Fri: STR, McLaren, Haas, Manor


There were top ten times in Friday’s Melbourne practice for Red Bull, Toro Rosso and McLaren while Esteban Gutierrez missed out in 11th…

Toro Rosso:
Carlos Sainz:
“Not the easiest of starts to the weekend. During this morning’s FP1 we faced a few issues that limited our running, but fortunately we didn’t miss much because the track was wet for most of the session. The weather has been a bit annoying throughout the day, but at least FP2 was much better in terms of reliability. This afternoon we were able to run as much as we wanted and recovered a bit of track time we had lost in the morning. The car felt good in the wet, it gave me confidence in case it rains tomorrow or on Sunday and I feel in good form out on track.”

Max Verstappen: “It was a bit of a tricky day today: we didn’t complete many laps and the weather conditions were constantly changing… when we went out on slick tyres it would start to rain and when we went out on intermediates, the track would be drying up. It was nice to be back in the car again, and hopefully tomorrow we can spend more time out on track.”

Fernando Alonso: 
“I think we’re feeling quite happy after today. It’s nice to be back here in Melbourne: sometimes, when you come away from testing and go to a different circuit, you receive a pleasant surprise… or an unpleasant surprise. Well, today, we received a pleasant surprise. We more or less completed our programme – there were a few things we couldn’t quite accomplish, because we didn’t have enough dry running, but it was the same for everyone and we’ll hopefully run through our braking and ride-height checks tomorrow. Looking ahead to qualifying tomorrow, we have a clear and structured plan. Because we’ll be running both cars at the same time, we’ll need everything to be organised and synchronised between the two pit-crews so that they can focus on both cars simultaneously. Nevertheless, it’s a new system, and some teams will inevitably make mistakes with it during these early races, but I hope McLaren-Honda won’t be one of them.”

Jenson Button: “This wasn’t the easiest day on which to run race cars – even if it had been dry, those 50km/h winds made things very tricky, and the early rain made them trickier still. In fact in conditions like we saw today, when it’s wet and windy, you can lose control of the car very easily, so I hope tomorrow will be a lot calmer to be honest.  Having said that, we still managed to trial some engine and ride-height settings. We’d like to have tried even more, but there was little point in such bad weather conditions. All in all, though, I definitely think we made the best of today. For qualifying tomorrow, I think it’s important that the fans know what’s happening. The fans are a big part of this sport, and it’s important that they understand the reasons for the change. I reckon some teams and drivers will make mistakes in quali during the next few races, but I think we’re well prepared.”

Esteban Gutierrez:
“It’s amazing to finally be in Melbourne, running out on track and making history for the team. The guys have done a fantastic job to get everything ready. The conditions today have been variable. However, we ran as much as we could to get as much data as possible to prepare for Saturday. We’ve obviously got some work to do tonight to get everything sorted for tomorrow, but I’m looking forward to getting back out there.”

Romain Grosjean: “We had tricky weather for our first official practice sessions. It was a very good effort from all the guys to get out there on time at the beginning of P1. It was a very strong moment as well for Gene (Haas, team owner) and Guenther (Steiner, team principal), who have been working on the project for a long time. We became an official Formula One team today. The weather was tricky. We did a few laps on inters, but we just missed the opportunity to run the slicks. It looks like we could have a dry P3, so we can try to catch up and go from there tomorrow. I’m very proud of everyone and very proud to officially enter our name into the classification. I’m looking forward to a drier day tomorrow.”

Pascal Wehrlein: 
“This wasn’t the best weather for the first day of my debut season, but a pretty good start I think. The main target was to get as many laps as possible, no matter what the conditions, and that’s what we did. Even in the dry it would have been difficult to compare ourselves with the other teams so early in the first weekend but I was able to start pushing a little to explore the package we have here in Melbourne. I’m happy and now looking forward to preparing for my first qualifying tomorrow. My thanks to the team for a good first day.”

Rio Haryanto: “Today’s weather was something different, that’s for sure. I’ve never run in an F1 car in the wet so although a day like today can have its frustrations, it was very positive to get this experience so soon. Another box ticked. Of course it would have been good to get some more dry running today to help prepare for the rest of the weekend. The next couple of days are unpredictable but hopefully the worst of the weather is behind us and we can attack the programme again tomorrow.”