• Belgian Grand Prix

Who said what after Friday practice for the Belgian Grand Prix

ESPNF1 Staff
August 23, 2013

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

The drivers were faced with tricky conditions on a damp track in FP1 © Associated Press


Heikki Kovalainen FP1: 16th
"It felt good to be back in the car and I'm pleased to see how it's developed since I last drove it in Barcelona. The whole package feels better balanced and generally it's a good overall improvement behind the wheel. There's a few things I could tell right away that are better - in general the ride has improved, there's much less pitching and the front in particular feels stronger. Against that, the braking stability doesn't feel great today, but that's something that can be worked on pretty simply in FP2. Overall I'm pleased I had more time in the car and can continue to help the team progress."

Charles Pic FP2: 20th
"We went straight out in FP2 on the hard tyres and the car was ok but the main issue on run one was mid-to exit oversteer. We made a couple of mechanical changes for the second run but still had the oversteer issue but with more changes it had improved slightly for run three when we put the medium tyres on for the first time. The car was more calm on mid-to-exit but we found we had some issues on entry into the corners so for the long run we put on a bit more front wing and it did feel like we made some progress. We still need to make more improvements to the stability of the car on entry into the corners, but we can look at that more tonight, as well as keeping an eye on the weather forecast for tomorrow and even more for Sunday."

Giedo van der Garde FP1: 17th, FP2: 19th
"FP1 was a good start to the weekend. We did the installation lap on wets but for run one we went onto inters but the track was drying out pretty quickly so they didn't last too long at all. It looks like quali and the race could both have similar weather conditions to FP1 so it's good to have that information logged, but then we went onto the hard dry tyres for run two, giving us more information that the engineers can work on tonight.

"In FP2 the weather had improved from the morning session but the car didn't feel great on the first run. We had a lot of oversteer on run one and not great traction so we made a change and went out for run two on the medium tyres. The first run on those was ok but we weren't really able to get everything out of the softer rubber so there's definitely more to come from the softer rubber.

"On the long run on the mediums the car felt pretty good, deg levels were ok but then in turn 15 the back end got loose and I unfortunately made contact with the barrier ending the session. We're not sure why that happened yet but we'll have a look at the data and investigate more tonight. Hopefully there's a lot more to come, so a usual busy Friday night and I think we can make progress tomorrow."


Fernando Alonso FP1: 1st, FP2: 7th
"This was a good day, even if in the morning we, and in fact everyone, lost time because of the rain and so in the afternoon we found ourselves facing double the workload. Before drawing any conclusions, we need to wait for the analysis of the data acquired this afternoon from both cars. Felipe and I tried different aero configurations, with more and less downforce, which will be the real key to this race, along with the weather. In terms of today's times, we have got closer to the favourites, but I'm not sure which weather forecast I would prefer. It's true that in the rain, the cards on the table can be shuffled up, but in the wet there are as many chances to benefit as there are to lose. It will be important to have a good understanding of how the tyres are behaving in the dry, as well as finding out what happened to the Caterham, to Vettel and also to me on my in-lap. I don't think it's a similar problem to what we saw in Silverstone, maybe more of a random set of circumstances, but all the same, it needs careful analysis."

Felipe Massa FP1: 11th, FP2: 4th
"Today, the changeable weather had a big effect on the way free practice was run, with minimal running in the first session. But if we want to look at things in terms of a glass half full, then at least the few laps we managed in the morning were important, to give us an idea of the behaviour of the car in the wet, which is always useful here in Spa. In the afternoon, in the dry, we managed to get through our programme, testing some new parts and both types of Pirelli tyre. The outcome of the race simulation tells us that we have what we need to be on the pace and we will definitely do all we can to fight with the leaders of the classification."

Pat Fry, technical director
"The race at Spa has always been a great challenge for the drivers and also for us engineers and this year, that seems to be very much the case, partly because of the uncertainty of the weather, which today was inclement enough to affect the running of our programme. Having a track that is only partially wet is the worst possible condition to start working on car set-up, because it limits the time available to test the balance and driveability with different aerodynamic loads. In the afternoon, we only partly made up for the time lost because of the rain as we evaluated all the possible scenarios on a track that requires an aerodynamic compromise that is one of a kind. Here, the rain is the big unknown and it certainly won't help anyone."

Force India

Paul di Resta FP1: 2nd, FP2: 10th
"Conditions were mixed this morning, but it was much better this afternoon. It's safe to say that we seem to be further forward compared to where we were in Budapest and we always thought the car would be more suited to this track. At the moment it looks like we are in the mix for making the top ten, but we need to carry a bit more speed into qualifying. We know that the rain might come tomorrow, so we have to be ready to maximise the conditions."

Adrian Sutil FP1: 3rd, FP2: 11th
"Quite an interesting day getting back in the car for the first time in almost a month. We were near the top of the times this morning in the damp session, but I had some balance issues to solve with the car so we made quite a few adjustments for this afternoon. When the sun came out the track conditions were very different so we tried some different downforce levels and need to choose the best approach for tomorrow. For the final few laps of the afternoon we made some progress and got the car closer to where we want it to be."

Robert Fernley, deputy team principal
"It's been a fairly promising start for us with plenty of running for Adrian and Paul, especially in the afternoon session. The programmes went to plan, giving us plenty to think about tonight, and we have as much data as anybody on the tyres. There's still some way to go to find the ideal balance with both cars and that's the main task facing us tonight. The big question for the weekend is what the weather will do because there's a good chance the rain will arrive just before qualifying. That would certainly make things interesting so we need to be ready to react quickly and be on track at the right time."


Kimi Raikkonen FP1: 21st, FP2: 6th
"I feel fine here today and the car was okay. It could have been a bit better, but it wasn't a disaster either so for sure we can improve a bit more for tomorrow. The weather wasn't great this morning and it's certainly better for us when it's dry. We had a little problem with the front wheel in the first session which meant we didn't run as much as we wanted to. The afternoon was pretty normal. For sure it looks like it will be a difficult weekend to beat Red Bull but that's what we must try to do if we want to catch them in the Championship."

Romain Grosjean FP1: 22nd, FP2: 3rd
"It has been a busy day. We had planned to focus on evaluating our Device this morning, but with the changing atmospheric conditions we weren't able to 100% complete all the tests so with more rain forecast we decided to take it off for the afternoon to concentrate on a more normal programme with long runs. It wasn't that easy as we found it quite hard to make the tyres work the way we would like them to which meant that in the car the feeling might not have been so good, but timing-wise it was actually okay. The car felt pretty good and we'll work on this baseline to continue to improve. We'll wait to see what the weather will have in store for us."

Alan Permane, trackside operations director
"Unfortunately the wet conditions this morning meant we weren't able to get as much work done as we wanted on our Device so we elected to revert to a known set-up for the afternoon, with everything going to plan. Neither driver was entirely on top of their car, but given the conditions today I don't expect any team was after the mixed weather in the morning. We concentrated a little on set-up and more on tyre evaluation ready for the rest of the weekend. From the data we've seen so far we look reasonably strong on pace and tyre performance, so we're looking forward to the rest of the weekend."


Jules BianchiFP1: 20th, FP2: 21st
"The summer break seemed like an eternity for me so, on the whole, it is good to be back in the car and to get the second half of the season underway. It has been a little bit of a frustrating day today though, firstly with the weather making it difficult to get into the swing of things, although the experience in the wet may be useful later in the weekend. There is some work to do yet to get the car working better here but on paper this should be a circuit that suits us better than the last few races before the break."

Max Chilton FP1: 18th, FP2: 22nd
"I'm pleased with the way things started out for me today and with the progress we were making in FP1. The car was feeling good and the programme was working well. Things were looking promising for FP2 also but unfortunately we lost the last 30 minutes of the session because of a steering rack change. The guys worked hard to ensure I could get out at the end and so let's hope for a more straightforward day tomorrow to pick up on the positives from this morning."

John Booth, team principal
"The whole Team were pleased to be back racing today and it's nice to be kicking off the second half of the season at such a fantastic circuit. After Hungary we spent a great deal of time evaluating our performance and we came to this event with a range of set-up options and developments to try in FP1 aimed at improving our package. Unfortunately the weather caught us out a little, as is often the case at Spa, and we were unable to test some of the developments effectively during the session. For FP2 we tried a different set-up on the two cars in order to gather as much data as possible. This proved extremely useful, however we didn't achieve as much running with Max as we would have liked. Overall, we've gained a lot of useful information today and we are a little more confident in our prediction that this circuit suits our car better than was the case with the Hungaroring. We are looking forward to the rest of the weekend and hoping that all our homework pays off."


Jenson Button FP1: 14th, FP2: 15th
"For me, FP1 was very good, and I was very happy with the car. The balance was good and I think our pace was good, too. I didn't push very hard in the wet sectors, but in the dry as I say it felt very good. This afternoon, however, it felt different. It's obviously a result of the warmer temperatures, and perhaps the wind also, so we've got a lot of work to do to understand why that is. Hopefully, we'll work it all out and things will be better for us by tomorrow. Having said all that, it's great to be back at Spa - the circuit is simply stunning! It's one of the best circuits for a driver, so fast and flowing. You have true racing fans here too, which is fantastic to see. Okay, the circuit is a bit unforgiving, but in a way I don't mind that. I think we've lost a bit of that element with some of the newer circuits we've seen arrive on the calendar over the past few years. The old classics are the ones that really remind me why I love this sport so much: here, Monza, Suzuka etc."

Sergio Perez FP1: 4th, FP2: 8th
"Today we had a very good first session, but a more difficult second session. That was a bit of a surprise for us, because this morning the car felt very strong and very fast, and I was very happy with its balance. But this afternoon, as I say, it was a little less consistent. However, we've got a lot of information to analyse now, so as to understand what's going on with the car, in an effort to try to improve it and hopefully do a good job for tomorrow and Sunday. Hopefully, the weather will help us, because I personally would prefer there to be wet or variable conditions, which we know is always possible here at Spa!"

Martin Whitmarsh, team principal
"Like most grand prix Fridays, today was a day spent data-gathering, running experiments, and working towards finding optimal set-ups for the rest of the weekend. As a result, we've duly gathered a lot of data, which we'll number-crunch this evening in an effort to prepare our cars for qualifying tomorrow. As ever here at Spa, though, the weather will be an unpredictable factor both tomorrow and on race day, but it'll be the same for everyone. Reverting to today, then, our drivers appeared to prefer our car's balance this morning, in FP1, when the track surface was slippery. This afternoon, in FP2, when it was warmer and drier, they were rather less comfortable. But no-one can claim with any confidence that he or she can make accurate weather forecasts about the Ardennes micro-climate, so let's see what the next days bring."


Lewis Hamilton FP1: 15th, FP2: 12th
"We have some work ahead of us this evening to get the car feeling just right but overall today was a reasonable start to the weekend. The car feels very different here with the low downforce set-up, compared to at the last race, and we need to refine a few areas to get the balance sorted. We were able to get some good long run work done today and that's the most important thing for the race. We've got time to make the changes required so I'm optimistic that tomorrow will see an improvement."

Nico Rosberg FP1: 5th, FP2: 9th
"It's great to be back at the Spa circuit, particularly as our car is more competitive this year, and it feels such an improvement to drive through the quick corners here. I'm not entirely sure where we are compared to the others but it looks like it will be quite a tough challenge and, of course, it is a completely different track here to at the last race. Today went pretty well for us though and it could be an interesting weekend, particularly with the mixed weather conditions that are predicted."

Ross Brawn, team principal
"We had a good day overall. There were lots of new parts to test, we got that work done successfully and once the drivers had settled into their race simulation runs this afternoon, the lap times looked pretty respectable. We still have some work to do on our single lap pace but we think we know what needs to be done there in order to improve."

Toto Wolff, executive director
"It was a decent day for the team and we completed all the programmes that we had planned today, in spite of the mixed conditions in the first session. The long-run pace looked good but we need to analyse why we were losing time in sector one over a single timed lap. The other factor we will have to consider this evening is the weather, as the forecasts suggest there will be rain around on Saturday and Sunday, which could influence some of the compromises we make in terms of set-up."

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel FP1: 6th, FP2: 1st
"We don't know what happened when I got the puncture in P2. We lost the rear right, very suddenly, so we need to have a look - Pirelli is working on finding out why it happened. Other than that, it was a positive day. This morning was tricky with a few rain drops and the track was slippery; it's a lot colder here than Hungary, but that's Spa and part of this circuit. This afternoon, we had stable conditions and both of us seemed happy with what we had."

Mark Webber FP1: 19th, FP2: 2nd
"It's always tricky here to get the right set up for the whole lap, so we took the opportunity today to try some different ones. We'll go through it tonight. We had a pretty good run today but there's still some performance to find and we need to get the car a bit better balanced in certain conditions. Overall we got good information and it was good to have stable conditions this afternoon."


Esteban Gutierrez FP1: 7th, FP2: 18th
"In the morning we had some running on a track that was wet and damp. We were able to run some aero tests, but, unfortunately, we didn't get through the whole programme. The qualifying simulation in the afternoon was not good. I lost part of the diffusor at the beginning of FP2, which impacted on performance. I'm not feeling very comfortable with the car. It's tricky driving the car on relatively low downforce, and the balance is not quite right. Now we have to analyse the data and see how we can improve that."

Nico Hulkenberg FP1: 8th, FP2: 13th
"It was quite a tricky day with the mixed weather conditions this morning. We couldn't really get a full run on slicks. Sectors two and three were dry, but sector one was wet. I think there is still room for improvement. We still have some work to do on the set-up, as things can and have to be improved. I wasn't happy with the balance of the car. The tyres are behaving as usual: the medium compound is definitely quicker over one lap, as it provides more grip, but then we have to find out how long it will last during the race."

Tom McCullough, head of track engineering
"The rain that was forecast prior to FP1 gave us some practice in those conditions, which could well be useful later in the weekend. Both drivers were quite happy with the car this morning. In FP2, neither driver was quite as happy with the balance, so we definitely have some work to do tonight in order to improve that. We tested some new aero parts and continued our test programme with our passive DRS system. Overall this project is making progress and we will decide tonight wheather we will use it for the race on Sunday."

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne FP1: 13th, FP2: 5th
"It's really nice to be racing again after the break, especially at this fantastic track. Friday went very smoothly for us. The morning conditions were not ideal, as it was too wet for dry tyres and too dry for the rain tyres, but we still learnt something which could be useful later in the weekend, even if the tyres never got up to temperature. Then, we had a good FP2, with the car showing excellent pace over a single lap. The long run was a bit more difficult, but all the same, I feel we have a good car this weekend, whether we run in the dry or the wet. Probably one of the best first days I've had: there were no problems and the car seems to be working well."

Daniel Ricciardo FP1: 9th, FP2: 16th
"Conditions this morning were the ones no one really likes, with part of the track dry and part wet. We ran on Intermediates, but the dry bits of the circuit meant the tyres got a bit chewed up. In the afternoon, we split the workload between the two cars. We tried a direction on my car that we believed would work, but unfortunately it didn't. However, the good news is that Jev seemed to be on the pace, so we can look at his data and get a useful compromise for both cars. I'm not happy to be down the bottom of the timesheet, but it's not a reason to be discouraged, because I feel we can deliver tomorrow and aim to get both cars well up the grid."

Laurent Mekies, head of vehicle performance
"More rain is forecast for this weekend, so this morning was a useful session in the damp, changeable conditions. More generally, it was an important day on track for the team, after two difficult race weekends in Germany and Hungary. We have been working hard to get back to where we want to be in terms of the hierarchy of the teams and today we experimented across both cars, as it is important to keep moving forward on the development of the car. This explains the difference in performance between our two drivers and so tonight we will analyse the data as usual and try and take the best of both of them. Overall, it was a good day in which we tested a lot of things and hopefully we can confirm some progress tomorrow."


Pastor Maldonado FP1: 12th, FP2: 14th
"Today I was struggling to get the right balance in the car and there is still a lot of work we need to do to get us to where we want to be. We are not very far from unlocking more speed, but the others around us are also making gains which makes it difficult to close the gap. Nevertheless we will try to optimise what we have and adjust the set-up to find improvements in the balance ahead of the weekend."

Valtteri Bottas FP1: 10th, FP2: 17th
"It was difficult to test anything in the first session because of the variable weather, with the track wet on one part of the circuit but dry on the other. The dry second session was more productive and we conducted some interesting tests so we will now be analysing the data from those to make improvements to the set-up for tomorrow. My car is currently more competitive on the prime tyre, and we still have work to do to improve the overall balance on the option tyre."

Xevi Pujolar, chief race engineer
"We had limited running this morning due to the weather as the track was damp but this afternoon we completed our planned programme. We tested some different rear wing levels, worked on mechanical set-up changes and did some long runs on both compound tyres in preparation for the race. During both sessions we worked through some aerodynamic evaluations and will now look at the data to decide which direction to continue for the rest of the weekend and to be best prepared for the changeable conditions forecast for tomorrow's qualifying session. We still need to work hard to also improve overall grip ready for the race."