Fri: Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull

Date published: November 25 2016

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton pipped his team-mate Nico Rosberg to P1 in both practice sessions going into tomorrow’s qualifiers.

Mercedes:
Lewis Hamilton: 
“It’s been a great day. Generally very smooth with no real issues. The first run in FP2 wasn’t ideal as there was so much traffic and I didn’t get to do a flying lap. But after that I managed to get a decent time in. Not perfect, as I was still feeling where the car was, but good enough. We got a lot of work done both on the short and long runs. I’m really happy with the car and we’re in a good position for tomorrow. Pole is the goal for tomorrow. I haven’t managed it at this track for a long time but I know I’m quick here, the car feels great and there’s still some time in it, so that’s my absolute focus right now.”

Nico Rosberg: “A decent start to the weekend. Straight away the car started off with a balance that was in the right area. It’s always interesting going from hot conditions to cooler ones between the afternoon and evening sessions. Adapting to that and knowing what to expect can be a challenge but our car was working well in both conditions, on low and high fuel. Graining on the front tyres when they’re cold is the main thing we need to get to grips with in preparation for the race.”

Ferrari:
Sebastian Vettel: 
“I am fairly happy with the day. Obviously, it is not ideal to have a gearbox issue on Friday, but I am not worried and it shouldn’t have any impact on the weekend. In general it was a very good Friday. This afternoon P1 was somewhat tricky, as we struggled a bit on the hot track. But during P2 in the evening things calmed down, the car also calmed down, it was quite good and I was happy. In the long run I struggled a bit with the front end, maybe I was a bit too aggressive, but overall the car felt good. To be honest, I think we should have a good pace. Hopefully tomorrow we have a similar feeling in Quali and put the car where it belongs.”

Kimi Raikkonen: “Today we had a very normal Friday practice, trying different things. The car was working pretty fine: it’s just that I could not put a decent lap together, but overall it was a ‘basic’ day. We had some tyre graining, but this is very normal on the first day on track and it was not a big issue, as it’s going to change for the race. Now we just have to work here and there and we should be ok.”

Red Bull:
Max Verstappen: 
“My last Friday at the track for this season wasn’t bad. We had a few issues with the car today which meant aborting the last run was the sensible thing to do so we can check the car and make sure we are ready to go in the morning. Nothing is broken and there is nothing to worry about, just safe to stop early. The grip is always a bit difficult in the first session here with the temperatures being higher but already you can tell it’s a lot better as the track is cleaner in FP2. The ultrasoft compound dropped off quite quickly, as you can tell by the short runs on them but the soft seems to be performing well. Ferrari look strong but we are up there also. I had a bit of traffic on my quick lap so I’m confident we are competitive, it should be an exciting qualifying tomorrow. Generally over the season we have improved from Friday to Saturday so I think tomorrow we will be strong.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “It’s hot here, even if it’s night-time and the tyres get worked pretty hard both front and rear so relative to everyone I think we still look pretty good. If we all put it together tomorrow we’re more or less there and I’m confident it’ll be a good fight for third place. As expected Mercedes are ahead but I don’t think they are miles ahead, so looking at today maybe we can still race them on Sunday. It’s a dangerous circuit around here, but I don’t see any reason to hold back in practice. If it’s Monaco then I understand if you’re being careful about your equipment but here you can definitely push and go on the limit so we’ll see tomorrow. Maybe Nico is holding back a bit and not showing Lewis too much. I think everyone predicts Lewis to take pole so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out tomorrow. I definitely felt comfortable today and am looking forward to the next two days.”