2011 Australian GP, practice: Driver quotes 

Written by David on March 25th, 2011 at 11:54 amLast Update: March 25th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Nico Rosberg: “It was a decent day for us. I had a positive morning and a good long run this afternoon which was useful to see how the tyres behaved. However it was a bit difficult for me during P2 because a few things were not working properly on the car. It’s difficult to say where we are the moment but I think we are in reasonable shape and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Michael Schumacher: “My first impressions of the 2011 season are quite positive. We learned a lot today, and are more or less where we thought we would be, although it was quite windy and tricky to drive. We will sort out some issues on our car for the rest of the weekend but I am still happy with what we have seen here so far. I would like to give a compliment to the Pirelli tyres which worked very well here today.”

Mark Webber: “We had some Melbourne showers at the end of P2, which are always pretty tricky round here, but in general it was a pretty good day for us. We’ve still got some work to do; there are some quick guys out there. It was good to finally try the tyres out on this circuit and I had a go with everything new on the car. McLaren look quick, but with Ferrari you can never tell, as they always run a bit more fuel on a Friday.”

Sebastian Vettel: “It was an exciting start to the season, as there’s always a lot going on in Melbourne. We were able to complete a lot of laps today, but the weather has been a bit difficult. It starts raining, but then goes dry again, which doesn’t make it that easy to test different things. Despite that, I think we got a good idea as to where we are compared to our competitors. All in all I think we can be pleased, it seems we are not too bad, but we have to wait and see.”

Rubens Barrichello: “That was quite a straight forward day. We were able to run KERS throughout, which is only the second time that I’ve had it on the car. I think we showed some competitiveness today but we need to do some work to keep it up. I enjoyed my Friday so I’m looking forward to a good weekend.”

Pastor Maldonado: “It was a bit difficult this morning because I didn’t know the track and so I spent most of the session just getting to grips with it. It was also quite slippery. This afternoon, we concentrated on long runs and were happy with the performance of the car. As we were good on the long runs, I think I can improve a lot tomorrow in terms of timed laps. I’m confident going into the rest of the weekend.”

Jaime Alguersuari: “A different day, as I had to get used to seeing Daniel driving my car in the morning! I am cool with it and it’s good that another Red Bull young driver gets the chance to experience Formula 1. The main thing is that we are all working for the same team helping each other to progress. I have to say, because it was the first day of the season, it was quite difficult this afternoon to fit in as much of the programme as possible and the occasional rain definitely did not help. However, I am happy with the feel from the car, it seems to be competitive and even though it went well today, there is the potential to get much more out of it tomorrow. For a first day of the season I would sum it up as very positive.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “All week I was trying to prepare myself, to have the least amount of nerves and pressure as possible. Even though it was just another time being out on track, it did feel a bit different, I won’t lie. When I pulled out of the pits and onto the track, I felt a little bit jelly-like for the first few corners. But once we got the procedural stuff out of the way, I was pretty happy and got into it. The first important thing is that I brought the car back in one piece, so hopefully the team is happy with that and afterwards I was just trying to build up gradually and learn. As the year goes on, it will get easier for me.”

Sebastien Buemi: “After winter testing, it’s good to be back at a track for real, knowing you are going to race. I’m happy to be able to see how we measure up against the other drivers. It has been a busy day with a full programme that we will now analyse very carefully, as there are all the new elements, like the rear wing, KERS and new tyres to take into consideration. Currently the times show us in the middle of the pack, in a tight group in terms of lap times of those ahead and behind us. We need to get the maximum out of this evening if we want to get the maximum out of tomorrow. The circuit has not changed much since last year apart from some resurfacing at corners 8 and 9 which helps, so it is as nice as ever to drive here.”

Kamui Kobayashi: “I think overall the car isn’t too bad, and we have learned a lot today running the car with the new Pirelli tyres for the first time on this track. It is important to understand how to handle the tyres, especially with regard to the track temperatures. In the first session I did quite long runs with one set of tyres. In the second we hadn’t really the time to let the grip of the tyres develop to the best possible because we had quite a packed test programme. We will now see how we can improve the car’s balance for tomorrow.”

Sergio Perez: “I am happy with how my first day went. The second session especially was really good. I had no difficulties at all learning the circuit, as it felt familiar quite quickly. Regarding the set-up of the car, we are going in the right direction but have to figure out a few changes for tomorrow. I am very much looking forward to tomorrow, because this is when it counts.”

Jarno Trulli: “The team worked really well to get the car ready for the afternoon session but we struggled a bit with a few issues that meant I couldn’t really push. We’ll work tonight on setup options and there are definitely some areas to look at where we can find some pace so I think tomorrow we’ll be ok.”

Heikki Kovalainen: “It was one of those days. We had a couple of problems the guys worked hard to resolve, and once we had got through the issues we managed to complete most of the program so we have some good data to work through tonight. There is obviously more pace to come from the car so let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Karun Chandhok: “I’m obviously disappointed to have had such a short run for my first time in the Team Lotus car, but I put my hands up to it and totally accept it was a combination of a slippery track and less grip than I expected from the tyres that combined to put me out so early. I’m just pleased the guys could get Jarno out in the afternoon session and it shows what a great team this is that they could get the car fixed that quickly to ensure Jarno could get a decent number of laps under his belt in FP2.”

Adrian Sutil: “It was not a bad day. We had quite a few new components on the car to test and the rear wing made a good difference. In the second session we put it all together with a few more sets of tyres, but we had a small issue with the floor and lost a little bit of running. It takes a good three to four laps to get the tyres working for us, on a hard tyre maybe longer, and at the beginning we suffered from understeer and front locking. It is important to look at the other drivers’ lap times now to see what they achieved with the different tyre compounds. I am getting to grips with operating the KERS and the rear wing and am confident in the system. I am aiming to qualify mid-table tomorrow – I think that is possible, so let’s see what we can do.”

Paul di Resta: “It was a good to have the opportunity to start my season today. We were able to complete our planned programme and the tyres performed better than I expected. Overall I felt quite comfortable with the new systems on the car, but until I get into a competitive situation it is still too early to say how we’ll do. We have another practice session in the morning, and so we’ll look at the data from today and work on the small issues we had and our programme for Qualifying. I am excited about tomorrow, but at the same time there is a job to be done and my focus is to achieve the best result I can for the team.”

Nico Hulkenberg: “It was an interesting FP1 and I learnt a lot again about the tyres and the car. Driving with just one set of tyres was pretty difficult because I picked up a flat spot early on which distracted my further running. The rubber wore quite quickly and caused a lot of vibrations, which made it tough to run. But I got some good laps in and collected some good data for the engineers to look at. I am happy to have driven here in Melbourne again and to pick up some more experience and information for the team.”

Jenson Button: “Today showed that, first of all, we’ve got reliability – which is great. That’s something we’ve not had all winter, so to have a car that runs for as many laps as we want it to is very satisfying. It also means we can get stuck into our set-up work and improve the car. I don’t think there’s much to be gained from looking at today’s times though, so I’m not going to get too carried away. Still, it’s been a positive day because we’ve been able to do so much running and get a good feeling for the car on different fuel-loads. The new exhaust has definitely brought performance to the car – it feels much better, makes the handling more ‘complete’. When you have downforce at the rear, you can also add it at the front, and then you put temperature in the tyres – there’s so much that comes with downforce. I’m so happy with how hard the guys have worked and what they’ve brought to this race – they’ve worked really hard and they’ve delivered something good here. We don’t yet know how good, but we’re encouraged by the step we’ve made today.”

Lewis Hamilton: “The car feels like an improvement over winter testing, but I’m not reading too much into the others’ performance. We just spent the day focusing on our own programme. The tyres are behaving very well; they don’t feel like they’re degrading, and they’re lasting well, too. Hopefully we can pick up some points this weekend – I feel positive. The grip level today felt like a big step forward. We don’t know what fuel loads the others are running, but our car feels like a big improvement from where we were just a few weeks ago. And that’s simply a result of hard work: all the men and women back at the factory and at the track this weekend have done a fantastic job. It’s difficult to gauge how different our car is, but there’s more downforce, which is something we’re always asking for. This is a major positive. Our initial feeling is that the car is good, but we’ll need to see tomorrow – still, I think we’re in the hunt for some points.”

Jerome D’Ambrosio: “Today has been something very special for me for sure. I have been racing since I was eight years old so today is a dream come true. It was very exciting to drive out of the garage this morning and also to drive here in Albert Park for the first time. It’s a fantastic track and I like it very much, so a lot of great things to be happy with. We have some work to do to improve, that is clear, but this is only the beginning. We showed that we could make progress through both sessions so we have to get the best out of the package we have here and then keep pushing to improve.”

Timo Glock: “Not an easy first day. I had a bit of trouble this morning in terms of the setup, and the behaviour of the car was not right, quite difficult. In the second session we made some improvements but the gap to the top guys is quite big and that’s a bit disappointing. We have to make the best out of it, get on top of it and make the car quicker.”

Vitaly Petrov: “It’s always fun to get the season underway. The weather was quite cold, but I didn’t have any issues with the car during the sessions. We did the baseline set-up work and found some good improvements during the day and I already feel quite comfortable with the balance of the car here. The other good news is that the tyres were performing well today and lasting quite a bit longer than expected.”

Nick Heidfeld: “I think today was OK. We spent more time than we expected working on the set-up and so we didn’t do as many laps as we wanted. The car felt alright, but I think we can still improve. With the hard tyres it was quite difficult to get enough grip, and the small problems that we had meant I couldn’t really do a long run in the end. Also, the wet weather conditions meant it was not ideal to learn about the car, but I think we’re lucky that it stayed pretty dry. It’s still very difficult to know exactly where we stand, but we do have a better picture than we had yesterday.”

Felipe Massa: “We tested a lot of things in these two free practice sessions, splitting the work with my team-mate so as to explore different ways to go in terms of preparing for the rest of the weekend. I expected to set a quicker time, especially as the softs were not at their best until the fourth lap. On the hards, on the longest runs, it did not achieve much, as there were also a few drops of rain to complicate the situation. From what we have seen, the soft tyre shows less degradation than we might have expected, but we have to work out if that will still be the case in the race. This track is definitely less hard on tyres than Barcelona for example, where we did so much testing. This year it will be vital to study their behaviour carefully, circuit by circuit. The difference in outright performance between the two types of tyre is very marked. McLaren and Red Bull seem very strong, but there are other cars that can also be on the pace.”

Fernando Alonso: “Nothing new yet and what else would you expect? These two free practice sessions have not actually revealed the real relative strengths of the teams: this morning Red Bull went well and in the afternoon it was McLaren’s turn, with us and Mercedes always in the mix, while Williams and Renault also seem competitive. There are so many teams who could be in with a chance of going for the win and therefore it’s obvious that it will be necessary to have a good Saturday, without any mistakes if you want to start from the front row. Today, we concentrated mainly on analysing the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres, which seems a bit different here to what we saw in testing, partly because the track surface has very different characteristics. As far as strategy is concerned, we will need to be very flexible during the race, because at the moment, we know too little about the tyres to be able to say with certainty on which lap it will be best to stop. From what we have seen today, maybe we can do ten laps on one set of tyres, or maybe thirty! I am happy with the way the car is going: at the start there was a bit of understeer and we still are a way off from having perfect grip at the front, but it went better than I was expecting. We wanted to show that Japan was in the thoughts of all of us at Ferrari, which is why we ran with a sticker dedicated to the people of a country that has brought a lot to Formula 1 and where our sport has a great following.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi: “Even though we only did one lap today, it is very important for us to have put the F111 into action. It’s been a big effort from everybody, the mechanics and engineers have worked day and night to get the car ready. It’s very positive to have the car on the ground and we now have some numbers to work on for tomorrow. We are looking forward to tomorrow as it is our first chance to put in some laps together and get some information on the car”.

Narain Karthikeyan: “Everybody is working hard trying to put things into place. With new cars there are always bound to be problems. We have everything here, but just to trim parts and fit them into a car is a time consuming process. Unfortunately we lost a day today, so I think it’s going to be a tough weekend undoubtedly but at least we have made some progress”.

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