Driver reaction - 2013 Bahrain GP Practice
The drivers have their say on the first day of running in Bahrain
Last Updated: 19/04/13 5:10pm
The drivers have their say on the first day of running at the Bahrain International Circuit, where Kimi Raikkonen set the pace.
Mark Webber: "I would have liked to have got some more running in P2, but I still think we learned what we expected today. Saturdays are perhaps becoming less important overall than they used to be, but they're still important in terms of traffic. You don't want to be in too much traffic on Sunday, as the tyres don't like being disturbed and wear more which will shorten your first stint - so you still need to be in a good position. We still have areas to improve on the car. Lotus and Ferrari look strong and Mercedes is there too."
Sebastian Vettel: "It's pretty close. If you look at the opposition then Ferrari and Lotus were strong today and I think it will be close in qualifying. It's important to work with the tyres around the track. I wasn't so happy with my short runs today - but that's why we have the Friday practice sessions I guess; I was happier with the longer runs. The tyres still seem to be the dominating factor. The car seems quick, so we have to make sure we use that and then we should be on the right page."
Fernando Alonso: "It was a positive day and we are reasonably pleased with how the car behaved. We had no major problems and more importantly, we didn't have to make any radical changes to the F138 to adapt it to this track and its long straights and slow corners, characteristics which I like a lot and usually produce a great show in the race. Unfortunately, the wind and sand make everything a bit more complicated here, because the track surface never gets completely clean.
"However, the initial feelings are good and I think we can be up in the leading group tomorrow, a group that is all within the same two, maximum three tenths. We have not yet decided if we will use the aero updates we tried in the morning. It is not yet completely clear how they worked and in the afternoon, we concentrated on comparing the two tyre compounds we have for this race. Ahead of us is another long evening of studying data to choose the best strategy and set-up for qualifying and the race."
Felipe Massa: "Everything went well today, even if it's not easy to say at the moment where we will be on Sunday. Car balance was good and it behaved well in all conditions, even if we suffered a bit with tyre wear, especially at the rear. It's pretty normal to have significant degradation in such high temperatures and on this front, we have a lot of work to do to prepare for the race. On the Medium tyres, the F138 worked really well, even over a long run, but the key on Sunday will be managing the degradation of both compounds, as well as deciding on whether or not to use the updates we tried here this morning."
Jenson Button: "Today's sessions were very productive for us. We completed some useful investigative work this morning before focusing on longer runs this afternoon. It's very difficult to know exactly what to do with set-up. This is a big traction circuit, with lots of low-speed exits and a few high-speed corners too, and that puts a lot of load into the rear tyres.
"The tyres are behaving a bit strangely here - driving conservatively doesn't seem to help their wear-life, so there's only so much you can do without damaging your outright pace. But we've tried a few things, and we'll get there. I've already got a good feeling that we've found a set-up and a direction for tomorrow that will be more competitive. There's a lot we can take away from today that will help us for tomorrow."
Sergio Perez: "We managed to complete our full run-plan in both the morning and afternoon, which was a positive, but it's going to be a difficult weekend for us.
"Although we'll probably be fighting to get into Q3, there's still plenty of potential for having a good race on Sunday. The team has shown before that, with solid preparation, we can run a clever strategy on Sunday, and I think we have enough raw material from today to help us race strongly this weekend.
"So, scoring points is a realistic ambition for us here in Bahrain."
Kimi Raikkonen: "It's nice to be fastest but you never know what the others are doing; we just stick to our programme and don't take too much notice of what else is happening. I actually made a mistake through the final corners on my fastest lap, so there's still more time to be found. It's tricky to get the setup right here and the wind can make a big difference; it might work for you one way but make things more tricky the other. It wasn't a bad start today; things aren't exactly where we want them but we're reasonably fast, so let's see what we can do from here."
Romain Grosjean: "The new chassis feels good. Today we've been working on getting the right correlation between chassis, setup and tyres to extract everything we want from it. It's easy to know what you want, the difficult bit is getting the little details sorted, but we're getting there and it's been a positive day. We've seen that Kimi was fastest today so that gives us a great target for tomorrow."
Nico Rosberg: "Our test programme was pretty good today in that we managed to complete everything on our plan. However it's clear that we weren't as strong as on the Fridays of the previous three race weekends. The car had a lot of understeer and the race will be very tough on the rear tyres. The problem is that when you want to save the rear tyres, you try to set up the car with more understeer and that costs you time over one lap. So it's all about finding the right compromise. We've still got some work to do tonight to find a good balance for tomorrow and the race."
Lewis Hamilton: "We worked as hard as we could today but couldn't quite get the balance of the car to where it needs to be. I had some issues in P1 which we were able to improve for this afternoon so that's a positive, but we need to identify where we are losing time and find more performance.
"We have changed the set-up of the car to what we thought would suit this track but we need to look at that and make sure it is the right direction to go. The heat here is so hard on the tyres so another positive is that we did as many laps as possible to look at long runs and race preparation. We're not as far off as we might look today but there is a lot of hard work ahead and it will be a tough battle for us this weekend."
Nico Hulkenberg: "We were able to run our practice programme as planed today. Everything went quite smoothly. In terms of performance, there is still quite a lot of work for us to do. I expected this circuit might highlight some of the weaknesses of the car, but I think there is some potential.
I'm still not happy with the balance of the car, but I think we can find more performance tomorrow if we sort out the balance. We have a long night ahead of us to try and maximise everything for this weekend."
Esteban Gutierrez: "I think we managed to improve the balance of the car in the second session compared to this morning. The first session was a bit tricky in terms of the balance of the car. We were trying a lot of different settings and measurements, but everything came together this afternoon. However, we are still missing speed in the slow corners due to lack of stability and traction. We will look at the data and work on these characteristics so we can create a car with a better margin
Paul Di Resta: "As Fridays go it's been positive and we've achieved as much as we could realistically have hoped for. The car is working well and responding as we expected, and we've already got a reasonable idea of where we stand. There is still some optimising to do, as always, but if we can take another step forward tonight we should be in a strong position going into qualifying."
Adrian Sutil: "Lots of laps and lots of things to evaluate today, but I'm still not totally comfortable with the car - either for short or long runs. It all feels very low grip at the moment so the set-up is not quite right for me yet. As for the tyres, there are no real concerns. My long runs looked competitive and both the medium and hard compounds seem to be working well for us in the high temperatures - as they did in Malaysia."
Pastor Maldonado: "We completed our planned programme today. We tested some development parts this morning and then we were back to working on set-up for the weekend this afternoon. Our short run pace isn't as strong, but on higher fuel and used tyres the car felt better. This is what we were expecting today, and so we'll continue to push hard tomorrow."
Valtteri Bottas: "It wasn't a bad day for us. We gathered some valuable data in FP1 to help us to evaluate which direction to continue with the development of the FW35. In FP2 we completed some longer runs on the medium tyre, and now we will go through the data to see where we can improve as the tyre wear is big here, especially on the rears."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "A hot day in the office, but it's fine because you get to breathe some cooler fresh air going down the straights. It seems our pace is similar to that in China, at the end of a day when everything worked well. It's all looking quite positive and I got a good feeling from the car. As for the tyres, the lap time difference between the Prime and Option is not as great as in China, but the heat means there is quite a lot of thermal degradation which will make life quite tricky in the race."
Daniel Ricciardo: "The first day here is quite complicated as the track is always dusty in the morning and that makes setting the car up rather tricky as the track is always improving. You are obliged therefore not to get too carried away in terms of making lots of changes. In the afternoon, we were tempted to make some changes and I'm not sure they were an improvement. So tonight, we must look at the data and decide which direction to go in tomorrow.
"We did a lot of laps, so we have plenty of data to study and I believe we have a good platform to work from. The Option which I tried this afternoon is obviously going to be quicker for qualifying, but the gap is not as great as last weekend. It pays not to push the tyres too hard I think. The weather? I come from Perth, so I've been looking forward to some sun for a while now."
Heikki Kovalainen: "It was good to be back in the car and great to be back at work with the team. The main priority today was to help give my impressions of the 2013 car in the spec it ran in for the first three races this year against the car I raced last year, and to give my feedback on the 2013 tyres. The first impression I had was that this car, which is obviously closer to the 2012 car than what will be raced for most of the rest of the season, is certainly trickier to find a balance on than the 2012 car, and the 2013 tyres go off a lot faster than last years.
"After one session I clearly haven't had enough time in the car to find out how much we could change the handling with setup alterations, but I've been able to give the team a lot of feedback that I think will be useful this weekend on setup and tyres, and looking ahead to Spain where we'll have more new parts."
Charles Pic: "We've made some progress today and I think we can be quite pleased with the job we've done in both FP1 and FP2. In the morning session we ran the car in the same configuration we raced in China and ran through a pretty normal FP1 program, using just the hard tyres and working on the baseline setup.
"In FP2 we ran a couple of new parts at the back of the car and saw more rear grip which is positive. We did find that meant there was quite a bit of understeer that we'll need to work on for quali, but the performance run time was a good sign of where we are heading, so overall today has been ok."
Giedo van der Garde: "After sitting out the morning session I went straight back to work in FP2 and ran through a normal Friday afternoon program that included work on both tyre compounds on short and long runs. The tyre deg here was pretty big, especially on the mediums, but they're coming up to temperature well and that suggests that if we can manage the deg levels this track might suit us better than the last race in China."
Max Chilton: "I'm pleased that I was able to complete plenty of running in both sessions today. This is especially important given the tough conditions we are facing, which are obviously impacting quite a lot on the way the car is behaving here. The heat is making it difficult to find good grip. We've tried a few things and gathered plenty of data, all of which will need some careful thought overnight, but I'm sure we can reach some conclusions which will improve things for tomorrow."
Jules Bianchi: "It was not an easy task getting up to speed this afternoon. Having watched and listened to the challenges Max and Rodolfo were experiencing this morning, it was clear that FP2 would not be straightforward for me either. The heat is playing a big part in the way the car has been performing but I think, for my part, we were limited by the time to improve on these issues in the space of an afternoon. Given this, I am not so unhappy with my time as I was making progress and I am sure that, overnight, we will find a good solution for tomorrow."
Rodolfo Gonzalez: "Although my first experience of the MR02 was quite brief, it provided a good start for my FP1 programme at various races this year. With my programme, I had actually experienced and achieved quite a few different things before the problem with the gearbox. I felt comfortable with the car and I could see that Max and Jules were going to have quite a challenging day with the heat and the track conditions. I'm looking forward to being able to make a wider contribution to the Team's performance during a Grand Prix weekend and next time will be better for sure."