• Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Who said what after Friday practice in Abu Dhabi

ESPNF1 Staff
November 11, 2011

Read what the drivers had to say after Friday practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Romain Grosjean was one of three replacement drivers getting a practice run on Friday © Sutton Images
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Ferrari

Fernando Alonso "Just as was the case in India a fortnight ago, again here in Abu Dhabi, I lost a bit of time: there it was the engine that left me standing at the side of the track and here it was an off-track excursion. It's not that there's a particular problem with grip at Turn 1, but if you touch the kerb when braking then you do lose some grip. As for me and Vettel both going off the track at the same point, I saw a lot of similarities: maybe tomorrow, we will try and stay a bit more towards the middle of the track without going so near the limit at this corner! I am annoyed about losing some time, but above all, I am sorry for the mechanics who now have extra work to do to put the car together again. I will try and repay them with a nice lap tomorrow evening in qualifying. I did not have anything new to try today so we concentrated mainly on a comparison of two different levels of aerodynamic downforce and on assessing the new Pirelli tyres for 2012. As usual, it's difficult to say where we are compared to everyone else, because there are always plenty of unknowns on Friday. I don't think I'll be fighting for pole or the win, but the first impressions are that we are in ever so slightly better shape than we had expected to be going into this weekend. The track had improved by the second session, which was partly down to the lower temperature: at lunchtime it was really hot on the track! With the Soft tyre we definitely feel comfortable, but also with the harder compound, we did not look so bad, as indeed we have seen in the last few races."

Felipe Massa "They were two good sessions for me, but that does not mean much in terms of qualifying. Two weeks ago in India, I was fastest on Friday afternoon and then things went the way they did. Having said that, I am reasonably happy with how the last two races panned out in terms of speed and pace. Obviously, I can't say the same about the final results, because something always happened to me in the races: let's hope it will be different this time. I am sure it will: the important thing is to continue doing a good job, always being quick and then things will sort themselves out. The helmet livery? The design celebrates the twentieth anniversary of Ayrton Senna taking his third title and the helmet will be auctioned to raise money for the Foundation that bears his name: I am honoured to be able to do something to support all the initiatives they work on. The vibrating front wing? Honestly, while I'm driving I am not aware of anything, the car always behaves the same way without any problems."

Pat Fry "As is now routine in this final part of the championship, the two free practice sessions on Friday are a great opportunity to work on the two fronts that are our main objectives at the moment on track: along with the usual task of finding the best set-up on the car for this race, we are bringing forward a series of experiments on several fronts as part of the design work on the 2012 car. At the moment, we are paying particular attention to the new front wing and its influence on the handling of the car. Clearly, this is no easy task, requiring continuous work in every area, from research into its performance to improving the quality of the components. Furthermore, we ran a comparison of various aerodynamic configurations to try and find the one best suited to this circuit, without ignoring the work of evaluating the tyres. It's obvious that there's a lot cooking and we have to ensure we are doing it properly, working speedily on all the ingredients, both at the track and at Maranello! In terms of competitiveness, I don't think there are any surprises here, which is

Force India

Adrian Sutil "The track had very low grip to begin with, but we found quite a good baseline starting point with the car right away. The main focus was on improving the traction out of the low-speed corners because that's what this circuit is all about. We also worked a lot on finding the optimum wing levels and seem to have found a good solution so far. As for the tyres, we did most of the work in the second session to simulate the conditions we will get on Sunday evening. Both tyres seem to be performing well with quite low degradation."

Paul Di Resta "I think looking at where we've ended up we should be pretty happy with today's work. In the first session I was struggling with rear grip and it wasn't easy to lean on the car. There was also quite a lot of front locking. But in the second session we started to get on top of those issues and got quite close to a decent set-up. I think we can still make some steps tomorrow and look to find more low-speed stability, but overall we're not in bad shape."

Dominic Harlow, circuit engineering director "We carried out some co-ordinated aero tests on both cars during FP1 and of course looked at wing level for the race. There was also some set-up work as usual. FP2 was more about the tyres and race set-up as the temperature and track conditions reflect more closely the twilight timing of this race. Also available to us, and useful for our programmes, were two sets of a development soft tyre from Pirelli which looked positive."

HRT

Vitantonio Liuzzi "It was good to be back in the car, I had missed this feeling these two weeks off so I wanted to be back behind the wheel as soon as possible. The morning session went quite well as we completed the entire programme. The track had really low grip so we were drifting a lot but the balance of the car wasn't too bad and we accumulated some decent data. In the afternoon we couldn't finish the programme because of some electronics issue which kept us in the box for a while which is a shame. The car wasn't as good as in the morning so we have to work on understanding this. The track temperature was lower in the afternoon and as the sun went down the car was much less driveable so we need to find out if this happens to everyone or if it is our problem."

Daniel Ricciardo "I wasn't particularly happy with the first session in the morning because we started off a little bit away from our set-up and what we normally have. We made a few changes for the afternoon but it didn't make the step we were hoping so it's going to call for a bit more tomorrow. We need to work tonight and make some changes and cross our fingers that it works for tomorrow. I remain positive and think we still have some more to get out of the car. Hopefully our improvement starts tomorrow morning in FP3 so that we head into qualifying full of confidence."

Colin Kolles, team principal "In the morning everything went according to plan, we did the normal testing schedule to find the best set-up for the race. There was very low grip and so it took some time. In the afternoon everything started well but unfortunately we had some electronic issues with Tonio's car and lost some track time but he was able to recover. The times are of no significance today and I think we will be fine for qualifying and the race."

Lotus

Heikki Kovalainen "Not too bad at all. Both sessions were pretty straightforward and we kept making improvements all day. The car felt good on both sets of tyres - the track here has really good grip levels and the degradation on the softs was pretty low, certainly manageable, so that looks good for Sunday. The main thing is that our Fridays are now all solid, giving us the chance to really dial the cars in and that means we can work on maximising our pace on Saturday and Sundays, and you can see the evidence of that from our recent races."

Jarno Trulli "That was a good Friday for us. The car felt pretty balanced all day and we kept improving on each run, so I think we're looking ok for the rest of the weekend. Both tyre compounds behaved pretty well here - the softs weren't going off too quickly at all so I think that gives us good options for the race, and there's a bit of performance difference between the softs and the mediums so we might be able to do something with that in qualifying - let's see."

Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer "A good day for us here in Abu Dhabi - we completed the planned program on both cars with no issues all day, keeping up the much improved reliability record we have had in the latter part of the season. This morning the two drivers ran on the development tyres and Heikki was working on brake comparisons, so we have some useful data to look at from those. In the afternoon we worked on race evaluations on both compounds and I think we look pretty good on both the low and heavy fuel loads on both. All in all a good Friday, setting us up well for the rest of the weekend."

Riad Asmat, group CEO "Another solid Friday for us and we look like we have maintained the same sort of pace we have been showing in the last few races. One of the key areas we have been working on is making sure we run reliably all weekend, so to complete another Friday where we have run without any issues all day is good. Now the goal is to carry that through the rest of the weekend and make sure we keep up this level of performance to the end of the season."

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton "It was a really positive day for me. The car feels good - our long-run pace doesn't feel too bad and we seem to be quite competitive. The car feels a lot better than it did at the last race - so I really hope I'll be able to keep that going throughout the remainder of the grand prix weekend. The track just got better and better today, so I slowly chipped away at the set-up. The tyres are behaving well - at the last race I had degradation and didn't have the pace, so it feels much better this weekend. That's a real positive for me. When you come through a Friday without any problems, it definitely makes you feel confident for the rest of the weekend."

Jenson Button "I'm still not entirely happy with the balance - although I'm confident we'll get to the bottom of it. Nonetheless, the pace of the car is good - Lewis was very quick today - and our long-run pace is very good. I was playing around with overtaking on my long run, but I still reckon it'll be difficult to overtake people in the DRS zones. So I think it's going to be a bit of a struggle to make moves stick in the race - which means it's going to be important to qualify up at the front. It's tricky around here, but we made some good progress here this afternoon and evening."

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal "To finish first in both sessions is an incredibly promising start to our weekend here in Abu Dhabi. Obviously, it's too early to accurately predict the pace of the teams around us, but it's encouraging to have been able to power through today's programme without setback and to have set the benchmark time in both P1 and P2. Lewis has been particularly complimentary about the car we've brought to this race, and Jenson is positive too, despite feeling there's still potential for improvement. Our aim now is to build on this promising start, further develop the cars' set-up with the engineers overnight, and push to maintain this position in qualifying tomorrow."

Mercedes

Michael Schumacher "I am reasonably happy with our work in the two sessions today, and considering that we managed to work the car well, I'd say it was a good day. Obviously we have our limits to operate within, but we maximised what we have in hand, and the car felt very good. We now have to see how we can transform this work into our weekend and maybe grab some more points on a track which today was very consistent."

Nico Rosberg "It was a positive start to the weekend for me. We achieved some good set-up work, and I had good long runs today. We concentrated mainly on race pace and I covered a lot of laps, so I'm feeling confident for tomorrow. It was also great fun to drive on this fantastic track which I like very much."

Ross Brawn, team principal "We worked through a fairly standard Friday programme today and spent a lot of the time on race preparations. We have achieved some good information on car balance and tyre life, and some interesting factors have emerged from the drop in temperatures and the twilight conditions of P2. Overall, two very good sessions today where the car ran well, and we have a lot of information to work with overnight."

Norbert Haug, head of motorsport "A productive first day at this beautiful and state-of-the-art race track which saw Michael running various programmes throughout the afternoon session whereas Nico concentrated on race simulations. Both drivers posted quite consistent lap times and our target for our 'home' Grand Prix here in Abu Dhabi will be to achieve similar results as we did in the second third of the season during the last six races."

Red Bull

Mark Webber "It looks easy to get it wrong on Turn 1, when you see guys of the calibre of Alonso and Vettel getting out of shape, then you give a bit of a margin and come back up to it. All in all, it was a pretty good afternoon and night for us and we got all the laps done that we needed to. I won't predict anything, as we know on Sunday that things can change, but we're going pretty well and I feel happy with the car."

Sebastian Vettel "I had an incident in P2. It wasn't too much, I lost the car on the entrance to Turn 1. I think I was too wide and too far on to the kerb, so I lost the rear and couldn't catch the car anymore. I was lucky to get out again at the end of P2; there wasn't much damage apart from the front wing. If you just touch the kerb there, then it's fine, but I went too far on to it. Looking to the car, we are there or thereabouts - but it will be tight tomorrow I think."

Renault

Romain Grosjean "I'm like a kid at Christmas at the moment. First of all, it was fantastic to get back into a F1 car and the feeling is just amazing. I tried to improve myself lap after lap. We tried some different things with the car and not to disturb the programme of the team, which is the main thing, and I think we picked up some ideas for the afternoon. The balance of the car was as we were expecting. We know that we're not fantastic on slow corners so we tried a few different things. The medium tyres were quite difficult to drive with, the prototype softs were better in terms of degradation, but it is always difficult to know what to expect when you go from one tyre to another. Hopefully my feedback can help a little bit for the rest of the weekend."

Bruno Senna "Even though I only had one session today, I still managed to get a lot of laps in. I feel our fears may be confirmed that we don't have great pace at the moment; we need to work hard to get better for tomorrow and to see where we can improve. It's going to be a very difficult qualifying for us but we need to make the most of it and be there if the opportunity comes to us. I also used the Pirelli test tyre today, which seems to be a bit more resistant than the current soft tyre so it was interesting to compare them. "

Vitaly Petrov "It was a difficult day for us today; it was difficult in terms of rear traction especially, and we are well off the pace. Overnight, we must look at how we can improve and get up to scratch. Something that was particularly evident was the drop in temperature between first and second practice. As a driver, every time you emerge from the garage for another run it is very interesting because the sun goes down and then by the final run it is dark. We really want to get better for tomorrow, take it up a gear and try to compete at a more consistent level than we did today."

Sauber

Kamui Kobayashi "It is quite difficult to compare the two practice sessions, as the difference in track temperature is over ten degrees Celsius. This also means that in tomorrow's third free practice session we can't learn much for qualifying because again we will have this difference in track temperature. However, in general the track was quite slippery. We are pretty much okay at high speed, but we need to improve in slow corners and in terms of braking stability."

Sergio Pérez "I'm confident for the weekend. We had a good day and completed our programme. Nevertheless it is difficult to know where we stand as we don't know what the others were doing today. We learnt a lot and we will now continue to work on our qualifying performance for tomorrow. Then we will also try to improve the car's balance for the long runs."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara, head of track engineering "It was more or less a normal Friday. However, it was not ideal to lose 50 minutes due to a gearbox problem on Kamui's car in the first session. Apart from that everything went okay. We put some extra focus on the single lap performance. Now we have to analyse all the data, discuss it with the drivers and make the right decisions for the remainder of the weekend. It will definitely be a tight battle for positions."

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne "This was really like a first session for me, as Korea one month ago was a wash out. I believe the team is satisfied with the job I did, as everything went well. I don't think it was anything exceptional, it was just what you would expect from a driver who wants to be in F1 next year. From my side, I think I could have done a bit better, but that is in my nature as I don't believe that being a rookie should be a reason not to win right away, even if that approach which I've had since I started karting does not apply to F1 because of the difference between the teams. I was surprised at the high level of grip on the Soft tyres that I tried towards the end and I did not manage to do a quick lap right from the start which is what was needed with these tyres, so I was a bit disappointed with myself for that. In general, the feeling from the car came back quite quickly after my test last year and all the time I spend in the simulator this year. I was not thinking about my lap times today and overall, it was a positive session. I learned a lot and will use that to do better in Brazil and before that I am looking forward to the test here next week, driving the world championship winning car."

Sebastien Buemi "It was a shorter day for me, running only in the afternoon, but I soon got used to the circuit again and I feel pretty confident for the rest of the weekend, based on what we have seen so far. However, we seem to be slightly slower than at the last two events, which might be down to the track characteristics. Therefore, it will be important to get the most out of our car data tonight and then on track tomorrow morning. On the plus side, we ran all three tyres and have a good understanding of the Soft and Medium and I see no reason why we can't be fighting for another good result on Sunday."

Jaime Alguersuari "I am pleased with the way today went, getting through a lot of work, evaluating some new things in the morning, as well as having a third Pirelli compound to try. That was interesting work as the development compound seemed very quick. We were able to do a large number of laps with the extra tyres and I don't think my times mean very much, as I ran into traffic at times. The general balance of the car seems good and it looks from our long run that we should be more competitive in the race than in qualifying, which has often been the case this year. We might be a tiny amount slower than at the previous race, but it's not much and I still feel we have the potential to score points on Sunday."

Laurent Mekies, chief engineer "We ran Vergne this morning, which was really his first session with us after just a few laps in monsoon conditions in Korea. It was good for us that Pirelli decided to bring two extra sets of development tyres here, because it meant we were able to run a full session with him, which was also good for the team as we were able to get some serious work done. All three drivers tested the new Pirelli compound today. With its slower speed corners, the Yas Marina circuit has very different characteristics to those of the last three races and it is clear we will have to work hard evaluating all the data tonight to make our car as competitive as possible, because relative to others, we have lost a little bit of pace, so our job now is to work out how to get it back at this track."

Virgin

Timo Glock "This morning I had a bit of trouble. I had a technical problem so I had to wait a bit longer to go out on track. So it was a bit of a difficult first practice, the car wasn't that great and it needs a different set-up here to what we were running in the past. So it was a little difficult to get anything out of the car. At the end I also had to do some system checks which made it hard for me to improve my lap time. So it wasn't the best of starts to the day. FP2 was a more standard programme. We made some set-up changes that proved to be a better direction and made the car more driveable. It was good to see Robert in the car today. I think it is well-deserved after winning the World Series Championship. So it was a great day for him I'm sure."

Jérôme D'Ambrosio "It was a busy FP2, trying to complete as many laps as we could and I tried to get as much information as I could, as well as fine-tuning the car. The last run was positive. I think we are heading in the right direction and the work we have done today should definitely make tomorrow a better day."

Robert Wickens "Today was great. It was a good learning experience and everything felt good - I've been with the team for a while now and I felt comfortable, going quicker and quicker every lap. So it's been a promising first ever practice session, I'm close to Timo and I think I can only be happy with the job I've done today. I can't wait to get back in the car again next week during the Young Driver Test."

John Booth, team principal "Robert acquitted himself very well this morning. He made good progress throughout the session and worked well with his engineers to get a good basic understanding of the car. I'm sure he will be pleased to have a good grounding before his full day of testing next week. With Timo in FP1, we found an issue on the right hand side driveshaft after the installation lap. This involved a fair amount of strip and rebuild during the session, which was completed relatively quickly and lost him little time. He continues to be developing the set-up in new directions, which may seem quite odd at this time in the season, but this is just a demonstration of his tenacity. Obviously Jérôme needed to hit the ground running in FP2 and he struggled initially, particularly with one set of the development tyres. However, by the final Soft tyre run, he seems to be happier with the car, although there are a few key corners which need looking at overnight. Overall, a positive busy day for the team. I'm sure with a clean FP3 session tomorrow, we will continue to improve.

Williams

Mark Gillan, chief operations engineer "Pastor concluded a full test programme today working on optimising his race set-up. Rubens had a slow start to the day as a result of an automatic engine kill which was triggered by an engine oil system issue. The mechanics changed the engine quickly and he was able to complete the second session in full with no further problems."

Rubens Barrichello "We had a little set back up in the morning with a problem with the engine so we were playing catch up in the afternoon. The team did a good job to change the engine between sessions. The one we ran in the second session had quite a few kilometres on it already now that we are near the end of the season, but it did a good job."

Pastor Maldonado "We covered all our scheduled running today. For me, that included working hard on optimising the set-up of my car for the race because of the grid penalty. We still have to do some more work in order to find a better balance. If we can do that, it will help our performance a bit. The tyres are doing well here; degradation is quite low, so that's a positive."

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