2008 Belgian Grand Prix, practice: Driver quotes 

Written by David on September 05th, 2008 at 11:19 pmLast Update: September 05th, 2008 at 11:19 pm

2008 Belgian Grand Prix, SPAKazuki Nakajima: “In the morning, conditions weren’t too bad, even if we had to improve our lap times considerably. We made some set-up changes, but I found this afternoon was much trickier. I was struggling to get a good feeling from the car. I’ll be looking to find overall grip in tomorrow’s practice session, and if I manage to do this, then I will be able to push more.”

Fernando Alonso: “We were able to make some good progress today with the set-up of the car, but the track conditions did not allow us to complete our programme. This is not too significant because the situation is the same for all the teams and we still have the final practice session tomorrow morning to prepare for qualifying, so I’m not too concerned.”

Kimi Raikkonen: “When I went off the track at Turn 9, I clipped the kerb and the surface was a bit slippery there because of the rain. I ended up spinning and then hitting the barrier. Unfortunately, not only did the rear wing break, but the floor was also damaged and it could not be repaired in time. A shame as already earlier, when I had gone onto new tyres, it had begun raining and I lost a bit of time. Let’s hope tomorrow morning there’s no rain so that I can run more consistently in the dry. In the morning, apart from a few little electrical problems, the car wasn’t bad. Tomorrow we will see what we can do and obviously the weather will be a key factor.”

Timo Glock: “Today was pretty tricky in general, especially with the weather which didn’t make it easy in the afternoon. We still have to work on the car because I am not completely happy with the set-up at the moment. The cold conditions didn’t help us. We made a little step forward on the last run but there is still improvement to be made. We have to wait and see how it goes tomorrow. This is usually one of the most exciting races of the year so I am looking forward to racing here and even though today was a bit difficult, the conditions were the same for all drivers so I am still reasonably optimistic.”

Jenson Button: “Whilst it is great to be back at Spa, one of the most challenging and enjoyable circuits of the season, we did have a difficult time in free practice today. It was very hard to get heat into the tyres in the cool and damp conditions, which meant that I had little front grip which is particularly difficult here given the cambers in the corners. We also struggled with understeer. However we have a lot of data from the test last week and from our running today, so we will study this overnight and see where we can improve before qualifying.”

Nico Rosberg: “The morning didn’t start too well and we weren’t looking so good, so we made some big set-up changes over lunch and we definitely improved and found some clear direction. We have some new development parts on the car, which have helped our pace even if the conditions have been too variable to really get the most out of them today. If I think about it, our experience today has been much like last year when we struggled here on Friday but improved a lot over the course of the weekend. So we have taken some good steps forward today, but of course we still need to find some more performance tomorrow to close up to those in front of us.”

David Coulthard: “Tricky Spa weather conditions this weekend, which makes it more difficult to evaluate where you are with the tyres etc. due to the changing conditions. What else to say? Don’t come here on your Summer holidays?”

Jarno Trulli: “It was a bit of a difficult day for me. I lost part of the morning session with a technical problem so I lost a lot of running when the track was dry and then in the afternoon unfortunately I couldn’t do much because the session was hampered by the poor weather. So in the end there is very little we have learned from today’s sessions. I hope this will be a good weekend for us but of course it depends on how the car suits the track and there are many other variables, such as the weather and the track temperature, which do affect things. I hope we can keep up the momentum from recent races and be strong again.”

Lewis Hamilton: “This morning, the temperatures were quite low so the track lacked a bit of grip and made warming the tyres more difficult than normal. The wet-dry conditions we encountered are typical of Spa, but they make if difficult to change your set-up because you’re always attacking a moving target. Still, we got some good data this morning before the rain came, so we feel we’re in good shape for tomorrow.”

Felipe Massa: “It was an unusual day because of the changing weather. Overall, I am happy with the work we did over the three hours. The car is working well and responds positively to the set up changes we have made. We tried various solutions and now we must study the data to draw the right conclusions. The tyres worked as we had expected them to: the softer ones seem to offer more performance. I think we are moving in the right direction.”

Nelson Piquet: “We had a lot to get through today, but in the end we didn’t do as much running as I would have liked. Our programme was very busy, but I still don’t feel perfectly comfortable in the car. I’m sure that this is something that I can improve with my engineers in time for tomorrow.”

Sebastian Vettel: “It was an interesting day and as expected, the weather made for some pretty strange conditions. Especially in the afternoon, it was important that we got some dry laps, to get another look at how the car was performing, having made some changes to it, as I was not completely happy with it in the morning. The afternoon showed it was much better. I thought it was cool to drive in these conditions as you have no margin for error: 10 centimetres the wrong way and you can crash. You have to be very precise and it demands very accurate driving. When you push, you start to feel your balls in your pants! It was interesting and I like it.”

Heikki Kovalainen: “In mixed conditions like this afternoon, there’s not a lot you can learn about the set-up – but there’s a lot at risk if you lose the car. In the damp, the kerbs were extremely slippery – like ice, almost – so we weren’t in a great hurry to go out this afternoon until the track dried out. It’s hard to know where everybody stands because of the rain, but our times in both sessions show we’re looking competitive.”

Robert Kubica: “The conditions today were variable, especially in the afternoon session. Therefore today it was not only the testing that was difficult, but also evaluating the results of our programme. At the end of the day the conditions were the same for everybody. We shall now analyse the data and prepare for Saturday. When I was doing a practice start at the end of the session the engine stalled.”

Sebastien Bourdais: “This is the most beautiful track, but the conditions are often a pain in the arse and with the dry tyres in the drizzle we had this afternoon, if you touched the white line you would crash. So I didn’t take any risks, especially as you don’t learn much in these conditions. The morning session was quite good and now we just have to find a solution to the fact I am locking the rears. Apart from that, we have found a reasonable balance and I feel happy with that as I think we were quite competitive this morning and in general, we look in good shape.”

Adrian Sutil: “In the end I could put together a good lap and now at least we have some idea about the balance in these type of conditions. This morning was OK but we lost the final few minutes of the session with a broken damper and couldn’t improve the time from the first run. At least we had some more tyres to use in the afternoon, but then unfortunately the rain started and it was difficult to judge when we could go out.”

Nick Heidfeld: “Generally speaking my first day of practice here was okay. The track’s level of grip was, as expected, low and this meant it wasn’t too easy to drive the car. We have made some small changes during the course of the day, but, due to the inconsistent weather conditions, it was extremely difficult to make judgements. Because of the weather we couldn’t do our usual tyre comparisons either, as we could not run the harder and softer compounds under the same conditions. This makes the analyses tricky but that’s the same for everybody.”

Giancarlo Fisichella: “It was a shame we could not do more laps in the drying conditions in the afternoon. Unfortunately I was coming out of turn eight and just came on to a really wet part of the track on dry tyres. The car just snapped away and there wasn’t anything I could do to catch it before it went into the barriers. Until that point it had been a fairly normal day, we were finding a good balance and getting used to the tyres and I think we could have got a good time in the drier conditions at the end of the session.”

Rubens Barrichello: “I was happier with the balance of the car in the afternoon session, however we struggled a lot with the rear end which was very unpredictable throughout the day. The rain this afternoon did not help as we lost some track time but this was the same for everyone. At the moment, it looks like this track and dry conditions will not favour us, so we will be hoping that it rains heavily over the weekend.”

Mark Webber: “It was a pretty good first session, we did quite a lot of running in anticipation of the mixed conditions forecast for the afternoon. We did one run in the afternoon, but unfortunately I then went back out and made a mistake on an out lap on slightly cool tyres. I couldn’t recover it in Turn 8, slid across the gravel and damaged the car. We’ll be back again tomorrow.”

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