Practice quotes: Haas, McLaren, Renault, Force India

Date published: March 23 2018

Haas and McLaren have both their drivers in the top 10 after FP2, but it's the American outfit that everyone is talking about.

Haas

Romain Grosjean: “It’s been a good day. I’m happy with the car and the guys did a great job getting everything ready. We had a successful winter test, and it’s good to confirm that the car is up there on a different track and with different temperatures. Obviously, it’s early stages and we need to keep up the work and keep building everything. There are areas where we can improve the car but, generally, I’m very happy with how today went.”

Kevin Magnussen: “I’m fairly positive, but we still have some work to do. I had quite a few abnormal issues today – nothing big – but little annoying issues with small things that were breaking. That stopped us from running as much as we’d hoped for, at least on my side. We got at least one run that was representative where I got to feel the car, and I was happy with the feeling. I’m looking forward to trying again tomorrow. Obviously, we don’t know what the weather’s going to do, but if it’s dry, I have a feeling we have a good package.”

McLaren

Fernando Alonso: “It’s good to be back in the racing spirit, and it’s a nice feeling to be with all the cars on track after the lonely winter tests where you are the only car per team on track and have empty grandstands.

“Being the first day of the season, there were a lot of things we wanted to test. However, the weather conditions will be changeable from tomorrow, so we need to be careful with the information we have gathered. 

“We lost a little bit of time in first practice with some issues but we managed to recover everything in the second session, and now we need to analyse everything to get the best package for tomorrow. The weather is going to affect everyone and we’re used to these changeable conditions here, so hopefully we can maximise every opportunity.”

Stoffel Vandoorne: “Today was a pretty good day. We lost a little bit of track time in the first 45 minutes of FP1 but had a very good run after that and got some good learning from the car, which was the most important thing after winter testing. The issues we had weren’t big problems, and we got on top of everything pretty quickly. 

“We had a very productive day, so I’m looking forward to putting all the pieces together with the set-up for tomorrow and seeing where we’re at. I think we’re in reasonable shape and the feeling in the car is positive – it feels like we’ve got something to work with. Everything is running as we want it to, and we just need to keep pushing forward to gain performance. 

“The most important thing was to go through our programme and we did that, and I’m excited about the possibility of running in a wet qualifying tomorrow. I think we’re in a very close group with some other teams, and the conditions will make things a bit more difficult for everyone. Hopefully we can benefit from the rain that’s on the radar this weekend and make the most of it.”

Renault

Carlos Sainz: “It was a calm and fairly straightforward day for me and that was great to have for the first Friday of the season. The midfield is extremely tight so it’s difficult to say where we’ll be tomorrow. We do need to work on getting the Ultrasoft working a bit better as we didn’t manage a clean lap with it today. Conditions were great on track; it was an ideal day for Melbourne, but I think tomorrow we might have more of a challenge.”

Nico Hulkenberg: “We had a decent amount of work to get through but a reliable car to get all the work done. I wasn’t so happy with the balance of the car on lighter fuel loads, but it felt much better when we went for the longer runs so there’s a sweet spot yet to be found. I would say there’s a decent amount of pace to come when we get the car working as I want it. It’s just general improvement in pretty much every area; the brakes, better balance and grip and the usual things you look for to go faster.”

Force India

Sergio Perez: “We achieved a lot today. There were a lot of new parts on the car and we needed to learn quickly. It’s only Friday and I think we can find more performance before qualifying. That’s always been our strength as a team and we need to work hard tonight understanding the data. I said during testing that all the teams are much closer together and if you look at the times it’s certainly the case. We need to be perfect in qualifying because a small mistake will drop you a long way back.”

Esteban Ocon: “For the first day of the season it was actually quite a normal day of practice. We had a lot of things to try on the car, but everything went to plan. It was all about learning and understanding the directions we need to take with the new package. We have already seen a step forward in performance compared to testing, but there’ is obviously some tuning to be done. The afternoon session was a bit frustrating because of the red flag and I always seemed to be stuck in traffic. Tomorrow is what counts, though, so we need to make sure we are ready and do our homework tonight.”