2013 United States Grand Prix Practice - Driver reaction

The 22 drivers have their say on the opening day of action

By William Esler.   Last Updated: 16/11/13 2:48am

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The 22 drivers have their say on the opening day of action at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel: "The circuit was quite slippery today; I was happy with the car, but you always know you can improve here and there. I think we got through the programme we were able to test some things, some were good and some not so good, but we will see. Ferrari looked quick this morning and McLaren could be a surprise here, and Lotus and Mercedes will be strong as normal. The track will improve now unless it rains, the car worked well on the tyres, so we'll see what we can do on Sunday."

Mark Webber: "Today was all about tyres again; getting info on them and working out how they work best. It's nice to drive the car on fresh tyres and it was good to be out there on the circuit on what was a clear day in the end. We were working on both long and short runs today. The car doesn't feel mega yet, there's still some work to do, but we'll work on that overnight."

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso: "I had no problem being back on track today. My back felt fine and I was able to drive the same as always. Compared to last year, the track conditions seemed better: for the first Grand Prix here, it was too new and there was a bit of oil on the track, while now there's a lot more grip.

"As expected, there was very little degradation today as Pirelli's choice of the Medium and Hard compounds here in Austin are an ultra-conservative choice. Generally, there were no major surprises and now we must wait and see how things go tomorrow and especially Sunday".

Felipe Massa: "Today was hard to interpret, because in the morning we got off to a good start and it seemed the track was well suited to the characteristics of our car, but then that changed in the afternoon and we were unable to set competitive times.

"Compared to recent races, the car has stayed the same and therefore we cannot expect a very different level of performance. But it's definitely important to understand why the car changed so much between the two sessions, especially as compared to last year, the asphalt has improved a lot and the grip has increased considerably.

"I don't think that is down to the rise in temperature, but maybe the wind didn't help. Now we have a lot of work ahead of us to try and improve for the rest of the weekend".

Lotus

Heikki Kovalainen: "It's been a pretty smooth landing, joining Lotus F1 Team. We've had no major issues on track today and we just need to keep chipping away to see how good we can get the car for tomorrow and Sunday. We lost a bit of track time in the morning, but the car balance was reasonably good straight away.

"I was able to settle in and work immediately on the setup and tyre work. All the procedures and routines are quite similar up and down the pit lane, plus I'm familiar with all the systems from driving with a Renault engine already this year and previously, so it was a pretty straight-forward day."

Romain Grosjean: "It was an interesting start to the day waiting to see what the helicopter would do. After that the morning was about finding grip in the cold conditions. The afternoon was much warmer and we were able to complete some good work. We struggled a bit to get the brakes exactly as I want them on low fuel, but once that's sorted we should be well placed for tomorrow. Certainly the car feels good on the long runs so it's a positive start to the weekend."

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton: "First of all, I want to say that it's great to be back here in America - this track and city are just such a beautiful place to be racing, and especially with the support from all the fans we saw out there today. The circuit was quite green today, which made it pretty slippery out there as we are using the two hardest tyre compounds this weekend. After we changed the chassis yesterday, the car felt better to drive, particularly on the long run when it was pretty consistent, so that's a positive for me.

"The option tyre is working well for a long stint, which may open up some possibilities for us with race strategy. It was a pretty straightforward day although we still have some work to do to nail the set-up because it's not quite there yet. But all of us in the team are focused on ending the season on a high and taking that foundation with us into the winter."

Nico Rosberg: "That was a crazy start to the weekend with the fog and the helicopter, which forced us to stay in the pits for quite a while this morning. This afternoon we had a very good session. The car felt like it was on rails and I was very happy with the balance. I hope we can give the Red Bulls something to think about this weekend and I will be pushing 100 per cent for another podium. It's really difficult to get it right with the tyres here as the track surface is very smooth and the compounds are very hard.

"Therefore the tyres are lasting a long time and a lot of people will try to manage only one stop on Sunday. So it will be an exciting weekend here in Texas for the fans and it was good to see so many people out there already today."

McLaren

Jenson Button: "Both sessions today were quite positive. Our car's feeling reasonably good around here, and it's a fun circuit to drive, so I think we can make further progress. Hopefully we can qualify a little nearer to the front, too.

"However, that will be made more difficult due to my three-place grid penalty for overtaking under a red flag during FP1. It wasn't a dangerous situation, and I didn't do it on purpose - the other car slowed down - but the rules are the rules, and it was the wrong thing to do.

"Nonetheless, in terms of race-pace, I think we're looking reasonably good - we just need to extract the maximum qualifying performance from the car. It's a pity that I'll be starting three places further back - I haven't made it easy for myself in the past few races - but I'll be giving it everything I've got tomorrow."

Sergio Perez: "After the past few days, it was really nice to be able to get out on track and do the work that I really love.

"This circuit is quite dirty, so it's difficult to warm up the tyres. The track surface also changed quite a lot between FP1 and FP2, so I think it'll be very interesting to see if it changes further tomorrow, particularly as more changeable weather is expected.

"We had a mechanical issue today that affected our running - the balance of the car wasn't great, and I didn't feel comfortable. It also cost me quite a bit of time this afternoon and meant we didn't do too many miles on high fuel. Of course, that makes things a little tougher, but with the changes we're set to make overnight, I'm sure we'll improve tomorrow."

Sauber

Nico Hulkenberg: "It was quite a good day. This morning was a bit of a funny situation with the fog delaying FP1. Once the session started everything went well and we managed to get through the programme we had planned. The car was ok and the performance is looking good too. However, I think there is still room for improvement, but I'm not happy with the balance on the medium tyres yet. It will be tight tomorrow, but I think we can improve."

Esteban Gutierrez: "It was a very productive day. Although the delay wasn't ideal, I feel comfortable with the track and enjoy driving here. This is important. We are in a good shape, but now we need to focus on maintaining it for qualifying tomorrow and the race on Sunday. I think we have very good chances for a good result here. There are two more races to go and my goal is to get the maximum out of what we have."

Force India

Adrian Sutil: "It's my first visit to Austin and I have to say I really like the track. There are some nice corners and some tricky ones where it's easy to make small mistakes. It's not that easy to learn the track either because it's a challenging lap, especially the high-speed sections. We worked hard to improve the car set-up today, but the balance is still not where I want it to be. Hopefully we can make some positive changes overnight. As for the tyres, there is not a big difference between the hard and the medium, but we managed long runs on each compound so should be well prepared for the weekend."

Paul Di Resta: "It's been a difficult day to understand exactly where we are and I don't think my position in FP2 is a true reflection of our competitiveness. I came across some traffic on my best lap so Adrian's position is probably more representative. The long runs looked more promising and if we get everything together we can hopefully match the performance level we've shown for the last few races. The focus tonight will be on tyres: understanding them more and how to manage them over the weekend."

Williams

Valtteri Bottas: "We did some aero testing with new parts for the car today, which look like they may provide some small gains. The track was quite slippery in the morning which seemed to suit our car but as the track improved in FP2 we struggled with the car balance. The performance in the first session showed our potential, so if we get everything right and the weather suits us it may be better for us tomorrow and Sunday."

Pastor Maldonado: "It was a difficult session today, particularly trying to get the most out of the tyres. We are struggling to get the maximum downforce here and the car feels like it's not working together between the front and the rear. The circuit is very enjoyable to drive and fast through the corners; hopefully we can look at the data from today and put a package together for the weekend to suit our car."

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat: "I enjoyed every single moment of driving the track even though there was a delay because of the fog and then a red flag. We didn't do the full programme of course because the session was shortened, but we still did 20 laps which is important mileage for me and we also managed to do some aero measurements. Of course I've never driven here before and I think the track is very nice. It was good to go out there to try and find the limit of the car and the brakes. I've finished driving here but for the rest of the weekend I will be attending all the engineers' briefings, which again will be a very valuable experience."

Daniel Ricciardo: "Today was not what we had hoped for in terms of real performance. We were a little bit off the top ten, which is where we want to be. I wasn't really happy with the balance of the car today, both morning and afternoon. We still have some work to do tonight to understand how to improve the car and hopefully we can come up with some good solutions for tomorrow. I felt as if the tyres were a bit too hard for conditions today, as it was taking a long time for them to warm up."

Jean-Eric Vergne: "Of course I've got no problem with Daniil driving my car in FP1, as it's good experience for the whole team for next year, but it does make life a little bit harder when you only drive one session. We struggled with the car today and I wasn't happy with the setup, but at least the long runs were good given the problem we had with the balance of the car. We definitely have to work hard tonight for qualifying and I'm confident we can improve and be more competitive tomorrow."

Caterham

Alexander Rossi: "I'm very pleased with how my FP1 session went, both for me and for the team. It was a proud moment when I drove out on track as the first American driver to take part in an official F1 race weekend session at COTA, something that will live with me for ever and an accolade I want to thank the team for, and everyone's who's backed me to help make happen here in Austin. It's obviously a bit of a shame the session was cut short by the issues with the helicopter, but the team worked really hard to make sure we could still run a decent number of laps, and by the end of the session we were only a few laps short of what we'd planned.

"In the car the balance was pretty good right from the start of the session. With the cold track temperatures we knew we'd have issues with tyre warm-up and that was definitely the case on the first two runs, but on run three it had improved a bit, both because the temperatures had gone up and with a couple of setup changes we'd made. I was mostly dealing with understeer throughout the session but I'm sure, with more time, it's something we'd have been able to sort out and I think my final laptime showed pretty clearly that it wasn't holding me back."

Charles Pic: "We obviously had to wait quite a bit for the session to start which cut into our runplan but by the end of the session we'd still completed 19 laps which was quite close to the target, but it still didn't really help us sort out the understeer that dominated the session. The low track temperatures didn't help, but on all three runs the car had very little front grip and it was understeering everywhere, obviously meaning I couldn't push anywhere around the lap.

"For FP2 we made quite a few changes to the car and it was immediately better - we made a good step with the work we did over lunch and I could immediately push much more than the morning session. We started with the hard tyres and then went onto options for run two and with a bit more front wing added the grip improved in the low and medium speed corners, not so much in the high speeds, but overall it was another improvement.

"On the long run we started on the hards and went onto options after 15 laps. They both held up pretty well and the times were pretty competitive with the cars ahead, something we also saw in Abu Dhabi. We've completed a lot of laps today so we have a good amount of data to work on tonight and now the aim is to continue to progress tomorrow."

Giedo van der Garde: "This is my first time driving this track so overall I'm pretty pleased with how close I ended up to my teammate, and the fact that we completed a good number of laps in FP2. I was comfortable with the track from early in the session and because I'd sat out FP1 we ran a slightly different runplan for the afternoon than normal - two runs on primes, a performance run on options and then the long run, also on the options.

"On the first run I had the same sort of understeer Charles had said his car had in FP1 - not as bad but still not something I was happy with. We added a bit of front wing which helped a little but on run two the car was behaving a bit strangely, not like it has all year. I just couldn't carry any speed into the corners and even though my quickest lap time on the mediums was ok there was definitely time to be found.

"We finished with a long run on the mediums but we still had the same understeer issue throughout the run. We'll have a proper look at that tonight and I'm sure we'll sort it for tomorrow."

Marussia

Max Chilton: "Generally I've had a good day today when everything seemed to be going in a positive direction, so I think we have to look beyond the brake disc problem that cut short my afternoon session because we seem to be making good progress. Luckily we didn't lose much time and we can find a good solution for the rest of the weekend. I have enjoyed my first day at the Circuit of the Americas and hope to see this continue tomorrow and into the race."

Jules Bianchi: "When the day is cut short to just one session it is not always easy to properly acclimatise to the circuit and be in a good place with the car balance by the end of the day. Today this was made even more difficult by the fact that the car balance has been really inconsistent, and we had to try lots of different things to try to improve. We won't know which is the right solution or how well it will work until the engineers have looked at all the data this evening, but it has been a tough day and I hope we can resolve a few things overnight to ensure we can have a better day tomorrow."

Rodolfo Gonzalez: "Today was not a very straightforward day but we did make progress with the programme so it's just a shame to experience the engine problem at the end of the session. I had a very specific programme to help the Team understand some race trim issues experienced over the past few races so it's good that we have some useful data to work with."

More to follow...

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