A difficult Friday in the desert for Force India who joined McLaren and Sauber at the bottom of the timesheets.
Esteban Ocon: “The practice sessions went pretty well for me and I’m quite satisfied with our performance. I am feeling good in the car and this is a circuit I know well and enjoy. I was able to simply focus on performance and getting the information we needed about the new parts and the tyres. It was tough in the heat and it’s a demanding track on tyres so making them last and getting the performance from them is definitely the focus as we prepare for tomorrow.”
Sergio Perez: “We had a very straightforward day with lots of laps and no significant problems. There was a huge change in the track conditions between the two sessions when the temperatures dropped and the car was not as well balanced in the second session. It feels like we lost a bit of direction on both the soft and the supersoft tyre compounds, so this is something we need to understand and improve tonight.”
Fernando Alonso: “It was a good Friday for us, at least on my side of the garage, as Stoffel unfortunately had a lot of problems today. I was running OK and there was some positive news from today in terms of set-up and in terms of the directions to go with the car. We’re 1.5 seconds from the fastest car, which is by far the lowest gap so far. Also, we did 31 laps, which again is a lot of running. Considering what we have in our hands, I think we are maximising our potential. I think we’re moving in the right direction, but still we have a long way to go, and I hope tomorrow we can have a decent quali. We need to exploit every single lap we have on track tomorrow morning; we need to do a good qualifying and we need to attack in the race. We’re still not 100 per cent confident that we’re on top of our problems, so we need to keep working.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “It’s been another troublesome day for me, let’s say. In FP1 we had some engine problems and again in FP2, so very limited running for me today. It’s a shame to miss that much track time, especially in FP2 when the conditions are very similar to qualifying and the race. It’s not been ideal, but hopefully tomorrow we’ll have a smoother run and get on top of the issues. We’re going a bit blind into qualifying tomorrow, but Fernando did a lot of running today which was positive. We’ll have to start with a bit of a base of information from Fernando’s side of the garage, but I’m sure it’ll be useful for us as well. Our reliability issues have meant the start of the season hasn’t been ideal, as there hasn’t been a weekend yet where we haven’t had any issues. It’s a difficult situation at the moment, but this is how it is. We knew it would be another difficult weekend and hopefully tomorrow will be better for us. I don’t really have any idea what might be possible for tomorrow – we shouldn’t set ourselves any targets – I think we just need to make sure we have a smooth run, and we’ll see what’s possible.”
Marcus Ericsson: “We were able to run lots of laps today on different tyres compounds, which was positive. Overall we gathered some good information. However, it is clear that we have to improve our performance. We need to analyse today’s data and make steps forward for the rest of the weekend.”
Pascal Wehrlein: “First of all, I am happy to be back in the car. Speaking about the lap times, they are not really significant at this stage. Today’s focus was on getting used to the car and collecting mileage in order to make up for lost time. I am feeling comfortable in the car and also the procedures with the team work well. We did make a step forward from the first to the second free practice session, so I am already looking forward to tomorrow.”