Fri: Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, Merc

Date published: September 23 2011

Sebastian Vettel set the pace in Friday night’s practice, finishing ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton…

Sebastian Vettel set the pace in Friday night’s practice, finishing ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton…

Red Bull:
Sebastian Vettel: “It’s a demanding circuit, it’s quite warm with the suit etc. and on top of that you have to focus – it’s one of the e toughest tracks for the mind here. I quite like it, but I’m sure no one’s jumping out of the car looking better than when they got in. We worked on the set up of the car, but the baseline was not too bad. We still have to make a good step overnight. It looked pretty tight out there today, so we need to wait and see.”

Mark Webber: “It wasn’t too bad. I need to find a bit more pace, but there’s a bit of low hanging fruit which we can grab tonight, which will be good for us. Seb’s going alright, so I just need to find a bit more and get into it tomorrow. In Free Practice 1, I had a small incident. I thought Glock was letting me through, but he didn’t know I was there, so when we got to the apex, our car’s touched.”

Ferrari:
Fernando Alonso: “The first session was interrupted so often that, along with the shortened time, it meant we could not do as many laps as we would have liked. So we tried to make the very most of the ninety minutes available in this evening’s session and at least, this time, everything went smoothly. Overall, I am pleased with what we were able to see today. Here, like Monaco, it’s very important for a driver to be able to lap enough to find the ideal reference points to be able to push to the limit, but not one centimetre over it, because every mistake is very costly. Racing at night is always a special feeling: it usually takes a little bit of time to adapt, but then, from tomorrow onwards, you can push to the maximum, trying to find the best performance. The car is behaving more or less as we expected and the feeling from this Friday is definitely better than in Monza and Spa, but we have to be realistic and not expect any great surprises: the Red Bulls are still favourites here and McLaren are also very strong. We will try and make the most of every possible opportunity.”

Felipe Massa: “Heat was the main feature today and there was plenty of it in the cockpit! From what we could see, tyre degradation is reasonably high, but we know the track condition can change given it was very dirty today. It will also be important to choose the right level of cooling for the brakes and the engine: the race will be very long and tough, both for the drivers and the cars. I think we are in better shape than at the last two races and, who knows maybe we can fight with the McLarens, but we must wait and see what happens tomorrow. The performance difference between the Soft and Supersoft today seemed very high, especially for us, but that’s not to say it will be the same on Saturday: the track will rubber in and the situation could change. Here you have to pay great attention to your driving: today I kissed the barrier, fortunately without any consequences!”

McLaren:
Lewis Hamilton: “We were competitive in P1, but in P2 there was a larger gap to the front and we started struggling a little with the rear tyres. There are some areas out on the track where the bolts are coming out of the kerbs – they must be taking some serious force from the cars. On a couple of the corners – Turns Three, 13 and 14 – the exit and apex kerbing has been removed, so some drivers were using the extra track. We don’t yet know whether or not the kerbs will be reinstated tonight, so I continued driving as though the kerbs were there. If they’re not replaced, then we should gain an extra couple of tenths by being able to run as wide as some of the others did. Either way, we’re going to improve the car overnight; we’ll change the set-up a little bit. Qualifying will be very important tomorrow, because a good starting position for the race will be vital. Then, looking after the tyres will be key; we’ll be making adjustments to limit the rears’ sliding, and also to make them last longer.”

Jenson Button: “During P2, I locked up into Turn 14, but I just kept it out of the barriers. I selected reverse and started to pull back slowly, but then I had no drive. I tried to turn the car around, but there was no room. So I tried to reverse again, and something wasn’t working with the gearbox. We looked at the ‘box once we got the car back to the garage, and it’s now happily resolved. I only ran the Prime tyre today and didn’t really find a great set-up. It was a little disappointing not to do any more running, because I couldn’t improve the package. Still, we have some good ideas for tomorrow and I’m confident we’ll make more progress. I think everybody will struggle a little with tyres during the race – they seem to be overheating quite quickly. So it’s going to be a bit tough, but we’re all in the same boat.”

Mercedes GP:
Michael Schumacher: “As usual on these types of circuits, the track is pretty slippery and provides low grip. It was not really useful therefore that the practice time was cut, because we had a big programme to work on. But then, it was what it was, so we made the best out of it. The picture overall is probably as expected: no big surprises, and maybe the most obvious thing is that the difference between the tyres is quite big. For the rest, it is too early to say as we did not have the time yet to analyse the practice sessions fully. I like the race here; it is a bit like the modern Monaco, very exciting with more run-off areas.”

Nico Rosberg: “It was difficult to learn a lot in the first practice session this evening due to the interruptions. However in the second session this evening, we were able to work through a lot of set-up changes and learn a lot about the car. I was on higher fuel levels to help our understanding of how to prepare the car for the race. It wasn’t a perfect day but a decent day for me and hopefully we can make further progress tomorrow.”

Related Links
Prac Two: Vettel hits the front
Friday’s pictures from Singapore