Driver reaction - U.S. practice

The drivers have their say after the first running in the United States

Last Updated: 17/11/12 3:39pm

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The 24 drivers have their say after they got their first experience of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel: "It was slippery this morning and a bit like driving on ice. It wasn't so easy, but we managed to get into a rhythm. We had a bit of a problem this afternoon and so couldn't run as much as we wanted, but we got two good runs which is important for tomorrow and Sunday. I think there were a couple of surprises today in terms of pace, so we'll see tomorrow. The track will constantly improve - it's good that we are amongst the guys at the top, now we'll try to improve the car to make sure we stay there."

Mark Webber: "It's a pretty good track, it's quick, especially the first sector which is quite full on, although sectors two and three are more traditional and similar to other tracks. It was very slippery to start with, which was quite frustrating probably for all of us, but in the end the track rubbered in pretty well and we got into a good rhythm. As with all new circuits, you've got to work out where you can prioritise your time and where to compromise. It's got a bit of everything really, so it's good."

McLaren

Lewis Hamilton: "What a great turn-out for a Friday! I never expected to see so many people in the grandstands - it makes me feel even more excited for Saturday and Sunday.

"This is a great drivers' track - it's very tough to pull together three perfect sectors. Personally, I find the final two sectors easier than the first; those high-speed changes of direction need a good set-up, and balancing that requirement against the demands of the slow-speed stuff is tricky.

"Turn One probably looks more exciting from the outside than it does from inside the cockpit - it's certainly not easy, though. You can get oversteer, or lock up, and it's tricky to get a perfect line through there.

"Overall, we've had a good day. Our main difficulty this morning was switching on the tyres in the cooler conditions. But we'll make some changes overnight - there are definitely some improvements we can make."

Jenson Button: "The circuit was very slippery this morning - as all new track surfaces are, particularly as it was also very cold. But this afternoon's warmer temperatures meant we could get a better feel for the circuit in FP2.

"Turn One to Turn Nine is a brilliant and free-flowing section - particularly if the car is working well. Turn One is a strange corner though - with a very wide entry rather like Turn Three in India. Turn Three here - the start of the esses - is fantastic though. It's quicker than Becketts at Silverstone. It's very unusual to find a section of corners like this on a modern Formula 1 track. I love it.

"Nevertheless, I don't think overtaking is going to be easy here, because it'll be so tricky to stay close to the car in front of you. But the circuit is great fun to drive, and I hope we can put on a great race."

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso: "It's no surprise to see the two Red Bulls ahead of the field: in the last few races they have had the best package, therefore today's result is logical. We know what are our strengths - team work and reliability - and we will make the most of them in the fight. The updates we have brought here seem to work, but we still need to look more closely at the data before having a definite answer.

"I am happy about this, but it's also true that while we are making small steps forward with each passing race, so too are the others, so the distance between us remains unchanged. Would I be happy to be third again tomorrow afternoon? Sure, but this is only Friday and we have been in this position before and then on Saturday other cars have got ahead of us.

"The circuit? A nice surprise, even if we had an idea of what to expect from the simulator: it's very demanding, especially the first sector which is very fast and where you can really feel the acceleration of a Formula 1 car. The track is very smooth and not at all porous: it reminds me a lot of Portimao in Portugal, so if it was to rain, it could be like driving on glass."

Felipe Massa: "Today was given over above all to getting to know this new track: we did a lot of laps, mainly with this in mind. In the morning, the track was dirty and very slippery: I can't remember ever driving on a surface that offered so little grip! Then the situation improved and we began to get a bit more confidence and find the right lines.

"I like the track a lot: it's fun driving here and I think we will see a great show over the weekend. The tyres? Definitely hard! It will be important to work out how to get them up to temperature, especially as far as qualifying is concerned."

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg: "I like the new track here at the Circuit of the Americas very much and they have done a great job with the layout. We've also had a really nice welcome for Formula One in the US as you can see how many fans are at the circuit already on a Friday. The grandstands looked really packed. We had a good start to our programme today, and the car felt better than at the last race. The conditions were tricky, particularly this morning, as it was very cold which meant that the tyres were really on the edge."

Michael Schumacher: "I have to say it is nice being back in the US, and I hope that the fans appreciate Formula One being back too. The circuit will certainly help to showcase how attractive our sport can be. It has a very nice layout, and the good thing is that it is very challenging. Yesterday I went out to explore the track on a scooter, and it was very different from today when the low seating position of our cars compromises your vision a lot.

"But then, it takes just a bit of time to understand what you have to do and where the biggest challenges are. The track is still very green, especially offline, but it delivers lots of potential for a good show. As for our programme today, we had some tyre issues in the second session with a puncture which affected our plan a little. However, I will just try to do my best tomorrow and in the race on Sunday."

Lotus

Kimi Raikkonen: "It's a nice circuit to drive; the sectors are quite different so there's a good challenge there. Of course, like with any new track there was no grip at the start of the day which doesn't give you a very good feeling, but as the grip improves it will be more fun to drive for sure.

"This morning was very slippery, this afternoon less so but you still can't really push and it's a bit tricky to find the limit. There's a lot of improvement to come - from the track surface and from the setup of the car - so qualifying will be pretty interesting."

Romain Grosjean: "The most noticeable thing about the circuit at this stage is the lack of grip; it's really, really slippery out there. The layout itself looks very nice but we're a long way off being able to push the car anywhere near the limit, particularly through Turns 7-9 and towards the end at Turn 19 where it's tricky to predict how the car will behave.

"The good thing is that the car felt comfortable on long runs with the hard tyre so we have a good starting point, but there is still a little bit of work to do with the mediums. We still have tomorrow morning and I think the track will continue to improve right until the end of the weekend, so qualifying will be interesting for sure."

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg: "I think the organisers have given us an awesome circuit. It's good fun to drive and there is a nice variation of corners, which gives a nice rhythm to the track. In terms of the new generation of tracks, I'd say it's one of my favourites. The day was pretty smooth and we had to make sure we collected lots of data because we don't have any historic information to draw upon. We looked competitive this morning and seemed to struggle more in the afternoon, so we need to try and find some more grip overnight."

Paul Di Resta: "I said yesterday that getting the tyres working was going to be difficult - and so it proved today. The track surface is very smooth and the temperatures were not especially high, which probably didn't help us. We've identified some issues and haven't found the best direction with the set-up yet, so we need to work hard to make the car easier to drive. In terms of the layout of the track it's very open and there are some nice corners, especially the first sector which has a great flow. A lot of the corners are off-camber, which also adds another challenge."

Sauber

Kamui Kobayashi: "The high speed corners of the new circuit are very enjoyable, I really like driving here. The first session was about getting familiar with the track and waiting for the tarmac to improve for a better grip level. In the beginning of the second session I did a 20-lap long run on hard tyres before we then had a break due to a broken exhaust.

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"But the mechanics fixed the car quickly and I was able to go out on medium compound tyres as well. I must say I have big warm up problems with both compounds. It just doesn't work in qualifying if you need ten laps to get the tyres to work. We will now go and look for solutions."

Sergio Perez: "We had a good day in terms of getting all the programme done without any issues. The track is amazing, and I especially like the first sector a lot. I really believe we will see a great race here and I can't wait to race in front of so many Mexicans. Nevertheless I am not happy with the balance of my car yet, but I'm confident we will manage to improve it."

Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo: "The new track lived up to the expectations we had before coming here, although the lack of grip spoilt it a little bit. But as the track rubbers-in and cleans up, I'm sure it will get even better. The grip level did improve from morning to afternoon but I'd expected a bit more. In fact I reckon next year, we could find a completely different circuit, although by this Sunday I think it will be much more fun.

"The slippery conditions meant it was difficult to understand what our car was doing. We improved it from the first to the second session, but we need to keep on down doing that tomorrow. The tyres are taking a long time to warm up and that is one of the most complex aspects of the package that we must look at. It will definitely be an important factor tomorrow afternoon in qualifying."

Jean-Eric Vergne: "I have to say this is a really nice track and I like it very much. It is very challenging with a lot of places where you can overtake, even without DRS I can see some corners where you can pass, which will be good for the show and it is also excellent purely from a driving point of view. There was not one corner where I felt it wasn't interesting.

"Technically, it was quite a difficult day, because this morning there was no grip at all, but I'd say we maybe look a little bit better than at the previous grand prix. We saw some interesting things on the data today and I am sure we can have an okay day tomorrow."

Williams

Bruno Senna: "The track is really challenging so it was great to gets lots of running in today. It's very fast and flowing, and also a bit slippery at the moment but the grip is coming. It was a tough session as there is a lot to get used to with the car and the tyres. We need to keep pushing to try to understand the car better and improve to make sure we are in the points this weekend."

Pastor Maldonado: "The circuit is really nice and it was fun to drive. It was very slippery, particularly this morning on the hard tyres, but it's the same for everybody. We struggled a bit today with the car which we need to look at tonight in order to be ready for tomorrow."

Caterham

Heikki Kovalainen: "The first lap we did in P1 was on a track that probably had less grip than anywhere else I've ever driven! As we're at a new circuit that was to be expected but the track layout lived up to expectations - it's a proper driver's track and as it keeps evolving it's going to get even faster which will give us a chance to really find out what it's all about.

"In the morning session we were mainly focussed on the normal P1 program, running through baseline setups and aero work and then in the afternoon we went onto more tyre work and longer runs on both compounds. We need to work on improving the grip levels but I'm ok with where we ended up and with the amount of information we have from both sessions I think we can find more time tomorrow."

Vitaly Petrov: "I'm really enjoying my time in the US! It's my first time in America and as soon as I arrived I spent some time walking around Austin and found it's a great city, really cool.

"In P1 We had to make a couple of minor changes to the floor but it didn't hold up the program too much and we found an OK balance relatively early on. In the afternoon we had the first runs on the medium tyres and then put in a lot of laps on the long runs.

"We definitely need to do some work on how we can get more heat into the tyres and how to improve the rear of the car but we'll work on that tonight and hopefully have a better day tomorrow."

HRT

Pedro de la Rosa: "This is a beautiful and technical circuit. There are all sorts of corners and you have to drive with confidence, as there are quite a few blind turns. The asphalt is brand new and the car slides a lot but it improved immensely throughout the day.

"Our main issue is that we struggle to get the tyres up to temperature, which doesn't make driving easy. However, the cars' basic set up is good and we only need to cover as many kilometres as possible to improve on that tomorrow."

Narain Karthikeyan: "The circuit is quite nice. It has a lot of fast corners, like the first S's, and it is very technical and demanding. It is not easy to learn but I did my best with the limited number of laps we had.

"Grip level was quite low over the first laps and I couldn't manage to keep the tyres' temperature high enough, which made driving quite challenging. But, as laps went by, it got better and going out with options also helped. We still have a lot to improve but I'm confident for tomorrow."

Ma Qing Hua: "Driving a Formula 1 is always special but doing it at a brand new track like this one is thrilling but also a great responsibility. The fact of it being a new track means that there is quite a lot of work to do as we have no previous data or experience apart from what we got from the engineers' simulations.

"Therefore, the program was to go out and run from the beginning in order to work on the car's basic set up as well as learn the track. Conditions were quite tricky this morning as the track was very dusty, slippery and cold which made it hard to drive. But it improved lap by lap and so did our lap times and feeling. It was important to gather as much data as possible but also not to take any unnecessary risks. Although there is still room for improvement, I am quite happy with the job we have done."

Marussia

Timo Glock: "A very difficult start to the weekend - for everyone I think! The track was very dirty this morning and in P1 we just had to wait until it got into reasonable shape. In the end the car was quite okay but there was traffic in the last few laps and when you lose the temperature in the tyres because of that, with it being so cold at the start of the day it's difficult to recover the time. P2 was a little confusing as the car was just very difficult to drive in the first 15 minutes and then at the end we got a reasonable balance into the car.

"It's quite difficult to get the lap together here and find the grip though; we saw a few cars going off track because of this. We ended the day with quite a bit more confidence in the car, but we need to look at the data and the new developments and see how we can move things forward for tomorrow. In light of the challenges we experienced, I'm quite happy with where we ended the session."

Charles Pic: "It has been a very interesting day, driving here at the Circuit of The Americas for the first time. It was very close to the simulation work we have done, which is always very encouraging. I like it a lot; the first sector in particular is quite exciting to drive. This morning the track was so slippery that we just had to focus on getting to know the layout and finding more grip, as both were key to improving the lap time.

"We made steady improvement and it was pleasing to finish the session ahead of both Caterhams. This afternoon we had a lot of work to do to get the tyres working and this was our focus with different fuel levels. Tomorrow will provide us with a clearer picture, but I'm quite happy with the first day here."

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