Australian GP - Friday - Team Quotes
Lewis Hamilton (3rd, 1:27.829): "I was so excited when I drove out of the garage for the first time this morning - it was an incredible feeling as I have wanted to be a Formula 1 driver since I started karting and now I am and enjoying every single moment. The track is good particularly as I love street circuits and the whole atmosphere is amazing. Back at the McLaren Technology Centre we have done a lot of simulation work to prepare me for this weekend but it was good to actually drive it for real. The car feels good and the two sessions today were really useful."
Fernando Alonso (7th, 1:28.040): "I'm really pleased to have started my first Grand Prix weekend with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes today. The weather conditions with the rain and the wind made things a bit tricky but we now have a good basis for the work ahead of us tomorrow. We almost completed the planned programme but the track conditions in the first session obviously had an impact. We are heading in the right direction which is positive and I'm looking forward to the next two days."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "A good start for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team and our two new drivers. We completed the planned programme in the second session with our main focus on tyre evaluation, but the red flag interruption did affect our progress. Both practice sessions were troublefree so we can look forward to the rest of the weekend."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Our speed doesn't look bad for the beginning. Now the challenge is to achieve the consistency over a race distance with both types of tyres."
Giancarlo Fisichella (4th, 1:27.941): "It was a bit of a mixed day for us - the performance of the car looked quite encouraging, especially on the longer runs, but our problems meant we didn't complete the programme. The set-up was not fantastic this morning, especially on the first lap, but we made good progress, and it was much more consistent during the afternoon session. The hard tyre is working well on our car, but we are suffering from some graining with the soft tyre at the moment, which is costing us performance. We still need to fine-tune the set-up, but the handling is OK, and now we need to try and match our long-run performance, on the first lap with new tyres."
Heikki Kovalainen (18th, 1:30.097): "It wasn't a perfect first day for me, but we got something done even so. It was only a minor problem that stopped the car, and that meant I lost the whole of the dry, second session - and I didn't manage to run the soft tyre at any point. When I was out on track, though, the car balance felt good and I feel I have learned the track without too many problems. It is a good, challenging layout - and it makes a nice change from driving round Jerez and Barcelona like I did most of last year! Of course, it will be important for me to make good use of tomorrow morning's session to catch up the lost time from today, but I think our pace looks pretty strong - and I am confident we will be in good shape."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "Our first Friday under the new rules was a little more traumatic than we had expected. The weather compromised the first session, but that was true for all the teams; however, both cars suffered fuel pressure problems during the afternoon which cost us track time, particularly with Heikki on his first day. The cause is currently unexplained, and we will be investigating this evening. Apart from this, the drivers were both happy with the balance and grip of the car - and Giancarlo's long run on the hard tyre this afternoon looked competitive."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "It was a far from ideal start to the new season, with both programmes interrupted because of reliability problems. The fuel pressure problem we suffered has a number of possible causes, and they are under investigation at the moment. Of course, if we are to encounter difficulties, this is the best point of the weekend at which to do so, but we now need to make sure that they are not reproduced during more critical moments. Overall, it has been a frustrating start - but we will work hard to ensure the situation improves tomorrow."
Felipe Massa (1st, 1:27.353): "It was a good day. We did a good job of comparing the two types of dry weather tyre and this morning we also got the opportunity to run in the wet, which led us to see that the balance of the F2007 is pretty good. This was a positive start to the weekend, but of course what counts is tomorrow's qualifying and most of all, Sunday's race."
Kimi Raikkonen (2nd, 1:27.750): "We worked mainly on comparing the two types of tyre that we have, but I was a bit unlucky with the traffic and the red flag, which affected our programme. In any case, the car seems to be well balanced at this track and we managed to pick up a good base line of data to analyse today for qualifying and for the race."
Luca Baldisserri: "The Championship has got off in a different fashion to the past, with Friday based around three hours of testing, divided into two ninety minute sessions and sporting regulations that call for the use of both types of tyre during the race and a duty cycle for the engines consisting of running on Saturday and Sunday in two consecutive Grands Prix, but allowing therefore for a change of engine after these 180 minutes of free practice. We are reasonably satisfied with the work we have done today, when the sessions were characterised by quite changeable weather conditions. We concentrated on tyre comparison, both in terms of performance over a single lap and on longer runs. Felipe was able to complete his planned programme, but Kimi was held up by the interruption halfway through the second session. All the same, we picked up a lot of data that will be useful for the rest of the weekend. The F2007 cars ran trouble free and seem well balanced. All in all, we can look to tomorrow's qualifying with reasonable confidence, while aware of all the questions that are still unanswered after free practice."
Jenson Button (14th, 1:29.066): "We had a straightforward day working through our planned programme and of course the changeable conditions gave me the chance to run the Bridgestone Potenza wet tyres. It is good to be back racing again, however we are struggling to find a balance and our position today is a clear indication that there is a lot of work to be done to close the gap to where we want to be."
Rubens Barrichello (15th, 1:29.542): "I had quite a good day and was getting into the groove and improving the car, apart from the small 'off' this afternoon, which put me out of the rest of the session. I just touched the grass, which was still wet from this morning, and that was it. I was generally happy with my times at that point as we were in the top ten, but overall we are aiming to do much better. We have a lot of work to do tonight to get to where we want to be in qualifying."
Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director: "Our plan for today was to run through our usual race preparation programme with set-up work during the morning session, then focusing on long runs in the afternoon. In view of the damp conditions, we adapted the programme slightly. Rubens' afternoon was brought to an early conclusion as he spun entering the last corner causing some damage to the car. Unfortunately we were unable to repair it in time to take part in the rest of the session. Jenson completed his planned programme giving us some valuable data to study this evening as we work to improve the balance of the car before qualifying tomorrow."
Nick Heidfeld (5th, 1:27.970): "I'm happy so far with the first day of the 2007 season. It looks like we have been able to confirm the positive impressions we had from our testing. In the morning the car was good in the rain, while in the afternoon session we almost completed our programme and the lap times were also okay. I lost some time in the garage due to an exhaust problem, but this wasn't too bad."
Robert Kubica (9th, 1:28.281): "I didn't run this morning, which was not a problem as it was wet, but the car was quite good at the beginning of the afternoon session. It is looking quite okay even though we have a few issues to resolve. We now have to analyse everything, improve the set up and I am sure we will be okay. I think we have a good chance for points here and so it will be a good start to the season."
Sebastian Vettel: "At the beginning of the session the conditions were extremely difficult. The entire track was very wet when I left the garage in the morning and, as Albert Park is not a permanent race track, it has a lot of white lines which are extremely slippery in the wet. The track dried out surprisingly quickly, but due to the changing conditions we could not collect as much information as we would have liked. But at least we showed we were pretty quick under wet conditions."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "Finally the 2007 season has officially started. We are pleased with the first day of practice. Our focus was on the tyre comparison and because of this we did several short and long runs. Now we know what we have to concentrate on in the third practice on Saturday. The results we had from running with the Bridgestone tyres during the winter testing are now being confirmed here. Due to the weather conditions and some interruptions we didn't complete a hundred percent the scheduled programme."
Jarno Trulli (12th, 1:28.921): "It's good to be back racing again with a new year and a new challenge. There was not much grip out there in the morning but the afternoon session was trouble-free. So that was a positive day and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We have had a hard winter of testing but as the weekend progresses we will build up a clearer picture of where we stand. The new rules for Friday practice are much better for the drivers and for the teams but especially for the spectators who can finally see the cars running, which is what matters most."
Ralf Schumacher (16th, 1:29.574): "It's always difficult to say where you stand on Friday but that was a decent afternoon of work. Other than the break for the red flag we didn't have any problems and we worked through our programme. The conditions were variable but that was not such a problem as a little drizzle doesn't affect the performance. The weather should now get better through the weekend but it will stay on our mind because we all know it can completely change within an hour in Melbourne. We've had a mixed winter of testing so this weekend will be useful to find out exactly where we have to target our work."
Dieter Gass, Chief Race Engineer: "With the weather conditions and the red flag this afternoon it was not an easy day's work. It was the same for everybody but it meant that we couldn't really make the most of the extended sessions. You have your tyre programme mapped out but today's conditions mixed everything up and meant you couldn't use all the available time. Still, we did running with both tyre specs, along with the wet tyres. Now we need to look at the data because the tyre behaviour is very important for race strategy this year since you have to use both tyre compounds. We still have a lot of work to do for tomorrow."
David Coulthard (10th, 1:28.495): "Difficult track conditions today, but nonetheless we worked through our programme to evaluate the tyres and chassis balance. Changing between cars is not such a good thing to be honest (David used the T car for session one and his race car for session two), as no two cars are ever the same - but it helps to spread out the mileage."
Mark Webber (17th, 1:29.801): "The first session was dominated by the weather and everyone was getting used to the track as it dried out. We ran on intermediates and then changed to dry tyres towards the end of the practice. The first session enabled us to begin to get an idea of the car's balance before the race on Sunday, but I had a transmission problem in the second session and had to stop early."
Alexander Wurz (6th, 1:27.981): "In the morning everyone had to deal with the wet and changing conditions, but the afternoon was a bit better. At the beginning of the session I was driving a little carefully, as I hadn't found a balance on the car, but towards the end with my long run it was improving a lot. We still have to optimise our package, so from a driving point of view, I will be able to attack more."
Nico Rosberg (8th, 1:28.055): "It was a pretty interesting session this afternoon. We really progressed very well after a slow start, but took our time and made good improvements, which is great. We eventually found some good set-up direction despite making some quite big changes. Like everybody else, we were trying tyres and with all the weather changes, the situation was not entirely clear and making our tyre choices will not be the easiest decision."
Kazuki Nakajima: "At the start the track was really wet, so it was a little bit difficult out there for me. We started with the extreme wet tyre for the first 15 laps or so, but I didn't really get the opportunity to set a good lap time. Generally the car was pretty good whether it was wet or dry. Finally in the dry conditions late in the session everything was right to set a good lap time and in fact, I had some traffic in the last lap, so I might have been able to go even quicker. I didn't start out today expecting too much in my first official practice, but I was pleased with how it went."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "It was a busy pair of sessions today affected by the variable weather, but we collected plenty of information for tomorrow and Sunday. All three drivers did a good job and worked away on the set-up and we have found some good direction with the car, particularly in the second session. We've got more work to do tonight, but it was a reasonable first day. We had no systems problems with the cars."
Scott Speed (19th, 1:30.383): "As expected we are quite far behind at the moment as we learn about a lot of things that we should have done in testing. Lots of stuff on the car is brand new for today and so inevitably some of it didn't work. The one positive element is that it is clear that we will be able to develop this package through the season and can do something with it. It's going to be a tough time until we get some more testing under our belt, as we seem to be quite a way off the pace, unless some of those ahead of us were on low fuel loads."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (22nd, 1:31.693): "Quite a negative beginning. We had a few problems with the car, as it was very unstable at the rear. We did not really reach an understanding of what was causing it. Then I had a spin and damaged the rear wing and underside of the car, so I had to stop before the end of the session. That was a shame, because at the moment we really need to do as many kilometers as possible. Hopefully we can do more laps tomorrow."
Adrian Sutil (20th, 1:31.108): "Today was challenging as we¬°¬¶ve never run the car on a street track before and we struggled a little for grip and to get the tyres up to speed in the cool temperatures, but we know what we have to do. The circuit is not that difficult to get to know, but there are some tricky parts and there isn¬°¬¶t much grip in places. As we saw when some of the top drivers went off, it¬°¬¶s easy to lock up and run wide, but I like the track a lot. I hope I will be even better in Qualifying than today."
Christijan Albers (21st, 1:31.175): "Even though today was a reasonably difficult day with the wet track and cold temperatures, I think it was quite productive. Everybody is ready for the fight; we know it¬°¬¶s not going to be easy but we¬°¬¶ll be there tomorrow, trying our best to get the most out of the car and trying to understand the tyres as much as we can."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "Today went as expected and we had no real mechanical issues. The first session¬°¬¶s damp conditions made it difficult to gather any meaningful information, but it did give Adrian the opportunity to cover a lot of laps and familiarise himself with the circuit. In the second session we worked on comparing two tyres, but we¬°¬¶re still struggling to get temperature into them in the cooler conditions today but this should improve over the weekend. Also we suffered with graining, especially on the softer tyre. We just have to get the tyres in the right window and then work to improve the performance of the car."
Anthony Davidson (11th, 1:28.727): "It was a good day and the car was reliable again. We experienced difficult weather conditions, especially in the morning, and it was decided that I would not run the grooved tyres like most other people did. The second session was a bit more difficult for me because of this, but it was a good day nonetheless and I am looking forward to tomorrow."
Takuma Sato (13th, 1:29.009): "I think it was a good start for us. We didn't have any issues with the car and everything went well straight away. We had to compromise a bit in the first session due to the mixed weather conditions, but it was good to experience both tyre options. I had a good first running in the SA07 and although I think that we have a lot to do before tomorrow, I am positive and hopefully we'll see more progress tomorrow."
Graham Taylor, Sporting Director: "During the morning we obtained some good information and we feel that we were on the circuit at the right time. We understand the crossover point between the wet and dry tyre now in case the weather is changeable in qualifying or the race. This afternoon we had an excellent session and the two drivers looked very competitive with each other. The car did not have a great balance at the beginning of the afternoon, but both drivers and their Race Engineers worked to find a much better balance by the end of the session. Both cars could do what looks like very competitive times, but I think that we're showing ourselves to be in higher positions than we really are because of the decisions we made to accommodate for the green track. We are, however, very pleased. It feels a lot more cohesive than we did last year; we've got a lot more tools that we're able to employ from an engineering and preparation point of view."