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Korean GP 2012

OCTOBER 12, 2012

Friday Team Quotes

Fernando Alonso, Korean GP 2012
© Active Pictures

Red Bull-Renault

Sebastian Vettel (1st, 1:38.832): "All in all we can be quite happy, but I think it looks extremely tight. I'm not happy with every run we had today, but I think the track was changing quite a lot this morning, it was better than we expected. This afternoon it was quite slippery to start with, but then I think it got a little bit better so, all in all the car felt alright and now we see what we can do for tomorrow. I think we have to improve ourselves to match the others."

Mark Webber (2nd, 1:38.864): "We had a pretty good program for today and I think both of us managed to get the most out of it. We'll have a look where we can improve tonight in different areas; it's always a compromise on a track like this with a bit of top speed in the first sector, then the last sector is pretty twisty in terms of rhythm - it's a bit like Budapest, so you need a bit of downforce there. So far so good, we have good information and the guys will now get on with the job tonight."


Jenson Button (4th, 1:39.219): "It's so tricky to get a good set-up around here. We're still not quite quick enough, but we're heading in the right direction. We've been making progress all day, although this morning's session was more about testing new parts and making sure everything worked correctly and less about choosing the right set-up. At the moment, it doesn't look like we're quite as quick as the Red Bulls - who'll probably be quite difficult to beat in qualifying - but our race lap-times and consistency both look good. I think the track has done most of its evolution already today - it's not going to re-set tomorrow - so the adjustments we've been making are looking positive. And there's still more to come."

Lewis Hamilton (8th, 1:39.717): "I struggled a little bit with set-up today. There was quite a big difference in feeling between FP1 and FP2, which we don't fully understand yet. This morning's session was fine, but I made some changes for the afternoon and wasn't quite able to get a good time out of either the Prime or the Option [tyres]. So now we'll work hard to figure out what direction we want to take. The Red Bulls look pretty quick, but Jenson wasn't that far off their pace this afternoon. So that's good. We'll make some changes to the balance overnight, and hopefully we'll be in better shape for tomorrow. As I say, this afternoon Jenson showed that our car has pace; all we need to do is fully extract it. If we can improve the balance overnight, I think we can be competitive."

Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Finding the perfect set-up for this circuit is a somewhat tricky balancing act - and it's not made any easier by the 'green' track surface and the changing wind direction between sessions. Nevertheless, I think we've made a solid start to the weekend. We evaluated a number of new solutions and made decent progress towards cracking the balance needed for both the Soft and the Supersoft tyres. As always, the sharp end of the field looks extremely competitive, so the remainder of the weekend will be all about trying to maximise the slightest competitive advantage. There's still work to be done, but our engineers and mechanics will doubtless rise to the challenge. We're in the thick of it, and we're very much looking forward to qualifying tomorrow."


Fernando Alonso (3rd, 1:39.160): "It's hard to say where we are compared to the others, because today, we focused mainly on ourselves, working this morning on a comparison of various ideas relating to car configuration and, in the afternoon on the tyres. We must wait til tomorrow to have a more precise picture of the situation. The track improved a great deal from one session to the next: it's a phenomenon that's particularly accentuated here, because there's hardly any racing on this track and this morning, it was particularly dirty. Let's hope the situation improves for tomorrow because it's always more fun driving when the track offers at least some grip. The most demanding part of this circuit is definitely the third sector, the shortest in terms of time, made up almost entirely of corners. The set-up choices are dictated mainly by car behaviour in this third sector, while the other two are definitely easier to deal with."

Felipe Massa (6th, 1:39.422): "I'd say this weekend has got off on the right foot, but the important thing is to continue down this path tomorrow on Sunday, when it really counts. Our car seems pretty good on this track, which is cause to be hopeful, even if we will only discover the truth tomorrow in qualifying. From what we could see this afternoon, in the second session, the difference between the Soft and the Supersoft is definitely a big one: we seemed comfortable on the two of them, on both low and high fuel loads. Now we are trying to prepare as well as possible for qualifying, which looks like being very closely contested: there is some very strong opposition and we will have to do everything perfectly if want to be able to match them."

Pat Fry: "Overall, it was a positive day and as usual on a Friday, we had a lot of work to get through, managing to complete almost everything we had wanted to achieve. This morning, the aim was to evaluate a few updates on the car and try various aerodynamic configurations, especially relating to the rear wing, to choose the best one for a track of this type. In the afternoon, we concentrated on a comparison of the Soft and Supersoft tyres, which Pirelli has supplied to the teams for this Grand Prix, over both short and long runs. From what we could see this afternoon, the difference in performance between them does not seem so high, but it's true that, in theory, as the track evolves over the next couple of days, the difference should be accentuated. I would say we have a reasonably clear idea when it comes to the technical choices to be made for this Grand Prix: now we must try and optimize the package we have in order to get the best possible result."

Mercedes GP

Michael Schumacher (5th, 1:39.330): "I was pleased with both sessions today. As expected, it looks like our car is better suited to the circuit. The day went well, so I think we can get into the top ten tomorrow and plan our strategy on that basis. We have made some small changes, nothing major, and we looked ok on our long runs. Of course, I haven't been able to study the times from the other teams yet, but we will try to secure a solid result this weekend."

Nico Rosberg (7th, 1:39.584): "It was a good day for us and we made some progress over the two practice sessions. We had some small new things to try on the car which worked quite well, and we seem to be looking better here than in Suzuka. So I'm looking forward to tomorrow and seeing where we are compared to the other cars."

Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We've had a very solid Friday working through our planned programme and were able to complete a lot of running. The car seems reasonable on lower fuel levels, although there is still work to be done on high fuel. The grip evolves very rapidly here and I expect we will have a different track on Sunday to the one that we saw today, so we need to try and anticipate that. Overall it's been a pretty reasonable day."

Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Two good sessions without interruptions for our team today. Michael and Nico did lots of laps in both sessions during which we ran through our planned programme. Without reading anything into our positions today, we have a decent base for tomorrow. With today's data and the observations from the drivers, we will try and further improve our set-up for both qualifying and the race on Sunday."


Kimi Raikkonen (10th, 1:39.839): "The circuit is okay; it's surprisingly bumpy in some parts but it's quite different from other places we race. It's difficult for me to say about the exhaust until I've sat down with the engineers and gone through the data. We'll try to improve the car for tomorrow as it wasn't very easy to drive and get a good lap today. Let's see if we can get it completely right and maybe we can be in the top five in qualifying."

Romain Grosjean (11th, 1:39.957): "It's not been the easiest day. I think we still have some work to do with the car to get the best out of the tyres so tomorrow morning will be important. The track is interesting but it's not been so hard to learn. The trickiest part is definitely Turns 11 & 12 which are not easy to get exactly right but overall it's not too bad. On the positive side we've had a good amount of time learning the circuit and gathered a lot of data, so hopefully we can analyse things overnight and see an improved performance by the time we get to qualifying."

Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "We're happy with how the new exhaust worked from a performance perspective and now need to assess if there are any potential reliability implications due to the hot exhaust gas running in different areas than usual. Early impressions are certainly good and we expect to retain it for the rest of the weekend with Kimi. Both drivers learnt the circuit very quickly. Romain complained of a little too much oversteer and with Kimi there's still potential with the setup, especially as we learn more about the new exhaust. Both drivers reported that they were very happy with the balance of the car when on high fuel loads and degradation levels look manageable from the tyres so it's been a productive first day."

Force India-Mercedes

Nico Hulkenberg (9th, 1:39.739): "I'm feeling pretty happy with today. I didn't drive here last year so I spent the first few laps getting to grips with the circuit again and finding my rhythm. We did our programme, completed all the tests and have all the tyre data to look at tonight. Balance-wise I'm feeling pretty comfortable in the car so we're in a good position and ready for tomorrow."

Paul di Resta (13th, 1:40.140): "It's always difficult to judge too much from a Friday, but we got through our various programmes and got the data we needed for short and long runs. The long run pace looks quite competitive, but I don't think my short run pace was representative because both my runs were compromised by traffic and I didn't get a clean lap. I think we've got a reasonable idea of where we are, but there's a lot of work to be done between now and final practice."

Jules Bianchi: "I got my first experience of the track today so the first few laps were not easy as I tried to get familiar with the track as quickly as possible. Before I came here I watched a lot of videos of the circuit, but it still takes a while to get up to speed. I enjoyed the session and the track is really nice to drive. It's an interesting lap because there is a bit of everything: big stops, long straights, quick corners and slow sections. The car felt pretty good today and I tuned the set-up a bit more with each run."

Jakob Andreasen, Chief Engineer: "After the issues we had in Japan last week, it was a relief to have a straightforward day of practice and get all the data we needed. The car is working well and the drivers are generally happy with the balance so I'd say we are not too far away from the sweet spot. Jules was in action this morning and did another excellent job. The track was quite dirty and he was driving here for the first time, but he steadily got on with things and evaluated some useful set-up options. The afternoon session showed that our long run pace looks encouraging and we've got a good feel for both the soft and super-soft tyres."


Kamui Kobayashi (14th, 1:40.445): "We completed a huge programme with my car today but I'm not really happy yet. On high fuel it doesn't look bad actually but on low fuel I'm struggling a lot. We have to find out how we can improve and I think we will find solutions."

Sergio Perez (15th, 1:40.745): "For me the first session went quite well but then in the second session I lost a lot of track time because of a technical problem. I just had no engine power anymore and had to stop on the track. That was why I could not complete my programme and haven't done any long runs on either tyre compound yet so it is too early to say what we can do here. Nevertheless I am very confident for the remainder of the weekend."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: "Unfortunately we have lost half of the second session on Sergio's car because of a problem with the engine management. With Kamui's car we didn't have any reliability issues but performance-wise we have to improve. We need to get a better understanding of a few things and decide what to do. Generally speaking the soft tyre compound is definitely the better one for us. We have to look deeper into the data to find solutions on how to manage the super-softs."

Toro Rosso-Ferrari

Jean-Eric Vergne (16th, 1:40.789): "Today was a sort of anniversary for me, as it was in Korea that I started driving the Friday morning sessions for Toro Rosso and today, that went much better than a year ago, when I only completed 5 laps in very heavy rain. I can't say I thought about it much, as there was plenty of work to do today. It's a nice track and I felt quite comfortable here. During the day, we worked hard on finding the right balance of the car, between oversteer and understeer and I believe we made some progress over the course of the three hours. But there is more to come, so we must work hard overnight to see how we can move forward for the rest of the weekend."

Daniel Ricciardo (17th, 1:40.997): "We made progress from the morning to the afternoon session and when I started FP2 on the Soft tyre I felt the balance of the car had improved. However, on the Supersoft, I encountered traffic on my first two laps and by the time I had a clear run on the third one, the tyres were no longer at their best. I did the long run on the Option tyre and even if the pace was not what we wanted, it was not too far off, so all things considered the most positive factor is that we have an idea how to move forward for tomorrow and improve in time for qualifying."

Laurent Mekies, Chief Engineer: "Overall, this Friday went smoothly for us, as we completed all our programme with no real issues. This track is quite difficult to assess, as it sees very little use over the year and therefore the grip level increases significantly as the track gets cleaner and evolves when more rubber is put down. It is a very interesting track with a mix of corner types. Daniel and Jean-Eric also increased their performance level as the day progressed and we have all the elements we need to improve the car tomorrow. We are not yet where we want to be in terms of car balance, but today we collected plenty of data to work on. The only slight inconvenience is that Daniel did not get a clean lap on his Option run, when he encountered a lot of traffic."


Bruno Senna (12th, 1:40.089): "It was a productive day for me. Missing the first session wasn't ideal because I'm not so familiar with this track and my experience here in the last two years has been hampered by rain. But in the end I think we got a good idea of the direction we need to go to improve. It's going to be very tough, we can see that in low fuel situations some cars are faster than others, so we need to improve on that, but I'm confident that we can start the race further up the grid."

Pastor Maldonado (18th, 1:41.200): "It was a difficult day today which means we have a lot of work to do before qualifying. The track is quite challenging anyway, but we had some problems in the car this afternoon which we now need to analyse to make sure we can resolve them before tomorrow."

Valtteri Bottas: "It took quite a few laps to get into the rhythm today. It's a new track for me so I was just learning the corners and the feel of the track initially. I did my best lap time on the last lap as I couldn't get everything out of the car in the first two sessions when the tyres might have been best. But again, a very positive session for me and the team - we managed to complete all our planned tests and got some good data that we will now analyse and learn from."

Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: "As we have seen in previous years the track evolution on the Friday is very big with low levels of grip to start with. We completed a very full combined development and set-up balance optimisation programme with our three drivers. We have a few areas to improve on for tomorrow and Pastor also had a car issue throughout FP2 which we are currently investigating."


Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:41.602): "FP1 was a good session for me. The car felt well balanced right from the start and it kept improving throughout. The track was obviously very slippery to begin with but the grip levels improved pretty quickly and the small changes we made for each run were working well. In FP2 I went off track in my first run and that dislodged a couple of bolts in the cockpit that meant we had to make a temporary fix to the seat so we could get through the program. Until that point the balance didn't feel quite as good as it had in the morning but once we went out on the supersofts the balance was back to where I'd like. We also improved the braking throughout the session so overall this has been a good day."

Vitaly Petrov (22nd, 1:43.067): "FP2 didn't start as we'd have liked as I could almost immediately feel like we had a right rear puncture. We cut run one short and when I got back in the garage we found we did have a puncture so we changed the session plan to avoid using up another set of the soft tyres. On my first run on the supersofts the balance wasn't quite there so we made a couple of mechanical changes and they definitely improved the handling on the long run. The deg level on the supersofts is pretty high and with the need to look after the tyres we obviously had to change the program and my times would have definitely come down with more time on track and with the chance to run more laps on both compounds. Despite that both Heikki and Giedo have put in a good number of laps on the soft tyres so we have a lot of data to work through, enough to put us in a decent position for tomorrow."

Giedo van der Garde: "Another very useful session for me and the more time I spend in the car the more confident I'm getting. This morning we were running a similar program to Heikki and apart from some issues with the front tyres graining early on I think we made some good progress on another track that's new to me. After the first full run we made a few mechanical and aero changes and the car immediately felt much better, giving me more confidence to push a bit harder, but I'm still learning and I want to do what the team asks me, not try and put in the quickest laptimes I can. Next up is FP1 in India and I'm already looking forward to making more progress there."


Narain Karthikeyan (23rd, 1:43.869): "As I didn't run in the first session we had to make the most of the second one to adapt to the circuit. There are very technical areas such as turn 11 and the second sector, so we have to run even more to get to know it better. Tomorrow we will try out a different set-up and I hope that in the third free practice session we'll be able to prepare better to give it our all in qualifying."

Pedro de la Rosa (24th, 1:44.533): "Today was a classic Friday practice session. We focused on testing everything we had programmed and getting to know the circuit because I'd never raced here. It's very technical and you need to know it well. That was the target in the morning and we also gradually improved the set-up of the car. In the second session we mounted the new wing and tested both tyre options and now we must all the data we gathered to optimize the set-up for tomorrow's qualifying."

Dani Clos: "I'd never raced here and it was an interesting session. The track was very dirty, especially at the beginning, so there wasn't much grip. It was a very demanding practice session because I had to learn the track very quickly to be able to give the maximum amount of feedback to the team. I'm satisfied because we drew positive conclusions and did a good job."

Luis Perez-Sala, Team Principal: "The important thing in any Friday practice session is to complete the test programme with no incidents. But at this particular circuit the drivers also had to learn the circuit because they'd never raced here. Dani did a good job in the morning y Narain adapted very quickly in the afternoon. Pedro, on his behalf, was also able to test the new rear wing and, although there is a lot of data to analyze, it looks like it's a small improvement. Tomorrow I hope we can confirm this and close the gap a bit."


Timo Glock (20th, 1:42.596): "Not an easy first day for us in Korea. I think we had reasonable pace in FP1 but the car behaviour was already a bit difficult this morning. In FP2 we weren't really able to improve. The rest of the cars in the field made a step forward I think and unfortunately we did not, so we need to find out why we could not get rid of the strange car behaviour that we have experienced here so far. We need to have a close look into the data and see what we can find there because this is limiting the pace of our car at the moment. Finding the problem overnight won't be an easy job, but the car has to be better for tomorrow so that is the challenge for us."

Charles Pic (21st, 1:43.066): "In Free Practice 1 this morning I felt that my first experience of this track was quite positive. We did some good work with the new floor to compare the data with Suzuka while I started to learn the circuit and get up to speed. This afternoon I was less comfortable with the steering. As we were unlikely to improve unless we changed something, and in fact the car was very difficult to drive, we decided to switch the steering rack, although this would mean losing some track time. The change was positive but the car was still not as we would like, so we have to work to understand why."

John Booth, Team Principal: "In FP1 this morning we completed the installation laps with both cars and Timo was uncomfortable with the steering. We opted to revert to a specification of steering rack that we ran with in Japan and, as we hadn't planned to do much running in the first session anyway to allow the track to improve, we were hopeful that this wouldn't affect our programme too much. Once the change had been actioned, Timo got up to speed quite quickly. With Charles, we focused more on his acclimatisation to this new circuit and at the same time did some comparison work with the new floor following its debut in Japan. This afternoon, once Charles was a little more attuned to the circuit, he experienced the same lack of confidence with the steering and once again, we opted to trade running time for the opportunity to improve by reverting to the prior specification of steering rack. Again the change was beneficial. This seems to be an issue relating more to the characteristics of this specific circuit, as opposed to a 'problem'. Neither driver is fully happy with the balance, although we end FP2 feeling happier as a result of the changes made. It is also appropriate at this stage to say that we plan to fit a new engine to Charles' car this evening in the knowledge that, as his ninth engine of the season, we will incur a 10-place grid penalty on Sunday."