Driver reaction - Abu Dhabi practice
The drivers have their say on the first day of running in Abu Dhabi
Last Updated: 02/11/12 5:24pm
The 24 men on the grid have their say on the opening day of running at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Sebastian Vettel: "I think we can be happy with today. Overall we got a good lap on the soft tyres, but in general pace the McLaren's were quick and seem competitive, so they're the ones we need to look out for and beat. We need to improve the car overnight to qualify as high as we can tomorrow."
Mark Webber: "We had a KERS issue, which wasn't the same as last week. It never helps to miss some running on the track during practice, but it's not a big deal. The track will move around a little bit from where it is now, but not a huge amount; it's in pretty good shape straightaway. We'll get it fixed tonight and come back tomorrow."
Lewis Hamilton: "Our car looked good in FP1, but FP2 was a little bit more of a challenge for me. It was quite tricky to get a good time from the Option [tyre], so tonight we'll need to do some work around figuring out how to switch our Options on.
"We anticipated that Sebastian [Vettel] would be quick - and, in FP2, in particular, the Red Bulls duly picked up pace. But, as I say, our car was quick in FP1, and very near the top of the time-sheets all day, so we've got plenty to build on.
"We'll work as hard as we can tonight, as always, and, if we can get ahead of the Red Bulls in qualifying tomorrow, it'll be a huge bonus for us."
Jenson Button: "Overall, our car has been working pretty well today - we're certainly in better shape here than we were in India last weekend. Everything seems to be working well, and the car is fun to drive. There are some small areas where we need to improve, but we know what we need to do.
"It's going to be crucial to get the Options working well for qualifying tomorrow. I wanted to do plenty of laps during my long run today, since I missed out on quite a lot of long-run running on Friday in Delhi - and that set me back for the rest of the Indian Grand Prix weekend. I'm pleased to report that our car feels reasonably good over a long run here, so now we're going to be focusing on understanding just how hard we can push the tyre during a long run.
"If our race pace can be as quick as the Red Bulls', then that's probably even more important for Sunday's race than qualifying in front of them on Saturday will be."
Fernando Alonso: "The day just ended was a Friday like any other, during which we got through everything on our programme. The morning session was dedicated to a comparison of various aerodynamic solutions, while in the afternoon, we concentrated on the tyres.
Between the first and second sessions, the track changed a lot, which to be honest was predictable, because there aren't many races here over the weekend: at the start, it seemed very dirty but then it improved a lot and tomorrow, it will definitely be even better."
Felipe Massa: "We got through everything on our job list, which is always a good thing, both in the first and second free practice sessions. We tested the tyres in the usual way - first on a low fuel load and then with a lot more - to evaluate them over a long run. From what we could see, over a long run we are reasonably competitive, but less so on a single flying lap. Sure, it would be better if we were a bit quicker, but we will see what the situation is when it really matters, which means to say tomorrow afternoon in qualifying."
Nico Rosberg: "That was a good testing day, and we were able to evaluate a lot of different things. Unfortunately we are still lacking some pace but I hope that we can achieve some points with a good strategy tomorrow and on Sunday. Generally tyre degradation is not as big as last year, so it will be interesting to see how the race turns out."
Michael Schumacher: "Today we saw what I would call a 'normal' Friday - doing certain programmes, changing the set-up and typical data collection work. What we saw at the end of the day is probably where we are, so a pretty realistic picture. At the moment we are driving to finish in the points, and that is what we will target for the weekend. On a different note, it really is impressive and beautiful to drive here, and to drive from daytime into the night really is special."
Kimi Raikkonen: "We were good on Friday in India and we've been strong again here in Abu Dhabi today. We tried a few new parts on the car in both sessions and we have some things to go through before tomorrow. Our lap times seem to be pretty okay so far; hopefully we can find a little bit more pace for tomorrow in practice and then again for the qualifying session."
Romain Grosjean: "Looking at today's times I think it's possible for us to be battling nearer to those ahead of us this weekend, as I think we can still improve our lap times. I did not drive the best lap of my life with the option tyres today; with the first set of options you put on you have to go for it, so I think I can still improve a little bit. To get in front of the cars ahead of us will be difficult, but we will try, so why not? We had some updates that worked well, so we will keep them."
Nico Hulkenberg: "I think it's still difficult to know where our performance level is right now, but we probably need to raise our game and improve a bit overnight if we want to challenge for points. The balance is not perfect just yet so we need to work tonight to get the car closer to the sweet spot. Apart from that we got through the programme, collected all the tyre data and so it was a fairly normal Friday."
Paul Di Resta: "I think we learned quite a lot this evening, but there's a lot of work ahead of us to understand where we stand and where we can improve. This track is all about grip in the low and medium speed corners and that's where we need to focus tonight. In terms of tyres we collected a lot of data today so we will be working hard to make sure we get them in the right operating window for qualifying and the race."
Jules Bianchi: "It think this was probably my best free practice session so far. I've done lots of testing here before so I know the track really well and felt very comfortable. The programme was quite simple with three runs, lots of laps and we improved the car with each run. The track improved a lot during the session, but the tyres went off quite quickly so it was difficult to improve my times at the end of the session."
Sergio Perez: "For me it was a good day. We have completed our entire planned programme, so in this respect it was very positive. I am comfortable with the balance of the car and, therefore, I think my position in the second session is pretty much what we are capable of here. This means Q3 is possible."
Kamui Kobayashi: "I definitely have to work and improve the balance of the car. At the moment it isn't right in any regard, but it is only day one in Abu Dhabi. The track's grip normally improves a lot here, which might also help. Today I didn't really manage to get the tyres to work. However, on long runs I don't see any issues with either the soft or medium compounds in terms of degradation."
Daniel Ricciardo: "At the start of P1, grip or the lack of it was a problem, but we improved the car in between the two sessions and while the short runs went okay, the long run was not as successful. Generally we were off the pace today. The heat? It's not as bad as Singapore and no problem to deal with."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "It was nice to be back here, at this circuit that I know better than any other on the Formula 1 calendar, at the wheel of this car. It was an enjoyable day out on track, however, I had a problem on the car this evening which lost me some track time. We seem to suffer from a general lack of performance, which I think stems from not having enough downforce. But we have been in this situation before on a Friday and managed to recover for Saturday and especially for Sunday, so we just need to work hard tonight on seeing how best to move forward."
Pastor Maldonado: "Today was much better as everything came together and I am happy for that. Our long run pace looks quick again, qualifying pace less so but I think we are still looking good when compared to what everyone else was doing today. Qualifying will be important here as well as it's difficult to overtake. I like this track though and we are looking competitive."
Bruno Senna: "It was a tough day today. Tyre degradation was quite high and we had a few braking issues which made it difficult to read what the car was doing. However, we have a lot of data from today to work through ahead of tomorrow. Qualifying in the top ten is possible, as we've seen the pace in Pastor's car, so we'll be working hard tonight to make further improvements tomorrow."
Valtteri Bottas: "I know this track well which made things much easier today as I could immediately get on with my job. After the first run I knew how the car should feel and we were also able to continue some tests from India to gather even more data. Pastor went a little quicker in his final run in FP1, but before that we had identical times so it is good to know I am on the pace, although I still think I could have done more. I like this circuit and the atmosphere in the paddock, and driving on the track underneath the hotel is quite unique."
Giedo van der Garde: "Obviously that was a pretty frustrating session, but these things sometimes happen. As soon as I went out on the installation lap I could hear that the engine sounded different to my previous P1 runs and from what I understand the problem looks like it's to do with the electronic boxes or the looms. It's a shame as this is a track I know well and it would have helped to run more comparisons with the updates on Heikki's car, but I still have the first two days of the young driver test in the car next week so that's what I'm focusing on now."
Heikki Kovalainen: "For me today was pretty good. In the first session we ran a number of the new parts we brought here and then did comparison runs in P2, as well as trying the soft tyres on a performance run, and a longer stint at the end of the session. The key to unlocking the potential of the upgrades is finding the right setup and with the amount of laps we ran over both P1 and P2 today we've generated enough data to give us a good chance to find something we can work with tomorrow. There's a long night ahead but everyone's working harder than ever to keep making progress and hopefully we'll see some of the results of that tomorrow."
Vitaly Petrov: "I sat out P1 and saw how hard the team worked to sort out the electrical issue that cut Giedo's session short. It was all sorted out by the start of P2 so we could get on with the program immediately. On my first run we had a few handling issues to sort out so we made some mechanical changes and saw an immediate improvement on the second run. By the time we put on the soft tyres the times were getting quicker with every lap and I think we found a balance that's working for us around here. We've generated a lot of data from all the runs we've done today on both tyre compounds so even with the problem we had this morning we've got through nearly the whole program and are set up ok for the rest of the weekend."
Pedro de la Rosa: "The initial objective was to find a good car balance and we achieved it quite early on. Then we focused on testing different configurations to see where we were and to optimize the cooling of the brakes. The grip on the track is quite low and the difference between both tyre compounds is smaller than expected. With the mediums the car performs better but on softs the grip is better, although we can still extract more from these. Our pace is good and the tests we carried out on the brakes didn't go badly, so we're optimistic although there is room for improvement."
Narain Karthikeyan: "I didn't know the track beforehand and it's more demanding and technical than expected, both physically and for the car because there isn't much grip. Today's objective was simply to run as much as possible and tomorrow we will focus on adjusting minor details ahead of qualifying. We've still got three sets of tyres, two softs and one medium, and if we make the most of them I'm confident that we'll be much more competitive."
Ma Qing Hua: "It was great getting back in the car for a free practice session and the circuit is stunning. I'd never raced here and the conditions weren't easy because of the heat and low grip. The car was sliding quite a bit and it was difficult to control as we had oversteer. In the first runs we did some engine tests to develop the performance of the car and we also worked on the overall balance. We weren't aiming to set a time but towards the end I was able to string together a few laps to improve my driving. Overall it was a positive day to work for the team and we accomplished our target."
Timo Glock: "A typical Friday really, although in FP1 I ran some developments for next year. There were a lot of sensors on the car, so while the work was good, the running was a little less straightforward. In FP2 I had some trouble with traffic on the Soft option tyre run; every time, I caught up to Petrov in the last sector which lost me time. We also tried some different set-up options and we have to look at the information we gathered to ensure we have the right one for the rest of the weekend."
Charles Pic: "It was great to be back in the car at Yas Marina this afternoon. It's a circuit I like very much and I hope we are able to continue the positive work of India. For the early part of the FP2 session I got up to speed with the track - quite quickly as well - and prepared for qualifying and the race, adjusting to the changing light conditions. We are not where we would like to be yet, so I hope to make a step forward for tomorrow."
Max Chilton: "My FP1 session went just as well as I could have hoped for and my thanks again to the Marussia F1 Team for making this possible. I haven't stopped smiling all day. I have been looking forward to this opportunity for a few weeks now, but when the moment came - with all the pressure - I admit that I was a little nervous. I wanted everything to go well and to have as much track time as possible. In the end, due to the tyre life situation, we built up to two longer runs of eight laps each, where I was able to work on some pretty demanding testing items, procedures and systems.
"On the first run I was very happy to improve immediately - and keep improving. I was hoping to do that again on the second run but unfortunately I was blocked by traffic from a HRT car. There was definitely more to come though and that is the only small frustration in an otherwise memorable day. The team were very supportive and thanks to my engineering team and car crew today, who made me feel right at home."