JAPANESE GP - FRIDAY - TEAM QUOTES
Giancarlo Fisichella (1st, 1:34.337): "The conditions meant we didn't do many laps today, but I think we are in good shape. The car felt good to drive on the intermediate tyres, and while we had a bit too much understeer on dry tyres at the end, the times were still competitive. It was a good feeling to be quickest on the track each time I ran today, so I am feeling very confident for the rest of the weekend."
Fernando Alonso (4th, 1:34.863): "On the track, this was a normal Friday for me. We did very little running because of the conditions, but the R26 felt good, although there was a bit too much understeer everywhere. Off the track, I was surprised by the strong reaction to what I said yesterday in the press conference. I expressed very clearly that these were only my personal feelings, and that I completely understand and accept the team's decisions. Last night, I explained that to the team and to Fisi, and there is no problem. Every single person at Renault is fighting to the maximum to win the championship. I don't know what people see from the outside, but within the team, we have a fantastic atmosphere right now. And we are determined to come out on top."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Our programmes today were essentially condensed to ten minutes at the end of the second practice session. In that time, all we could really get were first impressions of how the car is performing. Those impressions were favourable, but we cannot deduce much more at this stage."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "For the engine team, the drying conditions we saw today still give us the chance to fine-tune the parameters we need to optimise for this weekend. Both engines performed normally, without any problems, and while you can never complete your work when track conditions are changing all the time, we have been able to begin our programmes. Shanghai was a comparatively easy race for the engines owing to the wet conditions, and it meant that both our drivers only used around 80% of their allocated performance potential during the weekend. As a result, they come here with 120% of that potential available, and we full intend to put it to good use tomorrow and during the Grand Prix on Sunday."
Pedro de la Rosa (8th, 1:35.064): "Due to the wet weather conditions we took the decision to conserve the engine and tyres, so we limited our running to only six laps at the end of the second practice session. Despite this the team worked very efficiently to gain good tyre comparison data. We expect weather conditions to improve tomorrow."
Kimi Raikkonen (10th, 1:35.367): "A first practice day where nothing really happened due to the wet weather conditions. There was no use in doing anything other than some set-up and tyre evaluation work as the track conditions were not ideal for detailed results. Tomorrow's free practice will hopefully give us a better opportunity to prepare for qualifying and the race."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "An uneventful practice session where we restricted our programme to a handful of laps in the second session when weather and track conditions improved."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Kimi and Pedro only went out eight minutes from the end of this afternoon's session to start working on their basic set-up."
Felipe Massa (2nd, 1:34.408): "Overall, a positive day. We didn't run much because of the rain, but towards the end of the second session, once the track conditions allowed it we did a series of laps on dry tyres. I'd say the data we have seen looks quite promising. I am reasonably happy with the balance of the car and the behaviour of the Bridgestone tyres in these conditions. All this means I reckon we can be competitive in both qualifying and the race."
Michael Schumacher (3rd, 1:34.565): "All we have got is a flavour of the situation and so it is hard to judge. The car and the Bridgestone tyres seem to be behaving well and there were no problems of any sort. The weather forecast is supposed to steadily improve and that can only be good for us. The team is in very good spirits, concentrating on our work and everything seems to be going well. As for qualifying, I think we will be fighting Renault for the top places on the grid. The race? I hope it goes well for us!"
Jean Todt, Team Principal: "This Friday was affected by changing weather conditions that meant changing track conditions too. Given the forecast we had been given, we chose to run practically only when the track was dry. Despite this limitation we gathered important data to prepare as well as possible for the penultimate round of the season, which takes on a special importance, given the situation in the championships. We must concentrate on ourselves and our work load, trying to fend off the inevitable pressure that can develop in these situations. Along with Bridgestone, we will be trying to make the most of the package we have at our disposal."
Ross Brawn, Technical Director: "The weather affected the day with the track only drying in the final moments of the second hour of free practice. But we still picked up enough data for an initial indication of the handling of our tyres and the Bridgestone tyres and first indications are reasonably positive. Obviously, we were not able to complete our entire work load that we usually get through on a Friday, but we have enough data on which to base our work for the rest of the weekend. We were and we remain confident about our level of competitiveness."
Jarno Trulli (9th, 1:35.343): "That was a difficult session because it was damp at the beginning and then dried out. Towards the end the track began to dry as the weather improved and we managed to do a few laps on dry tyres in the last few minutes but there is very little we can say about the session due to the conditions. Thanks to the rain this morning we only completed one installation lap in first practice. We had a new engine in the car today after our retirement in China and that looks like being a little step forward, hopefully it will help us. As this is the team's home race, we expect to put up a strong challenge and I hope today is the start of a good weekend."
Ralf Schumacher (11th, 1:35.375): "The session went well, we had no real problems. Obviously due to the wet conditions at the start of the second practice session we had to wait before we could get a lap in. Early on the track was a bit damp but it got better and better as the sun came out. The car seems to be handling well but consistency was not really possible in the changing conditions. It is a bit difficult to know what tyre we should go for tomorrow as we have had so little time on a dry track but hopefully we will have a better idea of that after the practice session tomorrow. I think our home fans can expect a strong performance but we will have to wait and see exactly where we end up. I still think our car is capable of finishing on the podium in the right circumstances but we have to push hard and get all the elements in place."
Dieter Gass, Chief Race Engineer: "We had a limited amount of time to work on the set-up of the car due to the conditions but we know what is required at Suzuka so that should not be a problem. I think it was a productive day for us. We had the opportunity to check the car balance on wet and dry tyres this afternoon and we will obviously have to look into the comparisons again tomorrow morning before we decide which tyres to choose. We are quite used to finalising our tyre choice on a Saturday morning so I don't think that is going to be a big problem for us. We encountered some graining on the front tyres but we think that will improve once the circuit gets rubbered in. Of course, we are still optimistic for the weekend."
Mark Webber (14th, 1:35.866): "The weather in practice today was changeable, but at least we were able to get a few laps in dry conditions so we have more information to go through tonight. It won't be easy to make the tyre decision, but it's the same for everyone. It looks like we have some work to do on our pace, but we worked our way through the entire programme so we're happy."
Nico Rosberg (15th, 1:36.176): "Suzuka is a great circuit, no doubt about it! It's not easy to learn, I must say, but the balance of the car to start with was already quite good and I felt comfortable from the beginning. It all went quite well today; although it's been a bit more difficult for me to learn all that I wanted to because I didn't get that many laps on a dry track."
Alexander Wurz (17th, 1:36.234): "We tried our full range of settings and tyres today: full wet, wet and then dry tyres towards the end of the session. It has been a productive testing day, we may not have looked great on the time sheets, but that's because we tested many different things. In the last eight minutes of session two, when the track was quicker, I couldn't actually do any fast laps because we were checking something, which proved to be a good improvement in the end. We have gathered quite a lot of useful information for tomorrow, so Nico and Mark's job will be easier."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We had variable conditions today at Suzuka that meant we had to change our planned programme quite a bit. We did some work on the wet set-up, but conditions were really intermediate for most of the afternoon. In the last ten minutes of the second session, the track was ok for dry tyres. We sent Alex out to check both tyre compounds and the race cars did a run on dry tyres as well. The sessions today have given us some good data that we will work through tonight in order to make our decision in preparation for tomorrow's qualifying."
Simon Corbyn, Cosworth: "A routine Friday in Suzuka for Cosworth with all three engines running reliably. The rain was a more significant factor than the engine performance today!"
Anthony Davidson (5th, 1:34.906): "Once again, the conditions were difficult for everybody today. It was very wet this morning but I had a good session nonetheless and I ended up fastest, finding a nice balance for the car in the wet. When it dried out this afternoon, it was the first lap I have ever done at Suzuka in the dry and it was a really good experience for me. I didn't get the best out of the tyres that I was on for the last run but it was still a really good fun day and I felt confident in the car."
Jenson Button (7th, 1:35.002): "I didn't get much running in the session because of the weather, but it's good to have Anthony out there putting mileage on the car so that we don't have to compromise engine mileage. We also don't get that many sets of new wet tyres. We didn't do any running until the track started to dry out, then I got one run in at the end. At that time, practically every car was on the circuit and because of the traffic it was hard to get a good lap time. However, the car is feeling reasonably good so generally we've made a positive start to an important weekend."
Rubens Barrichello (13th, 1:35.528): "It was one of those days when everyone runs just a little bit because that is all we can do in the weather conditions we encountered. We had no car issues but it's difficult to see where we stand yet. We will just have to study the data this evening and hope for more good steady progress tomorrow."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "It was hard to learn much today given the changing conditions, and for that reason the timesheets are not especially representative. With Anthony we spent most of the day evaluating which tyres were best for which conditions and at the end he had the opportunity to run around here on dry tyres for his first time ever. All three drivers are happy with the car balance, so all in all a good start for our home GP."
Michael Ammermuller (12th, 1:35.433): "It was a lot easier to drive the car here than in Shanghai, as I know it better now. The only thing I had to learn quickly was driving in the rain, but I think it went quite well and it didn't take me too long to get into a good rhythm. Overall, we were quite good in the dry and only one second off the pace, which I was pleased with. There are a number of quick corners here, which makes it great, though I'm sure it would be even better if it was a little bit drier."
David Coulthard (22nd, 1:37.596): "In changing conditions, you have got to decide which set of tyres you're going to scrub off. If you run a set of intermediates, you lose them, so I chose to save them and run on the slicks at the end of the second session. It wasn't the cleanest of laps, I didn't optimise the lap time on the fuel level and engine load, but the car felt quite slow overall anyway, so we need to see if there are any issues with the car."
Robert Doornbos (25th, 1:37.788): "It was a boring day actually! I've been sitting around more than any other driving day today. We didn't run this morning and this afternoon we were waiting for it to dry out a little. In the last ten minutes everyone went out on the track and trying to find a clear lap and amongst the traffic it was quite difficult. We have a reasonable idea where we are, Michael (Ammermüller) racked up some miles so we can look at his data. It's a narrow circuit here, which makes it good fun to drive, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Sebastian Vettel (6th, 1:34.912): "The circuit is stunning, especially the first sector. In this morning's first free practice it was all about learning and evaluating the track with extreme wets as well as intermediates. In the second session I drove 19 consecutive laps at the start, and it was a good experience. When the track dried at the very end we managed two outings on grooved tyres. I had an awful lot of fun on this race track, and I really hope we can continue with this good momentum."
Robert Kubica (18th, 1:36.299): "The track is very challenging and difficult but nice. We have only done three laps on grooved tyres, so we need to do a bit more running as the conditions were not good. Also I spent these laps watching where to go and which lines to take."
Nick Heidfeld (27th, 1:38.779): "I almost didn't drive today, and in the first session in the morning only did one installation lap. In the second session in the afternoon I went out right at the end, basically to make sure all the systems were working. At the very end when everyone was on dry tyres obviously there was a lot of traffic, therefore, I didn't manage to set a good lap time."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "The focus of today's free practice was on the weather, and so over the two sessions we tested all available types of tyres. In the morning Sebastian used extreme wets first, and then intermediates because the conditions were changing during the hour. In the afternoon right up to ten minutes before the end of the session intermediates were used, and then everyone took dry tyres. Sebastian did a 19 lap run on intermediates, while in the morning Robert and Nick did just an installation lap each on these tyres. In the second free practice the two race drivers only went out with dry tyres. All three cars ran with no problems."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis: "When we realised the track conditions would not be constant we decided Sebastian should do as many laps as possible to learn the new circuit. By the end of the second session it was possible to go out on dry tyres. The first impressions we have from the tyres will be used in Saturday morning's session to find the set up for the race with different fuel loads."
Christijan Albers (16th, 1:36.180): "I think the short outing everybody had on slicks today was good, it means nobody really knows what they have got. I was quite satisfied in the end with what we achieved with dry tyres. It was a shame that it was raining most of the day but we have to see what we get tomorrow. I am happy and hopefully tomorrow we will find some more time on a dry track."
Tiago Monteiro (23rd, 1:37.702): "It has been a mixed day with wet conditions this morning when we had some technical issues. We knew it was going to dry out this afternoon so we managed to get a couple of laps completed on dry tyres. We left it a bit late and needed longer on track to really show what we are capable of so the times look worse than they are. I have no worries or problems waiting for tomorrow."
Adrian Sutil (29th, 1:43.914): "It has been wet for most of the day so we have been trying to find the precise time when it is best to change tyres. In the end I found the balance getting better and better through wing and down-force changes but unfortunately just when I was about to go on to dry tyres we encountered an engine problem. It's disappointing as I know I was able to achieve more today and I was really beginning to feel the track."
Colin Kolles, Managing Director: "The weather conditions gave us a lot to think about today with lots of water and rain this morning and some sunshine by the end of the second session. This means that we were able to consider our tyre strategy for the race and I am happy with what the team achieved. It would have been interesting to see what Adrian Sutil could have achieved on dry tyres on a dry track. I think he had a fast lap in him today that was lost with the engine and the weather."
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "Another two predominantly wet sessions today. After China we felt we had quite a lot of work to do to improve the performance of our car in the wet and we learnt a lot more today. It was good to get a run on dry tyres at the end of the second session. We are disappointed for Adrian Sutil as the engine problem he encountered meant he couldn't complete his full programme by running dry tyres. However he again showed his talent by running very competitively in both wet and drying conditions."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (20th, 1:37.441): "Not a bad day, allowing for the fact track conditions were changing every 10 minutes. But the car responded really well in the wet and we will see how it goes in the dry tomorrow, when we will have a lot of work to do in a short space of time."
Scott Speed (21st, 1:37.501): "It's my first time here and although it was easier to learn than I expected, doing so in the wet is not ideal!. It's a great track, like Spa and its cool that I've had the chance to race here. With only a couple of laps in the dry, the car seems quite well balanced but its too early to have a clear picture of anything."
Neel Jani (24th, 1:37.741): "I was happy with this morning when I was second quickest, having never been here before and also never having driven this car in the rain. The afternoon we got through a good work load with a race simulation although the last laps were full of traffic."
Franck Montagny (19th, 1:37.354): "It was quite a good day. We tried the different tyre options and know which one is good for us. Because of the weather conditions this morning we worked on the wet tyres which gave us some good information. I think that we should be stronger here this weekend as the car was performing well today, with no real problems, so it was a good day for us I think."
Takuma Sato (26th, 1:38.533): "Basically we completed our wet and dry runs during the changing weather conditions, which made it very difficult to evaluate the different car set-ups and meant that we could not do our back to back tyre test. However we were able to collect a lot of useful data. The car was working well with no problems today, so it has been a good start and it is great to see the incredible support from our fans from day one."
Sakon Yamamoto (28th, 1:38.955): "Firstly, I am very happy to drive at Suzuka Circuit, it was really a fantastic feeling this morning when I went out on to the circuit - I felt that this is really my home track. During the morning session we had a rain shower and in the afternoon the circuit conditions changed a lot, so obviously it was a bit difficult to prepare and understand the car's situation. Every time we went out the track conditions were different, but on the last run we were able to use the dry tyres and get the feeling of the track and car with the dry tyres. The information we collected is going to be useful data because I have heard that tomorrow is going to be a dry day. I can still improve on my lap times because my last lap, which should have been my quickest, was compromised. I hope that I will be able to improve by one or two seconds tomorrow morning, but even so, I still have quite a good feeling from today."
Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal: "Today we had very difficult conditions in Suzuka, but I'm sure that on Saturday and Sunday we are going to have better weather. We had rain this morning, but conditions improved in the afternoon as the track became drier and drier. However all these changes made it very difficult for us to find good set-up for our cars. Franck did a good job today and he understands which tyre option is better for us. He has provided us with a lot of information which will be of great use when we try to find a good set-up tomorrow. I think that Taku and Sakon also did a good job today, so I am looking forward to the rest of this Japanese Grand Prix weekend."