2013 Indian Grand Prix Practice - Driver reaction
The 22 drivers have their say on the opening day's action
By William Esler
Last Updated: 25/10/13 2:27pm
Sebastian Vettel: "The soft tyre is not lasting so long here, but it's Friday and the track is still rubbering in; it's normally improving for Saturday, plus we haven't used this compound for a long time, so tomorrow it should be better."
Mark Webber: "The track was pretty good at the start of today's sessions, better than last year I would say. However, the conditions in P2 are normally different to what we have in the race, so it's hard to say how we will go tomorrow and Sunday, but hopefully we have the pace and can control the race. The car is very consistent, but we need to work on the tyres and make sure we get the most out of them."
Fernando Alonso: "It was a Friday like any other, apart from a mechanical problem this morning which reduced my track time. Fortunately, this did not affect the programme too much, with a first session given over mainly to getting used to this track again. It's always important to get the right feeling for a circuit, and especially to try the tyres, that are very important here.
"We also got a first idea of our race pace and also the rate of tyre degradation: we must take into account that track conditions on Sunday will be very different to today's. The situation is not that different to recent races. We are a bit behind in performance terms and tomorrow we must try and get a good starting position to get away well in the race and make it to the podium."
Felipe Massa: "A positive day today, with the car working well and I hope that on Sunday things will end up even better, because I like this track a lot. On my first lap with the Softs, I didn't manage to set a good time because of the traffic, but I am quite pleased with the race simulation I did in the afternoon, because on the Medium tyres, I managed to do a lot of laps and that's a very interesting point in terms of the race.
"Degradation is not that high here and so I don't think we will see a lot of pitstops. I think we won't see too many pit-stops, even if we will have to be careful with the Soft tyres in the first stint because of blistering. The team to beat is still Red Bull, but we have to see how the other cars will perform, especially in qualifying, because Mercedes and Lotus are very quick. As usual, we will have to push to the maximum."
Sergio Perez: "This is a great circuit, with long, fast corners and the longest straight of the season. After today's practice sessions, I'm feeling quite optimistic for the weekend - I'm happy with the balance and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
"Nevertheless, we had some issues with the balance of the car during today's session. The Prime tyre is definitely working better for us than the Option, but we didn't really run it with an optimised car set-up, so I'm not too worried.
"Still, we definitely need to analyse the Option tyre's performance tonight to see how we can improve it. The most important thing is to have good tyres for the race.
"Overall, I think we're in the same position that we've been in for the last three or four races - so our objective tomorrow will be to have a strong qualifying session and to make it into Q3."
Jenson Button: "We tried a number of different set-ups this morning - but I think our baseline was in the wrong place, so they didn't particularly work around this type of circuit.
"So we reverted to more of a traditional set-up for the afternoon, and we developed the car over the course of the day, so we're now getting there, despite the setbacks of the morning. In a way that's positive, because it meant that we'd already been getting the best out of the car for the whole year.
"The tyres will be very interesting this weekend - the Prime tyre seems to last forever, while the Option tyre doesn't! There's a very big difference between the two tyre compounds so I think we'll see some very interesting strategies this weekend."
Kimi Raikkonen: "The car feels pretty okay now, but we can still make it better. We made quite a few changes in the morning as it didn't feel so good then, but it's much better now and we should be able to make more progress for tomorrow. The track is quite slippery, but that improves with time and the car gets better too."
Romain Grosjean: "That was a good start to the weekend. The car feels good and we made progress through the day to make it better. It's still a struggle to find grip here which can make things interesting as you find the limits, but the pace of our car relative to our rivals looks quite good. I
"'m hopeful of another solid day tomorrow which should give us another strong qualifying position if the evidence of today is anything to go by. We'll do everything we can to take the fight to Red Bull."
Lewis Hamilton: "We made some good progress over the two practice sessions today. This morning wasn't so good but we completed a lot of laps this afternoon and made some good progress. It's difficult to get the set-up right here and this circuit is pretty tough on the tyres so I think everyone was struggling with the soft compound.
"Our car feels pretty good at this early stage but there are definitely some areas we can improve overnight. We're working towards a strong qualifying performance tomorrow afternoon, ideally on the second row, and then hopefully a place on the podium, that would be nice."
Nico Rosberg: "That was quite a tough day for us: we learned a lot but still have a lot of work ahead tonight so that I can find the best set-up. Generally, it seems that the main question this weekend is who can get third position behind the two Red Bulls, because they look pretty unstoppable at this circuit. But I'm confident we will have a role to play in that battle tomorrow and on Sunday."
Nico Hulkenberg: "Today was quite a good Friday. No big dramas, stable weather, and good running. We were able to work through the whole programme, so that was good. We collected some good tyre data, which is always most important on a Friday. Regarding the performance on the medium tyres, I'm quite happy with the car.
"On the soft tyre compound I think, we still need to work a bit and find better solutions for the set up. On both the low and high fuel runs it wasn't ideal. Tomorrow I think we will be able to push for the top ten."
Esteban Gutierrez: "It was a very complicated day. We were trying to find out exactly where we stood on the track and it's been quite challenging, because the pace is just not there, neither on the high or the low fuel. I am not happy with the way the car is handling and the way it feels. I'm not very confident at the moment.
"Obviously, I was trying to do my best to put everything together, but we are missing quite a lot. The most surprising thing was the lack of pace in the long runs. The degradation on the soft tyre was quite high. Also on the medium tyre I wasn't able to find the pace. We have to look into that now and see how we can improve the car as well as myself."
Adrian Sutil: "It has been quite a positive day with a more consistent car than in the previous few races. We made small adjustments, rather than big ones, and I think that was a sensible approach because the balance of the car felt quite good. There's still some room to improve, but I think we have some reasonable pace for tomorrow. We still need to tweak the car a little bit more tonight, but hopefully the work we've done today will allow us to be close to Q3 tomorrow. The main thing is that I'm feeling comfortable in the car."
Paul Di Resta: "I think it was a reasonable day. Although I missed FP1, I slowly but surely got the car to a position where I was feeling comfortable. We now need to make some decisions tonight to ensure we take the best way forward with the race in mind. In terms of our performance level, the car seems to be slightly more competitive than we were in Suzuka, which is encouraging."
James Calado: "I had driven this track before on the simulator, but my first proper experience was impressive. It's a fantastic venue and one of the most enjoyable tracks I've driven. The session was straightforward with tuning of the car and data collection. The grip levels were low to begin with, but I slowly built up my speed. I had a small spin on what probably would have been my fastest lap, but other than that it went very well."
Valtteri Bottas: "We went through our planned programme in both the morning and afternoon sessions here in India. We tried a lot of different things in terms of aero and mechanical set-up, so we need to assess the data tonight to see what worked best. The driving from my side felt good and I managed to adjust to the track quite quickly. It's a great track and very fun to drive, so I enjoyed the day today. We'll see where we are compared to the others tomorrow and try to do our best."
Pastor Maldonado: "We had a good first session this morning completing all planned runs. FP2 was also quite good as we were working on the car, trying to help the balance and improve the speed. We are not expecting things to be much different to the previous few races. In the race simulation laps, the front-right felt a bit loose, so I stopped the car. The team will now investigate this issue further."
Daniel Ricciardo: "This morning went okay, even if we were lacking a bit of speed, but we did make progress over the 90 minutes. This enabled us to get closer to the top ten in the afternoon, but there is still a bit of work to do. The tyres come under a lot strain here and everyone seemed to be suffering a bit with graining.
"Unfortunately, my second session ended a little bit early, as I slid wide at the chicane and as I went over the kerb, it damaged the car and I had to stop. It means I was unable to do a long run test, but I hope we can find time for one tomorrow morning. I still feel the potential is there for me to be in Q3 tomorrow."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "This was a mixed Friday, quite good in the morning, worse in the afternoon. In the first session, I had the right feeling from the car and my times were good. But this afternoon, I lost one second a lap, for reasons that we really don't understand just yet, so getting to the bottom of this situation is our first priority this evening.
"The tyre situation looks interesting, as I could see plenty of other cars showing signs of tyre graining. I had it too, so this definitely means we can expect a different and maybe more exciting sort of race than we saw last year here."
Charles Pic: "Everything was ok with the car after the installation lap, track conditions weren't great to start with but we expected that. After the usual checks were done we went out for the first full run and the car was performing OK right from the start. There was a bit of understeer, especially in the high speed turns and a bit less in the low-speed, but not really too bad.
"We had a small data logging issue at the start of run two and run three so I came straight back in for the guys to fix it. We didn't lose too much time as it was sorted out quickly and we were able to complete the program with a final eight lap run.
"Over the lunch break we made a couple of mechanical changes and the car's straightline performance felt better but we still didn't have enough front grip overall and needed to improve braking stability to really start being able to push. Run two was on the options but they weren't really working at all. Honestly, it was a bit strange as there really wasn't any grip on the softs - there was less understeer in the low-speed turns, not in the medium or highs, so we'll have to look at that tonight with the data to really understand what's going on.
"For the last half hour of the session we went back onto the mediums for the long run. The pace was ok and deg levels weren't too bad, but as the options hadn't performed well on run two so we ran most of the rest of the session on them, stopping for options with a couple of minutes left as we're already pretty clear on how they'll behave on Saturday and Sunday.
"We have some work to do tonight to find the pace that's in the car here - throughout the season we've come back well in FP3 and quali so the aim is for more of the same tomorrow, and to carry that through to Sunday."
Giedo van der Garde: "This has been one of my best Fridays of the year so far - I drove in FP1 here in India last year so the circuit was familiar right from the installation lap and the car balance was immediately good from the first run. There was a bit of understeer in the high speed section through 10 and 11 but it was a positive start to the session.
"It felt the same on run two - still well balanced and as the track kept getting faster I could really start to push around the whole lap. It's a good feeling when the car's like that straight from the start of Friday and even though we had a small issue with the rear brake temps getting a bit higher than we'd have liked, it was all good. We continued with the plan and made a couple more changes to improve the aero balance for the last run and at the end of the session I think we'd made some good progress.
"FP2 started off the same - the car felt like it kept improving and on my first run in the afternoon I found almost another half second. There was still a bit of understeer in turn 10 but the wind had changed since the morning and that had actually helped the entry into that corner, but overall I was feeling comfortable. We went onto the softs for the second run of the afternoon but I had some unavoidable traffic on my first lap and wasn't really getting the most out of them on that run, particularly through turns eight and nine.
"We ran a normal FP2 plan so finished with the long run, starting on the mediums. They were consistent for the whole run which looks good for Sunday, but the options really aren't performing here for anything more than a few laps. Now it's the normal late Friday, getting everything ready for tomorrow and Sunday and after a good day like this I think this can be a good weekend for us."
Max Chilton: "Today was a pretty long day of track learning given that this is my first experience of the Buddh International Circuit. I have struggled with the car balance all day, so that didn't make the acclimatisation process very easy. It is also a demanding circuit so there is no margin for error and I had a few 'moments'. We are trying a new part on the car, which we are weighing up whether we should run or not. Hopefully when we've had a look at the data from both cars and looked at all the options we can improve tomorrow."
Jules Bianchi: "It is nice to finally get a feel for the Buddh International Circuit and I am pleased with how my first day has gone. We tried a few things on the car to provide us with some options for the rest of the weekend. Our times compared to Caterham are good, and we are pleased with the long run pace, so we are confident for the race."