FRENCH GP - FRIDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Fernando Alonso (2nd, 1:17.498): "It was a normal Friday for me here today, working on the tyre programme and making a few small set-up changes. I think we have a good picture of the directions we need to take tomorrow, both in terms of the Michelin tyres and the car set-up. The new C-spec engine feels like a good step and has performed without any problems so far, which is encouraging. Magny-Cours is a circuit I always enjoy, because the two high-speed chicanes that give it something unique for the drivers, and even today we could see plenty of our fans and colleagues from Renault in the grandstands. There will be even more tomorrow and Sunday, and I hope our performance will live up to their expectations. So far, so good!"
Giancarlo Fisichella (5th, 1:17.916): "This was another good start to the race weekend for me, which is encouraging after my strong performance in Indianapolis. I started out the session with a bit too much oversteer so we had to make some changes to the car, but we calmed it down and it began to feel easy to drive and consistent. We still have some room for improvement tomorrow, but I am happy with the situation so far and I think we have got some good ideas for what we need to do in the race. This was a promising start for me."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "From the engineers' point of view, this was a normal day of Friday practice spent evaluating tyre compounds and tuning the handling of the cars. After some work during the second session, the R26 now seems to have a reasonably consistent balance for both drivers, and the times certainly seem competitive. We ran both types of Michelin tyre today, and the first impressions are that we are back on track after the anomaly of our performance in Indianapolis."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "With weather conditions similar to those predicted for Sunday's race, this afternoon's practice session proved an ideal opportunity to begin tuning engine mapping, adjusting cooling levels and conducting our usual test work. We completed both programmes without incident, and have collected plenty of data for analysis this evening. The C-spec engine evolution is performing as predicted, making this a positive day from the technical perspective. A quick analysis of the timesheets also suggests we are in a strong position from a competitive point of view, so we can say it has been a good start to our home Grand Prix."
Kimi Raikkonen (15th, 1:19.140): "A normal Friday's programme which unfortunately ended with a small electrical problem on my very last lap. This didn't hamper our progress today where we focused on Michelin tyre evaluation and set-up work."
Pedro de la Rosa (22nd, 1:19.809): "It was great to be out there for my first race weekend since the Bahrain Grand Prix last year. Running through our Friday programme we are not quite yet where we want to be, however in tomorrow's practice we can continue to improve."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "With the exception of a small electrical fault on Kimi's car in the closing seconds of practice the day was uneventful with us focusing on tyre durability with Michelin."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "We worked through our scheduled programme of setting up both cars for the race. Kimi experienced an electronic problem on his last scheduled lap, the cause of which we are currently investigating."
Michael Schumacher (6th, 1:17.938): "The situation looks pretty good. We are reasonably satisfied with what we have seen this afternoon. However, now we must take a close look at the data to try and understand where we stand compared to the others. We are well aware that tyres will be vital in deciding the final outcome. Our Bridgestones seem to be consistent over a long run, but at the moment we cannot say how they will really perform over a single lap. We, and you, will have to wait until tomorrow to find out!"
Felipe Massa (13th, 1:19.013): "It was a good day during which we worked towards the race, both in terms of the car and the Bridgestone tyres. I am pleased with what we achieved. The balance of the car is satisfactory and the tyres delivered good grip even at the end of the day. For all these reasons, I am confident about the rest of the weekend."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "This Friday's main feature was the rather high temperatures, which means we can assume we will have a very hot weekend. As usual, we worked through our standard free practice plan, revolving mainly around defining the best set-up for the 248 F1 and evaluating the Bridgestone tyres. And also as usual, it is too soon to have a clear picture of where we stand against our main rivals, especially as we don't know what fuel loads they were running nor how the track conditions will evolve. Tomorrow, we can expect to see a first real pointer."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "We decided to only go out in the second session of free practice because we knew that here, the tyres degrade significantly after the first timed lap and we wanted to evaluate our choices in consistent conditions in terms of track and temperature. The cars went well and the drivers seemed reasonably happy with the balance, while the Bridgestone tyres worked well over a long run. It is difficult to predict what might happen tomorrow: here, the difference between qualifying and race pace is really very significant."
Ralf Schumacher (9th, 1:18.274): "Today went well for us and the two sessions were pretty painless. We made it through everything that we had planned to test without problems and the car felt very strong. Apart from the higher temperatures, the track does not change as much here as at some circuits we go to so we look to be in good shape for the next two days. I like the Magny-Cours track and this is usually quite a nice place to race. The paddock has a different layout and there is a different atmosphere to many of the other tracks. We have gone well so far and the weekend seems very promising."
Jarno Trulli (11th, 1:18.721): "Our pace looks pretty good so it was a successful day for me. The car seems well balanced so I hope we can carry on working as well as we have so far. I found a car in the middle of the track on my quickest lap so my best time was set on old tyres. The team is doing a good job and at the last test at Jerez we worked on tyres and set-up for this race. It was very hot and those are the conditions we expect to encounter here this weekend so we should hope for another good race. After the points I have taken in the last two races it would be nice to build on that progress on Sunday."
Dieter Gass, Chief Race Engineer: "We had a very positive day today and we made it through our entire programme without any issues. We got our long runs done and collected lots of data so we are in a position to make a confident choice about the tyres. We also went through all the set-up options that we had planned and both drivers were happy with the balance so we are satisfied with what we have achieved. Ralf has an update on his engine here while Jarno is still using his engine from Indianapolis because he is on the second race of his cycle. We also have updates to the aerodynamics and the suspension. Our performance looks promising so we will use that as a baseline for the rest of the weekend."
Alexander Wurz (4th, 1:17.859): "We had an interesting day regarding our tyre choice today. We can go both ways, so I am very curious about what we will decide tonight. We will now run through the data and hook up with Mark and Nico and see what they think about the performance of each tyre. It's a shame that when I went out on my last set of tyres I was caught up in heavy traffic because I could have just sneaked around Kubica. It's hot out there and the race is going to be physical. I would love to be in the car on Sunday but I am going to watch it from a cool, air- conditioned room instead!"
Mark Webber (18th, 1:19.413): "It was a pretty good day. Alex did some good long runs in the second session which was critical because the track temperatures this afternoon will be similar to those we'll experience in the race. The hot conditions are making it very hard on the tyres at the moment though so we have a lot of data to go through tonight, as well as a lot of set up work to do. I did two runs this afternoon and it seems that we're in a lot better shape than we were in the last two races so there's perhaps a window opening for some cautious optimism, which is good."
Nico Rosberg (20th, 1:19.692): "It was the first time for me on this track in a Formula One car. It was very difficult this morning but, slowly but surely, we're heading in a better set-up direction and I must say that, in the end, the car didn't feel too bad. I hope that we can keep on making similar progress tomorrow."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We've had a productive day today. We experienced a problem with a drive shaft on Alex's car during this morning's practice and the mechanics did well to fix it quickly and get him back out on track at the end of the session. It was then a standard afternoon for him, evaluating tyre compounds. Bridgestone have brought two good tyres here so we'll go through the data carefully to make our selection. Everything else went according to plan, specifically checks on the cooling system and the brakes, which is crucial considering how hot it is here and that we're expecting similar conditions all weekend. All the new parts are working well, so tonight we'll work on our set-up options to get some more pace out of the car for qualifying tomorrow."
Simon Corbyn, Cosworth: "Cosworth introduced the upgraded CA2006 Series 6 engine with Mark Webber in Magny-Cours and we encountered no performance, reliability or calibration concerns with either the new specification engine or the latest Petrobras fuel. Nico continued with his Series 4 engine from Indianapolis with no issues today, although, as reported, we are closely monitoring the condition of this engine. Alex also had no engine problems throughout his Friday programme."
Anthony Davidson (3rd, 1:17.750): "A good day's work today. It was a typical Friday schedule really, making the decision on the tyres for the weekend. I felt the choice was fairly straightforward today and we will have a good balance for the race if it is in similar conditions. I'm confident that the tyres will hold up and produce good lap times during the long runs. The second session was hotter this afternoon and track conditions were a little bit worse, with the wind getting up also, so everyone struggled for lap times compared to this morning."
Jenson Button (12th, 1:19.005): "It was a difficult day for a lot of people today due to the amount of graining on the front tyres. We spent most of the second session trying to balance the graining so I couldn't collect as much data as we would have hoped. However we're really lucky that we have Anthony out there on Fridays as he was able to run both tyres and provide us with some very useful information. That will really help us this weekend with the tyre choice and set-up. We've got a lot of work to do tonight and in the morning so let's wait and see how the car is looking in practice tomorrow."
Rubens Barrichello (17th, 1:19.259): "This afternoon I was going quite well with the tyres on my first run but I seemed to have some oversteer. Going into turn four, I got a little bit of the right kerb, the car touched the ground and I spun into the wall, which ended my afternoon. Even in the short time that I was on track, the car was nice to drive and it feels competitive, so we will look at the data from Anthony and Jenson this evening and work to find the right set-up for the weekend based on that."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "Despite the fact that we didn't get all the running we had planned today due to Rubens' incident, we did get enough data to be able to make informed decisions as far as the tyres and the car set-up are concerned. A good start to the weekend for us although we need to continue to improve the car balance to remain competitive during the rest of the weekend."
Robert Doornbos (8th, 1:18.175): "Everyone says this circuit is in the middle of nowhere, but it's defi nitely fun to drive. It has really high-speed corners, so it's really important to have a right set up and we've been concentrating on that. We were a bit lost in the morning's practice, but we're getting there now. It's all about the tyres this weekend and reading how they're going to react in the hot conditions, so that's the focus."
David Coulthard (25th, 1:20.135): "We were a little bit further away in those conditions than I expected we'd be. We started focusing more towards single lap performance for tomorrow, so hopefully we'll get a pleasant surprise then."
Christian Klien (27th, 1:20.409): "It was not a good session for us, I think we were on the wrong tyres. The car balance was not bad to start with, but then, as the tyres went off it got really, really bad - the worst so far this year I think. Hopefully we'll be a little better in qualifying tomorrow."
Robert Kubica (1st, 1:16.902): "It was not so bad. We have done a lot of tyre testing because the track is very green and there is no grip, so the tyres are suffering a lot. We did long runs, it was quite hot, and now we have to see how our tyre choice will work tomorrow. Anyway everything is under control and the new aero features on the car seem to work well."
Nick Heidfeld (14th, 1:19.108): "I love to drive here in Magny Cours. The track is a lot of fun. I especially like the fast chicanes, although the car is not perfectly balanced yet, but we will continue to improve the set up. It is the first time I have driven the car with the new nose wings, and I agree with my team-mates that they do not interfere with my line of vision."
Jacques Villeneuve (26th, 1:20.154): "The track is very green, so it is a little bit hard on the tyres. I didn't do a lot of running so am not really sure yet where we stand. The car seems to be quite stable to drive and now we just need to go faster. The car was okay on new tyres, but a little bit slow on old ones and we just need to find out what the other people were doing on old tyres."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "The first practice day was without any problems. Robert completed 64 laps and, as usual, did the biggest part of the work for set up and tyre choice. Now we will evaluate all the data we have collected from this."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "We tested these vertical nose wings at our Jerez test. The combination of these and the new side wings on the engine cover have improved the air stream to the rear of the car and, therefore, increased downforce. As well as this they improve stability in the corners and under braking. Robert's results are very helpful in terms of the tyre decision, which will be a key factor for our race strategy."
Adrian Sutil (7th, 1:18.049): "The temperatures were quite high in the cockpit this afternoon, which made it physically demanding to drive so many laps, but I'm happy with the work we did today. I think we've found the right tyres, but we still have to see which one will be best over a race distance. But overall, it was a good day for me. I was able to push the car closer and closer to the limit - even harder than I drove it at Nurburgring. I expected the car to be quicker than the last time, given the improvements the team has made, and it was definitely much better to drive. It's always nice to be classified in the top 10, so I'm very satisfied with my P5 and P7 today. Now, I'm really looking forward to my next opportunity to drive for the team again."
Christijan Albers (16th, 1:19.183): "It was a reasonable day's work, with no real problems to speak of. But if we look at the performance potential of the car, I think we can be even quicker tomorrow. I expect us to find a lot more time between now and tomorrow's qualifying session, and I'm optimistic that we should be able to qualify as well as we did in Indianapolis - maybe even better."
Tiago Monteiro (21st, 1:19.701): "It was a very hot day, which made it very tough on the tyres. We had two very different compounds and we really needed to give them a thorough evaluation, plus we have a new front suspension geometry that we needed to balance, so it was a much more technical day than usual. We were focused on running through a fixed programme, so unfortunately, I couldn't put in a proper lap time. The important thing, though, is that we were able to do a solid day's work and now have a good idea of which way to go with the tyres and the set up. I'm pretty sure the speed will sort itself out by tomorrow."
Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "All of our drivers did a good job today, but Adrian was especially impressive, considering it was only his second Friday drive. As we've seen previously at Nurburgring, he is an exceptional talent. Our times were quite good, but then again, everyone was running a different programme and testing different strategies, so we won't know where we really are until tomorrow. But I think we should be OK."
James Key, Technical Director: "All the cars proved good and reliable today, and the drivers did an excellent job. We had to do our homework with the tyres, because the track changed over the course of the afternoon and the temperatures rose quite a bit. So the grip was rather difficult to predict, and quite difficult to deal with. Bridgestone brought a couple of tyres here that are a genuine compromise between race and qualifying, so we have to think carefully about which way to go. Adrian did an extremely good job today to provide us with some useful data, while Christijan and Tiago worked very hard to set up the cars with the new suspension, which made the balance of the car quite different. We're still working it out, but it seems to be heading in the right direction at the moment."
Neel Jani (10th, 1:18.639): "This morning we found some good solutions working on the set-up and we used them this afternoon when, as usual, I worked on doing long runs. We found a good race pace and also the tyre comparison went well, so maybe we are not looking too bad for the rest of the weekend, although we will have to wait and see how much the others can take out of their package. I am very pleased with today."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (19th, 1:19.589): "We concentrated mainly on set-up work for tomorrow and these two sessions today were very tricky, with hardly any grip which is why quite a few people went off. It is low grip everywhere at the moment and if it stays like that and we can't get much more rubber down, it will be a tough race. The car itself is not bad and I could do some quick times although I had traffic on my last run. We can be positive about this weekend, but I am not positive about getting more grip out of the track. That is the same for everyone, so we will just have to work around it by changing the set-up."
Scott Speed (24th, 1:20.003): "The car is not too bad here and I think we can be quite competitive. In terms of set-up and tyres it's not looking too bad either. The accident was my mistake. Earlier I had been using the right hand kerb at Turn 7 and was getting away with it. Then I tried to use it a little bit more and it turned around and bit me! It launched the rear in the air and I immediately lost control of the car."
Takuma Sato (23rd, 1:19.996): "The weather is extremely hot and we had very low grip here at the beginning of the day. With every outing the car set-up progressed, so I am reasonably happy with the final set-up that we have found. We worked through our usual tyre programme today and the car seems to be working well considering the high temperatures. The track should continue to improve over the next two days, so we shall work further on improving the set-up tomorrow morning and hope for another good Qualifying session tomorrow."
Franck Montagny (28th, 1:21.132): "Today was quite okay. This morning's session was fine and this afternoon we had a little bit more problem with the car due to temperature, but I think it's going to be okay for the rest of the weekend. We just have to work a little bit on the set-up now and I think that it is going to be cool. Unfortunately I was held up by Wurz on my quickest lap and so my fastest time could have been a little better, but I am quite happy with our work today."
Sakon Yamamoto (29th, 1:21.969): "This morning was unfortunately not a perfect start to the day because we had a car problem and lost a lot of time so we could not complete our planned programme. We had a really hard job in the afternoon but were able to finish what we needed to achieve. The whole team has worked hard and I am happy that I could help them by supplying some good data for the rest of this weekend."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "It was a reasonably good Friday for us. Sakon suffered a problem this morning, but we rectified it and in the afternoon we were able to continue with our Bridgestone tyre comparisons, which we are relatively happy with. Taku seems quite happy with the set-up of his car, but I think that Franck may not be so happy after being held up in traffic on his quick lap. That said we've managed to complete almost our entire planned programme, so it has not been a bad day."