Fri: Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull

Date published: September 30 2016

Lewis Hamilton completed a one-two finish for Mercedes after setting the fastest time, Nico Rosberg behind him.

Mercedes:
Lewis Hamilton:
“That was a good day today. No issues to report and we got through our run plans in both sessions. There’s a lot of data to analyse tonight to make sure we have a good understanding of the tyres and of our position relative to the others. Overall a good building block for tomorrow and the rest of the weekend. A big shout-out to the fans out here today. I saw them waving across in the stands at the end of FP2 and they’ve all got banners and caps showing their support, which is great to see”

Nico Rosberg: “The new track surface is really enjoyable to drive. Challenging, but with good grip. It’s tough to get the setup right with such an unknown element as new tarmac, but we’re on the right track. Turn 15 is interesting, as you can now try several different lines if you’re attacking the guy in front, so that will be good for overtaking. Looking at the race, even the soft tyre held on pretty well out there, so we don’t expect any big surprises. Strategy-wise we have to run the hard compound, of course, but otherwise it’s pretty straightforward. I’m looking forward now to qualifying.”

Ferrari:
Sebastian Vettel:
“I think we had a decent day. We were testing quite a few things, and our pace didn’t look too bad, at least from what I was told inside the car. Mercedes looked again very strong today on long and short runs: as for ourselves, we are pretty happy with the short runs, but I haven’t seen much yet of what the other people did for their long runs. I think we can improve, especially to get the car a little bit more together. I am confident that we can find a bit here and there for tomorrow. Our target is to win and nothing less. At the same time, you need to be awake and realize that we are not strong enough to come here and say we will win: but if there is a chance, by any circumstances, then we need to be right there and take it. The new asphalt seems to be a step forward, the last corner is a bit trickier but, all in all, it is a step forward. I haven’t used the hard tyres in P2, the soft is the preferred one; now we have to see what strategy we might choose for Sunday.”

Kimi Raikkonen: “It was not a very smooth day. I did not have a good feeling with the car through the sessions and I’m surprised that the lap time was not too bad, considering the fact that my feelings were far from what I wanted. The new tarmac feels pretty similar, but it’s smoother and there’s a bit more grip. I haven’t seen what the others have done, I was concentrating on our program. Now we need to sit down and go through all things. There’s work to be done, but I’m sure we can improve for tomorrow.”

Red Bull:
Max Verstappen:
“Formula One is where I always want to be so it’s nice to spend my birthday here. I can enjoy some birthday cake because it’s so hot at Sepang I’ll lose the kilos anyway. Both sessions were pretty good. The first practice you just had to build up to it, especially with the new tarmac, you have to get to grips with the car. I enjoyed the new surface, it seemed to have quite a bit more grip. Before, in Malaysia, we seemed to struggle with traction but the changes they have made here appear to have helped. I also think it is a lot more fun to drive. Our short runs need to get a bit better but the long runs are looking strong. The pace on the soft tyre felt decent, I feel like that tyre has potential on a long run and it allowed me to throw the car into the corners like I wanted to. It’s hard to tell where other drivers are on the first day but Sebastian (Vettel) looks strong, so we need to improve our short run in order to be competitive.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “The new asphalt is good, it gives a bit more grip which is always fun, though I don’t think I found as much grip as the others. We still have to find a little bit of time on both low and high fuel. We didn’t really find a big gain with the soft tyre on low fuel, so that’s one thing we want to address. We’ll do a bit of work tonight and definitely make some improvements for tomorrow. The last corner is not the most attractive on the calendar but it’s challenging so I guess that’s positive. If you take the inside it sort of washes you away with the negative banking, and if you go around the outside you end up doing a lot more distance, so it’s about trying to find a good compromise and making it mistake free. Track temperature was, I think, recorded at 61 degrees, I’ve never heard a number that high before. It was pretty warm and toasty out there. I think Sunday will be good fun, we just have to keep hydrated and it should be a good challenge.”