• Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Who said what after Friday practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

ESPNF1 Staff
November 1, 2013

Read what the drivers and teams had to say after Friday practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Teams had to deal with unrepresentative hot conditions during FP1 © Sutton Images
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Heikki Kovalainen - FP1: 20th
"Generally the car was a bit on the nose to start with. Under braking and turning in it was on a bit of a knife edge and the tyres started going off quite early so that contributed to the handling issue, but we made a few changes and by the third run of the day we'd made some good progress with the balance. It was pretty neutral by the end of the session but the tyres had completely gone by then so we weren't learning too much more, but overall a decent session and good to contribute again this weekend to help the team in Abu Dhabi."

Charles Pic - FP1: 19th, FP2: 21st
"FP1 was all about trying to turn down how strong the front of the car was, particularly on turn-in to the corners. The aero balance was pretty good but the car was too pointy for me on each run and even though we improved the rear I didn't have a balance I was really happy with for the whole session

"In FP2 the temperatures were obviously lower than FP1 and the balance wasn't as good as it had been in FP1. I was also struggling to get temperature into the front tyres so we had a look at that on the performance run as the conditions are obviously much more like they will be in quali in FP2. On the run on options they came up to temperature much faster, the fronts were actually easy to warm up but the balance overall was still a bit on the understeer side, especially on entry and mid-corner. We added more front wing for the long run but I still had issues with the front warm up. Overall the car was understeering and I had some issues with braking stability so we'll look at that in detail tonight and aim to fix it for tomorrow."

Giedo van der Garde - FP2: 19th
"I was back in the car for FP2 and it felt pretty good right from the first run. The rears were locking a bit too much and the car wasn't planted in the high speeds but overall it was ok. I did a couple of runs on the mediums to begin with, then onto the softs for the performance run and I have to say the car felt pretty generally stable. We did have a bit of rear locking under braking and I would have like a bit more front end, but we made a few changes for the run on the softs and it was feeling good - my quickest lap was ok but I know there's more to come for quali, especially if we can improve the front end.

"On the long run I stayed on the options. The front tyres were cooling a lot which created understeer, but by the end of the run they were starting to come back. The rears were very consistent throughout the run so that gives us some interesting strategy options for the race. I haven't tried the primes on a long run yet but Charles has so we'll see what his data says tonight and then we can progress tomorrow."


Fernando Alonso - FP1: 12th, FP2: 8th
"Compared to other Fridays, today we were a bit less competitive than usual and now we need to work out if that is down to the fact that the track characteristics do not suit our car, or if it's a question of set-up. The tyres work better here than in India, where they suffered a lot from blistering in the fast corners, while here they are better, especially at night when the temperature drops. Unfortunately, in performance terms, we are behind our rivals for second place in the Constructors' classification. Compared to the start of the year, they have improved and will be difficult to beat, but tomorrow we will make some changes and will do our utmost because we absolutely don't want to give up the fight".

Felipe Massa - FP1: 17th, FP2: 10th
"Today we got through the entire programme we had planned for this day, concentrating on set-up and the behaviour of the two Pirelli compounds. At the moment, I am not very pleased with the car's behaviour, as we are not as competitive as I'd expected to be. On this track, we found ourselves running in daytime in the sunshine, with very high temperatures, with the conditions changing completely in the evening and in this situation, it's not easy to understand which direction to go in. Now we will try and work out how to improve the car's performance for tomorrow's qualifying, which we know won't be easy, but we'll give it our best shot".

Pat Fry, engineering director
"As far as the work programme was concerned, this was a Friday like any other, but when it comes to the results it was rather complicated. We had a few small aerodynamic components to try and the analysis crossed over the performance of both cars, which provided enough data to choose the best configuration for the race. Here, in order to establish the best set-up, you have to take into consideration the changing track conditions between the first and second sessions. In both of them, we struggled to find the right grip level, especially on the Medium compound. In the late afternoon, the situation got better and we worked on the balance of the cars, but the results were not that satisfactory. The performance difference between the two compounds is very high and some cars, including ours, made up almost two seconds a lap. This unusual difference in performance from the Medium tyres clearly shows what a margin for improvement there is and that's why tonight, we will evaluate solutions better suited to giving our drivers a more competitive car".

Force India

James Calado - FP1: 14th
"Yas Marina Circuit is a track I know really well so it was easy to get up to speed today and within one or two laps I was feeling quite comfortable. The rest of the session went pretty well and I was able to complete the comparison work with the set-up. The balance felt good, but I was suffering with high tyre wear on the medium, especially through the final sector."

Paul di Resta - FP1: 7th, FP2: 13th
"It's been quite a positive day. The general balance is not too bad, although there's still work to do to improve the car through the high-speed part of the lap. The main issue of the afternoon was the brake failure on the front left, which caused me to run wide at turn eight. The team chose to change the brake material, which cost us about 15 minutes of track time, but we were able to do a long run on the soft tyre at the end of the session."

Adrian Sutil - FP2: 15th
"It's hard to say too much about today because we had to change the brake material in the middle of the second session. That had quite a big impact on the car and it was difficult to make a comparison with the set-up changes. There is quite a big difference between the two tyre compounds and at the moment I'm struggling more with the medium tyres. The general balance of the car felt okay so I'm still positive we can be in good shape tomorrow."

Robert Fernley, deputy team principal
"It's been a positive day overall. The only real issue was the brake failure on Paul's car, which fortunately did not cost us too much track time. He was able to return to the pits and we fitted new brake material to both cars as a precautionary measure. I feel optimistic that we can build on the performance level we showed in India last weekend. The long run pace looks competitive, especially on the soft tyre, and both drivers felt happy with the general balance."


Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 6th, FP2: 4th
"The car feels okay and we had a pretty normal Friday. The shorter chassis feels okay here, but I didn't drive it back to back with the longer one so it's difficult to say which is better. We're still trying to get rid of some understeer, but on this circuit it feels better so far. As always, there are some improvements we can make to the car so let's see what happens tomorrow."

Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1st, FP2: 12th
"It's been a pretty good day even if we missed time in the later session whilst the brakes were worked on. We also had a little vibration that needed looking at, but it wasn't the end of the world. The car feels pretty good as we saw with the fastest time in the first session, so I'm sure we'll get on top of everything we need to for tomorrow."

Alan Permane, trackside operations director
"As always in Abu Dhabi, we saw two very different sessions on Friday; the first taking place in daylight with very high track temperatures, the second in much more representative evening temperatures which is what we'll see for qualifying and the race. We completed limited setup work in FP1 - focusing on setting ride heights rather than car balance - then used FP2 to complete our normal evaluations of the two tyre compounds. Unfortunately Romain had a brake disc failure which lost him some track time, and there was a small vibration when he returned to the track so we cut his day short in order to fully investigate this issue. Kimi meanwhile had a good day and looks competitive on both tyres. He wanted to try the short wheelbase car again as he felt its characteristics would suit this circuit. So far it all looks good and this configuration will be kept on his car for the remainder of the weekend. His long-run pace looks very encouraging on both tyres."


Rodolfo Gonzalez - FP1: 22nd
"It has been good to be back in the car again and to be running at such an awesome circuit. Over 22 laps we achieved a lot of data for the Team which will be quite important in determining how we progress from here over the rest of the weekend. As always it's good to be conducting work that is so helpful to the Team and I look forward to seeing how it works out over the next couple of days."

Jules Bianchi - FP1: 21st: , FP2: 20th
"I'm quite pleased with how today has gone for me. We seemed strong from the start with the new aero development we had this morning and we have done some more good work with the new suspension components. This afternoon the conditions were pretty much as we expect them to be for qualy and the race - the same light and temperatures - so it is quite good to find ourselves where we are in terms of the competition. I think it will be very close so we are taking nothing for granted, just pushing all the way for the best result on Sunday."

Max Chilton - FP2: 22nd
"A shorter day for me having made way for Rodolfo's planned Free Practice session this morning. I've driven here before so I am pretty familiar with the track and the acclimatisation was short. Just as I was getting into my run I felt something wrong with my car. It seems that I had a damaged brake duct, but we're not quite sure how it happened. The guys worked well to replace the duct and turn the car around and I was pleased to get quite a few laps in after that. We are finding our way with the car balance a little but now is a good time to do that as these are the conditions we expect in qualifying and the race. Not a bad start but quite a lot of thinking to do in preparation for FP3."

John Booth, team principal
"With the track and air temperatures in FP1 being unrepresentative for the conditions we will experience in the race, we opted to do a significant number of aero data collection runs with Rodolfo and Jules to evaluate a small aerodynamic upgrade we have put on the car this weekend. Rodolfo continued his running in what were quite challenging conditions, which he coped with well. Jules was immediately happy with the car balance, which was pleasing, and he demonstrated that the developments have worked as expected. Into FP2, with lower track temperatures, both race drivers continued to work on optimising the car balance with the suspension development we first tried in India. Overall we are pleased with the data we have collected and happy that the aero upgrade Jules ran is performing as expected, therefore we will apply this development to both cars this evening. "


Jenson Button - FP1: 8th, FP2: 7th
"It was a pretty good day in terms of understanding the car. Our direction with the set-up looks reasonably good, too. I also think both tyres are working reasonably well around here. I got my fastest lap on my first attempt on the Option tyre, which most people didn't, so I'm quite happy about that. My long runs proved quite tricky, however - first, because of traffic, and, second, because I was delayed by an issue that we initially thought was a puncture but that actually turned out to be a sensor failure. As a result, I had to drive slowly back to the pits, after which I lost a lot of track time because we had to replace some parts on the car that had got a bit warm during that slow lap. Still, all in all, I think we're in reasonable shape here."

Sergio Perez - FP1: 10th, FP2: 6th
"This was a productive day for the whole team - I felt really comfortable with the car in both sessions, and really enjoyed my time on the track today. I feel happy with my car, and I don't expect to change too much. Normally, we change quite a lot on the car between Friday and Saturday in order to refine the balance and set-up, but I don't think we'll be doing too much of that tonight. The Option tyre is performing quite a lot better than it was in India. While I think we feel more comfortable with the softer tyre, it'll still be difficult to make a one-stop strategy work on Sunday. Tomorrow, I'd like to see us get into Q3."

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal
"After our encouraging performance in India last week, it appears that we've been able to carry that momentum forwards to this weekend. Both Jenson and Checo enjoyed productive sessions: while our focus this afternoon was once again on understanding and developing concepts and components for 2014, the evening's session quickly proved productive as we progressed through our set-up and tyre evaluation work. Despite a sensor failure for Jenson - which prompted us to believe that he'd suffered a puncture - both drivers got a decent amount of mileage under their belts and reported that the car was behaving well around this circuit. For tomorrow, we feel we already have a useful understanding of the car, but we'll be looking to further refine that ahead of the qualifying session."


Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 2nd, FP2: 3rd
"Today was a fairly standard Friday programme for us, although the second session is always more valuable here as it's so much more reflective of the race conditions. As the temperatures cool down, the characteristics of the car change and you get an increase in understeer, so the main challenge is to try and pre-empt the set-up that you're going to need. Physically it gets easier when the sun goes down but you don't even notice the visibility change as they do such a good job of lighting the track. A decent start today but there's a lot of work ahead of us over the weekend and we'll give it everything we can as always."

Nico Rosberg - FP1: 5th, FP2: 5th
"We didn't learn a great deal during the first practice session today as it was so hot and we won't have those conditions in qualifying or the race. I struggled a little on the option tyres but was able to find a better rhythm when we switched to the primes. It should be an interesting race from a strategy perspective as the tyres seem to be right on the limit of one or two stops. Our aim is to be the best of the rest again which I'm quite confident we can achieve and score some important points."

Ross Brawn, team principal
"It was an interesting Friday, covering the full range of track conditions and the circuit changed quite considerably in the cooler temperatures this evening. We had to follow those developments carefully with the car set-up and the balance in order to get the most out of our running. Lewis had a differential control issue in the second session which hampered him somewhat, although we managed to recover the situation during his running. Otherwise, we tried to maximise our time out on track in order to learn as much as possible about the tyres, especially in the most representative race conditions this evening."

Toto Wolff, executive director
"We completed our programme today with few issues and both drivers seemed reasonably happy with the car. We made some positive changes between the first and second practice sessions and the drivers and engineers will be working hard overnight to find more performance. The car seems quite competitive but there are a lot of quick cars out there and I am sure it will be very close tomorrow."

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 3rd, FP2: 1st
"It's difficult to say today how we compare to the others, we know the Lotus is quick here, but we also had decent pace today. It's not always so easy at this circuit with the conditions changing throughout the day; we start in the sun and finish at night and the track temperature changes during that time. But, no big issues, so I'm pretty happy."

Mark Webber - FP1: 4th, FP2: 2nd
"The second session today was more representative of the race and qualifying than the first, due to the time of day and temperatures. It was a lot about the tyres today; I think the soft tyre will hold out better here than it did last week. It wasn't a bad feeling for the first day, we got the information we needed, so let's see how we get on tomorrow. We'll go through everything tonight and try to understand the car on both tyre compounds."


Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 11th, FP2: 9th
"It was a normal Friday. We worked through the programme we had planned and learned quite a lot about the car and the tyres today. I am confident that we will be able to show a strong performance. There is still room for improvement in the set-up of the car, but overall I'm happy."

Esteban Gutierrez - FP1: 15th, FP2: 11th
"Today was a very productive one. We tested different set-ups on the car and evaluated how the tyres behave here. In the morning we were testing different balances, and it's always a matter of finding the right set-up for qualifying and then the right set up for the race. Now we need to find the right compromise for tomorrow. Here the track changes a lot from the morning to the afternoon, as track temperatures vary significantly, so it is challenging to judge the car. This will be the same for qualifying and the race."

Tom McCullough, head of track engineering
"It was a straight forward, incident free Friday for our team. As always here, it's about understanding the difference in tyre and car performance from the hotter FP1 to the cooler FP2. Both drivers were pretty happy with the car, and we got all our test items and set-up work done. The long-run pace and the balance of the car were quite good. However, it's pretty tight around us as the last few races have shown, so we will work hard on improving our low fuel performance and thus our qualifying potential."

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne - FP1: 16th, FP2: 17th
"If we ignore the lap times, I think this was a reasonably productive day. Our overall performance is good and I felt the car was working well. It's true we need to find a bit more lap time for tomorrow, but I am fairly confident. We just need to work well overnight to iron out the small details that were not quite right today and I believe we can then run competitively. As for the tyres, I did a long run on the Soft tyre and it definitely works much better and lasts longer with better degradation than we saw in India a few days ago. So, everyone should be able to make better use of it in the race on Sunday. This is an enjoyable track to drive and the setting, as well as the timing of the sessions is truly unique."

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 18th, FP2: 16th
"Our first day in Abu Dhabi was not the best, as we struggled to find the right balance on the car. Leaving lap times aside, it was quite difficult to understand exactly what was going on with the car underneath us. That makes life harder, as it robs you of confidence. However, we did make some progress between the morning and the afternoon, but there is still much more to do. I think we understand what we need to achieve, so some effective work this evening with the engineers figuring it out will see us do much better tomorrow. The Soft tyre seemed to behave much better here than in India, which is what you'd expect, even if I didn't do so many laps on it with a high fuel load. I've always enjoyed the experience of driving here, as it goes from twilight to dark so quickly, which involves a helmet swap during the session, which is fun."

Laurent Mekies, head of vehicle performance
"A challenging day, because we were never completely happy with the balance on either car. When that happens, you soon find the lap times disappear and that's why we are a bit further down the order than we should be. Our priority tonight therefore is to try and give both drivers the consistent balance they found in recent races. Assuming we do that, on Saturday we will be back in the fight with our usual midfield group. Although we have the same Pirelli tyre choice as in India, the very different conditions, atmospheric and track, mean the Soft is functioning very consistently, so we will have different strategy equations to play with here. On top of that and unique to Abu Dhabi, is the fact the temperature actually drops by a large amount during the sessions and the race. It means we have to set up the car to work well at both ends of this temperature range."


Pastor Maldonado - FP1: 19th, FP2: 14th
"It was a good day for us today. We completed our planned programme and the car felt quicker with the new updates. There are still some balance issues we need to work on, but overall there seems to be more potential in this package. We now need to check the data and thoroughly analyse today's sessions to make further progress tomorrow, but I think we can find a bit more speed than we had today."

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 13th, FP2: 18th
"We tried some interesting things on Pastor's car today with a view to 2014 and we saw some interesting results and noticeable differences in the way the car performed. We will have a busy night tonight analysing the data we have and now it is about maximising what we have and trying to get every tenth out of the car. I'm confident we can still gain some more speed for tomorrow's qualifying and the car seems to suit this track a little better than it has the last few circuits."

Xevi Pujolar, chief race engineer
"We ran both cars on different aero configurations today, with Pastor running a development package for next year and Valtteri continuing with our standard package. The track was very slippery to start and both cars were struggling with overall grip. In FP2 Pastor continued with some aero comparisons, as well as trying some mechanical tests aimed at getting more grip on the first lap of each run. Valtteri concentrated on short and long runs comparing the two compounds of tyre, with conditions in FP2 more representative of what we will see in the race. The track conditions were improving throughout the day with the soft option tyre more susceptible to graining and the medium looking more consistent. Overall, Pastor's development package showed more positive results, so we will be fitting this across both cars for tomorrow."