2013 Japanese Grand Prix Practice - Driver reaction
The drivers have their say on the opening day of action at Suzuka
By William Esler
Last Updated: 12/10/13 10:16am
Sebastian Vettel: "The car balance is decent, but I think we can still improve. Looking after the tyres will be important here, especially during the race. The car works fine at the moment, but we need to make sure we set it up the right way. It's good to see we are up there today, but it's not always so important; we need to step up our game for tomorrow, as Mercedes will be strong in qualifying."
Mark Webber: "On one lap, it looks pretty tight with the Mercedes and with the Lotus', but I haven't had a close look at the times: it doesn't look too bad. We've done a lot of laps today and will now work on tomorrow. The track is a special one and in terms of difficulty, it's right up there. We have to be very accurate and if you're not, then you get penalised. We have to find performance tonight, it's our job to make improvements each day and we have a job to do tonight to find some more tenths."
Fernando Alonso: "It's hard to talk about Maria de Villota right now, as I had only just taken my helmet off, when I was told about her death and at the moment, I still can't believe it and need a while to stop and think about it. Of course, it's very sad news for the world of motorsport as Maria was loved by everyone.
"Now, all we can do is pray for her and for her family. Back to the track, we were not as competitive as we wanted to be and now we must try and improve, putting together a series of changes that we already have in mind. Luckily, when I spun I didn't ruin the tyres: we also managed to use them on the long run with a full fuel load, even if we definitely lost a few extra tenths from the first lap.
"We hope to get a clean lap tomorrow and to be ahead of those cars, such as the Toro Rossos and the McLarens that we cannot have in front of us, as happened today".
Felipe Massa: "Today, we did all we could and managed to get through all our programme. It's hard to know how to rate today because it's only Friday and there are a lot of cars that are very competitive. From tomorrow, I hope to have a faster car, which will allow us to fight with those ahead of us. We will definitely do our best in preparing for qualifying, but above all for Sunday's race. It's always nice to be at Suzuka on this fantastic track, which is one of the best we race on".
Jenson Button: "It's great to be out on the circuit. Throughout the day, we saw a lot of drivers making mistakes, but that's the nature of this place - it's unforgiving. Obviously, we don't like to see accidents like Checo's, but you appreciate that you have to respect this place.
"It's been a relatively good Friday. We found a good balance on the Prime tyre, but still need to do some work with the Option, because we didn't gain too much going from the harder tyre to the softer one.
"Nevertheless, while both compounds are working reasonably well, I believe there's a cooler weather front coming in for tomorrow, so we need to be careful about the direction we take with the set-up to best cope with it.
"Today's news about Maria de Villota is horrendous and tragic. She had been through so much - much more than most people will ever have to go through in their lives - and it's been so tough for her. This is a real shock to the whole Formula 1 'family' and the world of motorsport. My thoughts are with her family at this time."
Sergio Perez: "My accident during FP3 was my error. I was setting the car up for the entry to Spoon, put my right-rear wheel onto the grass, and just lost the back end. At the speed I was travelling, and with relatively little run-off, there wasn't much room to scrub off speed so I went straight into the wall.
"The impact was quite hard, but fortunately I'm fine. The accident meant we didn't get the track time we needed for the high-fuel and Option tyre runs in our programme for the afternoon. But we'll be able to use some of the data generated by Jenson, and our aim for tomorrow has to be to get into Q3.
"I only heard the very bad news about Maria de Villota at the end of the session. It's incredibly sad to learn this news about somebody you know. My thoughts are obviously with Maria and her family during this terrible time."
Kimi Raikkonen: "The car felt pretty good today. Of course, there are some areas we can improve but I'm quite happy with the progress we made. I spun in FP2 so we did miss some of the long run laps we would have got this afternoon. I was on a fast run and the wind changed, which can affect the car sometimes. At least we didn't do any damage so the crew won't have any extra work. It's not a big drama as we know the track pretty well. We have a few changes for tomorrow so let's see what happens."
Romain Grosjean: "Finding the right balance to get the car working well around here is quite tricky and the tyres are not making that any easier, so we've got some work to do overnight to make it a little easier to handle. There's definitely some more performance to be found, and it's always better to be near the top of the times even if you've not got things quite right, so we'll see what we can do tomorrow."
Nico Rosberg: "The track here at Suzuka is such great fun to drive and our car was feeling fantastic around it today. We were quite fast over one lap and on the long runs but the important thing is how we manage the tyres as that will be the key to success here. There's a lot of work ahead of us but I'm really looking forward to the rest of the weekend and I hope we can annoy the Red Bulls a little bit."
Lewis Hamilton: "This track is so beautiful to drive, it's fast and flowing, and our car really does feel good here. But it's also a very unforgiving and challenging circuit; you're always on the limit so the trick is to balance and control that limit. I'm happy with where our car is after the first practice sessions today although, of course, we would love to be more competitive.
"We've got some work to do this evening on the tyre management in particular. It's too early to think about what we can achieve but I'm looking forward to a competitive qualifying tomorrow and then we will have to see what we can do in the race."
Nico Hulkenberg: "It was a smooth Friday. The weather was fine, and it wasn't raining as was expected. Everything was going according to plan and we were able to go through our programme. We tested different set-ups and compared rear wings, now we need to look at the data to determine which one is better.
"Otherwise it was business as usual understanding the different tyre compounds, with the option looking better on the long runs. Tomorrow Q3 will be the target. It's a challenge and looks to be tight, but, considering how we went today, I think there is still room for us to improve."
Esteban Gutierrez: "It was an interesting day. It's a challenge to get to know the track, but it delivered everything I expected it would. It's a special circuit, with very nice and fast corners and I enjoy driving here a lot. In the morning I focused on learning the track. It's a complicated track to learn and to find the right lines.
"In turns eight and nine especially, there is no margin for mistake, otherwise you kiss the wall. The afternoon was a lot better. We worked on the set up and it went well. We still have a bit of work to do, but I was able to get a good idea and will do everything to translate that into a good result tomorrow."
Adrian Sutil: "I always enjoy this circuit, but today the car was not so easy to drive. I was suffering with understeer this morning and oversteer in the afternoon, and it's hard to find the balance I feel comfortable with. We need to try and solve those issues tonight to give me confidence going into qualifying."
Paul Di Resta: "The car was quite difficult to drive today, but we've worked hard to try and optimise the balance. After each run, we changed some things and I think we've learned a lot as a result. The long run consistency seems reasonable, but we need to make sure that we can deliver the performance with both the medium and the hard compound."
Valtteri Bottas: "There are still some balance issues with the car and the strong winds today made it feel more inconsistent. We are struggling to get the most out of the soft tyres when the track conditions are improving, and relative to the other cars I would say that our pace is similar to where we were in Korea.
"Nevertheless I managed to get a good number of laps in today, more than any other driver, so we have a lot of data available to us to try and improve the car's performance and find a few extra tenths ahead of qualifying."
Pastor Maldonado: "It was a frustrating day today as I didn't get the amount of time on track that I would have liked. My FP1 session ended early after a problem with my left-rear tyre, and at the beginning of FP2 I was struggling for grip and lost the back end of the car and went off the circuit which ended my running.
"Tomorrow is another day though and FP3 will give us a chance to improve the set-up based on what we learnt today and get some low fuel running in to optimise our car for qualifying, which will be important as overtaking here can be difficult."
Daniel Ricciardo: "I've been hoping to have a Friday like this one for a while now even if, of course, it's the Saturday and Sunday that's important. So I am glad that I was tenth in the morning and seventh this afternoon, which is a good sign for us. It's a complicated circuit and I love it.
"Today, we made progress with each change we made on the car, keeping each modification and then moving further forward. On my long run on Option, it started quite well until I ran into traffic, but in general the pace wasn't looking too bad - definitely a positive Friday for us."
Jean-Eric Vergne: "It was a troublefree Friday and we worked to our usual programme, working on the car set-up and balance. I have to say I am not yet happy with it, mainly having some difficulty with understeer. However, it was an encouraging day. I did long runs on both tyres and although I didn't get a clear picture from the Prime, the Option was good."
Heikki Kovalainen: "It was good to be back in the car, especially at Suzuka which, for me, is the best circuit in the world. We ran through a pretty standard FP1 session and from the first laps the car felt ok with the overall balance slightly improved from the last time I drove it in Monza. In particular the steering felt very responsive, even better than the last time I drove and that gives good confidence to attack and keep control through the corners.
"Early in the session the braking stability was OK, only in the last corner was there a slight issue as the tyres got hotter towards the end of the lap. It felt a bit nervous in T6/7 but the opposite was true in T13/14 where it was pretty stable. We did have an issue with low-speed traction so we worked on that for run two.
"On the second run the rear didn't feel as good in the highspeed section, especially in the first sector on the first quick lap. However, we'd improved braking stability and the rear tyre deg was ok - it actually improved during the run and it'll be interesting to see if that continues on the long runs.
"On the final run the tyres had started to give up so true comparisons with the first two runs were always going to be difficult. We tried a different rear wing setting and the balance had shifted to more oversteer, but overall it felt positive, especially as the track grip levels keep improving, so I finished the session happy with the job I'd done and with the progress we'd made on Friday morning. "
Charles Pic: "I was back in the car for FP2 and we went straight to work on a set of hard tyres at the start of the session. At first the car felt a bit too sharp on turn-in and in the high speed section there was a bit too much understeer, so we added a bit of front wing for the next run. That improved the balance a little but it still wasn't great.
"It was the same on the options but for the long run we changed the rear anti-roll bar and it felt better, we were definitely going in the right direction but it still wasn't quite enough. On entry it felt more calm and we'd reduced some of the mid-corner understeer but over the course of the final run it was pretty clear we also needed to look at the ratios for Saturday. Overall not too bad but I think there's quite a bit more to come for tomorrow."
Giedo van der Garde: "FP1 started off ok. The car balance wasn't too bad but as the tyres started going off it was oversteering more than I'd like and it felt like we needed to add more wing to control that, mainly in the low-speed sections, especially with the lower downforce setup we started with. It was pretty good in the high-speeds but we added a bit more wing for run two and initially it was a bit better.
"We'd switched to the second of the aero configurations we were trying in the session and unfortunately it didn't go to plan as I went off in turn nine towards the end of the run - that was FP1 over, but we had 15 laps on the board by then so it didn't compromise us too much.
"At the start of FP2 the car balance was better after we'd made the changes over lunch but I was still struggling with understeer in sector one and oversteer at the end of sector two, and less traction than I'd like in turns 11 and 17. For the run on options we added more front wing but I couldn't put a really quick lap together. We finished with the usual long run, starting on hards and they held up well over the 20 lap run we did before boxing just before the end of the session.
"To be honest, it didn't feel like there was a lot of difference between the hards and the mediums but we'll look at the data from both cars tonight and see where we can make progress tomorrow. Overall it was a bit of a frustrating day, but I know there's more potential in the car so I'm as positive as ever and we'll come back fighting tomorrow."