CHINESE GP - FRIDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Fernando Alonso (6th, 1:36.739): "We had to adjust our programme a little bit because of the rain in the afternoon session, but we have a good baseline to work from with the car. It felt comfortable to drive straight away, so while we need to fine-tune things overnight, I am quite happy at the moment. This is a track I always enjoy, especially with the good memories from the championship win last year, and even with the V8 engines and the other changes since 2005, it still felt very good to drive today. I think we need to be a bit cautious analysing the times, because the conditions today are quite different to what we expect for the race. So we will wait for tomorrow until we get a final judgement for the tyre performance, but so far the Michelins seem to be working well."
Giancarlo Fisichella (10th, 1:37.718): "This was a promising start for me today. We improved the car a little bit during the session, in spite of the changing conditions owing to the rain, and the performance felt good. I didn't put together a full clean lap, so the lap-time could have been better, but the car felt consistent straight away and the tyres seemed good as well. It is hard to be certain in the judgement so early in the weekend, but I have a good feeling so far."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "The changing weather conditions meant that our Friday programme was a little more challenging than normal. We chose not to run in the first session as the track conditions were changing a lot, which meant that it would have been difficult to get reliable answers on the tyre performance. However, the deteriorating weather in second practice made it hard to get much significant work done. In spite of this, the runs we managed to complete showed that, as usual, the initial balance is good - but not quite where we would like it to be for the race. However, our usual programme of overnight tuning should put us in a strong position for tomorrow."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "The changing track conditions this morning, and weather conditions this afternoon, mean that there are a number of question marks over the final times and how well they represent the relative performance of the different competitors. However, we completed our baseline work for the rest of the weekend, and both the lap-times and top speeds seem competitive. Both RS26 engines ran without any incident, and we now need to complete our usual overnight work before seeing how today's times translate in terms of absolute performance for the rest of the weekend."
Pedro de la Rosa (12th, 1:38.022): "We went through our programme with the Michelin tyres to gain some data to help us make the correct tyre choice. We decided to postpone our running until the second session, which was then affected a little bit by the rain which made it more challenging to evaluate the data. However we are confident that we will make the right tyre choice for the rest of the weekend. I like this track which I know from being the third driver on Fridays last year, and I look forward to the rest of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend."
Kimi Raikkonen (21st, 1:39.179): "A quiet start to practice today. The rain halfway through the second session did affect our programme slightly as we planned to run towards the end of that practice. However we obtained some initial useful data and will continue our work in tomorrow's practice after which we have to make our Michelin tyre choice. I had a small spin on my first run in the morning's session, but these things happen - it was just a bit slippery."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "We intended to do the minimum amount of running as usual on a Friday to conserve our engines and the Michelin tyres. We waited a little too long for the track surface to clean up, which resulted in both drivers being hampered by the damp track conditions caused by a sprinkle of rain. However, we experienced no problems and will continue our work in tomorrow's practice session."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Although today's ranking doesn't show it, we think that our basis is OK. We focused on race set-up work and our Michelin tyre evaluation programme, which was slightly hampered by the changing track conditions due to light drizzle in the second session."
Felipe Massa (4th, 1:36.599): "There is little to say as this was not a good day for me. I did not go out on track this morning and then in my second run this afternoon, I had a problem with the engine and had to come back to the pits, where our engineers realised the unit would have to be changed. It's a shame, as the car seemed to be well balanced right from the start and I had been able to do some good times. Of course, dropping ten places on the grid will make my race much tougher but I believe I can still put on a good performance."
Michael Schumacher (5th, 1:36.641): "It's nice to be in China and I am particularly happy to see the enthusiasm the fans here seem to show for me. Compared to last year, we are much more competitive and we hope to be able to pay back the fans with a better result than back then. The fight with our closest rivals seems to be very tight, even if we have not yet had time to take a close look at all the data. It is difficult to make predictions on tyre performance given today's weather. I like driving at this track: it is very tough with a big variety of corner types."
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "Today's work schedule, as usual on a Friday, centred on evaluating the Bridgestone tyres on finding the best set-up. We must very thoroughly study the data we have gathered to prepare firstly for qualifying and, above all, for the race. A bad start to our Shanghai weekend: unfortunately, a problem was discovered on the engine in Felipe Massa's car and now it will have to be changed. All in all, we should be competitive, partly thanks to the usual support from our partners, first and foremost, Bridgestone and Shell. China is fascinating and we are happy with the warm welcome we have had from our fans here over the past few days. Ferrari has great plans in this country and that is not just a reference to this weekend, but above all to our plans for commercial development."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "The day was spoilt by the problem with Felipe's engine, which will see him lose ten places on the grid. Now we have to look at the data and the engine itself to understand what happened. It is a real pity given our performance level is pretty good. The cars seemed to be well balanced and our overall situation seems quite positive. As every Friday, we worked on a comparison of the two types of Bridgestone tyre available to us. It is still too early to understand how the track will evolve for the race, especially given the track conditions we had today."
Ralf Schumacher (17th, 1:38.888): "Given that we had very little time available for running before the rain arrived, that was a reasonable afternoon of practice. We obviously have less data than usual, but it's the same for everyone. Tomorrow morning will be busy but hopefully we can still chase a good result on Sunday. Monza was a disappointing weekend for us but apart from that we have shown consistent improvements throughout the season. We have some updates on the car here and if we can return to the level of performance we had in Turkey I am optimistic for the last three races."
Jarno Trulli (18th, 1:38.959): "There's not much to say about today's session as I only had time to complete one long run. The track was quite dirty so we had a lot of graining, but that should improve as the weekend goes on. We still have a lot of work to do on set-up tomorrow morning but I remain pretty confident because our car has improved a lot over the course of the season. We will now aim to achieve our best results of the year over these last few races but we still have to see how competitive we can be here. If our pace is consistent then we can hope for a good race on Sunday."
Dieter Gass, Chief Race Engineer: "Our weather forecast had predicted rain for the afternoon session, so that is why we brought forward our usual programme and went out at the very start of the hour. As it turned out the track conditions were acceptable and despite the limited running time we collected some valuable information for the tyre choice. We know that this is one of the circuits with the highest grip evolution as the weekend goes on and you could already see the track getting quicker this morning. In the dirty conditions we saw a lot of graining on all the cars, but the track is not yet in optimum condition and that should reduce once the circuit rubbers in. We have a brand new aerodynamics package here in Shanghai, featuring a new front wing, a new engine cover and a new floor, so we will look to take advantage of that over the next two days."
Alexander Wurz (1st, 1:35.539): "It was a good day today and driving was a lot of fun out there. I have never driven this circuit, and I attacked it right from the beginning. The car responded very well which means the aero update we have brought here is definitely a good step forward. In addition to this, both tyres we have chosen for this race are good and I think the tyre choice is going to be difficult for us, depending on how we apply our strategy tomorrow and on Sunday."
Mark Webber (13th, 1:38.045): "It was obviously a pretty short day for me! We only had two runs planned anyway, but we couldn't get out for the second run because we had a hydraulic fluid leak. It didn't really cost us a huge amount and we still have plenty of work to do tonight to check how we can improve for tomorrow. The drizzly weather today also meant the track wasn't in its best condition, so I'm quite happy to pick up some additional running tomorrow."
Nico Rosberg (23rd, 1:39.522): "It was interesting out there, especially because of the weather conditions and also because I was learning the track as it is my first time racing here - it's a nice track, really good fun. Tyre choice is going to be quite tough and we will have to study everything we have learnt today to see which way we will go."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We ran a largely normal Friday programme except for compensating for the adverse weather in the second session. Alex stuck to plan checking temperatures and tyres. All the new parts on the car are working well and we have quite a bit of data now to make our tyre choice. Nico did more running than usual as he hasn't driven here before. Unfortunately on Mark's car we had a hydraulic leak from the fuel flap, so we will attend to this tonight."
Simon Corbyn, Cosworth: "The Cosworth CA2006 Series 6 engine powered Alex to fastest times in both Friday practice sessions for the 2006 Shanghai Grand Prix. We had no engine problems with any of the WilliamsF1 cars today."
Anthony Davidson (3rd, 1:35.714): "It's been quite a good day generally. The rain in the second session made it a bit difficult to work with the tyres but it was the same for everyone out there. We're competitive, the car felt nice to drive and we are looking good on the long runs as well so it's a case of so far, so good. We'll have to wait to see what the weather brings over the weekend but I think we're in reasonably good shape."
Jenson Button (11th, 1:37.861): "We've achieved a lot of work considering the weather conditions and I think we're looking reasonably competitive so far. This afternoon, the conditions were pretty poor which made it difficult to conduct any meaningful tyre comparison work."
Rubens Barrichello (16th, 1:38.276): "I had a very strange day today because my car had a balance this morning and then it was changing this afternoon. So the car feels very different from run to run and we need to find out what is causing the problem. Apart from that I'm very confident that the tyres should do a good job. It's a great circuit and I think we can continue to improve here throughout the weekend so I'm reasonably happy at this stage."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "Despite the slight drizzle during the second session, we were able to complete the planned programme today with all three cars. We didn't have any major issues; however there is room for improvement with the balance of both race cars, which is somewhat inconsistent at the moment. Tonight we will sit down with the Michelin engineers to look over the tyre data and help us make a difficult choice, as it appears that they brought two very good tyres to China. A good start to the weekend and we look competitive at this point."
Michael Ammermuller (8th, 1:37.678): "The first session was quite difficult, as I was still learning about the car and this track is not easy to drive. I spun in the morning, there wasn't too much grip on the track and my experience was not so much in the car. But, the second session went a lot better. The balance of the car was very good and I hope I did a good test for Red Bull to help the two drivers."
David Coulthard (26th, 1:40.155): "There was a surprising amount of grip during the second session, considering the wet weather. It's tricky when the weather's like that as the rain on the visor doesn't always correspond to the water on the track. You think it's wetter than it actually is."
Robert Doornbos (27th, 1:40.214): "For sure that was a different Friday than I'm used to and a different approach to the weekend. We followed David's programme, trying to find a good set up with the car. It looked like the rain might mess up the session, but it actually wasn't too bad. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I'll be able to wake up and get back in the car, which is a really great feeling."
Sebastian Vettel (2nd, 1:35.579): "The second session was much better than the first, as in this one the track was extremely slippery. The practice sessions for the support races obviously put down rubber and increased the grip, and we also made a clear step forward with the car. Therefore, in the second session the car felt more familiar and the consistency was back. The circuit itself is very complicated, especially the first corner and the hairpin after the straight, however, I feel comfortable. Now we have to see how the track conditions develop."
Nick Heidfeld (14th, 1:38.062): "In the first session I only did an installation lap. In the second session, after the track had been declared wet, I scrubbed a few sets of tyres and towards the end I decided to continue for an extra couple of laps. The conditions were odd as I could see the rain drops on my visor but the grip was still there."
Robert Kubica (22nd, 1:39.217): "It's a new track for me and I did a handful of laps this morning and then the same this afternoon. It seems okay, although we have a bit of work to do on set-up. This morning the track condition was not very good, but it was better in the afternoon despite the rain. We have to see how the track is tomorrow, and perhaps we will make some set-up changes. The track has some nice corners, with the first part difficult, especially corners one and two as you cannot see the apex and they are long corners. Generally it is a low grip track and we are sliding, but it is the same for everybody."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "As usual on Friday, most of the work load was done by Sebastian. In the morning the car's set-up was not perfect, but after changes there was a big improvement in the afternoon. It was astonishing what times were possible, particularly at the end when the track was wet. For us it was a day with no technical problems."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "This was a free practice with an unusual finale. Although it started to rain the lap times were improving, and the fastest times were done at the very end as the grip improved, despite a damp track. Today's programme included race preparation and tyre comparison. We completed the programme, but for a final tyre decision we have to have a long, hard look at the data because the changing track conditions make it difficult to compare the lap times."
Tiago Monteiro (9th, 1:37.698): "It was a weird day because of the weather conditions that haven`t really allowed us to be sure of what we`ve got. I think we did a pretty decent job in the end but we need to keep our feet on the ground as the weather was strange and we basically only did ten real laps. We have some data to work with and starting the day with a top ten is good all the same."
Alexandre Premat (15th, 1:38.098): "I am very happy about today and it was really amazing to drive an F1 car once again. During the first and second session it was really exciting; the team did a great job with the new tyre even though it was not very easy to drive in the afternoon. I think the team can make the right decisions with what I achieved today in the car."
Christijan Albers (28th, 1:40.319): "We had quite a tough day and we stayed on one set of tyres for both sessions. We need to do some fine-tuning for the race set-up but I think we are going in the right direction. Tomorrow we will see what`s going on; I think there is much more speed in the car as I had some traffic in the last couple of laps so couldn`t do a quicker time. But hey it`s only Friday!"
Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "As people can imagine behind the scenes it has been a very busy weekend so far but to see our cars run on here for the first time in their new livery was a happy moment. I was very pleased to see Alexandre Premat having a successful day in the third car. Strange weather is always welcome and I hope that changing conditions can give us a better chance in the race."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "It was a normal programme today with good work from all the drivers. We have plenty of data to go through and obviously the conditions in the second session, when the track temperature dropped by 6 degrees, made things a little more difficult. This is a major factor to consider as we make our tyre decisions and set-up changes to optimise the car for qualifying tomorrow."
Scott Speed (19th, 1:39.080): "I drove this track two years ago in Formula Renault, but honestly today felt like my first time here as I don't remember anything and of course it's very different in an F1 car. But the track is not so hard to learn. I'm not sure if I would describe it as fun to drive, but it's definitely interesting and very understeery. Getting through the usual Friday programme was tricky today, trying to get enough running in the dry in order to be able to analyse everything properly. But I think we are on the right track."
Neel Jani (20th, 1:39.118): "I was happy with the performance in the morning, but on my quickest lap I nearly hit Kimi, missing him by just a couple of centimetres. Then in the afternoon I concentrated on long runs and race preparation. Towards the end, my car just stopped running and I had to park it at Turn 3. At the moment, we have not yet had time to find out what was the problem. Overall, not too bad, but it is hard to judge our performance at the moment."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (24th, 1:39.570): "A so-so day. In the first session, everything was fine, even though I did not do many laps. In the second hour we worked on finding the right trim for the car for a long distance run. The car did not feel too bad, but the conditions were difficult because of the rain that came and went during the session. It could be a tough weekend."
Franck Montagny (7th, 1:37.278): "Today was quite a good day from a performance point of view and for a sick man! Well, this morning I was really not happy about the car, more from a tyre point of view, because we had a lot of degradation but I think it was the same last year. We worked quite a bit on car set-up and then this afternoon we did our long runs and tyre comparisons. The car started to be quite okay so I was happy with it and when we started to do performance runs the lap time started to be quite good straight away. It was not an easy day because the temperature changed quite a lot and the track conditions also changed. There was a little bit of rain which made the track a little different again, a bit more slippery, but it was quite good fun."
Sakon Yamamoto (25th, 1:39.636): "We had a hydraulic problem with my SA06 this morning so we did not have much time on the circuit and I was only able to complete eight laps. But I pushed quite hard during this session as I wanted to get to know the car and circuit better. Although we did not have any problems in the afternoon I did not feel very comfortable with the car and so I didn't have the chance to find a set-up I was happy with. Franck did a good job, so we will compare data and speak to the engineers about how we can improve on this situation for tomorrow."
Takuma Sato (29th, 1:41.315): "Unfortunately today my running was very limited due to a gearbox problem. It seems that every outing I suffered some related issue and so I couldn't evaluate the car set-up much today. This morning the car worked well straight away, but this afternoon I only completed a few laps, so it was not a very good day. The session tomorrow morning will therefore be extremely important, so let's hope we have a better day tomorrow."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "Franck did a very good job to finish in seventh position today, so I am very happy with that. Taku's car had a gearbox issue so we have to find a solution to this problem as soon as possible. Sakon's car had a hydraulic problem in the morning, but was able to have a good session this afternoon and complete quite a few laps today. We have collected quite a bit of data from the car today so overall we have had quite a good Friday."