Fri: Force India, McLaren, Toro Rosso, Renault

Date published: September 30 2016

Renault did well to get Kevin Magnussen back on the track after his car caught alight during FP1, while Fernando Alonso ran a new engine.

Force India:
Sergio Perez:
“It’s a promising start to our weekend. The track is very different compared to last year, so today was all about learning as much as we could. The changes have made this circuit much more fun to drive; I think it’s a big improvement compared to the past. We had a busy session and, despite the red flag interruption in the morning, we collected a good amount of information. Our short and long-run pace seems good and gives me confidence we will be strong this weekend, especially in qualifying tomorrow. Our focus, though, is on the race: that’s when we need to be at our best. We need to make some adjustments tonight, but I think we’re getting there.”

Nico Hulkenberg: “It’s been a good day. We didn’t have any issues with the car; we ticked all the boxes on our programme and went through all the tyre compounds to collect the necessary information. It has been a straightforward day – the way you want a Friday to be. The new track surface made driving here a lot smoother because it used to be very bumpy! It’s a nice feeling, but with such strong sunshine and high temperatures you can feel the tarmac soaking up all the heat – it makes it really hot inside the car! The changes to the final corner have made it a real challenge: it’s the one corner where you can lose a good lap, right at the end, so you need to be very careful when turning in.”

McLaren:
Fernando Alonso:
Still to be released.

Jenson Button: Still to be released.

Toro Rosso:
Carlos Sainz:
“I think it’s been a very interesting day for us here today. The fact that the track has been resurfaced means it’s like being at a new track – we’ve been around three seconds quicker already compared to last year and it’s still only free practice. It’s definitely being a new challenge, with faster lap times, and I have to say that the car feels amazing to drive as there’s a lot of grip out there, so I’m enjoying it! Now we need to work towards tomorrow. As expected, we are not as strong as in Singapore, but also not as bad as in Monza or Spa, so I look forward to the rest of the weekend – it’s nice to be battling with the rest of the midfield… We will keep fighting!”

Daniil Kvyat: “It was a good day today, we were able to complete plenty of laps on a track that’s been resurfaced, so it was important to get a lot done. I have to say that it’s a pleasure to drive on such a smooth surface! We’ve collected a lot of useful data which will help us improve for tomorrow. We now need to find a few steps forward overnight, try to make them work and then see where we end up.”

Renault:
Jolyon Palmer:
“That was a pretty straightforward over my side of the garage; I think all the action was on Kev’s side today. We did have a few moments pushing the limits as we learnt the new track surface in the morning but the track’s still very rewarding to drive. We made decent progress for the afternoon session and should be well-placed for further improvement tomorrow.”

Kevin Magnussen: “We expected it to be hot in Sepang but maybe not as hot as that! My crew were great dealing with the fire and getting the car back into action for the afternoon. From my perspective, I heard the call on the radio to jump out and I didn’t need to be told twice! In the afternoon we were able to get some laps so the day wasn’t a write-off. There’s a bit too much entry oversteer with the initial set-up but we know where we want to improve.”