• Chinese Grand Prix

Who said what after practice in Shanghai

ESPNF1 Staff
April 15, 2011

A round-up of comment after Friday's practice sessions at Shanghai

Empty grandstands overlook a smoggy Shanghai circuit © Getty Images
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Ferrari

Felipe Massa "As was already the case in the first two races of the season, today we witnessed a very fast Red Bull. I am reasonably pleased with the handling of the car over a long run, which produced some interesting results. I am hoping for a better qualifying, but we know it will be very difficult, while from what we have seen today, I think the situation in the race could be similar to what we saw in Malaysia. Fernando used some new parts but it is too soon to say if they really represent progress: unfortunately, he had problems and did not manage to do as much as was scheduled. The soft tyres seem much better than the hards: not only do they give more grip, which is normal, but also the degradation is not as high as we have seen before. Over the years, I find it even more enjoyable coming here to Shanghai: at the start it was all a bit chaotic, but now the situation has improved and, as is the case in my home country, Brazil a lot of effort is going into making progress in many areas and that can be clearly seen."

Fernando Alonso "I lost valuable time because of a hydraulic problem, in both sessions, but most of all in the second one. Unfortunately, I did not manage to do any long run testing to get an idea of the tyre degradation, but fortunately, Felipe managed to do that on both types, so at least we have a good basis to start from. As for the new aerodynamic components, it is too early to say if they really produce an advantage. The engineers will now have to study the data carefully, before drawing any definite conclusions as to whether or not we are moving in the right direction in terms of development. From the little I could see, there are no problems - or at least they are very slight - in terms of warm up on the hard tyres, which could be an improvement for managing the tyres in qualifying. I don't expect much to change from what we saw in Malaysia and Australia: McLaren and especially Red Bull are quicker than us and are favourites. At the moment we are not capable of fighting for the win, but that doesn't mean we won't be trying."

Pat Fry "I think we had more problems today in three hours than we had in the whole fifteen days of winter testing. A shame, because we needed to cover some distance, especially with Fernando, who was experimenting with the latest aerodynamic solutions that they have come up with in Maranello. We will try and make a virtue of necessity and carry out the job of analysing the data with the data we managed to gather. The hydraulic problems on car number 5 stem from the same fault, a defective component and we will take action to fix it for the rest of the weekend. Luckily, Felipe had no problems and was able to run continuously, doing long runs on both types of tyre. We will aim to be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and the race, but I don't think we can expect anything very much different to what we have seen in the first two Grands Prix of the season."

Force India

Adrian Sutil "The first session was really good; everybody worked well today and I am really happy and could concentrate on the normal Friday things like improving my car, set-up wise. We were not that far off straight away and after the first couple of laps I felt very confident in the car. With a hard set of tyres the car the balance was fine and feeling wise there was much more stability this weekend, so our upgrade might have helped. The soft tyre worked without problems. The long run seemed to be quite good so yes, another one like this tomorrow and I'll be happy!"

Paul Di Resta "We got a little bit of an idea of where the car was in FP1, but obviously its crucial to try and take part in FP2. I think that I am a little more disadvantaged than I have been at any other grand prix now because effectively I have lost three sets of tyres and the important part where you try to do a bit of qualy and race simulation. The guys are working hard, so hopefully we can catch up on some lost ground tomorrow morning."

Nico Hülkenberg "Again, I have to say another positive Friday. I am very happy with my session. We had some good running on the track here today and got through our programme of some nice test items, so I am quite pleased with how it went."

Dominic Harlow, circuit engineering director "During the morning's session Paul was evaluating the aero update brought for this event, which appears to be behaving as expected. Nico was driving the VJM4-04 today and during a busy morning he completed a very useful programme. Paul had some KERS problems and the circuit was dusty to start, but otherwise it was a normal start to the weekend. Just before the start of FP2 however, we found a fuel pressure problem with Paul's car, and despite the team's best efforts to resolve it we were unable to get the car back on track in the time available. The cars are increasingly complex now with the extra systems on board, and the work involved to complete the job was too much. It was frustrating, but the issue is now eliminated and we will make up for the lost track time as best possible in the remaining practice sessions. Adrian was in the car for FP2 and completed a good programme where the engineers worked hard and improved the balance of the car as well as collecting useful data. We hope we can turn these steps into a competitive qualifying performance tomorrow."

HRT

Narain Karthikeyan "Today we tried different set-ups and got in a reasonable amount of running. We tested out our race set-up as well so, overall, it was quite a productive day. We will try and take another step forward tomorrow and see where we can get. I'm happy with the amount of laps we got under our belts today, apart from my quick spin towards the end, it was a very good day. Now we must look to qualify in a good position and aim to finish the race on Sunday."

Vitantonio Liuzzi "We had a productive morning of testing in which we did quite a few laps and everything went according to plan. The car was running fine, we brought some updates which we will be able to use in Turkey so it was a good morning. Unfortunately we had to stop on the last lap because of a hydraulic problem which dragged on into the afternoon where I was only able to do one lap." "It's a shame we weren't able to run more in the afternoon. By doing more laps we would have got to understand the car a little bit more and would be better prepared for tomorrow. The time was not bad at all so we have to be positive coming into tomorrow's qualifying."

Colin Kolles, team principal "Today was not a bad day, unfortunately we had some issues and couldn't run as we wanted but the times look promising. I think we made another step forward in terms of performance so I'm looking forward to tomorrow's qualifying. Tonio had a hydraulic leak which had to be fixed so we had to take off the gearbox, the clutch and other things which took up some time, this was the main reason for the delay. Taking in mind that he was only able to complete one timed lap in the second session, he did a fantastic time. Narain did a really good job today, he had no issues with his car so was able to the run the programme according to plan and post a good time. I think performance-wise there is still room for improvement so that is promising. We are confident ahead of tomorrow's qualifying where hopefully we can achieve our target of getting closer to our rivals."

Lotus

Heikki Kovalainen "It's good to get through the whole day with no reliability issues and hopefully that sets us up well for the weekend ahead. The car had a good balance this morning but this afternoon the changes we made maybe didn't take us in the right direction so I wasn't quite as comfortable in FP2. I had a few issues with traffic on my performance run which meant I couldn't get everything out of it but having had a clear day we'll put in the work tonight as see where we are tomorrow."

Jarno Trulli "Clearly it's good that I had a trouble free afternoon but I am struggling a bit with the balance to be honest. We'll work on that tonight with the data we've generated today and with another clear session tomorrow we should be able to pick up where we left off in Malaysia."

Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer "That was a far more productive Friday than we have had in the two previous races this season and I think it is a measure of our increased competitiveness that we are actually a little disappointed with the overall pace. We ran Luiz Razia this morning and he did a good job for the team, despite having a suspension problem that brought his run to a premature end. With the race drivers we completed the full programme on each car but traffic interrupted both their runs on the soft tyres so we are a little disappointed that we were not able to show more pace that we know is in the cars. The tyres are working pretty well here - we have found our way around the warm up issues, so while today is satisfying in terms of reliability, there is definitely more to come tomorrow and we want to be pushing towards Q2."

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton "It's been a busy day today. The car wasn't too bad at the end of this afternoon's session - and I was able to get a decent laptime despite not feeling totally comfortable with the car. We've been struggling a little bit with the set-up. It doesn't feel like the car's performing in all the areas we expected: we need to see whether the issue with the car's balance is down to the upgrade or just an unsatisfactory set-up. It does feel like we've found some further improvements since Malaysia, and we'll spend this evening looking at what elements of the new package we choose to take forward into the rest of the weekend."

Jenson Button "This morning was reasonably good and the car was working well - it's a good car to drive. For the afternoon, we tried a few things and didn't really improve the balance of the car, so we're going to look at why the changes didn't really give us the improvement we expected. The car felt reasonably strong on the Prime tyre but less so on the Option. So it's not been a perfect afternoon but we have a lot of information on the changes we made, so we can hopefully work on improving the set-up tomorrow. It's not as hot as it was in Malaysia, so I don't think the tyres will be as much of an issue to look after as they were in Malaysia. If we sort out the balance tomorrow, we'll be closer to Red Bull."

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal "It was a productive day - we spent the morning conducting aerodynamic tests and we limited each driver to just one set of Prime tyres. That helped us draw some productive conclusions as we evaluate this weekend's suite of upgrades and decide what to progress and what will need more development. This afternoon was a bit more frustrating: neither Lewis nor Jenson really found a satisfactory balance. They didn't feel as comfortable as we hoped they would be. But we've got some very good information and, as always, I think our engineers will take every opportunity to look over that and turn it into something productive for tomorrow."

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg "Today we made a small step forward, particularly this morning where we learnt some positive things with the car compared to Malaysia. The balance was quite good today, and I really enjoy driving this track. We don't really know where we are right now, and of course what everyone was doing, but today's running gives me hope for an improved performance tomorrow."

Michael Schumacher "We've had a good working day here during the first outings on the Shanghai track. We have changed our working approach this weekend, and I think this has paid off. We concentrated mainly on high fuel loads, and it seems we can find the set-up better than starting from low fuel. The long runs were good in my view which is clearly an improvement on the first two races. There is room for further improvement so I look forward to understanding what we can achieve in qualifying."

Ross Brawn "We've had a reasonable day and achieved all of the work that we had planned for both cars. The engineers and drivers did a good job between the two sessions to improve the balance and everything ran smoothly. It's good to start the weekend with a positive day so we will see how we can continue to progress from here."

Norbert Haug "Certainly a more constructive Friday than we have experienced during the last two races, and a good amount of running for both Michael and Nico. For part of the session, Michael's KERS was not operational which cost him lap time. We will rectify this problem for tomorrow. On Saturday and Sunday, we will learn whether and how much we have improved."

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel "We had a good day today, but it's only Friday and so it's early in the race weekend. We found a good rhythm and we're happy with the car. There's still a lot to do and I think it will be tight tomorrow and on Sunday, so we'll look where we can improve. But, today we had no big issues."

Mark Webber "I didn't have the best P2, particularly on the short run with the new tyres, which is why my time is down a little, but the long run on the option tyre was good. We'll look at KERS tonight - we'd like to run it this weekend of course. Generally it was a good Friday, we learned a lot and the car was reliable."

Renault

Nick Heidfeld "Today obviously wasn't what we wanted, after I spun off in the first session and then again in the second which were both my fault. I hope it's a good omen because in Malaysia we also didn't have many laps on the Friday and then we had a good result. Given that I only had five laps in the first session, it was surprising how fast I was, we were both in the top 10. There's still some more in the car but the gap is a bit bigger than we would have hoped for. As expected, we achieved quicker lap times when using the softs over the hards, and it was good that we managed to use both."

Vitaly Petrov "We managed to run the whole way through both sessions, and then we were able to work on some directions for set-up so we're quite happy with that. I think we need to be happy with today, of course not on the pace and the lap time as we can be quite a bit quicker. What is good is that we don't have any mechanical problems, we can still continue to work and push hard. The option tyres were a big improvement, as usual, with much more grip."

Sauber

Kamui Kobayashi "Overall we had a reasonable pace today, but I think we can improve. We need some time to get a better set-up and adjust the balance. The grip level was very low, especially at the beginning of the day. The track is quite dusty and some parts have new tarmac, which was quite tricky. I did a long run with the soft tyres and they were all right."

Sergio Pérez "I think we have collected a lot of information today for us to analyse tonight, and this is especially from the long runs. I guess we can improve, in particular for qualifying when you need to put a single lap together. I also hope to improve in myself as, after catching a cold from the air conditioning, I haven't felt well since the race in Malaysia, but it is getting better."

James Key, technical director "Free practice one kicked off with different test items for each driver. We ran through some aerodynamic tests and gathered some useful data. In performance terms this session wasn't very useful, because the track had low grip and we only ran one set of tyres on each car. In the afternoon we used four new sets of tyres and went through some set up changes to the cars in race spec. I think there is a bit of work to do on the balance of the car in sector one and, although we improved that sector a bit, it is a weak point from what we can see. I think Kamui's time would have been better, but he made a small mistake at the end of the lap, and Sergio's lap just didn't quite come together, so we shall have to look at that for the soft tyre. Otherwise the cars ran reliably, but the balance here is different compared to the other two races, so it is a moving target."

Toro Rosso

Sebastien Buemi "The morning session went really well, as I was able to do a lot of laps and I was happy with how the car behaved. We got through quite a full job list and then after lunch, we had a productive time, doing a comparison between the hard and the soft tyres. Unfortunately, a small issue on the car towards the end meant I was unable to finish my long run, but Jaime was still doing his, so we will have the data from that to work with. It is hard to evaluate our pace and it looks as though at the moment, Force India is quicker than us. Now, we have the whole night to see what we can do to make the car quicker. They have resurfaced several sections, especially at the first corner where they have managed to get rid of a very big bump and there are a few other sections that are now smoother. It is clear that we are seeing less tyre degradation than in Malaysia, which is the same for everyone of course, so up to us to see how to exploit this."

Jaime Alguersuari "Even though I only ran this afternoon, we have already spotted several areas where we can improve the car for the rest of the weekend. In terms of car set-up, although there is room for improvement, the car felt good right from the beginning in terms of balance. As for my lap times, I got traffic on my fastest lap. Tyre degradation is a bit less than in Malaysia, so hopefully we can concentrate more on the car and get a better qualifying performance out of it. Finding more grip will be another job to work on for tomorrow. The track is less bumpy than last year thanks to some resurfacing and in general I think that also helped the tyre degradation situation and, as usual, the track is good fun to drive."

Daniel Ricciardo "I last drove here in Formula BMW in 2006, supporting the F1 event and it was wet, so I reckon I was lapping about one minute slower than today! With a third practice session under my belt, all the procedures I have to work through are becoming more second nature now. My first two runs went well and I felt I was fairly competitive. Then, my final run on new tyres was affected by a small problem, when I was looking to set a faster time. My initial impression is that the balance of the car is competitive when looking at the other cars around us and it seems that tyre degradation here should be lower than in Malaysia, so I think Seb and Jaime should be able to have a good weekend."

Virgin

Timo Glock "Not a great day. We didn't run much today as we had a lot of technical problems. In the first practice I had a problem on the rear end and couldn't do much. In the second practice I had an engine problem so I only did about twelve laps and I haven't been able to do any setup work at all, which is extremely frustrating."

Jérôme D'Ambrosio "I'm happy with my performance today, so it's a shame that some issues let us down and prevented us from improving further. In particular I wasn't able to get the best out of my Option tyre run. Hopefully with a better run of luck tomorrow we can get back to where we expected to be."

John Booth, team principal "Our race weekend here in China did not get off to the most auspicious of starts today and to say our day has been less than straightforward would be something of an understatement. This morning, having waited for the track condition to improve, when we did finally get our timed runs underway Timo experienced a mechanical problem. This afternoon, after just 12 laps, Timo suffered an engine problem which confined him to the garage for the second half of the session, so he was unable to complete a soft tyre run and improve his lap time, which is reflected in his position today. Jérôme had a better afternoon session and was making good progress but immediately prior to his option tyre run we noted heavy floor damage. This wasn't sufficient to prevent him from running, but it was by no means a representative run. Hopefully we have got all our bad luck out of the way today and tomorrow will provide a better reflection of where we stand here."

Williams

Sam Michael, technical director "After a productive morning with both cars, we had some issues with the new exhaust system we're running on Rubens' FW33 in the second session. We'll now review the data to decide whether or not to race it. That aside, we covered good mileage on the Option tyre which has given us some solid data for the race. We will fit new engines in both cars for tomorrow."

Pastor Maldonado "Today went well and we've learnt a lot. I did lots of miles which is useful because this is my first time at this circuit. The car felt good, especially on the long runs in P2. We don't know where the others are or what fuel they're running, but I think we're looking better here than we were in Malaysia."

Rubens Barrichello "We were testing new parts on my car in practice today. They seemed to lose a little bit of performance towards the end of the last session though which means we'll have to work hard to evaluate them properly. We need to go through the data to see whether we will keep to this plan or go back to the original one."

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