Australian GP 2008
MARCH 14, 2008
Friday Team Quotes
Felipe Massa (3rd, 1:27.640): "All in all, I am happy with this start to the season. We were able to work towards the race and I think I will be able to run at a good pace on a long run. Because of going off the track, I was unable to try the last set of soft tyres available to me, but that's certainly not a big problem. The harder tyres are very consistent, while the other compound gives more grip on the first lap, but then suffers from greater degradation."
Kimi Raikkonen (6th, 1:28.208): "I am not very happy with the way practice went. This morning we found some good settings for the car, but in the afternoon, we struggled and our lap times reflect that. We must look carefully at the data to work out how to improve the car. We have seen that if we manage to find the right set-up, we have the potential to be competitive."
Stefano Domenicali: "The start of a new season is always a special feeling. From a personal point of view, I cannot deny that this is a special day, my first on the pit wall as the head of the Gestione Sportiva. We are not entirely satisfied with the way practice went and we still have to work on finding the right balance on the car, both for qualifying tomorrow and for Sunday's race."
Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "A bit of a complicated day, especially in the second session. The set-up of Kimi's F2008 in the afternoon was certainly not the best and we need to work out exactly why. As for Felipe, he was pretty happy with the handling of his car. At the end, the Brazilian had an off-track excursion which meant he was forced to end his work programme a bit prematurely and it bore testimony to the fact that, this year, the margin for error is virtually nonexistent. Now we must prepare as well as possible for qualifying and the race. The weather conditions are very difficult and will provide a stern test of the cars' reliability."
Nick Heidfeld (12th, 1:28.731): "I still find it very difficult to make a judgement on everybody's performance. I'm afraid we have to be patient until tomorrow, at least until the second part of qualifying. I assume some of the cars which are higher up on the result sheet were lighter than us. I had no technical problems in the second session, and the failure in the morning just cost one run which isn't a drama."
Robert Kubica (15th, 1:28.860): "As well as working on the set-up of the car, we concentrated mainly on comparing the two tyre compounds. Degradation is quite a big issue in these hot conditions. We have to analyse the data and find out how best to exploit the full potential of the tyres."
Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "We are happy that the 2008 season has finally started here in Melbourne. We concentrated on the race preparations in both sessions and completed our programme including the tyre comparisons. Apart from one problem on an electronic switch in the first free practice, everything went according to plan. I think we are in good shape for tomorrow."
Fernando Alonso (13th, 1:28.779): "This first day has been very hot and very windy, but the conditions were the same for everyone. For the first day of work we worked on the set-up of the car and we made good progress, but we still have to improve the stability of the car under braking and its overall balance. So we must still find some performance, but I am optimistic for the rest of the weekend."
Nelson Piquet (19th, 1:29.518): "That was not how I imagined my first day of work would be, and we would have liked to have made more progress. I made a mistake in the first session which caused some damage to my gearbox and meant the team had to do some work on my car between the two sessions. But I was able to get my first feelings for the track and I hope to make a bigger contribution tomorrow. I know that I have a lot to learn, but I was able to get more comfortable with each lap, and that is what I am going to continue to do throughout the weekend."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "A difficult start to our season. Nelson spun in the first session and our analysis showed there could be damage to the gearbox, so we had to change that, which resulted in him being out late for the second session. He was really on his back foot from there onwards. With Fernando we covered a good number of laps and completed a sensible programme. We made some improvements on the balance, but as always there is more to do. We feel there is a little bit more potential in the car as the two runs on new tyres were spoilt by traffic. But overall it looks like we are in with the big pack."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "If you look at both the sessions it seems that the four favourites that emerged during the winter have confirmed their position today. From our point of view, the day was somewhat disappointing because we designed our programme to give Nelson the most time on track possible, but in the end that did not turn out to be the case, which is a shame on a circuit that is difficult to learn and master. We will try to make the most of the last practice session tomorrow to approach the qualifying session in the best shape possible."
Nico Rosberg (8th, 1:28.352): "The team had a pretty difficult start to the season today. I had no running in the first session and in the second session I ran with a differential that was not working. This meant that it was unbelievably difficult out there. As a consequence, it was hard to learn anything useful while keeping the car on track. Nevertheless, we learnt a few bits and pieces, but we need to make up for today with some real progress tomorrow. All that said, I think we have a good base and we haven't seen the best of it yet."
Kazuki Nakajima (16th, 1:29.077): "It was a shame to lose some time to learn the track in the morning session due to the technical problem we suffered as although I have some experience of the circuit, it is quite limited. But this afternoon we managed to finish the whole programme and while you always want more time on the track, I am now much more familiar with the Albert Park layout. The next job is to check the data tonight to see where I can improve."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We had a reliability problem with the gearboxes on both cars in the morning session that meant no useful running. We solved that problem for the second session, but had another problem with the differential on Nico's car that he carried throughout the session. We knew what the problem was and it will be fixed for tomorrow, but unfortunately we could not afford the time during the session to correct it. Although we've lost track time, we will be looking hard at the setup tonight to improve for tomorrow."
Mark Webber (2nd, 1:27.473): ‘‚ That wasn't too bad. There was probably a few different fuel loads out there so it's hard to know exactly where we are. There are definitely four cars that are quicker than us, so we'll get our heads down this evening and work on the race information before qualifying tomorrow. It's pretty windy out on the track, but it's an issue for everyone.‘‚
David Coulthard (5th, 1:28.037): ‘‚ We lost time in the first session due to a gearbox problem, so we had a lot of ground to make up in the second practice, which is frustrating after our strong reliability during winter testing. We had a busy programme to complete this afternoon, but we managed to get through it and make up some time.‘‚
Jarno Trulli (7th, 1:28.292): "That was a difficult day because we have been trying to balance the car while fighting a bit with tyre graining. We tried some things to improve it but I'm not satisfied with the balance yet. I ended up in the gravel because I touched the grass near the end of the second session. Now I just hope we can have a better day tomorrow. We've made some good progress over the winter time and the testing we have done in Europe has been positive. The car seems more competitive, especially in race conditions, so I'm optimistic heading into the first grand prix of the season."
Timo Glock (10th, 1:28.582): "This was my first day of running here in Australia and my first free practice session for Toyota so it was completely different to what I'm used to in GP2 and testing. So it was an unusual situation but overall it felt okay. It is still difficult for me in terms of getting the car right for my driving style. But we are continuously improving and today felt better than the last test so I can start to get a better feeling for the car. The last run wasn't too bad but I think everyone will be complaining about graining and it is the same for us."
Dieter Gass, Chief Race Engineer: "Overall it was a positive day for us but the sessions did not go without problems. It was a pity that Jarno spun because he was on a long run and we were collecting tyre data. We also had a problem with a wheel bearing on Timo's car this morning which is why he had to stop slightly early. Still, we can be quite satisfied with how the car behaved. It's hard to comment on how the cars line up because, as usual in Melbourne, the circuit was developing throughout the day as rubber went down. People were obviously running on different fuel levels so it will be hard to analyse today's timesheets. But I'm not expecting too many issues with the heat because everyone was prepared for similar conditions in Malaysia next week anyway."
Sebastian Vettel (18th, 1:29.193): ‘‚ The track was very green this morning, but it improved a lot and it will continue to change and get better right through to the Sunday. It's a case of so far so good as far as the car is concerned. In the first session I was relearning the track having driven just two sessions here last year. There are two or three areas where we can improve tomorrow and then we will see where we are. The tyres usually suffer a lot on a green track, but actually the high temperatures probably helped them today. But once the track is in good shape, it might begin to hurt the tyres.‘‚
Sebastien Bourdais (20th, 1:29.605): ‘‚ This morning was a trouble-free session so I could learn the track for the first time. This afternoon, we had a tyre evaluation programme with long runs planned, but unfortunately we had a problem that sidelined me in the garage for quite some time. But I guess that's part of the game, dealing with the bad and the good in F1. This is a nice circuit, but of course the track started out very green and it changed quite dramatically, as we expected. Now we will see how tomorrow goes. Obviously, tomorrow the conditions will more closely resemble those we will encounter in qualifying and the race and hopefully we will be able to run trouble-free when it really matters.‘‚
Jenson Button (11th, 1:28.632): "Today has been a good day for us. We focused mainly on tyre work and getting the best out of the car in the very hot conditions. Everything went smoothly and the car feels much as it did at the Jerez test, which is pleasing. We won't know our true relative position compared to the competition until later tomorrow, but at the moment the priority for us is focusing on our own test items and adapting the set-up to the requirements and conditions here. It's very different to the Spanish circuits we have been using during the pre-season testing so we are starting from scratch in terms of setting the car up to suit these track conditions, particularly as Albert Park is much bumpier than the test circuits."
Rubens Barrichello (14th, 1:28.849): "It's very hot and dry today, with the temperatures increasing this afternoon, so the track has lost some grip over the course of the day. The track was better in the morning session and I was much happier with the car then. It is still too early to tell how we will perform in qualifying tomorrow. We ran a fairly conservative programme today and we are looking better than in testing, but Friday is not a real indicator of performance as everyone is running their own programme with regard to fuel levels. We aim to be in the middle of the pack tomorrow and I believe we are on course for this."
Steve Clark, Head of Race & Test Engineering: "The sessions ran pretty much according to plan for us despite the difficult track and climatic conditions. As is usual, the first day at a race event unearthed some issues that we have not experienced during the winter testing, but nothing we cannot address over the next couple of days. Our absolute performance relative to our competitors remains to be confirmed, however the aero upgrade for this race seems to be performing well and it has put us on the pace of all but the top two teams. Tomorrow will be the true test, and a real challenge for the majority of the grid. We are quietly confident that if we make no mistakes we could put the car in the top half of the grid. The very hot weather this weekend is unexpected, but again we can deal with it and should be able to compete reliably with only a small compromise to overall performance."
Takuma Sato (21st, 1:30.663): ‘‚ I am pleased to have started our first day of the 2008 season. Of course we had some issues as our winter preparations were not completed and we had to evaluate many things on our very first day. But it was good to see the cars running and that the team is up to speed. There is a lot of work to do, naturally, but overall today was good.‘‚
Anthony Davidson (22nd, 1:31.527): ‘‚ It was a difficult Friday. We had planned a limited programme anyway, but then we had to cut short our run in the afternoon. I hope that we can get to grips with the car more tomorrow and move on from there.‘‚
Graham Taylor, Sporting Director: ‘‚ We are very pleased to be in Melbourne, but Melbourne does not seem to be too pleased to see us! It was a very difficult day; we tried to adopt a staged approach to the start of the year, attempting to tick the boxes that other teams have been able too during winter testing. Therefore in FP1, Anthony's car undertook a full grid procedure simulation whilst Takuma's car undertook a green flag simulation. We are experiencing some new car issues, as you would expect - a little overheating here and there, but otherwise the morning went to plan. Unfortunately for Anthony his running was curtailed this afternoon because we exceeded a design parameter and we once again encountered some issues with cooling, so we need to address these areas this evening to allow us to complete a few more miles tomorrow.‘‚
Giancarlo Fisichella (9th, 1:28.469): "It was a good challenge today and it looks quite promising. We made a big step forward over the winter and, with the new development parts we have here, we are not looking too bad. I am happy with the job we are doing so far, both the team and myself are working well together, and although we know we still have a lot of work to do and it is going to be tough, it's a good start."
Adrian Sutil (17th, 1:29.161): "I think today went quite well. The track was slippery at the beginning, so it was difficult to find a good balance to start with, but after the first run I was happy and then we didn't change so much over the sessions - really just fine-tuned everything. We had a small hydraulic problem before lunch but it was soon solved and we could do several longer runs in the second free practice with some quite good lap times. At the end it was a little bit unlucky I had some traffic on my fastest lap so I couldn't do a good time with the new tyres, but tomorrow is another day and I think we should be much better than last year."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A very good day concentrating on race set-up and tyre evaluation. The only mechanical problem we had was a minor hydraulic leak for Adrian in the morning, which curtailed his morning running, but it was no problem for the afternoon. Overall the tyres were dominated by front graining on the longer runs, but as the circuit improves I am sure that aspect will get better. On the whole though a very good day for the team that confirms the step forward we have made relative to the competition over the winter. We now have to carry that forward through qualifying and into the race."
Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:26.559): "It's great to be back racing and being here in Melbourne where I started my Formula 1 career only a year ago. It's always a special feeling to go out of the garage for the first time in practice at the start of a new season. There was some good progress with the car, and we made the best use of the ever improving track conditions. However our main opposition looks strong, but it's still too early to tell exactly where we are in comparison. All in all a good start to the Australian Grand Prix and the season."
Heikki Kovalainen (4th, 1:27.683): "It was a great feeling to drive out of the garage as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver for the first time. I enjoy the professionalism of the team and how they operated during today's two sessions. It was a bit hotter than expected but that is just good practice for Malaysia. The wind was also something we had to take into consideration, but we made some good progress with the car. There was some graining of the tyres due to the dirty track conditions, but things improved as the circuit got more grip."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Both Lewis and Heikki made solid starts to the weekend and are pleased with the balance of the car. We spent the first session just familiarising ourselves with the track as it was dirty and continued to get faster and faster. In the second session we started work on qualifying set-up and tyre evaluation. The strong wind today was an additional challenge for the set-up work, but we experienced no problems. The entire team both in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart has worked so hard to get us to where we are today and I hope their efforts will be rewarded with a strong start to the season."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "A lot of work within the team has taken place since the 9th January when we ran both M4-23s for the first time in Spain so we were all interested in seeing how this showed on the first day of practice. It looks like we are in quite a good position to fight for the best places tomorrow and hopefully on Sunday, too - when it counts."