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Japanese GP 2010

OCTOBER 8, 2010

Friday Team Quotes

Robert Kubica, Japanese GP 2010
© The Cahier Archive


Jenson Button (6th, 1:32.533): "This morning was pretty tricky; I couldn't get a balance with the car at all, and was really struggling with understeer through the first sector. You give away so much time when you've got understeer through the esses because it's tougher to get the car to change direction. For the afternoon, we made a few changes and the car felt a lot more responsive. We're quite a bit off the pace of the Red Bulls, but we've got to look at getting the best out of the new package that we've got. And that requires extensive testing, which can take a couple of runs. I don't think we got the best out of our new parts, but we've made some good steps forward. We did a good job today of improving the car, but there's still more to come. That's encouraging, we're just not there yet."

Lewis Hamilton (13th, 1:33.481): "I damaged the car in the early laps of the first session. I was only on my second fast lap, and was probably pushing too hard too soon. I didn't go that wide - it wasn't that big an off - but the gravel was very slippery at that point. A couple of other drivers had moments there and got away with it. But that's life. The guys in the garage did an incredible job to rebuild the car - they really had to work hard, and they got me out for the last 10 minutes of the second session. They are so supportive in this team: if one person is down, they'll do their best to lift that person up. That's what we do as a team. I had to run the older rear wing in the afternoon, so I didn't really get a proper feel for where the car is. And, hopefully, we'll have a second new rear wing for qualifying and the race. Tomorrow's another day - and it looks like it's going to rain, so everybody will have to start again. They say bad things come in threes - so after Monza, Singapore and today, I hope this run of bad luck is over and done with."

Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Lewis's accident this morning cost us some track time, but we still managed to amass a serious amount of data from both his car, and from Jenson's more extensive running in both sessions. While the team did a fantastic job to get Lewis's car turned around in time for the final 10 minutes of second practice, due to a shortage of new components, he was unable to run with an optimal bodywork package, which slightly compromised his final pace. But we are already pushing incredibly hard to rectify that, and I'm confident we'll have new parts here in time for tomorrow. Nonetheless, we've got a solid basis for the rest of the weekend, and we'll be focusing on extracting the maximum from the new parts for the remainder of the weekend - something we didn't quite achieve today due to the breadth of analysis required and the shortfall in run-time that we experienced."

Mercedes GP

Michael Schumacher (8th, 1:32.831): "It's a great feeling to be driving this track again. It's really fun and a great challenge. I have always loved Suzuka and particularly the first sector which is cool and demanding at the same time. If you get it right, you enjoy it big time. I'm pleased with our practice today as the car looks better than I had expected here and I didn't face any real issues. So now we hope for a clean qualifying tomorrow where we will try to achieve as much as we can."

Nico Rosberg (11th, 1:32.880): "It's been quite a challenging Friday for me. Unfortunately my morning was hampered by a gearbox issue which cost me some running time at the end of the session which wasn't ideal. From then on, I just haven't been as happy with the car here. I had a lot of understeer which we haven't established the reason for, so we need to look into that overnight. Things started to come together more on the option tyre which gives me hope that we can build on that progress tomorrow. It should be an interesting weekend with the rain so we will try to make the best of that."

Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "It's been an interesting Friday as we have worked to learn as much as possible from the dry track before the expected rain arrives this evening. Michael had a positive day with the car running well to allow him to get used to the track again and develop his set-up. Nico had a few challenges with a gearbox issue interrupting his programme this morning and a few concerns with the balance this afternoon. We have a lot of information to work with so we expect to make progress overnight. It could be an interesting qualifying if the rain comes so we'll need to be on our toes."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "There is certainly room for further improvements after today's practice sessions but we have definitely experienced more challenging Fridays this year. Our race pace today looked quite reasonable but of course we are still not good enough to fight at the front of the field. The forecast for tomorrow is predicting rain so the order we saw today may change in different conditions. Michael and Nico did a good job today taking into account the current capabilities of our car and our target is to repeat this level of performance tomorrow and on Sunday."

Red Bull-Renault

Sebastian Vettel (1st, 1:31.465): "We had a trouble free Friday, which is the most important thing, especially on a track like this where you need to get into a rhythm with all the quick corners following each other. The car was reliable and I had a good feeling, the pace looks okay too. The forecast suggests rain, but there's no reason why we shouldn't be competitive in the wet. The conditions have been quite inconsistent during all the wet races that we've had so far this year, so it's hard to know what everyone's pace will be."

Mark Webber (2nd, 1:31.860): "A good day, we couldn't have asked for much more - we had faultless running and got a lot of mileage. The team put the cars together well and we had a smooth day. The balance of the car feels good although it's a circuit with lots of different types of corners, so you can't have everything - you need to work out what the priorities are for the best lap times. We're not sure what the weather's going to do tomorrow, it looks as though it may be a bit wet, but we've got good info in the bank, so we're ready for what happens."


Fernando Alonso (4th, 1:32.362): "It is only Friday, so the times today do not really mean much. What we must always keep in mind is that the pecking order between the cars can change significantly in terms of which track we are at: you only have to look at McLaren who were very strong in Spa and Monza, but definitely less so in Budapest and Singapore. So I would say it is best to wait until the end of tomorrow before giving a definite judgement on the situation here in Suzuka. In theory, Red Bull look unbeatable here, as they always have done, except in Monza and also there were various races where come Sunday, they were beaten, so again that's a reason to wait before drawing any conclusions. Today, we did not put together a perfect lap, so there is some room for improvement. We have to analyse the data to see how to do that, but of course the others will be doing the same. The forecast is for rain tomorrow: if that happens, we must concentrate and avoid making any mistakes, which can cost you a lot in the wet. Then it will be down to luck, as to who finds themselves in the right place at the right time on the right tyre. The aim in qualifying is to be in the top five, then we can see how things go in the race. I wish to welcome Sergio Perez to the Ferrari Driver Academy. I am sure that, like me, he will feel at home in the Ferrari family alongside the other guys in the FDA. I know them all and I can say that the communal Latin culture will help him as it helped me in this my first year in Maranello."

Felipe Massa (5th, 1:32.519): "I thought Red Bull would be very strong and maybe they are even more so than I had expected. Having said that, it's likely we will have a wet qualifying tomorrow, so anything could happen: we must try and be ready to make the most of whatever situation presents itself. The aim is still the same, whether the track is dry or if it rains, which means to qualify as well as possible. The track is pretty hard on tyres because of the many high speed corners, therefore managing them properly will be important during the race. We will use the blown rear wing, as on this track it definitely brings an advantage in performance terms. There is still room to improve the handling of our car, but we can't really expect any sort of change in terms of performance."

Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "These first two sessions certainly did not throw up any surprises. We were expecting Red Bull to be very strong and that has proved to be the case, while it is harder to evaluate the McLarens, epecially given what happened this morning with Hamilton. We worked through our programme and now we have to analyse the data and prepare ourselves as well as possible for qualifying and the race. Tomorrow there is a very high chance of rain, therefore anything could happen. We will have to pay great attention to managing all the various situations that could arise. We must remain focussed on our own tasks, without worrying about what the others are doing."

Chris Dyer: "It was a reasonably positive day, during which we completed our programme, without encountering any particular problems. We tested a few new aerodynamic components and the first signs seem favourable. There is still work to do to get the car performance right, especially on new tyres. Furthermore, we must bear in mind that setting a time right from the very first lap might be less important given that tomorrow it is supposed to rain for qualifying: if that happens we can definitely expect an exciting day! With a heavy fuel load, the car's handling seems quite competitive, which is definitely a positive factor in terms of Sunday's race."


Nico Hulkenberg (10th, 1:32.851): "We had some technical problems during today's second session which prevented us from going out exactly when we wanted to, but they didn't really cost us anything and today went ok overall. It's looking really competitive out there. We aren't looking too bad; we just need to get everything right tomorrow. The circuit is living up to expectation and I'm loving driving it."

Rubens Barrichello (14th, 1:33.564): "I obviously had a problem with my car during the second session. That was disappointing, but the car seems to be well balanced and should take us through to Q3 again tomorrow."

Sam Michael, Technical Director: "We experienced some technical problems today which threw us off plan slightly. We had electrical issues on Nico's car, while Rubens' practice engine developed a pneumatic leak towards the end of P2. All of the upgrade parts are working well though so they will remain on the cars for qualifying. The car also looks like it has reasonable pace. The forecast predicts rain tomorrow afternoon, which could make for an interesting qualifying."


Robert Kubica (3rd, 1:32.200): "It's nice to be in P3 in both sessions, but we have to remember that this is only free practice. We need to wait and see what the weather will bring us tomorrow and try to do our best in all conditions. The forecast is saying there will be quite a lot of rain, so it was important to do a lot of running today and complete all our evaluation ahead of the race, which looks like it might be dry. If it is wet tomorrow, then today will have been our only chance to drive on dry tyres before the race."

Vitaly Petrov (7th, 1:32.703): "I was quite satisfied with my day because we found a good balance with the car and this is really important for this circuit. In the morning we tried not to take too many risks and do normal runs to help me learn the circuit. In the second free practice we just tried to push a bit more to understand the car and the set-up. We changed a lot and the car feels much better so the team did a good job. But let's wait and see what happens tomorrow because I think it will be a very tough day."

Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "The track was fine. It's quite high grip here so there were not too many complaints from the drivers. The wind picked up in the second session, which gave us a little bit of trouble and made the car a bit more difficult to drive, but no real dramas. With the weather looking very wet for tomorrow, the main objective was to have a really good look at the tyres because we don't expect we will get a chance to do any dry running tomorrow morning. So we spent a bit longer than normal evaluating the tyres in the second session. With Robert's car we are struggling with a little bit of inconsistency, which I'm sure we can work on over night. Vitaly was suffering with some understeer this morning, but his engineers made several changes between the two sessions and improved the car a lot. I think he (Petrov) did a good job. He finished up about half a second away from Robert and we can expect him to close that gap a bit more tomorrow."

Force India-Mercedes

Adrian Sutil (9th, 1:32.842): "I feel today went quite well. In the morning session I did just one run on the hard tyres as we had a small issue that kept us in the garage for longer than we hoped for, but we fixed it between sessions and got on with a very busy programme in the afternoon. We made a lot of runs to test the fuel levels, the wing settings and run through our normal changes. The car felt good the whole day so there wasn't really very much to change. We also didn't have any major problems so overall we can be quite pleased with the progress we've made. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, there's a threat of rain and it should make it a very interesting and exciting qualifying session."

Vitantonio Liuzzi (18th, 1:34.310): "It was generally quite a decent day as we did a lot of work, particularly in the afternoon when we did over 30 laps. We are struggling with the balance at the moment with a lack of overall grip and we couldn't get the best out of the soft tyres when we ran them in FP2. We should be better tomorrow when we've looked through all the data and gone a bit deeper into why we haven't got the ideal set up just yet. The predicted weather will add another dimension so I'm looking forward to getting back on track to have a better day tomorrow."

Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer: "A good day's work from the team today. We evaluated some of the aerodynamic upgrades that we have brought to this event and carried out our normal Friday preparation. The Bridgestone tyres are working very well, and we are going in the right direction for the balance of the car. The wind picked up a bit this afternoon, affecting the first sector, and Tonio suffered a systems problem on his new tyre outing so we know there a little more to come. Tomorrow is a different day, but it's been a solid start to the weekend."

Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Sebastien Buemi (16th, 1:34.005): "I had an impressive spin at a high speed corner, but apart from that there were no technical problems. I managed to do quite a good lap time on the Option tyres and I feel I have a clear picture of what the car is doing. But we need to work hard now with the engineers to improve the car, although tomorrow will be a different picture if it rains. We do not appear to be as competitive as we were in Singapore and Monza and it is difficult to say exactly why. It is hard to tell how much we can improve, but the situation is still open for us to increase our performance level."

Jaime Alguersuari (17th, 1:34.055): "This morning, I tested various new components which made the session more complicated than usual, as I found the car quite difficult to drive. I made a couple of mistakes and there were times when I found it hard to keep the car on track. This afternoon went much better, even if we lack a bit of speed compared to Singapore. We can analyse the data tonight and improve for tomorrow and I would be happy if it is wet for qualifying, as I think we can be more competitive in the rain than in the dry."

Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer: "It was a trouble-free day for us and we evaluated several different set-up options across both our cars. However, we still have a lot of work to do tonight to try and improve our performance and to get the car as well adapted as possible to the layout of this track. Suzuka presents a real challenge for engineers as well as drivers, which makes it very enjoyable. Life will be further complicated by the fact the forecast is for a wet Qualifying and a dry race, so it seems we are set for a fun weekend!"


Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:36.095): "I think we've got to be pretty pleased with today. We ran through the whole programme and even though we can't find the same grip levels as the guys ahead, I think we achieved what we set out to today. The battle with the guys around us is now really tight, and that's excellent, for us in the team as it keeps us focused, and for the fans as they have something to keep them on the edge of their seats. Obviously nearly all the effort back at the factory is on next year, so it's good that we can keep ahead of Timo and Lucas, and I think for the rest of the weekend it will be a really good fight between us."

Jarno Trulli (20th, 1:36.333): "It's always good being in Japan. I have some fantastic support here, and it's great to be here for the first time with Lotus Racing. It's easy to see what we mean to the fans, and next year will be even better for them, in so many ways for the whole team. Today we completed a good number of laps but I haven't been particularly happy with the grip levels and balance, in either session. I think there's a lot more to come from the car tomorrow, and with some more work tonight we should be able to find more time and more performance tomorrow."

Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer: "I'd like to add my thoughts, and those of the whole team, to Peter Warr's family on the sad news we received as we arrived in Japan. He was an inspiration to all of us, and long may his memory remain. We're all pleased with the day's work - it was good to see both cars complete a lot of mileage and maintain our position ahead of both other new teams, and it was also good to turn our attention back to the track after a very busy couple of weeks for the whole team. We have a huge amount of support around the world, particularly in Malaysia, across Asia and in the UK, and we have had some amazing feedback to the news that we will be running Red Bull gearboxes and hydraulics next year - we'll continue to do our best in 2010 to make all our fans and partners proud, and I think today we did just that."

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "Today was the first day of running for us since the very sad news of Peter Warr's passing. This weekend we want to pay tribute to Peter who contributed so much to the Team Lotus legend. He paid us the privilege of being our guest at the first race this season in Bahrain and our thoughts will be with his family for the whole weekend. On the track it was a good day for us. We had a solid session with both cars, running a normal Friday programme and we had decent pace and no reliability issues at all. We managed to complete as many laps as possible as obviously the forecast tomorrow is for a lot of rain, so this will be the only dry running we will have all weekend."


Bruno Senna (23rd, 1:37.352): "It was a good day for us and we went through some changes to get a good feedback from the car. We have some ideas of what to do in preparation for the next sessions. Apparently, the weather is going to be wet so we won't be able to carry on with our setup. We hope to do a good job tomorrow and we will see what happens."

Sakon Yamamoto (24th, 1:37.831): "It was good to be back racing in Suzuka in front of my home crowd with the team at this challenging circuit. Today was quite successful and we managed to do many laps. Now we have to analyze the data and work on improving for tomorrow. It is going to be exciting to run here under wet conditions, something which I really like to do."

Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "It was an effective day for us, as we could do 121 laps in total and we could fulfill our program completely. So we were able get a lot of information in preparation for Sunday. In the morning, the track was green but it improved in the afternoon when it got quicker. Both drivers, Sakon Yamamoto and Bruno Senna, got more experience on this technical track and now we have to see what happens tomorrow, when the track is expected to be wet."

BMW Sauber-Ferrari

Kamui Kobayashi (12th, 1:33.471): "I am very happy to be in Suzuka, and I enjoy driving here a lot. But nevertheless it was a tough day for me. I wasn't happy with the balance of the car because I have too much understeer. We definitely have to improve the balance by doing the right set-up changes. I found both tyre compounds difficult because they dropped off so quickly. After just one lap I had problems. In the morning I also had some aero parts to evaluate."

Nick Heidfeld (15th, 1:33.697): "Driving on the Suzuka Circuit always gives me a lot of enjoyment! I found the car really not too bad on the harder Prime compound, but then it was a surprise when we fitted the softer Option tyres. The car behaved a lot differently and the lap time actually didn't improve. This is something we have to sort out before qualifying. In the first session this morning I did runs comparing different front wings."

James Key, Technical Director: "It was a standard Friday for us. We had some aero test items in the morning, and rather than doing a lot of set-up work we mainly concentrated on running different parts to make sure we optimise our package from Singapore. In the afternoon we made some set-up changes and ran both tyre compounds. We found we have a small inconsistency in the balance in sector two, which is by far the weakest sector for the car. We have to work on that tonight. We have a lot of data to look at and we'll analyse this in preparation for tomorrow."


Lucas di Grassi (21st, 1:36.630): "For me this is easily the most technically challenging track of the season. There is no margin for any mistakes as the track is very fast and narrow and if you push too hard you're definitely going to go off. It was a real pleasure to drive the track for the first time. A lot of work has been done with the car today. We are still far from where we need to be but there is more to come from the car and myself over the next two days. Things are getting better all the time so I think we can make a good improvement for tomorrow."

Timo Glock (22nd, 1:36.834): "Today has been a fairly routine day and we kept to our normal programme. This afternoon the car wasn't feeling too bad at the start of the second session but when we switched to Option tyres we weren't able to find any time in them, which is a bit strange. I think we will need to review our set-up direction but as the weather is starting to change towards the cloud and rain forecast for the weekend, this will be the case for everybody. I think we will see rain tomorrow so we will see what those conditions bring for the car."

Jerome D'Ambrosio: "It was something very special to be running here at Suzuka today. The track has a lot of history and is very interesting - a kind of 'Asian Spa' with a great blend of technical challenge mixed with some very fast corners. This was really my first proper run in dry conditions because the track was wet when I ran in Singapore. It is never possible to get a lot of laps because of the tyre allocation, but I still get to learn a lot in a very short time and I'm very happy about the way everything went today."

John Booth, Team Principal: "Once again Jerome did a very solid, professional job in the first session and was able to give us some useful information on set-up. We have had to work hard on car set-up today but we seem to be going in the right direction. Unfortunately, neither driver was able to get the ultimate performance from the Option tyre. We're expecting heavy rain tomorrow, which hopefully will provide a good opportunity for us to qualify further up the grid."