• Bahrain Grand Prix Free Practice

Driver reaction after opening day

ESPNF1 Staff
March 12, 2010 « Rosberg sets early benchmark in Bahrain | »

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Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button head out for the photoshoot. Button admitted later: 'We know where the car is now and we know where we want it to be, so there's work to be done this evening to improve things overnight' © Getty Images
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A round-up of reaction after the first day of practice in Bahrain.

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso "A slightly different Friday to usual for me, as it was the first one with my new team. We concentrated mainly on comparing the two types of tyre, so as to be as well prepared as possible for the race on Sunday, trying to get a car that performs consistently over a long run. Obviously, with such high temperatures, tyre degradation was more rapid, especially with the rears. From what we could see, the indications we got from testing have been confirmed, with four teams that you could describe as favourites, although there could yet be a few surprises, Force India for example. The new track is not bad: it is fun, even if there are a few too many bumps which I hadn't spotted when I inspected it by bicycle."

Felipe Massa "We worked a lot on finding the right balance on the car in race trim and on comparing the two types of tyre, running with various fuel levels, although never going for a quick time. I am quite happy with what we have seen today, even if it is difficult to get an accurate picture of how competitive we are compared to the others. We will definitely face stiff competition from many teams, but we were preparing as well as possible for Sunday's race and tomorrow morning, we will work on qualifying. I've got a bit of a temperature today, but I feel 100% for this start to the season."

Force India

Adrian Sutil "It's time to race now after so long out of the car! This morning we were checking all the systems and set-up we learnt over testing but nobody really knew where we were going to be. It's our goal to get two cars through to Q3 for this weekend and I think we now have a very good baseline with the car and good downforce compared to last year. We can be a top ten runner with this car this year and myself and Tonio are working well together. If we can qualify in the top ten now it can lead to decent points, which is, at the end of the day, what we want to do consistently this season. I would say it's a promising start to get there, for sure."

Tonio Liuzzi "Overall it was a positive day and we got through all the programme. We learnt quite a lot about the car with these kind of hot conditions, which we weren't able to do in the cool of the winter testing. The car is reacting well to different fuel loads and to different tyres and overall we can be pretty happy with the results at the end of this first Friday. I think we are in a good way for tomorrow. For sure we could improve our single lap time, but the race pace looks good. A positive start to the weekend."

HRT

Bruno Senna "It was certainly a relief to make history this morning. The car ran as planned and everyone is happy and proud. There is still a lot of work ahead of us. Three laps this morning and seventeen this afternoon is a great start. Of course, we could not try the car at its limits. I am confident that we will be working ahead and I want to congratulate my mechanics, engineers and the whole team for their incredible hard work."

Karun Chandhok "My car was fired up this morning. I was hoping that it would be in condition to run fully a bit later than my team mate's. We know that all systems are working and with the third free practice still ahead of us we can still look positively at the start of our first weekend of racing."

Lotus

Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne "A good day for the team after a very long night preparing the cars for today. Everyone worked very hard and it was satisfying to see us first out on track and then put in a solid performance throughout the day. We tried an aero upgrade this afternoon and we'll look at the results of that in this afternoon's debrief, but now we're looking forward to putting in another professional performance tomorrow in qualifying."

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton "Out on track, it's been very hot so tyre degradation of both compounds has been pretty high. But I think the degradation is something we can handle; you build it into your driving style and moderate the approach to each lap. Still, it's difficult to know what laptime to target when you're on a long run. The less you push at the beginning of a stint, the more there is left to push at the end. But it's difficult to know exactly, and we're still trying to understand that.

"The new section of track seems to be very bumpy and tricky - but everyone's in the same boat. Equally, our car feels very heavy with a high fuel-load - it doesn't want to stop under braking - but through the high-speed corners it feels quite well balanced. It's just getting the car stopped that's tricky: it doesn't stop as well as when it's on low tanks. Overall, today didn't feel too bad. We still don't really have a full understanding of where all the teams are because everyone was running different fuel-loads. As a result, the positions on today's timesheets don't really reflect overall pace too much yet."

Jenson Button "Today's shown us that looking after the rear tyres is very difficult here, especially on the softer compound. So you find yourself driving with a lot of oversteer through most of the stint. The new section of track is very bumpy. Turns Six and Seven are particularly tough because you're trying to brake as late as you can, and, if you do that, the car hits the ground, you bounce all over the place and it's very difficult to see where you're going. So you have to brake earlier, and more gently, so the front doesn't dip through that part of the corner - and that positions you better for the next turn.

"We're still working on our set-up - and that's not something you can really do in the second session because you're working on a tyre back-to-back programme and the track's so busy. We know where the car is now and we know where we want it to be, so there's work to be done this evening to improve things overnight. I think we did an okay job today. We can be reasonably happy with the performance of the car, although we know there are areas we still need to work on. The basic car is working well, but we're not quite there with the balance yet."

Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso set out to face the cameras © Sutton Images
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Mercedes

Nico Rosberg "We improved the car over the course of the day but it didn't feel great initially with the new track, lower downforce and the conditions were very sandy this morning. So we had a few balance issues to work on but it came together very well this afternoon. There are areas where we can still improve but we have a good comparison with the tyre compounds and on the long runs. Overall we learnt a great deal today so it's a positive start to the weekend."

Michael Schumacher "We worked very well this afternoon after having a few issues with the balance this morning. The car felt much better in the second session although I am still a little rusty on one lap runs and need to get back into the routine. On the long runs, the car felt good and once you get into the rhythm, it feels very natural. I'm happy with our work today and feeling ready for the weekend."

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel "So, the first day of the first race. Unfortunately we didn't get a lot of running today. The track was still green this morning, so everyone was just checking their cars. In the second practice I had to have the brakes changed and Mark couldn't do the whole session, so it wasn't ideal. I would have liked more track time, but it's not Christmas and we're not given things for free. We have a lot of work to do, but we know where we need to improve, so we will work on that."

Mark Webber "Not such a good day and not enough mileage. We missed out a bit this afternoon; I had a gearbox problem, so the team made a precautionary stop with the car which ended P2 early. We'll have to regroup and get what we can out of today - we'll be focusing on qualifying in tomorrow's practice. We still learnt some stuff today and Seb looked at the tyres. You can already see that it's going to be bloody competitive this year, it's going to be a good fight out there."

Renault

Robert Kubica "The conditions today were totally different to winter testing with high track and ambient temperatures. That was something new for everybody and it had a big effect on the tyres, which is why we did a couple of runs to observe the tyre degradation, followed by some set-up work. During the first session the new part of the track was quite dusty and slippery, but it improved during the day. I expect the track to improve a lot more over the weekend, too. Overall, it was a pretty good day."

Vitaly Petrov "It was a great feeling to be out in the car for the first time this morning, but we had a busy programme so I got straight down to work. We had a few small problems to begin with, but we will work hard overnight to try and improve the car. My first F1 qualifying session tomorrow will be very interesting."

Sauber

Pedro de la Rosa "Well, it was not easy. We managed to make the car feel better during the day, but we definitely need to improve the set-up for tomorrow as much as we can. The overall grip level is very low out there and the new part is really bumpy. One bump especially before turn seven I find dangerous because the cars are bottoming there a lot. The heat is no issue at all. I don't regard this circuit as physically very demanding anyway."

Kamui Kobayashi "After we lost some track time this morning because of a puncture, we were able to complete our programme in the afternoon. We now have to look at the set-up again. I have the impression the bumpy new infield is pretty difficult for us, but we will work on that. I have no complaints about the heat either, as I definitely prefer it compared to the winter in Europe."

Toro Rosso

Jaime Alguersuari "A good day in which we did all the laps we could, trying many different things. I think we improved during the day, but it's hard to know where you are with the wide range of fuel loads being used. I feel the performance is there and if we have another nice day tomorrow, then we should be able to get the most out of the car. The track was very green this morning, but it started to rubber in this afternoon. The new section is nothing special and very slow, but I knew that from working on the simulator, which meant I already had an idea where to turn in and where were the braking points."

Sebastien Buemi "I'm glad I spent plenty of time driving this track on our simulator, as I did no timed laps this afternoon, because of a problem with the car. The changes to the track were much as I expected and there is a big bump at Turn 6. There are no passing places in the new section, but it makes for a longer track which is more interesting to drive. You need to be competitive in Sector 2 for a good lap time, which means you must compromise between needing high downforce for this slow part, while less downforce will make you quicker in Sectors 1 and 2. Fortunately, we will be able to analyse Jaime's data and start from a better position tomorrow. However, when you miss most of Friday testing, it doesn't make life easy. But we have to live with that and concentrate on tomorrow."

Virgin

Timo Glock "Today hasn't been the start to the weekend that we hoped for. We always knew it was going to be tough but we've had too many technical problems which have prevented me getting track time today. We already had two tough nights but we have another one ahead, I'm afraid, to get us to a point where we can feel confident going into the rest of the weekend. On the positive side, if we can get on top of the issues we have we'll be in an okay place because with the brief amount of running I have had, I can see that the car isn't bad. I hope we can be ready to get some proper work done tomorrow."

Lucas di Grassi "Although a tough day, we actually had a good session this afternoon and got through a lot of things. For me everything is new. I wasn't able to run this morning so the afternoon laps were key to my performance and helping us get started this weekend. The mechanics did a great job running the car and everything seems fine so far. Now we just need to work on car performance, which we clearly haven't been able to optimise at the moment."

Williams

Nico Hulkenberg "It's still very difficult to form a picture of where everyone is at competitively, but I am satisfied that we had a relatively good day today and managed to compete everything we set out to do. The ambition remains the same, to make sure we get through to Q3 and to finish the weekend with some points."

Rubens Barrichello "Because we had some minor issues in the garage today, we didn't get as much track time as we wanted. We didn't manage to finish our programme, but I am confident tomorrow will be a better day and we will catch up on the lost time. There has been an enormous amount of work and effort from everyone at Williams to get this far, which deserves my thanks."

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