• Japanese Grand Prix

Who said what after Friday practice for the Japanese Grand Prix

ESPNF1 Staff
October 11, 2013

Read what the drivers and teams had to say after Friday practice for the Japanese Grand Prix

There were numerous crashes and incidents during Friday practice at Suzuka © Getty Images
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Caterham

Heikki Kovalainen - FP1: 19th
"It was good to be back in the car, especially at Suzuka which, for me, is the best circuit in the world. We ran through a pretty standard FP1 session and from the first laps the car felt ok with the overall balance slightly improved from the last time I drove it in Monza. In particular the steering felt very responsive, even better than the last time I drove and that gives good confidence to attack and keep control through the corners.

"Early in the session the braking stability was OK, only in the last corner was there a slight issue as the tyres got hotter towards the end of the lap. It felt a bit nervous in T6/7 but the opposite was true in T13/14 where it was pretty stable. We did have an issue with low-speed traction so we worked on that for run two.

"On the second run the rear didn't feel as good in the highspeed section, especially in the first sector on the first quick lap. However, we'd improved braking stability and the rear tyre deg was ok - it actually improved during the run and it'll be interesting to see if that continues on the long runs.

"On the final run the tyres had started to give up so true comparisons with the first two runs were always going to be difficult. We tried a different rear wing setting and the balance had shifted to more oversteer, but overall it felt positive, especially as the track grip levels keep improving, so I finished the session happy with the job I'd done and with the progress we'd made on Friday morning. "

Charles Pic - FP2: 19th
"I was back in the car for FP2 and we went straight to work on a set of hard tyres at the start of the session. At first the car felt a bit too sharp on turn-in and in the high speed section there was a bit too much understeer, so we added a bit of front wing for the next run. That improved the balance a little but it still wasn't great. It was the same on the options but for the long run we changed the rear anti-roll bar and it felt better, we were definitely going in the right direction but it still wasn't quite enough. On entry it felt more calm and we'd reduced some of the mid-corner understeer but over the course of the final run it was pretty clear we also needed to look at the ratios for Saturday. Overall not too bad but I think there's quite a bit more to come for tomorrow."

Giedo van der Garde - FP1: 21st, FP2: 20th
"FP1 started off ok. The car balance wasn't too bad but as the tyres started going off it was oversteering more than I'd like and it felt like we needed to add more wing to control that, mainly in the low-speed sections, especially with the lower downforce setup we started with. It was pretty good in the high-speeds but we added a bit more wing for run two and initially it was a bit better. We'd switched to the second of the aero configurations we were trying in the session and unfortunately it didn't go to plan as I went off in turn nine towards the end of the run - that was FP1 over, but we had 15 laps on the board by then so it didn't compromise us too much.

"At the start of FP2 the car balance was better after we'd made the changes over lunch but I was still struggling with understeer in sector one and oversteer at the end of sector two, and less traction than I'd like in turns 11 and 17. For the run on options we added more front wing but I couldn't put a really quick lap together. We finished with the usual long run, starting on hards and they held up well over the 20 lap run we did before boxing just before the end of the session. To be honest, it didn't feel like there was a lot of difference between the hards and the mediums but we'll look at the data from both cars tonight and see where we can make progress tomorrow. Overall it was a bit of a frustrating day, but I know there's more potential in the car so I'm as positive as ever and we'll come back fighting tomorrow."

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso - FP1: 6th, FP2: 10th
"It's hard to talk about Maria de Villota right now, as I had only just taken my helmet off, when I was told about her death and at the moment, I still can't believe it and need a while to stop and think about it. Of course, it's very sad news for the world of motorsport as Maria was loved by everyone. Now, all we can do is pray for her and for her family. Back to the track, we were not as competitive as we wanted to be and now we must try and improve, putting together a series of changes that we already have in mind. Luckily, when I spun I didn't ruin the tyres: we also managed to use them on the long run with a full fuel load, even if we definitely lost a few extra tenths from the first lap. We hope to get a clean lap tomorrow and to be ahead of those cars, such as the Toro Rossos and the McLarens that we cannot have in front of us, as happened today."

Felipe Massa - FP1: 5th, FP2: 8th
"Today, we did all we could and managed to get through all our programme. It's hard to know how to rate today because it's only Friday and there are a lot of cars that are very competitive. From tomorrow, I hope to have a faster car, which will allow us to fight with those ahead of us. We will definitely do our best in preparing for qualifying, but above all for Sunday's race. It's always nice to be at Suzuka on this fantastic track, which is one of the best we race on."

Pat Fry, technical director
"It was a demanding day of testing in which, once again, we tried to optimise the set-up of the cars to adapt them as well as possible to the characteristics of the track. At Suzuka, one move in the wrong direction carries a heavier price than at other tracks and so it's necessary to come up with a configuration that gives the drivers as much confidence as possible in all three sectors. In the first free practice session, with Felipe we did a few aero tests, an area in which we are trying to improve, to be as competitive as possible when tackling the final races of the season. With Fernando's F138, in the morning, we worked on set-up, making a few changes to give the car more grip. In the afternoon, with both drivers we concentrated on the usual comparison between the two compounds brought here by Pirelli: the performance gap between the Hard and Medium does not seem excessive, but we will try and understand more about their wear characteristics, taking into account the fact that usually, the degradation is particularly significant. We didn't manage any quick laps on a low fuel load and so I don't think the final Friday time sheet is particularly representative. Now we must be cautious, trying to reduce the gap to our closest rivals, while also not underestimating what those behind could do. This evening we will pay maximum attention to all the data we have gathered and assess every possibility for improving. In order to tackle what is a difficult track for the drivers as well as the engineers, it's absolutely vital to get the car as well balanced as possible."

Force India

Paul di Resta - FP1: 17th, FP2: 14th
"The car was quite difficult to drive today, but we've worked hard to try and optimise the balance. After each run, we changed some things and I think we've learned a lot as a result. The long run consistency seems reasonable, but we need to make sure that we can deliver the performance with both the medium and the hard compound."

Adrian Sutil - FP1: 14th, FP2: 15th
"I always enjoy this circuit, but today the car was not so easy to drive. I was suffering with understeer this morning and oversteer in the afternoon, and it's hard to find the balance I feel comfortable with. We need to try and solve those issues tonight to give me confidence going into qualifying."

Otmar Szafnauer, chief operating officer
"A busy day of work at Suzuka and we've tried hard to dial the cars into this very technical lap. The morning saw us evaluate some downforce options before we focussed on improving drivability. It's a track where driver confidence is the key to getting the laptime and that's where we will concentrate our efforts tonight to give Paul and Adrian a better balance for tomorrow. The initial indications are that the race pace looks competitive along with the tyre degradation rates."

Lotus

Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 8th, FP2: 4th
"The car felt pretty good today. Of course, there are some areas we can improve but I'm quite happy with the progress we made. I spun in FP2 so we did miss some of the long run laps we would have got this afternoon. I was on a fast run and the wind changed, which can affect the car sometimes. At least we didn't do any damage so the crew won't have any extra work. It's not a big drama as we know the track pretty well. We have a few changes for tomorrow so let's see what happens."

Romain Grosjean - FP1: 7th, FP2: 5th
"Finding the right balance to get the car working well around here is quite tricky and the tyres are not making that any easier, so we've got some work to do overnight to make it a little easier to handle. There's definitely some more performance to be found, and it's always better to be near the top of the times even if you've not got things quite right, so we'll see what we can do tomorrow."

Alan Permane, trackside operations director
"We have struggled a bit for consistency today, with both drivers having off-track excursions. Romain in particular experienced brake locking, which is something we can counter with some mapping work. We lost a reasonable amount of long run data collection as a result of Kimi's spin, meaning Romain's programme was modified slightly and we might look at doing some race simulation work during tomorrow's practice. On the softer tyre we look competitive and I think we can expect to qualify well. Our long run pace also looks good so it's an encouraging start to the weekend."

Marussia

Jules Bianchi - FP1 20th: , FP2: N/A
"It has been a tough day and with only 8 laps completed it is not the way I had expected things to go in my first sessions at Suzuka. My chassis was too damaged for me to take part in FP2 so the Team are building up the spare chassis and I will run again in FP3 tomorrow morning. We have a lot of work to do now - me with my engineers and also for the mechanics building the car up for tomorrow - so all we can do is work hard and hope for a better day tomorrow."

Max Chilton - FP1: 22nd, FP2: 21st
"It has been really good to get my first taste of the mighty Suzuka Circuit today, but as we have seen, it is quite a tough track to get to grips with. From the early part of the morning session it was clear that setting the car up for this track and achieving a good balance was going to be quite a challenge. That challenge increased when Jules was unable to take part in this afternoon's session and we had to make every lap of data gathering count. I'm pleased with how my afternoon session went in terms of improving the car balance and my overall pace, so I'm looking forward to continuing this progress tomorrow."

John Booth, team principal
"It has been a testing Friday for us here at Suzuka but we have seen some positive signs in terms of our performance. Unfortunately Jules had an off in Free Practice 1 but at that stage his time was competitive and would still have been a good time had he set it in FP2. Unfortunately he was unable to take part due to his damaged chassis and so Max had to do the lion's share of the work today. He worked well with his engineers to complete the obligatory tyre evaluations and improve the car balance and we are happy with his pace. Although we have less data than normal we will go through the information we have gathered in detail to ensure that when we are able to get both cars out on track tomorrow morning we can quickly move forward."

McLaren

Jenson Button - FP1: 11th, FP2: 9th
"It's great to be out on the circuit. Throughout the day, we saw a lot of drivers making mistakes, but that's the nature of this place - it's unforgiving. Obviously, we don't like to see accidents like Checo's, but you appreciate that you have to respect this place. It's been a relatively good Friday. We found a good balance on the Prime tyre, but still need to do some work with the Option, because we didn't gain too much going from the harder tyre to the softer one. Nevertheless, while both compounds are working reasonably well, I believe there's a cooler weather front coming in for tomorrow, so we need to be careful about the direction we take with the set-up to best cope with it.

"Today's news about Maria de Villota is horrendous and tragic. She had been through so much - much more than most people will ever have to go through in their lives - and it's been so tough for her. This is a real shock to the whole Formula 1 'family' and the world of motorsport. My thoughts are with her family at this time."

Sergio Perez - FP1: 9th, FP2: 16th
"My accident during FP3 was my error. I was setting the car up for the entry to Spoon, put my right-rear wheel onto the grass, and just lost the back end. At the speed I was travelling, and with relatively little run-off, there wasn't much room to scrub off speed so I went straight into the wall. The impact was quite hard, but fortunately I'm fine. The accident meant we didn't get the track time we needed for the high-fuel and Option tyre runs in our programme for the afternoon. But we'll be able to use some of the data generated by Jenson, and our aim for tomorrow has to be to get into Q3.

"I only heard the very bad news about Maria de Villota at the end of the session. It's incredibly sad to learn this news about somebody you know. My thoughts are obviously with Maria and her family during this terrible time."

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal
"Checo's accident in FP2 was obviously a setback for the team, but the main thing for all of us is that he was able to walk away unhurt from what was quite a sizeable impact. Unfortunately, his chassis wasn't so fortunate, and it will be replaced with the spare by the mechanics overnight. Jenson made good progress throughout the day and both sides of the garage will be a little more dependent on the data he accrued in the afternoon - particularly his experience of the Option tyre, and his work running on a heavier fuel load.

"However, our progress on the track this weekend has been overshadowed by tragedy. The entire F1 community is very shocked by the news that Maria is no longer with us. She was an inspiration not just to women in this sport, but also to all those who suffered life-threatening injuries. Her story, determination and subsequent inspiration flowed from F1 through sport as a whole, and to see the images of her in Barcelona on the grid earlier this year, surrounded by a throng of jubilant children, told a great story. Maria participated in the Manhattan Fans' Forum on behalf of her team, Marussia F1, last year, and made a lasting impression on the fans who attended. She will be sadly missed, and we wish to pass on our sincere condolences to her family."

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1st, FP2: 6th
"This track is so beautiful to drive, it's fast and flowing, and our car really does feel good here. But it's also a very unforgiving and challenging circuit; you're always on the limit so the trick is to balance and control that limit. I'm happy with where our car is after the first practice sessions today although, of course, we would love to be more competitive. We've got some work to do this evening on the tyre management in particular. It's too early to think about what we can achieve but I'm looking forward to a competitive qualifying tomorrow and then we will have to see what we can do in the race."

Nico Rosberg - FP1: 2nd, FP2: 3rd
"The track here at Suzuka is such great fun to drive and our car was feeling fantastic around it today. We were quite fast over one lap and on the long runs but the important thing is how we manage the tyres as that will be the key to success here. There's a lot of work ahead of us but I'm really looking forward to the rest of the weekend and I hope we can annoy the Red Bulls a little bit."

Ross Brawn, team principal
"We had a slightly messy session this afternoon which didn't quite run as smoothly as we might have hoped. Both drivers suffered flat spots with the tyres, which forced us to adapt our programme, but they were still able to complete enough running to get a good feel for each compound and how it's working at this circuit. The tyres will be very sensitive to brake locking in race conditions, which will be a major consideration for everybody, and we wanted to put as many miles as possible on them today in order to find out what the performance and durability limits of both compounds are. Our pace looked competitive this morning, a little less so this afternoon, but as always on Friday the varied fuel loads up and down the pit lane complicate things somewhat. We will do our analysis tonight to see where we can improve and hopefully take another step forward tomorrow."

Toto Wolff, executive director
"Our priority today was to learn as much as possible about the hard and medium compound tyres and we completed more than two race distances in order to do so. As we have seen before this season, we looked strong in first practice before the competitive order apparently shifted again in the second practice session, but we will see exactly where we stand in qualifying tomorrow. We will be working hard this evening in order to understand what more we can do in order to improve both the speed and consistency of the car ahead of tomorrow. It was a solid start to the race weekend."

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 3rd, FP2: 1st
"The car balance is decent, but I think we can still improve. Looking after the tyres will be important here, especially during the race. The car works fine at the moment, but we need to make sure we set it up the right way. It's good to see we are up there today, but it's not always so important; we need to step up our game for tomorrow, as Mercedes will be strong in qualifying."

Mark Webber - FP1: 4th, FP2: 2nd
"On one lap, it looks pretty tight with the Mercedes and with the Lotus', but I haven't had a close look at the times: it doesn't look too bad. We've done a lot of laps today and will now work on tomorrow. The track is a special one and in terms of difficulty, it's right up there. We have to be very accurate and if you're not, then you get penalised. We have to find performance tonight, it's our job to make improvements each day and we have a job to do tonight to find some more tenths."

Sauber

Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 12th, FP2: 13th
"It was a smooth Friday. The weather was fine, and it wasn't raining as was expected. Everything was going according to plan and we were able to go through our programme. We tested different set-ups and compared rear wings, now we need to look at the data to determine which one is better. Otherwise it was business as usual understanding the different tyre compounds, with the option looking better on the long runs. Tomorrow Q3 will be the target. It's a challenge and looks to be tight, but, considering how we went today, I think there is still room for us to improve."

Esteban Gutierrez - FP1: 18th, FP2: 11th
"It was an interesting day. It's a challenge to get to know the track, but it delivered everything I expected it would. It's a special circuit, with very nice and fast corners and I enjoy driving here a lot. In the morning I focused on learning the track. It's a complicated track to learn and to find the right lines. In turns eight and nine especially, there is no margin for mistake, otherwise you kiss the wall. The afternoon was a lot better. We worked on the set up and it went well. We still have a bit of work to do, but I was able to get a good idea and will do everything to translate that into a good result tomorrow."

Tom McCullough, head of track engineering
"This morning in FP1 we split the set-up programmes between the two cars. We struggled with rear grip on both cars throughout the day, but were steadily working on and improving that. Esteban again displayed a very solid and mature approach to a very difficult new circuit, and was chipping away run by run. The midfield is still very tight, as we can see by the low and high fuels runs. Looking forward to tomorrow, we shall be working hard tonight to improve the car in qualifying trim."

Monisha Kaltenborn, team principal
"We are shocked to hear the news of María de Villota's death and would like to offer our sincerest condolences and heartfelt sympathy to her family and friends for this tragic loss. If anybody represented strength and optimism, it was María. Her sudden death is a big loss to the motorsport world as she was an important ambassador for relaying important messages to the youth, and particularly girls that aspire to a career in motorsport. María was an example of someone who never gave up, she always had a smile on her face and we will dearly miss her."

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne - FP1: 13th, FP2: 12th
"It was a troublefree Friday and we worked to our usual programme, working on the car set-up and balance. I have to say I am not yet happy with it, mainly having some difficulty with understeer. However, it was an encouraging day. I did long runs on both tyres and although I didn't get a clear picture from the Prime, the Option was good."

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 10th, FP2: 7th
"I've been hoping to have a Friday like this one for a while now even if, of course, it's the Saturday and Sunday that's important. So I am glad that I was tenth in the morning and seventh this afternoon, which is a good sign for us. It's a complicated circuit and I love it. Today, we made progress with each change we made on the car, keeping each modification and then moving further forward. On my long run on Option, it started quite well until I ran into traffic, but in general the pace wasn't looking too bad - definitely a positive Friday for us."

Laurent Mekies, head of vehicle performance
"We seem to be in good shape this weekend and we are satisfied with how the car is reacting to what we do to it. We tried various set-up changes this morning and we have found a decent compromise here as a starting point for the weekend. We still have some work to do to give the drivers what they want. It is again very close in the midfield, so the important thing now is that tonight, we manage to make the usual step forward that we normally see from Friday to Saturday and we will be looking at the data to see what changes we can make overnight."

Williams

Pastor Maldonado - FP1: 11th, FP2: 18th
"It was a frustrating day today as I didn't get the amount of time on track that I would have liked. My FP1 session ended early after a problem with my left-rear tyre, and at the beginning of FP2 I was struggling for grip and lost the back end of the car and went off the circuit which ended my running. Tomorrow is another day though and FP3 will give us a chance to improve the set-up based on what we learnt today and get some low fuel running in to optimise our car for qualifying, which will be important as overtaking here can be difficult."

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 16th, FP2: 17th
"There are still some balance issues with the car and the strong winds today made it feel more inconsistent. We are struggling to get the most out of the soft tyres when the track conditions are improving, and relative to the other cars I would say that our pace is similar to where we were in Korea. Nevertheless I managed to get a good number of laps in today, more than any other driver, so we have a lot of data available to us to try and improve the car's performance and find a few extra tenths ahead of qualifying."

Xevi Pujolar, chief race engineer
"In FP1 we did a number of different aerodynamic tests across the two cars including front wing comparisons and tested some development floor and front brake duct components. Following this we picked the best configuration for FP2 when we switched our focus to tyre work. Valtteri was concentrating on a number of performance and long run comparisons; however we didn't complete our programme with Pastor as he ran wide hitting the barrier during his first run. We also had to cut his FP1 session slightly short after he lost his left-rear wheel out on track. The team are currently investigating this. There is still work to do ahead of tomorrow to improve our overall pace and consistency. "

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