• European Grand Prix

Who said what after European Grand Prix practice

ESPN Staff
June 22, 2012

Read what the drivers and teams had to say after first practice for the European Grand Prix

Pastor Maldonado showed his pace on street circuits with the fastest time of FP1 © Getty Images
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Caterham

Heikki Kovalainen FP1 - 17th, FP2 - 19th
"A pretty good Friday for me, with both sessions going to plan. In FP2 we ran a new version of the front wing and the initial feel it gave was good - it's too early to tell how much it's worth but it's a good sign that what was predicted in the factory seems to have worked on track. There's more to come for the next race but this looks like it could be a good step."

Vitaly Petrov FP1 - 20th, FP2 - 17th
"That was a positive Friday for us. FP1 started out with the track as green as we knew it would be, but that affects everyone the same so we got on with the programme and concentrated on finding a balance that would work once the grip levels improved. We were also looking at some new KERS maps that worked well, but perhaps would be better suited to a circuit that is less stop/start than Valencia. We'll look again at that overnight and I'm sure we'll find the right solution for this track in time for FP3.

"In FP2 we got through most of the plan, running on low and heavy fuel and on both tyre compounds and until we had a mechanical issue towards the end of the session the car felt good. We have brought a couple of updates here and it definitely felt better but we will see the full upgrade package at Silverstone. Still, it's good to see us continuing to develop the car and to keep getting closer to the target this year, so I think qualifying and the race could both be pretty interesting for us."

Mark Smith, technical director
"I am pleased with our performance today. Both drivers completed most of their planned programmes - we had a mechanical issue relating to KERS late on in FP2 on Vitaly's car, but he had run through his low and heavy fuel laps and had completed good mileage on both tyre compounds so we have not lost anything from his slightly shortened FP2.

"It is also good to see that the first set of upgrades we have brought here appear to be matching the targets we set for them. We will have more new parts for Silverstone, but it looks like we have made more progress here today so the aim is to maintain this momentum and see if we can keep closing the gap in qualifying tomorrow, and particularly in the race on Sunday."

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso FP1 - 5th, FP2 - 7th
"Overall, it's been a positive day, during which we tried various updates on the car: some worked well, others need some modifying and then they might be used at Silverstone. Naturally, we also worked a lot on the tyres, which seem to degrade quite significantly here. On this topic, we have to take into account that conditions can change rapidly according to the cloud cover. With the sky completely clear, the track temperature can easily go up by four or five degrees and change the behaviour of the tyres. Now we need to analyse carefully all the data that Felipe and I have gathered and then put together the best combination of set-up and technical solutions for qualifying and the race. This year, pole position seems to be less important than in the past and I think that is the case even on a track like this: it is always important to be first away, obviously, but it doesn't mean that if you start further back you have no chance of winning. The championship? I'm not here to do the score sheet, I'm only thinking of race by race. Today, Hamilton is ahead of me, so the objective is to leave Valencia ahead of him and then, maybe in Silverstone, Vettel will be first, so he will be the target."

Felipe Massa FP1 - 15th
"We did a huge amount of work on development of the updates we brought here and now, with the data in our hands, we will try and choose those things that can give us an improvement in performance terms already right from this weekend. This morning I worked mainly on a series of aerodynamic comparisons, so I definitely did not use the tyres or the car in the best way possible. The afternoon went much better, when I was pleased with the balance and the car's handling out on track. It's a shame I made a mistake on my first timed lap on the soft tyres, right at the start of the lap: my time, also taking into account I was one of the first to switch to the option, could definitely have been better and I could have ended up significantly higher on the final time sheet, for what that's worth on a Friday afternoon. There is still much work to be done, because I expect we will see some cars going very quickly tomorrow, but also over a distance, the situation is not too bad: there's a bit of a performance drop from the tyres, but all in all, the times were good. The wind? It was a nuisance, especially at some points of the track where it made it very easy to lock the fronts."

Pat Fry, technical director
"Once again this Friday, we had various new components to test, some with the aim of using them in this race and others for the rest of the season. It shows above all that the effort we are putting into improving the performance of the F2012 is still very intensive and the fact the first indications are matching our expectations is a positive sign that confirms the trend we have seen reasonably constantly so far this season. We managed to get through our planned programme without any real problems, which is always a good thing and of course, we also worked on a comparison between the two types of tyre that Pirelli has brought here to Valencia. Now, it's down to our engineers to decide on the best choices for qualifying and the race. Usually, the first day here, the track is very dirty and that means the lap times evolve very quickly. It's also true that this will still be a consideration in tomorrow's qualifying, when it will be important to pick the right moment to do the timed laps in order to get the most out of the tyres."

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg FP2 - 2nd
"Just the one session for me today, but it went very well and we were able to pack a lot of work into the afternoon. I feel quite comfortable with the car and we managed some good runs on both tyres compounds today. I think the key factor for the rest of the weekend will be managing the tyres if the temperatures increase as expected and making sure we can deliver the same level of performance."

Paul di RestaFP1 - 6th, FP2 - 6th
"When I got in the car this morning the baseline set-up was a good starting point and I didn't really change that much for the rest of the day. Our single lap speed looks strong, as does the long run pace, and we appear to have a good feel for the tyres already. Given the pace we have shown today we seem competitive so hopefully we can challenge for the top ten in qualifying tomorrow."

Jules Bianchi FP1 - 15th "My morning session went well and the team learned a lot from the aero evaluation we did with the front wings. My first few laps were not at the limit, but I improved my speed step-by-step with each run and got more confidence with the conditions. The track was not so clean to begin with and although it improved during the session my tyres were going away at the same time. It was the second time I have used the medium compound tyres and I felt quite happy with their performance during the session."

Jakob Andreasen, chief engineer
"A solid day of practice in Valencia and we managed to get through our programme of test items, which included some aero parts and items we had evaluated in the simulator. The results were encouraging and show the correlation between our simulations and reality is working well. In terms of tyres we gathered a lot of data today and both the soft and medium compounds are performing well for us. The drivers were excellent, too, and their feedback has given us a good basis for tomorrow. There are some tough decisions to make tonight because we expect the temperatures to rise for the weekend, but we are up and running and well prepared heading into final practice tomorrow morning."

HRT

Pedro de la Rosa FP1 - 22nd, FP2 - 24th
"In the first session our weakest point was braking, as we were blocking the front and rear tyres. We improved notably in the afternoon after making some changes and you could feel it straight away. The session was going well but I made a mistake and went off track which, unfortunately, damaged the entire front suspension. My session ended there and we were unable to test neither the soft tyres nor many things which we had in mind but I'm keeping the positive aspect which is that we improved the car. I'm well and my mechanics are already repairing the car. They're extraordinary professionals and tomorrow everything will be ready again to give it our best go once more in front of our home fans."

Narain Karthikeyan FP1 - 23rd, FP2 - 23rd
"In the morning the track was very dirty because it hadn't been used yet, so we just did some running and some work on the set-up and weight distribution of the car. In the afternoon we tried a few other things as the track was in better condition but we struggled to get the option tyres hot for the quick lap, so we have to work on that to try and get the most out of them for tomorrow's qualifying. Other than that it was a good day and tomorrow we must look to build on this and find that long-desired good performance in qualifying."

Luis Pérez-Sala, Team Principal
"Overall it was a positive day; in the morning we were around and about the 104% and in the afternoon, after adjusting the balance of the car, the feeling improved. Narain, with a full deposit, had a very good rhythm and the car held out well, however he was unable to get the most out of the soft tyres. Pedro had an accident before switching to softs but fortunately it wasn't too severe so tomorrow we will try to make up for lost time. Today we focused on the race and tomorrow we will work with qualifying in mind."

Lotus

Kimi Räikkönen FP1 - 10th, FP2 - 11th
"The car feels okay and there were no issues. The wind was a bit of a factor in the morning but it was better in the afternoon. I was stuck in traffic for quite a bit of my long run in the second session, so I wasn't able to go as fast as the car was capable of, but we don't have any issues on that front. The E20's strong point always seems to be its race pace but of course we are looking to make it quicker in qualifying. Let's see how it is tomorrow morning and we'll do whatever's necessary. We'll make a few changes to the car for sure, but I think we're pretty okay."

Romain Grosjean FP1 - 11th, FP2 - 8th
"Today was not as hot as we expected, certainly after the weather we saw here yesterday, but the long run pace was there and the car felt good. We still have a few things to try with the setup, so there should be some more pace to come. Qualifying will be the big moment for us as we have seen that we need to find a little bit of improvement there. It's not the end of the world, as we have seen that we can make good gains on Sunday with our race pace. The trick will be to find more speed in qualifying without disturbing this."

Alan Permane, trackside operations director
"It's been a straight-forward and issue-free Friday for us. We conducted aero evaluation of a new front wing and new floor and we will be considering the data this evening. In the afternoon we concentrated on race pace and tyre management so our finishing positions, as usual, don't necessarily represent where we expect to be after qualifying tomorrow. Overall, we're very happy with the way the E20 is performing here. There is some scope for improvement to get both Kimi and Romain 100% happy with their cars, which we will work on tomorrow morning. In terms of long run pace we think we are looking competitive."

Marussia

Timo Glock FP1 - 24th, FP2 - 21st
"I have to be quite pleased with the work I have done today, as it has not been an easy day of Free Practice for me. I seem to have picked up a stomach bug over the last couple of days and for a time I have to say I was feeling quite unwell. Back in the car today I have felt a little better and I am hopeful that I am on the mend. With the programme I worked through, the car was performing well for me, so a good start in that respect. My plan now is to work through the data so I have plenty to sleep on while I concentrate on recovering for a new day tomorrow."

Charles Pic FP1 - 21st, FP2 - 22nd
"A very interesting day for me as my programme was slightly different to normal. The engineers changed things around quite a bit to help Timo's recovery, which meant that I was doing more of the race preparation work. This was good for me and I am happy with what was a slightly more diverse plan. In the end, we seem to have a good set-up direction and with the amount of running we did, we have plenty of data to explore this evening. I think once we have looked at this and we are back in sync tomorrow, we will find that we have recovered some of what we lost in Canada and we can start to work on the gap to the cars in front of us again. For me, a good start, and I am happy that there is more we can achieve this weekend."

John Booth, team principal
"This morning, prior to FP1, we obviously had some work to do to reshape our programme in order to ease the pressure on Timo. Although he was feeling better than he had been, we felt it best not to overload him and cause any setbacks in his recovery. He did a fantastic job in difficult circumstances and seemed to feel okay when he was driving the car. All credit to him for completing 21 laps this afternoon and being able to demonstrate good pace at this stage. Similar credit to Charles however, as he picked up the reins, broke the back of the race preparation programme and has made good progress on set-up. Across the board there is more to come, we feel, and a night spent poring over the data, coupled with a good night's rest for Timo, should see us back in our normal stride tomorrow. The track conditions should also have improved by then as the circuit was very dirty this morning and took a while to clean up. The early indications, despite a less than straightforward day, are that our pace here is closer to what we expect following our low downforce blip in Canada."

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton FP1 - 8th, FP2 - 14th
"We didn't have a brilliant day today - it was a bit of a struggle to be honest - but I'm quite confident that we can make changes overnight and get back into the hunt tomorrow. I wasn't totally happy with my car today, but, being realistic, you can't always get it absolutely right, can you? This year, we've usually got the balance spot-on during practice, but we perhaps didn't run precisely the correct set-up today. We think we know what the problems were though, and how to put them right, so we ought to be fine for tomorrow. I'm quite confident that we'll have improved things for qualifying."

Jenson Button FP1 - 4th, FP2 - 12th
"The car didn't feel too bad today: we struggled a little with front locking, and the lap-time isn't quite there yet, but we've made some changes that should start to improve that tomorrow. We did a lot of work to improve the front [wheel] locking, but we're also going to go back on a few changes in order to get a car set-up that we know feels reasonably good. There are a couple of other changes we're also considering for tomorrow which could be quite interesting. I think we're quicker over a single lap than the time-sheets suggest, but the car is still a little tricky to drive on Option tyres. I'm confident that the changes we're now making will make a difference - but whether that will be enough to challenge at the front is still an unknown, because the field is so extremely competitive right now."

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal
"Today was a challenging day, at the end of whose second free practice session the top 15 cars were covered by less than a second. That statistic clearly underlines just how close the cars are this season - but, even so, we'd be a bit happier if we'd ended the day a little closer to the front. The unexpectedly gusty winds presented further problems, and made development more difficult, especially as tomorrow and on Sunday it's likely that the weather will revert to the hot conditions we saw here yesterday. So, now, we've got a lot of data to process, and this evening we'll be crunching that data with a view to optimising our cars' performance and balance on this tricky street circuit for qualifying and the race."

Mercedes

Michael Schumacher FP1 - 7th, FP2 - 4th
"Our work today was reasonably good, with obviously a lot of data to be confirmed now in our technical briefings before qualifying. The second session initially started with an issue with the clutch but it turned out very ok. Of course we are aware that it will be a challenge for everybody, especially to keep the rear tyres alive but this is as expected. Let's see what we can do tomorrow."

Nico Rosberg FP1 - 9th, FP2 - 10th
"I'm happy with today's practice sessions, and we were able to learn a lot on high and low fuel levels. Although it's cooler today, the conditions are still really hot out there, but I believe that we understand the tyre work on the rears a bit better now. It was also difficult to avoid locking the front tyres in the braking zones. I'm looking forward to the next two days and it should be an exciting race on Sunday."

Ross Brawn, team principal
"A fairly standard Friday programme for us today. We ran the medium tyres this morning to start our set up programme and get an initial understanding of the tyre management parameters, then used both compounds this afternoon over longer runs. The day ran smoothly and we completed our full programme. Michael and Nico are reasonably happy with the car's performance so far, so we will keep working hard and see what the weekend brings."

Norbert Haug, head of Mercedes motorsport
"A positive first day for us. Nico posted fastest time on the prime tyre but did not get a clear lap without yellow flags on the options, following an accident on the track. Michael's and Nico's long runs under race conditions looked consistent on both types of tyres, so we have a solid baseline for another step tomorrow."

Red Bull

Mark Webber FP1 - 3rd, FP2 - 9th
"The car's working well, but there are areas where we can improve. I was happier on the harder tyre, the balance on the soft tyres wasn't great today, but we'll work on that tonight. The wind was playing a role today - but there will be less tomorrow. Regarding changes we've made to the car, we'll know on Sunday if they're working well for us. The circuit will get a bit quicker as we lay rubber down, and it will get a bit hotter as well, so let's see."

Sebastian Vettel FP1 - 2nd, FP2 - 1st
"We have tried some new parts on the car today, but the lap times have not really allowed us to have a fair conclusion of them yet. It was important to have a clean practice today and I'm happy with what we did. The conditions will change again for Sunday I think; it was a bit cooler today, which will make a difference. It's close between the teams and it's not yet clear what the right strategy is for Sunday, hopefully we can make a step forward tomorrow."

Sauber

Kamui Kobayashi FP1 - 12th, FP2 - 3rd
"For me it was quite okay today, except for an hydraulic problem which prevented me from doing long runs in the afternoon. In the morning we had a couple of test items. This worked fine and was the reason why I didn't do performance runs in the first session. Despite the fact that there had not been too much time for set up work, the car was good when we fitted the soft tyres. Tyre management will be the key here and this depends not only on the driving, but also on the car's set up. For the race it is important to get everything right in this regard so that the tyres don't drop off too quickly, but tomorrow first we have to focus on qualifying. The grid position here is more important than on other tracks because overtaking is really difficult."

Sergio Perez FP1 - 13th, FP2 - 16th
"For me it was a rather difficult day because I wasn't happy with the balance of my car. On low fuel I struggled a lot, while it was better on a high fuel load. Kamui and I had different programmes for today and we now have a lot of data to be analysed and compared. I think we probably have found something today what could help us for tomorrow."

Giampaolo Dall'Ara, head of track engineering
"We are not really happy with how the day went. We expected to have a lot of homework to do, because this track is not the easiest for our car. We dedicated the morning to quite a lot of aero work with both cars, which was positive because we were able to gather a lot of data. In the afternoon we concentrated mainly on race preparation with some tyre work and some more validations on the aero side. With Kamui we were able to find a good balance and get him happy with the car, however, he lost a lot of track time because of what looks to be an hydraulic leak which we weren't able to fix during the session. We will have to analyse this very carefully. Sergio was not happy with the balance of the car, so we have a lot of work to do there as well. Overall, it was a mixed day."

Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo FP1 - 19th, FP2 18th
"The track was quite dirty in the morning session, with some litter on it, blown across by the strong wind, but it cleared up as the afternoon went on. The wind actually affected the car in a few braking areas when it was blowing as a tailwind. As for the car, when I was running in more of a qualifying trim, we seemed to be lacking a bit of performance. On my long run at the end of the second session with more fuel on board, I certainly felt the car was better, so that was more positive. Therefore, we need to improve the car on low fuel and I think we have an idea how to do that, so we will study all the data now and put together a plan for tomorrow. I am confident that, tomorrow, we can move up a few places from where we are now."

Jean-Eric Vergne FP1 - 18th, FP2 - 20th
"I have raced here before, a few years back in GP3. Of course, it's a very different circuit from the cockpit of a Formula 1 car, but at least I had some idea what to expect. We did a lot of work on set-up, trying things linked to the exhaust system configuration that was first used by Daniel in Montreal. In general, we need some more speed and a couple of tenths off the lap times, because we are not fast enough. I think if we can make just small improvements in a few areas, then we can find more pace tomorrow."

Laurent Mekies, chief engineer
"It was a standard Friday practice with both drivers running similar programmes as we concentrated on getting the cars to work well around here in these very hot conditions. We scanned a variety of set-up options and began to assess the tyre life of both compounds with a view to Sunday's race. In the afternoon, our drivers split this task, each doing just one long run, using different compounds. Overall, it was a trouble free day in the heat of Valencia and now we have to work hard tonight to put together the best package we can for both qualifying and the race."

Williams

Pastor Maldonado FP1 - 1st, FP2 - 13th
"We completed our full test programme today. The track was so green at the start of the day, as expected, but the grip level has been increasing throughout each session. The car was consistent but we lost a bit of time on our shorter runs this afternoon. We need to understand the set-up of the car a bit better and to anticipate how the track conditions will change tomorrow. The car is working well but we still need to improve."

Bruno Senna FP2 - 5th
"It was a good day and we managed to fulfil our test programme. It would have been useful to have done a few more miles but we have still gathered a lot of valuable data. We're getting closer to where we need to be so I'm happy with how today went."

Valtteri Bottas FP1 - 16th
"It was pretty difficult this morning as the track was still quite dusty and the last time I drove the car was Barcelona so I had to get back into the rhythm. I was building up all the time and we got all the data from the new aero parts we were testing which is the main thing. The wind made it a bit trickier so it wasn't the easiest of conditions, especially when the walls are so close. The main positive thing was how we managed our tyres, as my times in the third stint were still good in comparison to my first two runs."

Mark Gillan, chief operations engineer
"We had a good day today and tested a number of new development items in addition to working on the car set-up and tyre management. All three drivers performed well with Pastor being particularly strong throughout the first session. Having been out of the car for a couple of races Valtteri quickly got up to speed and gave us good feedback on his test programme during this morning's session. Bruno then completed a good second session with the race drivers working on both low and high fuel balances on the medium and soft tyres. We have collected a lot of data which we now need to dissect, and make decisions on ahead of both qualifying and the race."

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