• Spanish Grand Prix

Who said what after practice in Barcelona

ESPNF1 Staff
May 20, 2011

A round-up of comment after Friday's practice sessions at the Circuit de Catalunya

It was a busy day as many teams evaluated new upgrades © Getty Images
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Ferrari

Fernando Alonso "We tried a lot of new things today and now we must extrapolate the information from all this work and select the best parts to put on the car for tomorrow. My first impression is favourable: I think we have made a step forward. It is always difficult to judge the gaps in free practice because there are always differences between one car and the next. I am certainly not surprised that the Red Bulls are still ahead of everyone: at the moment they are fastest and tracks like this one, or Budapest are particularly well suited to their characteristics.

"Having said that, while it's true it might be difficult to beat them in qualifying, maybe in the race we can get closer, also to the McLarens and put them under pressure. We still have to work on the set-up: today we had too many things to test and we did not have time to make too many changes. I think the chances of fighting for a podium finish are even more likely here than they were in Turkey. The tyres? Pirelli has brought a new type of "hard" and it's hard to imagine we can get through Q1 without having to resort to using the "softs." One thing we had already seen in winter testing and which has been confirmed today is that degradation is pretty significant and so there is cause to expect a race like the one in Istanbul in terms of the number of pit stops."

Felipe Massa "That wasn't an easy day for me. I had lots of problems getting the tyres to work, especially the hard compound, and I didn't manage to put together a good time. That's a pity because the new parts that we've brought here have improved our performance, even though the other teams remain very strong: there's still a crucial gap to our main rivals. Now we must make the right choices to prepare as best we can for qualifying and the race. As for the tyres, I prefer not to go into details. Let's say that there's a lot of work to do in this area. When I went off the track I lost the rear and I ended up in the gravel: I passed very close to the barriers but fortunately I didn't touch them so I managed to make it back onto the track without damage."

Pat Fry, assistant technical director "A lot on the menu today this Friday in Montmelo and an initial reaction would be that first impressions are positive. We had a lot of new components to test: as always happens in these situations, some worked well, others less so and now it's a case of putting together the jigsaw puzzle with the best pieces available. We also tried new aerodynamic concepts to assess how useful they might be. All in all, I think we have made progress in terms of performance, even if it is difficult to specify exactly if and by how much we have closed the gap to the quickest.

"The aim is to improve our performance in qualifying and also make progress in terms of our race pace, working down the same route we have taken for the past few races. It will not be easy to succeed but we are confident. Compared to what we saw in winter testing, even taking into account the fact temperatures are much higher now, tyre degradation seems very high: in fact I reckon the pit stop crew will have a lot of work to do on Sunday afternoon…"

Force India

Adrian Sutil "I ran with all our new aero parts this morning and in the afternoon, but to be honest we haven't managed to find the sweet spot yet. The guys did a great job to get everything on the car, but it's never easy to introduce so many new things during a weekend and to test them properly. Getting this new package to work is probably going to be more difficult than we thought and that's why we didn't look that competitive today. So we have work to do this evening to see if we can improve things for tomorrow."

Paul Di Resta "I missed the morning session so there was a big workload to get through in the afternoon. It was the first time I'd been in the car with the entire new package and we always knew it would be a big change compared to what we were used to. The car feels very different and it's clear we have lots of work to do to understand the new parts and get the most from them. By the end of the afternoon we had definitely improved the car quite a bit, but we need to sit down tonight and think about how we should approach tomorrow."

Nico Hülkenberg "This morning my car was fitted with all the old-spec parts so that we could have a good baseline to make a comparison with the new parts on Adrian's car. I think it helped us get an understanding of where the differences are and provided some useful data. The only difficulty was the limitation on the tyres because it's hard to do many useful runs when you have just one set of hard tyres."

Dominic Harlow, circuit engineering director "On the whole we had good weather conditions here in Barcelona apart from a bit more wind than we would have liked and that looks set to continue for the weekend. Our programme concentrated on aero development and we were able to make some very useful comparisons. Once we've had an opportunity to review all the data we will draw conclusions that will take us forward. The grip level was quite low in the morning and only began to improve at the end of FP2. There was a minor telemetry issue with Adrian's car and that meant he was hampered by traffic during his final outing on new soft tyres, and of course he lost a bit of track time. Otherwise it was a reliable introduction of quite a few new components, which is always pleasing, but we've some work to do overnight to improve our performance for qualifying."

HRT

Narain Karthikeyan "We had some issues with traction and a lot of oversteer this morning on prime tyres. In the afternoon we changed this a bit and it calmed down. We're trying to work on the new parts, we have some new bits coming tomorrow as well so, as a whole package, we should improve a bit from today. The balance was completely different from winter so we have to re-balance the car, look at the data and improve. There is a lot of work to do".

Vitantonio Liuzzi "Today was a positive day overall. We had some time to do a few long runs and understand the tyres and get a better feel for the car. We had two interesting sessions where we spent a lot of time tuning the set up of the car. Both cars had different packages so it was important that Narain and myself focused on different aspects. We've got some important data for tomorrow. I'm positive that with the full upgrade on the car we'll make a positive step".

Colin Kolles, team principal: "The timesheet doesn't look too good today but I'm positive because I know what we have done and I think tomorrow we will see the real performance of the car. We only did long runs and were not running on low levels of fuel. We were working on race setup and concentrating on this so the times today were quite irrelevant. We had aerodynamical updates and had to evaluate them, the feedback from the drivers and engineers suggest that they're working just fine".

Lotus

Heikki Kovalainen "Overall we can be very happy about this Friday. I think we've seen an improvement today on where we were and throughout the sessions we could see that we were getting more and more out of the new package. The gap to the cars ahead seems reasonably small so I think it's all positive. The key point is that there is a lot more to come out of it. Optimising the whole update will take time and even though the car felt good on both the options and the primes we know that after going through the data tonight we can make more improvements tomorrow, and in the coming races."

Jarno Trulli "A bit of a mixed day for me. The team made a change to my steering in the morning session which meant I couldn't complete the program in FP1 but in the afternoon session we completed a decent number of laps and I could start to feel where we have found some improvements on the car. For much of the day I didn't really feel like I was getting the most out of it but we have found some of the pace we want to with the updates and with more work there is clearly much more to come ."

Thierry Salvi, Renault sport F1 support leader "In FP1 we struggled a bit with Jarno as we had a couple of mechanical issues which needed to be resolved during the session. That cut into the program but we redoubled our efforts in FP2 and have had some good feedback from both drivers, especially from Jarno on the new package overall. We have generated a great deal of data from the mileage we completed today so we will analyse that and look to implement it in FP3 and qualifying tomorrow ."

Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer "That was a very interesting and useful day, and good to put so many laps on the new package. As we expected the behaviour of the car is now quite different to what we have been working with so far this season and it will take a lot of fine tuning to get the best out of all the improvements, but I think that on the soft tyre and the longer runs we could clearly see some of the improvements we were aiming for. There are obviously areas we need to focus on, but those can all be dialled out, so all in all this has been a good day with the new package, well done to the whole team for working hard to get it all working so well on the car on its debut and I am sure there is much more to come ."

Tony Fernandes, team principal "I always thought it would take some time for us to maximise the potential of the updates we have applied here, especially for the drivers who have basically a new rear end of the car to get to grips with. However, I am very happy with the mileage we have accumulated today and the fact we are faster than we have been before. I cannot remember a Friday when we have run so many laps and that has given us a lot of very useful data for Marianne and her team to work on in the wind-tunnel. We clearly performed very well on the options, maybe not so well on the primes, but for me, even though I am not a veteran of this sport, I knew it would take time to integrate the updates so I keep realistic goals and know that we will keep working hard and moving forward step by step."

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton "It's difficult to get an accurate read on pace: we stuck to our programme today and didn't appear to be too far off, but you never know what fuel-loads or engine levels the other teams are running. Still, we got some good data and made some positive improvements so, in all likelihood, we look as competitive today as we have in the past.

"We have taken some small steps forward - we put a new front-wing on and it naturally appeared to be a little bit better. Globally, it's not too bad. It didn't feel too good this morning on the harder tyre, which was difficult to switch on and difficult to make last, but this afternoon's running was very positive. There's a big difference between the two Pirelli compounds - and that will hopefully have a positive impact on the show this weekend!"

Jenson Button "This morning was spent running through the new systems on the car; this afternoon was the time to push a bit harder and get a proper feel for things. I'm not particularly happy with the balance - I'm struggling with the rear-end, which isn't something I like - but I'm going to work to improve that overnight.

"There is more pace in the car, we've just got to unleash it and find a balance that I like. The longer run was reasonable, even if we got a slightly different result than we expected. But it's all good information and I think we can get a good balance for the race - now I need to focus on sorting out the rear-end for qualifying."

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal "For this morning's session, we deliberately followed separate programmes on each car to ensure we could log as much data as possible with our planned upgrades. We limited running to the same fuel-load and the same tyres for the entirety of the session, and also ran without DRS; that meant that our times throughout P1 were not particularly representative.

"However, we logged a significant amount of positive data and were able to merge our two divergent development paths into a singular programme for this afternoon - with encouraging results. While neither Lewis nor Jenson were completely happy with the balance of their cars, it seems as if we've made some positive progress. Inevitably, we still have a significant amount of data to sift through this evening, but we feel confident that we can take a further step in the right direction for tomorrow. All in all, a positive day."

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg "It was a good day in terms of set-up and we learned quite a few things about our car. Of course, it's difficult to say where we really are because the hard tyres didn't work so well today and it was very windy. However, we had a nice long run and our preparation with the car is certainly better compared to the last race. The updates are working quite well so far, and thanks for that to the boys in the factory."

Michael Schumacher "We have had quite a reasonable Friday and have clearly demonstrated an upwards tendency with our improvements seeming to work well. Saying that, the other teams have improved too, so without having had a chance to look deeper into the data, I would say that we may be fighting for the third row. We will continue to work further on our performance for tomorrow."

Ross Brawn, team principal "We have a number of new items on the car here which we wanted to evaluate today, and we have successfully achieved that. It was a pretty comprehensive programme and, as always, we will piece together all of the data tonight, and decide how we will approach the rest of the weekend. We've got to find some performance on the car, but today was a reasonable start."

Norbert Haug, motorsport director "A first day with a total of 126 laps for Michael and Nico gave us the opportunity to learn a lot about the new prime tyre which has not been tested before at this track. At the beginning, it looked difficult to make this tyre work for most of the teams, however we have learned a lot today which will be useful to get the set-up of our cars right tomorrow and on Sunday. Our target for the rest of the weekend is to again be in the top five as at the last two races."

Red Bull

Mark Webber "The car ran well today; we've still got some work to do, but it was one of our better Fridays. It's the first time we've run the RB7 in Barcelona in these temperatures, so the team's learned quite a lot. Tyres are a big factor here, we know that, so we will be looking to manage them as best we can. It's always been a reasonable track for me here, with a good result last year, so I hope to keep that trend going this weekend."

Sebastian Vettel "It was a very productive day - it was the first real chance we had with the new spec of hard tyres - and I can confirm they are pretty hard! All in all it was good, this morning wasn't maybe ideal, but this afternoon I was happy. I think it will be tight this weekend, we look in good shape, but the others seem quick as well."

Renault

Nick Heidfeld "What was really interesting today were Pirelli's new super hard tyres. Although we've gained some experience of them occasionally on Fridays, we haven't used them a lot and they didn't really perform as I expected. They are significantly slower over one lap and during the long run too. That's the main difference between them and the previous hard tyres. The good thing is that I tried some out of the box things today, and attempted some different aspects to try and improve performance. We also managed to work on the set-up, which was useful. I think we've made some progress, but tonight we need to analyse exactly what we've learnt and where we can get even better going into P3 and Qualifying tomorrow."

Vitaly Petrov "The good thing is we were able to test both sets of tyres for a number of laps, so we could take lots of useful data which is what today is for. On the other hand, I lost a lot of time because of not being able to use KERS to its full potential, so it was a little bit frustrating. This meant there was less power for my car, but the KERS also affects the braking so we had to work on the brake balance to compensate. I'm optimistic and looking forward to seeing what happens tomorrow."

Sauber

Kamui Kobayashi "We have had a really interesting day. In the morning I was busy testing the exhaust, and evaluating the new aero parts. I didn't put in a good lap time because I had to pit after a sensor gave us some wrong information. The new superhard compound gives you the feeling you are driving a totally different car. They are so slow. This is going to be tricky for everyone and might produce interesting tyre strategies in the race."

Sergio Pérez "It was a very positive day for us. We were learning a lot about our aero update and the new tyre compound. As it is quite slow compared to the soft compound, you will obviously want to use the soft ones as much as you can in the race. We have to analyse a lot of data now, and then we want to make sure we improve our qualifying performance tomorrow and get proper grid positions."

James Key, Technichal Director "It has been a busy day for the team with a lot of new parts on the car to evaluate and check, but it has been positive and the team has done a really good job. In FP1 we ran the new aero package on both cars, and Kamui ran the outboard exhaust, which was primarily for him a session of aero assesment. We have gathered more important and interesting data for the exhaust, but we are not quite sure yet if we are ready to run this. Otherwise the rest of the package is working pretty well. There have been no major issues, we see a general improvement in grip level and the drivers have been okay with the balance that they are feeling with all the new parts.

"We have also carried on with the mechanical updates we made in Turkey, taking them a little bit further here. As far as the new parts are concerned, generally it has been pretty positive. The pace looks okay, but clearly it is all so very close and we are not a hundred per cent with the total balance of the car in these track conditions. It is quite hot and at the moment we need to adapt the car a little bit for the conditions to get the balance better, particularly on new tyres. Now we have to work over night to make the most of tomorrow."

Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo "I think my experience in World Series and previous classes at this circuit helped me more than the winter test I did here, when I only got one run on slick tyres in damp conditions. All the same, I enjoyed being at the first track of this season that I know really well, which made it easier to put in some decent lap times straight away. It was a straightforward session and useful to have the extra set of Primes from Pirelli. We tried altering the mechanical balance of the car which delivered improvements in some areas, such as braking, giving a small overall performance gain."

Sebastien Buemi "A completely different experience to our winter testing here of course, with much slower lap times because of the higher temperatures and we know these tyres react very differently in this heat. Even though this was just a half day for me, I was able to run a lot and I am quite happy because we have a lot of data to analyse, so it will be a long evening. The main problem, which I think affected everyone today, was a lot of oversteer and we saw a big difference between the hard and soft tyres, probably the biggest we have seen all year. Tomorrow, I will have a nice fresh engine so I think we can move forward and the rest of the weekend should be positive for us."

Jaime Alguersuari "It was a shame that I lost track time this morning, but we made up for it later. In the afternoon I got a good feeling from the car, especially on a long run, producing some quite good lap times given I was running used hard tyres. When I was trying to do a quick lap, I got caught up in traffic, but overall I am optimistic. Having two test sessions here in the winter did not really help much today as the car has evolved and the track conditions are very different now."

Virgin

Jerome D'Ambrosio "I personally had a good day; it was really about analysing different compounds, especially with the new hard tyre that we've been given here. I did some long runs at the end on them, and I think that was quite useful. I think it's very important that we all sit down together now, and really see what's happening on Timo's car with the new package. That's really the next step for us, we need to combine my work with Timo's and see what we can come up with for tomorrow."

Timo Glock "At the moment we are focusing on getting to grips with the new exhaust, so we can't do much in terms of setup or balance work. Today has mainly been about gathering data. It's not easy but I think we made some progress and we are starting to understand the philosophy of it. Now we have a lot of work to do overnight before we decide whether to keep the system on the car for tomorrow and the race."

John Booth, team principal "As a result of our recent straight-line test, we decided to run a split programme whereby Timo would run with the new aero package and work on engine mappings and diffuser setup with Jérôme focusing solely on tyres due to the new Hard compound we have here in Spain. It looks to have less degradation than the previous version although initial lap times with it aren't as good. That should again provide for an interesting race with a variety of strategy options. Overnight, we'll be looking at the data and comparing the two exhaust and diffuser packages, as well as making a careful check of the components. We'll then decide which specification to put on the car. The new package certainly has a lot of potential; it's a great pity that Timo was hampered by so much traffic when he was running the Option tyre and was unable to show its true potential."

Williams

Sam Michael, technical director "We went through all of our programme today which included running the new aero parts on both cars at various stages. We have plenty of data to look at tonight to finalise the specification that we'll race this weekend. Some parts of the floor are certainly on the limit, so we'll take that into consideration. We didn't have any reliability issues today."

Rubens Barrichello "We have tested all the new parts we have in Barcelona. On track, the rear wing looked alright but we need to look closer at how the new floor performed. It was very hot today so the grip level was lower and therefore the car was sliding more and tyre wear was greater. The car was oversteering a bit as well. I think we need to look at this for the weekend to try to minimise the problems and maximise our set-up, but I think at this stage we'd be looking at four stops minimum in the race on Sunday."

Pastor Maldonado "I think today was good overall. We completed our full testing programme which I'm happy about and we also did a few longer runs in FP2. It's difficult to compare ourselves to other teams as we don't know what they were doing, but everything seems to be going well. We have a number of upgrades but we still need time to analyse the data."

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