Monaco GP - Thursday - Team Quotes
Fernando Alonso (1st, 1:15.940): "As always free practice was focused on testing the different tyre compounds made available to us by Bridgestone as well as finding the right balance with the set-up. We made good progress and the car feels good. Monaco is a unique circuit with the close barriers and also traffic - it's very easy to get a flying lap ruined, but that is the challenge for everybody. I think we are in good shape, and with some more fine tuning during Saturday morning practice we are definitely looking forward to a competitive weekend."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd, 1:16.296): "Today was the first time I ever drove a Formula 1 car around Monaco, and it was awesome. I have obviously had experience of the circuit from Formula 3 and GP2, but in a Formula 1 car it's very different. I found out how unforgiving the track can be when I went off in the second session causing some damage to the car. I'm obviously sorry as there will be a bit of work for the guys but until then everything had been going smoothly, and we were able to set some competitive lap times. I had a very small braking error coming into St. Devote, and the tyres hadn't built up enough grip so I made a tiny mistake, and the back of the car slipped a little and that was it - there is just no room for error in Monaco."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "As always the Monaco Grand Prix presents some unique challenges for both drivers and teams and today's practice was no exception. Both our cars look competitive, and Fernando in particular was able to complete a lot of running. The problem with the starter motor in the first session and Lewis's off in the second practice cost him some time, but we have plenty of data to analyse to put both drivers in the best possible position to fight for pole position."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Overall a good first day for us with a little bad luck on Lewis's side who was caught out in the first corner on a fresh set of tyres which obviously had not built up enough grip at this stage - however before he was strong as was Fernando. On Saturday and Sunday our goal is to be as competitive as today."
Giancarlo Fisichella (5th, 1:16.753): "This was a better first day for us than at recent races. The car balance was consistent, and I was feeling very comfortable out there. The only problem was that the tyres were graining quite badly in the very low grip conditions, but we are confident that will disappear as the circuit conditions improve. I have to say thank you to my mechanics, who did a fantastic job at lunchtime to swap my chassis over, after I damaged my first one with a small crash at Ste Devote. They made it possible for me to run in P2, and now we have a really good starting point for Saturday morning."
Heikki Kovalainen (17th, 1:18.086): "It wasn't a very spectacular day for me. Monaco is a fantastic challenge for all the drivers, and to be honest, the car felt pretty good in terms of the balance. But ultimately, the times weren't quite there today, so we need to work tonight and tomorrow to improve things. I didn't get my last flying lap in during the second session because I was held up in traffic, so for sure there is more performance to come. It was a solid start for me, and I am optimistic that we can improve a lot on Saturday."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "It was a normal, fraught Thursday for the team in Monaco, but it was a day from which we can draw many positives. Giancarlo's accident this morning damaged his original race chassis, and this will be replaced for Saturday. However, for this afternoon's session, it forced us into some car-swapping, and the mechanics once again succeeded in preparing the cars faultlessly under considerable pressure. Out on track, Giancarlo's performance underlined the improvements we believe we are making at the moment, and with more, we hope, to come on Saturday, we are feeling more confident for qualifying than at previous races. Heikki's day was one of ups and downs, and unfortunately his new tyre run at the end of practice was compromised by traffic. Looking beyond the headline times, though, he and Giancarlo were lapping in very similar times on old tyres, and that leaves us encouraged by both drivers' performances ahead of Saturday."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Thursday in Monaco is always about maximising track time, and every team shared our approach in attempting to complete as many laps as possible during the three hours of running today. In terms of our technical programmes, it was a good day as we completed our planned work, and did not encounter any bad surprises. The focus, as always, was on fine-tuning engine mapping, shift points and cooling levels to ensure the engines will be as robust and high-performing as possible on Sunday afternoon."
Kimi Raikkonen (2nd, 1:16.215): "I am reasonably happy with how things went in free practice today. We have found a good balance on the car right from the morning session and we have completed all the programme we had planned for the day. As usual, it is too early to draw conclusions as to how the rest of the weekend will go, because we don't know what our closest rivals have done and also because the track conditions change a lot from Thursday to Saturday. All in all, a good start to the weekend."
Felipe Massa (6th, 1:16.784): "I didn't manage to exploit all the car's potential, partly because I always had traffic when I was running in the second session with new tyres. Unfortunately, on this special track, traffic can cost you an awful lot of time. Over a long run, the situation seems good, but we still have work to do on finding the right balance of the car and that includes on the first lap on new tyres. All the same, I am confident."
Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "As always, it is difficult to judge the result of free practice, because there are too many unknown factors in our main rivals' work programme, as outright performance can be compromised by traffic on the track. As for ourselves, we can say we achieved everything we had put on the day's job list, without any particular problems. We worked on finding the best set-up on the car for Sunday's race and on the comparison between the two types of tyre on offer from Bridgestone. From what we have seen today, the choice seems less evident than usual. In the light of these three hours of practice, we think we will be competitive both in qualifying and in the race."
Rubens Barrichello (11th, 1:17.449): "As is always the case here, the track was very dirty today. The teams are all trying different things so it's hard to get a true idea of where we are in the field. I think we can see from our running though that we have made some progress, so I am pleased with the day. We did a lot of running and have a huge amount of information to work with, which combined with our test data gives us plenty of work to do during tomorrow's 'day off'. I am hopeful for a more positive weekend and looking forward to it. It's always great to race in Monaco."
Jenson Button (12th, 1:17.457): "Not a bad day overall. We achieved everything we set out to achieve and it has been quite productive. Monaco is always very exciting and fun to drive. As we saw today, there can be a lot of incidents which can make it difficult to get clean runs, so the trick is obviously to stay out of trouble. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
Jacky Eeckelaert, Engineering Director: "We have made good progress today in preparation for the weekend ahead. Tailoring the cars to suit the unique demands of this circuit is always a challenge and the track was particularly 'green' this morning. However we have worked steadily through our programme and ended up with a good baseline from which we can continue to develop through the weekend. Following our four-day test in Paul Ricard and a lot of running here today, we have plenty of data to work with so the national holiday tomorrow is much-welcomed. We will have a whole extra day for the engineering team and drivers to work together in preparation for qualifying on Saturday. Generally a good start with some positive signs but with more hard work ahead of us."
Robert Kubica (7th, 1:16.848): "It was quite a good day as we did a lot of testing. We concentrated mainly on the long runs to how the tyres were behaving, because this morning we had quite a lot of graining. We changed the set-up of the car to improve it and, in fact, in the afternoon we put the new set of tyres on early just to run them in the end on long runs. We have to work a bit on the set-up and chose the best compromise. Now we are waiting for Saturday for the weather as some forecast predict rain."
Nick Heidfeld (14th, 1:17.486): "My lap times don't look good, but it isn't that bad. I had problems with the fuel pressure and, of course, when the engine cuts out it costs time. Apart from this both sessions went well, and in the morning the track had a surprisingly high amount of grip. Today we have tested both tyre compounds properly. For the race it is not only important to get a good grid position, especially because overtaking is so difficult, but also the right strategy is extremely important. Another factor for the strategy is the new safety car rule. There is a higher probability of the safety car coming out here than elsewhere."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "Overall we are very pleased with the day. This relates to the set-up of the cars as well as the race preparation. Monaco is always a special challenge. Not only is its layout unique, but it has also a special surface that changes a lot during the sessions and makes it difficult to find the right direction for setting up the cars. Nick's car suffered a fuel pressure problem which affected his lap times, but we will solve it before tomorrow. For me it's positive to see the parts which we developed specifically for this race obviously work well."
Jarno Trulli (4th, 1:16.354): "Today was a bit difficult in general because we had the odd problem and also some bad luck this morning in the first session. The burst pipe this morning cost us a bit of time and also affected our data as well. But the guys did well to fix everything and we went through our programme quite successfully in the afternoon. The car is still a bit difficult to drive and we still have to work a lot in order to make it better. I am missing some grip and we have some graining on the tyres but I was pleased with my lap time in the second session. All in all it looks quite promising and I am hopeful we can build on this. You can never know how things will go at Monaco but I am always confident and I am hopeful of a strong result."
Ralf Schumacher (20th, 1:18.662): "It was not the happiest day for me. There was not as much grip as I would have liked and the car was sliding a bit. But we will work on our set-up before qualifying and I am optimistic we can find an improvement. Unfortunately I did not quite get to the end of the second practice. I caught the kerb quite hard and that put me into the tyre barrier and damaged the car a bit. I was on a strong lap so my final position does not really show what we were capable of today. I am fine after the crash and the team will be able to repair the damage in time for tomorrow's sessions."
Dieter Gass, Chief Race Engineer: "It was a day of mixed emotions. First of all I'd like to sa y what a good job the guys did repairing the damage done by the burst water pipe in the garage this morning. They worked exceptionally hard to get things working properly again. On the track, we had a very smooth run with Jarno. We went through our complete programme and got the information that we wanted to and we are in good shape. Unfortunately Ralf went too hard on the kerbs in the last chicane when he was on his quickest lap of the day. He crashed into the barrier and that meant he could not show what he and the car are capable of so his position is not representative. From here we are going to analyse the data and make the best out of it for Saturday. It has been the start we expected and we are confident for qualifying and the race."
Mark Webber (9th, 1:17.292): "We had a hydraulic problem in the second practice session today. When we're on the track we're going pretty well, but we're not always able to run for as long as we'd like. I touched the barrier at Ste. Devote this morning - which seems to be proving quite a tricky corner for most people. I was lucky to get away with just a damaged rim. The rest of the car was okay, but the guys changed the gearbox as a precaution. I'll be here with the guys tomorrow - but, to be honest, I wish it was Saturday tomorrow, as I'm looking forward to qualifying."
David Coulthard (10th, 1:17.414): "A disappointing day. We didn't achieve anywhere near the number of laps we wanted to due to some technical issues this morning and because I damaged the car's rear wing and floor at Loews Corner this afternoon. The guys fixed the damage during the afternoon session, and did a great job to do it in the time, but nonetheless, it was a bit of a shabby day."
Nico Rosberg (8th, 1:16.852): "It is obviously a lot of fun to drive here in Monaco. The sessions were difficult for us to start with and initially I really wasn't happy with the car. But step by step we started to find a direction and with the track rubbering in, the car seemed to just go better and better. We made our improvements with mechanical and aero changes and I am pleased with where we ended up. I think we can have a good weekend."
Alexander Wurz (15th, 1:17.516): "Throughout all the running this morning I had some balance problems, so we ran through a range of set-ups and by the end of the afternoon session I was up for a very good lap time, but unfortunately traffic and yellow flags got in the way. Nevertheless, I am quite pleased with where we ended up with the chassis balance and I think I could be right up with the first eight guys, which I am comfortable with. We gained much and lost nothing today and I enjoyed myself out there."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Today was a normal Monaco Thursday, working through set up for the race and making sure the race balance is good as well as doing some work on qualifying with new tyres. We checked all our systems - brakes, cooling etc - and everything is fine. Nico and Alex worked on their set ups to collect some good data. Now we'll go through all of the changes to get the best out of the car for Saturday and Sunday."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (16th, 1:17.898): "Overall, a decent day's work. I had a problem this morning with the throttle pedal that wouldn't return fast enough and that meant I spent too much time in the pits. This afternoon, although I then had a brake pedal that was too long, we did manage to do plenty of laps, which is especially important at this circuit and we got the car set-up to work well with a good balance from the chassis. That will be useful for qualifying for which I am quite optimistic, as it is always different to any other session of the season."
Scott Speed (18th, 1:18.233): "The most important thing on this first day at Monaco is that I didn't hit the wall! We have some new parts on the car since the Ricard test, that went quite well and I'd say the car is now turning in much sharper, which is useful around here. Now, I just need to find some more pace on Saturday."
Christijan Albers (21st, 1:18.820): "We had bad luck this morning with the engine failure and had to wait until the afternoon to do some longer runs, but obviously I still want more! We are not that far away but we still need to do some work as we could easily be quicker and I made a slight error on my fastest lap."
Adrian Sutil (22nd, 1:19.358): "In general it was a difficult day for us. In the morning session we had a problem with the engine so we couldn't do much running, instead being limited to just an installation lap and one run. In the afternoon we tried some new set-ups which was OK, but we need to improve our speed overall as we are losing too much time. I put the softest tyres on in the second session but the balance was really difficult and I couldn't get round the corner and went into the barrier. It was not a huge crash but I'm a little bit disappointed all the same."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A difficult first day for both cars. We lost most of the morning session on Christijan's car with the engine problem and had to change it and also had an engine-related issue on Adrian's car, so he also missed out on some running. In the second session we were able to get some more work done and evaluate different tyres, but unfortunately Adrian went off on his first run with the softer tyre. Christijan also made a mistake on his fastest lap on the softest tyres so it was a difficult day all round. But on the positive side, I think there is a lot more to come from the car and we look to be very close to group in front. We just hope we can get it right on Saturday."
Takuma Sato (13th, 1:17.459): "I think that it was a good test day, a normal Thursday in Monaco. The track evolution was dramatic from the morning to afternoon. The tyres' performance during the morning session was not as expected, so we made a change for the afternoon. The track improved in the afternoon as more rubber was put down and I got a very different feeling from the car. In the end I think that we have a very good idea of what the car will be like this weekend, but we shall have to see about the weather as we there may potentially be rain. The car shows good reliability so I was able to complete a lot of laps and a long run, so we shall take a look at the data tomorrow and hope that we have a strong session on Saturday."
Anthony Davidson (19th, 1:18.328): "It is a frustrating day when you finish kissing the barrier at Turn One. I was really flying up to that point, felt very confident in the car and was beginning to build up speed lap after lap and was starting on a long run. But at least we had already found a good balance in the car, so I'm confident for the rest of the weekend."
Graham Taylor, Sporting Director: "Thursday in Monaco is always tough. The circuit was particularly green this morning and in these conditions it is difficult to get a good balance in the car. We made some progress this afternoon and it's obviously disappointing that Anthony went off at Turn One, but we still managed to gather some good data. Taku completed a good long run and now we have Friday to analyse how we are going to move forward on Saturday."