Bahrain Practice - Driver Reaction

The views from the cockpit after Friday practice

Last Updated: 20/04/12 4:51pm

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The men in the driving seat have their say after the first day of running at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel: "We did a lot of running today, so that's good. Regarding set-up, I think we got the answers in China that we were looking for and that's helped us here. We now need to see where we are against what everyone else did today. It's very hot here, so the tyres are suffering a little as a result, but it's the same for all teams. I think others are the favourites this weekend, but we are focusing on ourselves and pushing hard. We made a step forward, but we see where we are tomorrow."

Mark Webber: "It was quite challenging out on track, trying to get everything together. The tyres were a bit of a surprise for everybody in terms of how they are behaving, they're losing their grip pretty quick, but that's the same for everybody. There are some quick cars out there - of course we don't know which fuel loads people were running, but it looks pretty tight again. Tyres will play a big role on Sunday in the race."


Jenson Button: "I had an interesting day trying to find a balance on both types of tyre compound. The car's been acting very differently from how it's been in the first three races. Perhaps we've gone too far with the balance and need to take a step back - there'll be a bit of work needed tonight to get us into a better position. But I'm hopeful of resolving the issues before tomorrow.

"My times haven't looked great all day - over a single lap, the Mercedes and the Red Bull both look quick. There's a big margin to the front at the moment - but I don't think it will be the same in the race. However, ignoring the times, I just don't feel completely happy with the direction we've chosen. We've started talking about what we can do for tomorrow and there are already some positive comments about which direction to take. It's going to be difficult for all of us out there - it will be all about what tyre we can get to work."

Lewis Hamilton: "Looking after the tyres here is going to be a real challenge. The track surface is extremely hot, and the amount of energy that goes through the tyres under braking is incredible: the temperatures keep on rising until it feels just like driving on an ice-rink. Tyre degradation will be a big issue for everyone around here and the weekend will be all about who can look after the tyres the best.

"Wind direction also played a huge role today. On one lap, there'd be a headwind going into Turn Four, the next lap, it'd be a tailwind, then a crosswind. And that makes a big difference around the circuit. I think my fastest lap was set half an hour after Nico [Rosberg] set the fastest time of the session, and the wind was very different. In general, Mercedes looks quick. We're there or thereabouts, but we'll know more tomorrow. Overall, a tough day; a tough challenge, but we're all in the same boat."


Fernando Alonso: "Traditionally, I've always gone well at this track, one of the few where I have won three times. And so it's always a pleasure to drive at Sakhir and once again today I had fun. The first day of the Bahrain Grand Prix is always very difficult, because the track conditions are never at their best, mainly because of the sand and wind. On top of that, this track is used only very rarely, which adds to making

"Friday hard to interpret, maybe more so than other places. That is why, basing all your choices in terms of set-up on what one has seen today is not always the right move, because we need to bear in mind that the track will change a lot between now and Sunday. We tried as best we could to check the tyre behaviour: we have the same ones as in Shanghai, but the temperature is very different. There is still a lot to do, especially on the rear end, to try and find more grip."

Felipe Massa: "It was a very hot day, on which we concentrated mainly on analysing the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres. From what we could see today, the degradation is very marked with both compounds, more so than at other tracks. It was an important task, especially looking to the race, but also for the session that will decide the grid positions. Without a doubt, we still have a lot of work to do. The fundamental thing will be to put together a car that is consistent in performance terms, to try and slow the rate of tyre degradation."


Nico Rosberg: "That was a good start to the weekend, and whilst it's nice to be quickest today, we know that doesn't count. The most important thing still is to improve our race pace. For the moment, it looks reasonable but we need to analyse where we are on high fuel levels compared to our competitors and draw our conclusions. The conditions are really tough out there, so the race will be quite demanding from the tyre perspective."

Michael Schumacher: "We started well today, and our long runs are satisfying as well as our overall times. Unfortunately I could not complete my fast lap properly due to traffic. We will have to see what the outcome will be tomorrow and on Sunday as the tyres go away very quickly. You really have to stay within the limit of them, that's going to be the main issue. Let's see what we can make out of it but the start of the weekend has definitely not been too bad for us."

Force India

Paul di Resta: "The track was very green and dusty to begin with, but we got on with the programme quickly and did the usual balance work, cooling checks and got a feel for both the medium and the soft tyres. The baseline set-up was not a long way off, but our focus for tomorrow is to improve our performance in the low-speed corners."

Nico Hulkenberg: "It was a different approach to FP1 today and we made sure we ran all three sets of tyres to get the data we need for the race. The session went okay and the car felt quite good out of the box, although there is still some fine-tuning to do in FP3."


Kamui Kobayashi: "Technically we had no incidents but we are struggling on tyre temperatures. The lap times on the soft tyres in the short run didn't look too bad, but for qualifying there is still some work to do. Even more improvement is necessary for the long runs and for me this goes for both tyre compounds, soft and medium. We will evaluate the data now and see what we can do better for tomorrow."

Sergio PĂ©rez: "To me this was a very positive day. I am happy about having had a good Friday and I am very satisfied with the work we have done. We have learnt a lot and we managed the tyre degradation on the rear, which everybody has problems with, quite well. We still need to sort out a few set-up issues for qualifying, but I am very confident for tomorrow."


Pastor Maldonado: It was a busy day but we completed our programme. We were concentrating more on our race pace, but I feel happy as overall the car is looking consistent. I'm looking forward to getting into qualifying tomorrow.

Bruno Senna: Today was quite a difficult day with tough track conditions. We found a good direction for the car though and our long runs this afternoon looked consistent. We just need to keep chipping away to ensure an optimum set-up for the race.

Valtteri Bottas: It was pretty warm out there but it's not as humid as it was in Malaysia. We got all the data we needed this morning so it was a productive session. It was also good for me to get more mileage on another new track, completing some consistent runs. Overall, I am happy with how it went and I think we will see a good race on Sunday.

Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo: "Importantly, we made progress through the day, after the first session did not go too well. We couldn't get the tyres to work properly, wheel spinning on the Prime, which overheated it, so we lacked grip. We knew what we needed to do, but it did not work out on track. The second session went better, as can be seen from the fact we moved up the time sheet. More important is the fact I've now got a better feeling with the car. We still need to make more progress and in terms of what we do to the car for tomorrow, we have a couple of options to choose from. We got a first impression of the tyres and I'd say the Option is better and seems to cope well with the hot conditions. Let's say I don't think anyone will do a one stop on Sunday and looking after the rear tyres will be a priority."

Jean-Eric Vergne: "A very busy day for me and my mechanics. We started off the first practice session with me running an older car specification, based on the one I had in Shanghai, while Daniel ran the newer one. His worked better, so we switched to that for the afternoon session. It was definitely an improvement and we have made a good step forward, although we need to improve the balance still further for tomorrow. If we can make even more progress for FP3 then we will be in good shape. The tyres overheat very easily, so managing them is quite difficult and will be one of the keys to having a good race."


Heikki Kovalainen: "A good day for us in terms of the mileage we've covered and the amount of data we've collated. This morning the track wasn't as dusty as we'd feared, so the grip levels were ok. That meant we could take a proper look at the degradation levels on the prime tyres in FP1 and it was immediately clear that the heat and the nature of this track will mean managing wear rates is going to be crucial on Sunday. Rear grip is an area we'll have to pay particular attention to and we tried a few setup changes to try and manage that, but I think it'll be the same for everyone."

Vitaly Petrov: "It's been a good day for us. We completed a decent number of laps in both sessions and I've been happy with the car all day. It's going to be tough on the tyres on Sunday, on both compounds, but we looked pretty good on the softs on the performance run and we have a couple of changes we can try tomorrow to get the most out of the primes, so I think we're looking good. It's clear that degradation is going to be the biggest talking point on Sunday and I think we'll see a lot of stops right across the field. That'll bring strategy and pitstops into play in a big way so whatever happens it's going to be an exciting race for the fans."


Pedro de la Rosa: "We can say we met our target for the day which was none other than to check that the changes we've made to the cooling of the car worked very well, which reassures us because it means we can face the weekend with guarantees. Leaving that aside, we suffered quite a bit of degradation to the rear tyres, but I think everyone faced that. That is due to the heat and the type of track. We tested soft and medium tyres and for the long run we divided our work with Narain, him on mediums and myself on softs, to cover both options and see which one is best. We improved the car's balance as the day wore on and I'm satisfied but tomorrow we should be able to fine-tune things a bit more".

Narain Karthikeyan: "Today we tried out a lot of different options to save the tyres because it's very hot out there and they degrade quickly. And we worked on that objective in these two practice sessions. Apart from the work with both Pirelli options, we covered a lot of laps to see if the car is overheating, but it seems to be doing fine. Tomorrow we will change things a bit and adapt the car for the race and, although the weather conditions are a bit extreme, it responded well today, and hopefully we can keep that going for the rest of the weekend".

More to follow.....

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