure they are up to temperature. There are no other problems, partly because over the winter we ran in much colder conditions than this. Tomorrow, I hope to be a front runner and be able to start the race from as near to the lights as possible."
Felipe Massa (10th, 1:28.227): "It was a good day's work. We concentrated mainly on finding the best set- up. My final time does not reflect my real performance level, because on my last run I had a lot of yellow flags in the final sector of track and I had to keep lifting off the throttle. I am satisfied, because the car is well balanced and we improved constantly throughout the day. I am confident for tomorrow and Sunday."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "The initial analysis of these first two hours of free practice provides us with a clear indication that the major players in this early part of the season are all very closely matched. For our part, we worked mainly on setting up the two 248 F1s and now it is up to the engineers to analyse the data. Temperature will be a very important factor this weekend, both in terms of making the right tyre choice and then of optimising their performance."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "It was a reasonably positive day. The cars seem well balanced and we had no problems at all. Air and track temperatures are a bit lower than expected and so it takes a bit longer to get the tyres working at their best. Once they reach operating temperature, their performance is good. Now we have to analyse the data we have gathered over these two hours to be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and the race."
Jarno Trulli (16th, 1:29.138): "That was a normal Friday of tyre testing, set-up work and trying to find a good balance for the car. We still have some work to do to get more grip if we want to be more competitive so we have to work on some solutions to that over the course of the weekend. We spent today collecting as much data as we can for the next two days but being a street circuit the track here always evolves a lot during the course of the weekend. We will have to wait and see how much we can improve in the next two days but our target is to make the points on Sunday."
Ralf Schumacher (18th, 1:29.379): "Today's practice sessions made for a difficult start to the weekend here. We are again struggling to find general grip, so that is something we need to find for tomorrow to be in a decent position. The circuit always starts out dirty here so the grip of the tarmac will improve as the weekend goes on. We have some different tyres here that we hope will help us to solve some of the problems we have had with tyre temperature at the first two races. We already looked better in Malaysia so we hope to be able to continue to improve our set-up. Of course it is relatively cool here this weekend and the weather forecast is not very good. But if everything runs according to plan then we should aim to score points."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "Both our drivers completed their normal programmes of work in the two sessions today. The track is always difficult on the first day here, very dirty and slippery with low levels of grip, but it improved throughout the day. Certainly the new spec Bridgestone tyre is working well in these conditions but we have to look at all the data we have in order to make the correct tyre choice for tomorrow. Overall there were no real problems but we now have to look to improve the set-up to get more grip out of the package. We are not yet where we want to be but we will have to see what the weather does tomorrow before we can know exactly where we are."
Alexander Wurz (2nd, 1:26.832): "Conditions were not so easy today. It was cold, windy and it was difficult to know where to put the car on the circuit. Now we need to think about our tyre choice and the strategy for tomorrow and Sunday and we have some good ideas."
Mark Webber (14th, 1:28.860): "I had a little bit of a fright on my out lap as I thought there was a problem with the car, so I did the first third of the lap in first gear. But when everything got up to temperature, the engineers told me to push on and everything worked fine afterwards. As usual for a first run, we have a lot to do tonight on the balance, but it's good that we've got some runs in. We have beaten the weather and we have got some good data to go through from Alex's car as well."
Nico Rosberg (22nd, 1:29.933): "This track is perhaps a little bit more difficult than I expected in terms of finding its particular characteristics in order to go quick. We also had some technical problems and I made some mistakes throughout the session which limited my ability to improve. So not so good today, but we still have some track time tomorrow. After my first runs, I think this is a nice track and I like it, but I just need some more laps to enjoy it properly."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We had a good day today and worked through our programme with Alex, our main focus being tyre selection and we now have a good idea of which direction to follow. Bridgestone have a new tyre here and so far it is working well. Mark and Nico undertook some running mainly to familiarise themselves with the track and the conditions. We had some hydraulic problems today - while they are unrelated to the problems in Malaysia, it is something we will look into tonight."
Sean O'Mahony, Cosworth: "As at previous races, most of today's running was focused on the T-car with Alex Wurz. We took the opportunity to test some new engine calibrations developed at last week's test in Valencia. Mark and Nico completed some laps in the second session which enabled us to check for installation issues with their fresh engines. These engines have several updated features compared to the engines we ran in Malaysia which are aimed at improving reliability."
Anthony Davidson (1st, 1:26.822): "I've had a very positive day today and I'm pleased to be top of the times again. It's been quite a difficult day in terms of traffic because none of the teams get to drive this circuit outside of the Grand Prix weekend, so there were a lot of cars on track at one time, especially when the circuit evolved towards the end of the second session. I think we've done a good job on tyre evaluation and overall we're looking good. There's definitely more to come though so if we keep moving forward like we have today we should have a good weekend."
Jenson Button (4th, 1:27.213): "It's been a positive start to the weekend and so far, so good. The circuit had very low grip but we ran through everything we intended to and, most importantly, it's good that Anthony completed all his test items."
Rubens Barrichello (8th, 1:28.075): "I have had a much better Friday today than at the past two races. We had a little problem this morning so it's good that we got some good running this afternoon but I'm definitely looking a lot more competitive. I hope we can continue like this through the rest of the weekend and it should be a better race for me."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "We had a good start to the weekend; all three cars ran without any glitches today and were in the top third of the time sheets. Anthony worked hard evaluating the tyres and different set-ups. Despite the fact we are competitive today the drivers are not 100% happy with the car, so there is room for improvement. Tonight we will review all the data and hopefully make some good decisions for tomorrow."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director: "The engine is running well and the lap times were reasonably encouraging. Anthony did another sound job, running more laps than anyone, and topping the times for the third Friday in a row."
David Coulthard (13th, 1:28.531): "We had a productive day, as we were able to take advantage of the fact that we'd only done ten laps in Malaysia. As a result, my engine is 50 laps in credit, which means we could do more than normal today and get up to speed in case the weather's wet tomorrow. I wasn't evaluating tyres today, as we're saving our allocation for tomorrow. Other than that - not much else to report, until we get into the tyre evaluation tomorrow."
Robert Doornbos (20th, 1:29.876): "I really, really enjoy this circuit, and it's a lot of fun in a Formula One car here. This morning we started off really well. Everyone's very positive after last year's Australian result, and to start in the top two this morning, trading places with Anthony (Davidson) for first place, was really cool. In the afternoon, we were doing longer runs and my times were pretty consistent. That will help the guys make a judgement regarding the tyres and I wish them good luck for the weekend - I'll be cheering them on."
Christian Klien (21st, 1:29.879): "I had a new engine for the race weekend, so was limited on distance today. I went out just for one run in the first session. The track was very dirty and there wasn't much grip, you could see a lot of cars spinning off the circuit. In the second session, I did two runs on a heavier fuel load to enable us to get a decent set up for Sunday. It's good fun to drive here, as it's almost like a road circuit."
Robert Kubica (3rd, 1:27.200): "After the engine problem this morning we had a pretty good second session. We tried some promising aero solutions and were able to do consistent times in our long run. On my last outing I had some traffic, otherwise I would have been even quicker, but that is less important in a free practice session."
Jacques Villeneuve (12th, 1:28.440): "The car seems to be competitive. One issue so far has been warming up the tyres, which should not be a problem in qualifying now that we can run more than one lap, or in the race, but it will be critical to be competitive then because of the penalty I will get for needing an engine change. That's a pity, because the balance of the car is very good, and I'm really happy with its speed."
Nick Heidfeld (15th, 1:29.053): "I don't like these Friday sessions so much. This morning I just did an installation lap, and this afternoon just one outing with only a few laps. However, the car wasn't too bad and was definitely better than the lap time suggests; I had traffic in the second sector and there were yellow flags in the third."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Robert had to stop the first practice prematurely due to an engine failure after 13 laps. Our whole focus is on reliability, but the time for development was too short. Over the winter our test engines of identical-specification covered the required distances without problem. However, our investigations into the breakages units after Bahrain and Malaysia revealed that some components have not met their required production tolerances. Our short-term reaction has been to build new engines with hand-selected components that best meet these rigorous requirements. We have two of these revised engines here. One is already installed in Nick's car, and Jacques will get the second in time for qualifying after Saturday's morning practice session. As a result he will lose 10 positions on the grid."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "Apart from the engine problems, I'm quite happy with the performance that we demonstrated today. Robert did the tyre evaluation but also concentrated on set-up work, particularly for qualifying. Jacques focused on race preparation, while Nick just did a baseline run."
Tiago Monteiro (19th, 1:29.713): "In the morning, we didn't do any performance runs; we just checked out all the systems to make sure everything was working properly. We had a lot of work planned for today and we managed to get through it all without any issues. We solved our problems pretty early on, so that allowed us to focus on improving the car in the second session. The team did a fantastic job - the more I drove, the better the car felt. I like this kind of track, so I felt confident right away and was able to push hard. We know where our weak points are, so we're going to work on that tonight. But obviously, compared to our opponents, today was a pretty good day. It's still too early to get overly excited about the times, but it's good to know we're making progress with the car's pace and that we know how to get even more out of it."
Christijan Albers (25th, 1:30.830): "I have to say we had a really good day today. The first session went really well, and the second session had a promising start on the same set of tyres. Then, when we changed to a new set of tyres that just didn't suit me, I had a lot of problems with understeer and raising the temperature. I also had a little spin near the end of the session, which was a shame, because that spoiled what was otherwise a very productive day. But we'll be all right tomorrow. I'm sure we'll find a solution and make the right tyre choices."
Markus Winkelhock (26th, 1:31.260): "I think it went pretty well today. During the first practice, I had to learn the track, as everything was new. I was very careful in the beginning because the walls are narrow and quite close to the track. The track is also pretty bumpy, so I had to search for all the bumps before pushing hard. In the second session, we changed something on the car, which made it much more balanced and easier to drive. I was feeling much more comfortable toward the end but I encountered some yellow flags when I went out on a new set of tyres, and I also made a small mistake, so that's unfortunate. But I think we've got enough information to make a good tyre choice for the weekend, and that's the most important thing."
Scott Speed (17th, 1:29.196): "The out lap this morning felt intimidating as it was very very slippery out there. Then, after I saw Neel go off, I thought 'oh man, this looks like a recipe for disaster.' So at first it was difficult to push hard enough to keep the temperature in the tyres. So that was intense. Then, this afternoon we made very good progress, our speed looks quite good and I reckon we can be competitive."
Neel Jani (23rd, 1:30.686): "I ended up having to learn the track this afternoon after crashing this morning when I locked the rear brakes. I had problems all day long trying to find a brake balance that suited me. So, unfortunately, I was not that much help to the team today. Not a great day for me."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (24th, 1:30.734): "I chose to do just two laps to get a taste of the track this morning. This afternoon, I found I had understeer in the high speed corners. I messed up my entry to the chicane and that put me wide at the exit and so I spun. That was the end of my day. I'm really pissed off because I lost a lot of track time."
Takuma Sato (27th, 1:32.556): "We had a difficult start to the weekend today as we suffered a few minor problems and could not complete as much of our planned programme as we had hoped. However, we did complete our Bridgestone tyre comparison, which is very important, and on a more positive note we have made a good step forward with our aero package as the new front wing is working well. Now we have to work hard over night to conquer some of our issues so that we can make more progress during our running tomorrow morning."
Yuji Ide (28th, 1:34.224): "It was my first time driving at this track so I concentrated on memorising the layout during the first practice session. Unfortunately a flat-spot on one of my tyres during the afternoon session meant that the car was not so easy to drive and I also spun on a new set of tyres when I was running on quite a good lap, but in the end I was able to complete quite a long run and my time was okay. We will be working hard tonight as I want to be able to set up the car properly and improve my driving style for tomorrow."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "We were able to try a number of different programme elements on both cars during free practice today and Takuma was able to complete a good long run, so I am relatively happy about what we were able to accomplish. Yuji is still trying to find the right set-up and is learning the track slowly with every lap he completes. We will now have a meeting to decide on our plans for tomorrow and prepare us for the Qualifying."