2014 Australian GP practice - Driver Reaction
The view from the cockpit on the opening day of the 2014 season
By William Esler
Last Updated: 15/03/14 5:12am
Sebastian Vettel: "In a way it's a relief today, the fact that we were running, we didn't have any problems, the balance was good and the performance looked alright. In the end Friday times are not worth a lot, but it's better to be close to the top rather than somewhere towards the back, so I'm very happy with that. We will do what we can to prepare for tomorrow and Sunday, but let's see where we are then - the most important thing is that we finish."
Daniel Ricciardo: "I knew the guys were doing everything they could since testing but still, we didn't expect to do that many laps today, so I'm really happy and pleased for them. I think we have to be pretty positive with where we ended up today. We expected Mercedes to be quickest, but we were within a second of them today so that's a lot better than we thought. Let's see if it's the same story after qualifying tomorrow, but for today we're pleased."
Lewis Hamilton: "It really was a day of two halves today. While it was disappointing to not get any track time this morning, these little hiccups are going to happen with the new cars and we'll have to get used to that. It felt like I was on the back foot from there but then we got up to pace quite quickly in P2 and found the balance relatively fast.
"I feel quite comfortable in the car so overall it's a positive start but we need to look at the data now and understand where we are. We got a nice foundation for the weekend in the second session today so hopefully we can build on that in P3 tomorrow afternoon and then see where we are in qualifying."
Nico Rosberg: "It was so great to be back in the car today and I'm very pleased with the progress that we made. As always on a Friday, we don't really know where we are in terms of pace yet and how much fuel everyone else was running in comparison to our programme. It's definitely going to be very tough on fuel here, as we expected.
"The screen on my steering wheel shows the fuel target for each lap and we're going to have to be very disciplined in the race. It's a pretty good start for us overall and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
Fernando Alonso: "On the first Friday of the season, there's always a bit more tension. It's the start of a new championship and there is the feeling of general expectation to see how things we worked on during the winter are functioning. Overall, this was a positive day for us and even if there was an element of nervousness because of the complexity introduced by the new technical regulations, everything went well.
"The team did a super job and we had no problems. The track improved from the first session to the second, with more grip compared to the morning and there was also more wind. Running the soft tyre certainly helped, as the extra grip meant the times came down, but it's impossible to have a clear idea of how competitive we are, because as usual, Friday results don't mean much. To know more, we must wait until everyone is running in the same trim."
Kimi Raikkonen: "That was a pretty demanding day, because although we managed to complete our programme, it wasn't trouble-free. In the first session we lost a bit of time, but that didn't prevent us acquiring enough data to evaluate the overall handling of the car and the Pirelli compounds. This evening there will be a lot of work to do, especially to understand what didn't work and to try and improve for qualifying and the race."
Romain Grosjean: "If we take the positives we can say that we've completed a few practice starts, and we've proven that Renault have done a good job from the laps we completed. It's certain that we have a lot of work ahead and we still need to learn the tyres, the brakes and find a good setup. We're taking a few steps every time we go out in the car and for sure we'll get where we want to be."
Pastor Maldonado: "I'm feeling really ready for tomorrow. I spent a lot of today waiting to get in the car as we had some problems, which I think are still normal to have so early in the season with these new cars. It was clear that we're not the only ones to suffer on track and we have to work very hard, and maybe harder than the others, to try to catch up and be ready for tomorrow. We need to sit down with the engineers and re-plan our strategy for free practice."
Jenson Button: "I always enjoy this circuit - it's quite bumpy and there's no room for error, which always makes it fun!
"In all honesty, these cars work better around here than I'd imagined, but Sunday's race will be very different. The long runs weren't as much fun as I'd hoped they'd be, because you need to save a lot of fuel. And that's such a different way of driving - you're lifting off very early, and there's lots of lift-and-coasting around the lap. On low fuel, however, it's really fun to drive.
"Our car balance isn't quite there yet - we're still struggling a little in the high-speed corners. In the low-speed corners, we're looking reasonable, and all our electronics are working well. I don't think our outright pace is quite as good as it looks on the time sheets, but we've got a good understanding of the car and overall I'd say we're looking okay."
Kevin Magnussen: "For me, today was about getting used to everything; taking it step by step, and making sure I was moving forwards and learning all the time.
"I've watched Formula 1 cars on this circuit on TV for many years, so it's strange to be driving here at last. But it was a good feeling to be out there on the track - I really enjoyed it. There's definitely an element of learning for me here this weekend, so it's good to have Jenson alongside me. He's so experienced, and of course he's very strong around here. I can learn a lot from him. The rest of the weekend is going to be really interesting.
"Lastly, I'm happy that we've got a lot of good data to go through. So now I've got to sit down and work hard with my engineers and the rest of the team to develop the car ahead of qualifying tomorrow. We think we know where to take the car from here, but as I say there's still plenty of work for us to do."
Nico Hulkenberg: "I'm feeling quite happy because it was a smooth day with lots to learn. I had a little moment at the end of FP2 when I put a wheel on the grass under braking, but the conditions were difficult because the sun was so low in the sky. Otherwise the day went well in terms of reliability and we look quite competitive so far. It feels like both tyre compounds are working well, but there is still room for improvement with the balance, which is where we will concentrate this evening."
Sergio Perez: "It's been a successful day in terms of the work we've done and I think we can feel confident about the rest of the weekend. There are some areas where we need to improve, but the most important thing is that we managed to collect some good information. I'm happy with the general balance of the car so we have moved in the right direction with the set-up. My long run was not ideal because of the traffic, but we have enough information to make our decisions."
Esteban Gutierrez: "Today was not ideal. We had a problem with the gearbox in the morning, but we were able to fix it for the afternoon. The team did a good job putting the gearbox together. In the afternoon we went out pretty late and lost time. However, we managed to do the basic programme which we had planned. But we need to use today's information in order to keep improving.
"We are definitely missing a lot of speed and our pace is not where we want it to be. Regarding braking, the track is very bumpy and so it is quite hard and unpredictable in that area. Generally, we haven't had time to work on the set-up of the car yet, but, considering what we had today, we need to keep working for FP3 and get ready for qualifying tomorrow."
Adrian Sutil: "It was a difficult day. However, the afternoon was better than the morning. Unfortunately we couldn't do much in FP1, because a lot of things are not quite the way we want them to be at the moment. I think the tyres are too hard, as it's a very conservative approach, but I have to deal with that. We have to gain speed and improve our processes. We need to make sure all the simple things that were standard last season are in place and perfect."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "It was a really good day today without any problems in either session. Considering how hard the winter testing was for us, I am really pleased about how we have started this weekend. Everyone in the team worked very hard in the past weeks and we never lost our focus. The result is that we have made real progress since the last Bahrain test. But it's only Friday, so we need to work hard tonight, looking at all the data that we managed to collect today."
Daniil Kvyat: "This was for sure a solid start to my first Grand Prix weekend. We didn't focus too much on performance but we managed to get quite a lot of laps done, which was really important. I wasn't too sure what to expect from the tyres, especially from the Soft. But we collected a lot of information and we definitely have a better overall picture. There's plenty to discuss with the engineers tonight. Hopefully we can put it all together and be strong for the remainder of the weekend."
Valtteri Bottas: "It was a good day for us today. We had no big issues with the car during the two sessions, so the team has done a great job in putting the car together as it has been fully stripped and analysed since the last test. We managed to finish our programme, completing different tests on the set-up for both short and long runs, so we have collected a lot of good data. We managed to improve the balance of the car from FP1 to FP2 and whilst it's performing well, there is still work we can do to improve the car's performance for qualifying tomorrow."
Felipe Massa: "It was good to get a strong number of laps on the track today and a chance to understand how the car is behaving at this particular circuit. The car didn't show any problems which is very positive as reliability will be important this weekend. There is a lot for us to work on tonight to improve the set-up of the car, but on the whole this has been a positive day for us and we head in to the weekend happy with how things have gone so far."
Jules Bianchi: "First of all, it's great to be back racing and at the place where it all began 12 months ago. Things are quite different this time around though and we expected quite a difficult day today. FP1 was indeed quite challenging as we worked to resolve some software problems, but this afternoon was a much better story and we were able to start digging a bit deeper in terms of race preparation and testing the reliability of the car, the outcome of which was quite promising.
"We also saw some encouraging signs from the low fuel simulation that we completed. There is a lot of work to do to try to understand the progress and also to evaluate the new developments we have for this weekend. Not a bad start and I'm quite happy."
Max Chilton: "The first two sessions have been a little like night and day in that we've had a really positive FP2 compared to the issues we experienced earlier. The second session was not entirely trouble free and we had to make some adjustments to get the car to my liking, but at least we got a good rhythm going and were able to put some proper laps on the car, which we really needed for evaluation.
"We are still just scratching the surface and there is a lot we can do to improve the car for here and the forthcoming races, but it's a car I feel confident with and that we can develop, so I'm feeling positive."
Marcus Ericsson: "That was a more difficult start to my first full Grand Prix weekend than I'd have liked, but hopefully that means we've got all the problems out of the way on day one! This morning it was an electrical issue with the engine that meant I only did one lap - out on the main straight the power suddenly dropped but I was still able to get the car back to the pits and when we had a look at it we found it was an electrical problem so that was fixed over lunch.
"In the afternoon we were back out at the start of FP2 but this time, when I boxed, there was a hydraulics leak. A bit like with Kamui's car, fixing anything like this under the engine cover takes a lot longer than it used to with the old engines, so that was the end of the session for me and more work for the boys.
"Despite that I'm still very positive. Even with the good reliability we built up in Bahrain, we still came here knowing it could be a difficult weekend and I know I have to just stay focused on doing the best job I can when the car's running as it should. There's a lot of work ahead of us but we'll do whatever we can to be back on track tomorrow and when it's all fixed I'm ready."
Kamui Kobayashi: "One lap in both practice sessions is obviously not a good way to start the season, particularly after our reliability had been good in the Bahrain tests, but we know what the problems are on side and we're all working very hard to fix them for tomorrow. The problem on my car was to do with the fuel system - it was fine on the installation lap but when I boxed we had a small fire under the engine cover which came from a fuel system leak.
"The fire was out immediately but when we'd found the problem we knew it couldn't be fixed in time to run in FP2 so made the decision to remove the Power Unit so we could fix the issue and aim to run properly tomorrow.
"Despite how the weekend has started I'm still pretty positive about what could happen tomorrow and on Sunday. We might be a small team but everyone works as hard as anyone else in the pitlane and if we can get back to the Bahrain test reliability levels I think we can still have a good weekend."