Japanese GP 2008
OCTOBER 10, 2008
Friday Team Quotes
Felipe Massa (4th, 1:18.491): "I am pleased with this first day in Japan. The balance of the car is very good, both on the first timed lap and over a distance. The times are very close and maybe I could have been a bit further up the order in the afternoon session if I had not encountered traffic on my last run on the soft tyres. These seem to be very quick, which is no surprise, but also very consistent. I really want to do well this weekend and we will try and win and bring home the best result possible for the two Championships."
Kimi Raikkonen (5th, 1:18.725): "It seems very finely balanced with the lap times all very close. This means it will be very important to have a good qualifying otherwise you run the risk of being a long way back on the grid. I think our car is going well on this track and even if there is still some work to do to improve the handling, I am reasonably satisfied. The harder tyres are very consistent, while the softer ones seem to lose a bit of performance over a distance. They're not bad on the first lap and it's a shame that on my last run, I locked the wheel and was unable to do a good time. My weekend? I will try to do the best I can for myself and for the team."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "I realise this might sound boring, but today was a usual Friday. Generally, it was quite good: we got through a lot of work without any problems whatsoever, which is important. It's difficult to say what the real pecking order is as the times are very close and we don't know how much fuel the drivers had on their various runs. We expected to be competitive at this track and I think we will be, as indeed will be our closest competitors. We have a very simple objective for this weekend which is to put the two red cars in front of everyone else. It will be difficult, it will require us to do everything perfectly and we will do our utmost to achieve that."
Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "After the unusual setting of Singapore, we return to the usual Friday menu, looking for the best set up on the car and comparing the tyres. We were out on track a lot getting through so many laps that we now have a lot of data to analyse to get the cars as well prepared as possible for qualifying and the race. We must pay particular attention to the performance of the two types of Bridgestone tyre, which today split the opinion between our two drivers. From the time sheets, we can see that the performance is very close between them, even if, when looking at the results, we have to always take into account the unknown relating to the amount of fuel on board. Overall, a reasonably positive day."
Robert Kubica (11th, 1:18.865): "It was a normal Friday. We did some set-up work in the morning, and concentrated on the tyre evaluation in the afternoon. I really enjoyed driving on this track, as it's demanding and fun at the same time. The balance of the car is quite okay, but we are lacking overall grip."
Nick Heidfeld (19th, 1:19.894): "My first day of practice didn't go too smoothly this time. I'm not happy with the balance of the car yet, it is sliding too much. Because of this in the first session I spun once, which seldom happens to me. Also, which is exceptional for us, in the second session I had minor technical problems. First the brake balance adjuster in the cockpit came loose, and shortly before the end of the session we had a hydraulic alarm and I came into the pit. There were only three minutes left, so it wasn't worth going out again. However, I didn't really loose track time and it's only Friday. I'm totally confident we shall improve for tomorrow."
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: "That was a full Friday. The track was in a good condition right from the beginning so we were able to start our set-up work early on. As usual, we concentrated on set-up and tyre comparison. The long-runs were satisfying. At the end of the second session Nick had a hydraulic alarm, so we are now investigating the reason for this."
Fernando Alonso (2nd, 1:18.426): "It was a trouble-free day. We covered lots of laps, which was the priority and that allowed us to advance with our programme. The first signs are therefore encouraging and we will now review our data and work on our settings ahead of the final free practice session tomorrow morning to be ready for qualifying."
Nelson Piquet (12th, 1:18.888): "The circuit is interesting, not particularly difficult, and I was able to get comfortable with it quite quickly. We have made good progress with our technical programme today and although we still have a lot to do from now until tomorrow, it's definitely a good start and a sound basis to work from for the rest of the weekend."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "With limited running last year in dry conditions, we really approached today as if Fuji was a brand new circuit. Our main focus as always was to sort out the tyres and we feel happy with the result, our balance is reasonable, and all in all it was a good day for us."
Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager: "Today we worked on the usual things that we look at on the Friday of a Grand Prix weekend: tyres, the behaviour of the car with different fuel loads, gear ratios, and cooling. The day went smoothly without any major issues and we made the most of the good track conditions. It's still difficult to judge the hierarchy after the first couple of sessions, but today's results suggest we can have reasonable hopes for the rest of the weekend."
Kazuki Nakajima (7th, 1:18.734): "It was a pretty good day for me. There wasn't much grip at the start of the morning session so I was struggling a bit with the car, but that was possibly due to the amount of fuel we were carrying. The car started to feel better towards the end of the morning and then felt much better in the afternoon on new tyres. We've tried out various set-ups today, which proved positive. The gap to the other cars is still very close though so we need to be a bit careful and plan well for qualifying. We'll have to see how tomorrow goes, but it looks like we're on the right track."
Nico Rosberg (13th, 1:18.981): "It's definitely going to be more difficult here than it was in Singapore for us. It was quite hard out there this morning in particular. We struggled with a slight lack of grip on the rear of the car and some oversteer, but we made good progress over the course of the two sessions and we ended this afternoon in a better position."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We had a productive day of practice today during which we went through the typical set-up changes for a Friday and worked through the usual programme of tyre compares between the prime and options under race conditions. We'll now work on qualifying set-up overnight ahead of qualifying tomorrow. No reliability problems at all."
Patrick Head, Director of Engineering:
Mark Webber (6th, 1:18.734): "That was a good Friday for us. We enjoyed some dry weather today, which is an improvement on last year! It's enjoyable to drive the track - it's got some technical and frustrating corners, but we just have to get on with that. We've done our race preparation today, we'll work hard tonight and do the qualifying tomorrow. All in all, not too bad."
David Coulthard (17th, 1:19.327): "I had low grip through the last sector, which meant the car had a lot of oversteer and was sliding. There is a contrast in coming here from somewhere like Singapore, which is a challenge and fun to drive. This track includes blind apexes and off camber corners. It doesn't matter if you're a racing driver or a punter, a nice corner is a nice corner, and they tend to be ones where you see into them, or it's banked and you ride the corner. In contrast, you don't normally see them here before you're on them, or it's off camber so the car slides at the rear. It looks good on TV, but these cars don't generate high levels of slip angle and go fast, so it means you lose some lap time - but that's the challenge of this circuit."
Timo Glock (1st, 1:18.383): "That was a good day. This was the first time I have driven at the Fuji Speedway so I had to learn the track this morning. It didn't take too long - two or three laps, but it's not an easy circuit. It's especially difficult to find the right compromise for the long high speed straight and the last sector which is very technical. But we sorted out a lot of stuff and we brought everything together for the second practice, which went well. I had a nice lap near the beginning of the session and it's great for the team to end up quickest on Friday here in Japan. So far I'm happy and it would be nice to keep the position like this for the whole weekend. That will obviously be difficult but hopefully the local fans will give us an extra boost."
Jarno Trulli (10th, 1:18.863): "Today was a nice, smooth day. We tested several things in order to improve the car's performance. Timo and I carried out different programmes in order to collect data from all areas of the car and it went well. This is Toyota's home race so it is an important event for us. There is no extra pressure but we just really want to do well in front of our home fans. As a team we get a lot of support in Japan but the local people have also been big fans of me personally down the years. They always give me a great welcome and the support gives extra motivation for me to get a good result for them. We've been unlucky to miss out on points in recent races so I hope that turns around this weekend."
Dieter Gass, Chief Race Engineer: "It's always nice to have everybody behind us on the timesheets - especially considering the fact that we did our best time early in the afternoon session when the circuit was still not at its best. Apart from that we had a very productive day. We had a lot of new parts on the car which we tried successfully in both practice sessions and we collected some interesting results from that. So where we are today is a very good baseline to look forward to the rest of the weekend. Needless to say we will be working as hard as ever to come away with a good result in front of our home crowd."
Sebastian Vettel (8th, 1:18.761): "Last year we ran mainly in the wet, so it was good to have a dry day today. I think this is one of the most difficult circuits when it comes down to setting up the car. It is tricky because of the mix of a long straight, some high speed corners and then some difficult low speed winding corners. Unfortunately, this afternoon, we had a hydraulic problem which meant I didn't manage to do the long runs I wanted. But the car seems well balanced, which I was able to check at the very end of the session after the boys had worked very hard to get me out on track before the flag. I think we should be fine for qualifying, but for race set up I would have preferred more time to do some long runs. Tyre wise I think we are sorted though."
Sebastien Bourdais (14th, 1:19.040): "It's my first time at this track and also my first visit to Japan. The track is not the most exciting but it's nicely done with a good bump-free surface and it's a great facility. It's not a difficult to track to learn as there only eight real corners. But after that, it can become quite tricky, because at the final complex, if you are too aggressive on the entry you pay the price on the exit, losing time for the straight, so you have to be careful not to be your own worst enemy. So, it's not easy setting up the car as you want minimum downforce for the long straight and you want quite a bit of downforce for the complex and the two quick corners, which requires a compromise. I think we have got it about right so far and in terms of tyres, there seems to be quite high degradation, which is normal for a first day as the track began to pick up grip this afternoon."
Rubens Barrichello (15th, 1:19.258): "Just like last year, we have had a dry first day of practice and by the end of the afternoon we were able to achieve a reasonable balance with the car on new tyres. The weather forecast for the weekend looks interesting so we need to take a close look at that. However if it stays dry, then I believe we have a chance to progress to the second qualifying session."
Jenson Button (20th, 1:19.999): "We were able to make progress on the balance of the car on older tyres by the end of the afternoon session, however achieving a good balance was our main problem throughout the day. On new tyres at the end of the second session, I just had very little grip and it felt like the tyres were graining immediately. We will have to look at the reasons for this ahead of qualifying tomorrow."
Steve Clark, Head of Race & Test Engineering: "Our focus for today was an evaluation of downforce levels and set-up with the RA108 in addition to gathering information on the tyres. We have had two productive sessions to prepare for the race, although our position on the timesheets does not necessarily reflect the level of good work that we have achieved. The weather forecast is for rain overnight so we expect to tomorrow morning's final practice session will take place on a damp or wet track. It should then remain dry for the rest of the weekend. Whilst tomorrow will provide a clearer indication of our performance level, we are fully aware that our car is not well suited to this circuit and our focus will be on achieving the maximum from the package that we have."
Adrian Sutil (16th, 1:19.287): "It's been a good day as the car worked well with no problems. The last run in the afternoon was not great as I had some traffic on my quick lap and couldn't improve my time, but at least there is more potential for tomorrow. It's always an advantage if you know the circuit well and I just feel good here. I was quick here last year so I think it's one of my good tracks. I'm looking forward to tomorrow now."
Giancarlo Fisichella (18th, 1:19.482): "It was quite a difficult day for me, especially this morning. In the afternoon when we were working on the longer runs we made a step forward with the balance, but we still struggled with oversteer and getting the tyres to work well. We still have a lot to do here, but I'm hopeful we can improve here tomorrow."
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: "A useful first day of running for us as we worked through our normal programme. We had no real problems on either cars as we evaluated the tyres options available here, and all in all we look to be a lot more competitive than we were in Singapore. We seem to be back on the pace that we showed in previous races, which bodes well for the rest of the weekend."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd, 1:18.463): "Fuji is a place I really enjoy: it's not the easiest of tracks because it requires a good set-up to get the best from the car, but I had no complaints today. We were immediately on the pace and found a very good balance straight away. In the afternoon, I did a promising longer run with no major problems and I feel confident about our pace for the rest of the weekend."
Heikki Kovalainen (9th, 1:18.803): "Today was a pretty straightforward practice day with no major problems. We successfully went through our tyre comparison programme, which went well. We made some good progress with the set-up into the afternoon and that also made me feel a lot more confident about attacking this place. I don't think today's times are totally representative, but we're certainly in good shape for the rest of the weekend."
Ron Dennis, Team Principal: "Today we conducted two trouble-free sessions, encountering no problems with either of our cars: a normal day at the office, you could say. Having said that, whomever I talk to in our team, I notice the same thing: we're more together, more focused, more committed and more motivated than ever before. There's a tremendous feeling of comradeship - in our garage and in our hospitality units here at Fuji, and of course back in Woking, in Brixworth and in Stuttgart. And that comradeship, that will to win, will persist throughout this race weekend and throughout the final two weekends of the season, too."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "That didn't look bad, and we are quite satisfied with the outcome of today's practice. Our long runs in race trim were fast and consistent, with both the option and the prime tyres. It's all looking positive; however, we don't yet know what the opposition has in store for us. Only one fact seems to be sure: the weather will be better than it was last year."