Fri: Force India, McLaren, Williams, Sauber

Date published: March 24 2017

Sergio Perez narrowly missed out on a top ten berth in Friday’s Melbourne practice while Fernando Alonso was P12 for McLaren.

Force India

Sergio Perez: “It’s always important to start the year with a trouble-free day and cover lots of miles. As usual in Melbourne, the track was very green during the first session and evolved quite a lot for the second session. We tried pretty much all the tyre compounds and we have the data we need to make improvements tonight. I think there are a few areas where we can find performance and we know where we need to focus our energy.”

Esteban Ocon:
“I didn’t have the best start to the day with a brake issue causing a delayed start to my running, but the afternoon was easier and I managed to find a better rhythm. The priority tonight is the usual job of exploring where we need to make changes; where we can find some gains, and where I can improve too. Hopefully we can make a step forward during final practice to be ready for qualifying.”

McLaren

Fernando Alonso:
“We had some issues but in terms of the experience we had in winter testing, we have less issues than Barcelona so we were able to run a little bit more in FP1 and FP2. Thanks to that we extracted a little bit of the potential of the car because obviously you are testing new things every time you go out. So positive from that aspect but definitely there is more to come and we need to keep working as we’re still far away in terms of lap time.

“I don’t care about the order, I don’t care who is in the middle pack. We want to be world champions, we want to be on podiums, we want to win races and we are quite far behind. If we are 13th, if we are seventh, we are ninth, and there is a Renault in front of a Force India… I don’t care too much. The race is on Sunday. I don’t think we feel optimistic or pessimistic. We had a very poor pre-season without a lot of running, so we are missing a lot to extract and learn from the car.

“But from the Barcelona test until we put the car on track today the problems have been exaggerated, especially from the outside, because it’s very juicy to say that McLaren-Honda would be last, that it would not run, that the odds were high both our cars would retire on the opening lap, and all those silly things that keep coming up every day. But when you are on track, you try to do your job. Teams try to improve every day and every week and hopefully we have found a bit more reliability that helps us extract more potential.”

Stoffel Vandoorne: “The feeling with the car was okay today. Obviously, I missed a little bit of running in FP1, but I think we had a very good FP2, catching up on mileage. Getting laps was my main focus today – I wanted to get some times on the board, do some longer runs, and get a better understanding about the package we have.

“It’s very difficult to predict where we’ll qualify tomorrow: I’m not really looking at the lap times at the moment; it’s more about the feeling, for me. I’m still finding time in the car on every lap, feeling more comfortable, and I’m happy that the set-up changes are going in the right direction. I made a big improvement from FP1 to FP2, so hopefully tomorrow will be another step forward.”

Williams

Felipe Massa: “It’s not really the great day we were expecting and unfortunately I couldn’t finish the second session; I only did six laps. The track was still a little bit dirty and then suddenly we had this issue in the car. I went into neutral and couldn’t select any gears, which meant that I lost the opportunity to try the ultrasoft tyres and do any long runs. It’s a shame that we did thousands of kilometres in Barcelona and then had this issue here, but I don’t think it’s a serious thing, which is positive. We need to concentrate 100% tomorrow and I really hope things can go the right way.”

Lance Stroll:
“For me it was a good day. I did some laps and was just learning the track. It feels good to just finally break the ice and do some driving, especially as it has been quite a long build-up as I got here early to acclimatise. It is not a track I have been to before, so I can’t just go out and push to the limit. I have to build up to it, which is what I was doing today, and still leaving a bit of a margin. There is not a lot of room for error on this track, but it is fun and so far I have really enjoyed driving it.

“FP2 was quite a scruffy session for me. The first run was alright, but then on the second one it was a shame as there was a yellow flag so I had to abort the lap, which meant we missed out on that one lap on the ultrasofts we wanted. However, today were just the first practice sessions. I think I can still improve as I am learning a lot, and there is still a lot to understand.”

Sauber:

Marcus Ericsson: “Overall it’s been a positive day for us. During testing in Barcelona we were not completely happy with the balance of the car. After analysing all the data, we have made a step forward as I feel more comfortable in the car here in Melbourne. Today we managed to run a good number of laps on different tyre compounds, so overall it’s been a nice start into the weekend.”

Pascal Wehrlein:
“I am not fully satisfied with my first practice sessions today. We are still working on finding a suitable set-up for the car, but it was positive that we have gathered some good data in both practice sessions. Now we need to focus on tomorrow in order to reach further improvements.”