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14 Mar 2008

Friday practice - selected driver quotes

The 2008 Formula One season finally got underway on Friday in Melbourne, where the drivers spent the day getting used to a rather green track without the benefit of traction control. All 22 report back on the thrills and spills at Albert Park (positions and times refer to Practice Two)...

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (1st, 1m 26.559s):
"It’s great to be back racing and being here in Melbourne where I started my Formula One career only a year ago. It’s always a special feeling to go out of the garage for the first time in practice at the start of a new season. There was some good progress with the car, and we made the best use of the ever improving track conditions. However our main opposition looks strong, but it’s still too early to tell exactly where we are in comparison. All in all a good start to the Australian Grand Prix and the season."

Mark Webber, Red Bull (2nd, +0.914s):
“That wasn't too bad. There was probably a few different fuel loads out there so it's hard to know exactly where we are. There are definitely four cars that are quicker than us, so we'll get our heads down this evening and work on the race information before qualifying tomorrow. It's pretty windy out on the track, but it's an issue for everyone."

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (3rd, +1.081s):
"All in all, I am happy with this start to the season. We were able to work towards the race and I think I will be able to run at a good pace on a long run. Because of going off the track, I was unable to try the last set of soft tyres available to me, but that's certainly not a big problem. The harder tyres are very consistent, while the other compound gives more grip on the first lap, but then suffers from greater degradation."

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren (4th, +1.124s):
"It was a great feeling to drive out of the garage as a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver for the first time. I enjoy the professionalism of the team and how they operated during today’s two sessions. It was a bit hotter than expected but that is just good practice for Malaysia. The wind was also something we had to take into consideration, but we made some good progress with the car. There was some graining of the tyres due to the dirty track conditions, but things improved as the circuit got more grip."

David Coulthard, Red Bull (5th, +1.478s):
"We lost time in the first session due to a gearbox problem, so we had a lot of ground to make up in the second practice, which is frustrating after our strong reliability during winter testing. We had a busy programme to complete this afternoon, but we managed to get through it and make up some time."

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (6th, +1.649s):
"I am not very happy with the way practice went. This morning we found some good settings for the car, but in the afternoon, we struggled and our lap times reflect that. We must look carefully at the data to work out how to improve the car. We have seen that if we manage to find the right set-up, we have the potential to be competitive."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (7th, +1.773s):
"That was a difficult day because we have been trying to balance the car while fighting a bit with tyre graining. We tried some things to improve it but I'm not satisfied with the balance yet. I ended up in the gravel because I touched the grass near the end of the second session. Now I just hope we can have a better day tomorrow. We've made some good progress over the winter time and the testing we have done in Europe has been positive. The car seems more competitive, especially in race conditions, so I'm optimistic heading into the first grand prix of the season."

Nico Rosberg, Williams (8th, +1.793s):
"The team had a pretty difficult start to the season today. I had no running in the first session and in the second session I ran with a differential that was not working. This
meant that it was unbelievably difficult out there. As a consequence, it was hard to learn anything useful while keeping the car on track. Nevertheless, we learnt a few bits and pieces, but we need to make up for today with some real progress tomorrow. All that said, I think we have a good base and we haven’t seen the best of it yet."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India (9th, +1.910s):
“It was a good challenge today and it looks quite promising. We made a big step forward over the winter and, with the new development parts we have here, we are not looking too bad. I am happy with the job we are doing so far, both the team and myself are working well together, and although we know we still have a lot of work to do and it is going to be tough, it's a good start.”

Timo Glock, Toyota (10th, +2.203s):
"This was my first day of running here in Australia and my first free practice session for Toyota so it was completely different to what I'm used to in GP2 and testing. So it was an unusual situation but overall it felt okay. It is still difficult for me in terms of getting the car right for my driving style. But we are continuously improving and today felt better than the last test so I can start to get a better feeling for the car. The last run wasn't too bad but I think everyone will be complaining about graining and it is the same for us."

Jenson Button, Honda (11th, +2.073s):
"Today has been a good day for us. We focused mainly on tyre work and getting the best out of the car in the very hot conditions. Everything went smoothly and the car feels much as it did at the Jerez test, which is pleasing. We won't know our true relative position compared to the competition until later tomorrow, but at the moment the priority for us is focusing on our own test items and adapting the set-up to the requirements and conditions here.

"It's very different to the Spanish circuits we have been using during the pre-season testing so we are starting from scratch in terms of setting the car up to suit these track conditions, particularly as Albert Park is much bumpier than the test circuits."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (12th, +2.172s):
"I still find it very difficult to make a judgement on everybody's performance. I'm afraid we have to be patient until tomorrow, at least until the second part of qualifying. I assume some of the cars which are higher up on the result sheet were lighter than us. I had no technical problems in the second session, and the failure in the morning just cost one run which isn't a drama."

Fernando Alonso, Renault (13th, +2.220s):
“This first day has been very hot and very windy, but the conditions were the same for everyone. For the first day of work we worked on the set-up of the car and we made good progress, but we still have to improve the stability of the car under braking and its overall balance. So we must still find some performance, but I am optimistic for the rest of the weekend.”

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (14th, +2.290s):
"It's very hot and dry today, with the temperatures increasing this afternoon, so the track has lost some grip over the course of the day. The track was better in the morning session and I was much happier with the car then.

"It is still too early to tell how we will perform in qualifying tomorrow. We ran a fairly conservative programme today and we are looking better than in testing, but Friday is not a real indicator of performance as everyone is running their own programme with regard to fuel levels. We aim to be in the middle of the pack tomorrow and I believe we are on course for this.”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (15th, +2.301s):
"As well as working on the set-up of the car, we concentrated mainly on comparing the two tyre compounds. Degradation is quite a big issue in these hot conditions. We have to analyse the data and find out how best to exploit the full potential of the tyres."

Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (16th, +2.518s):
“It was a shame to lose some time to learn the track in the morning session due to the technical problem we suffered as although I have some experience of the circuit, it is quite limited. But this afternoon we managed to finish the whole programme and while you always want more time on the track, I am now much more familiar with the Albert Park layout. The next job is to check the data tonight to see where I can improve.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India (17th, +2.602s):
“I think today went quite well. The track was slippery at the beginning, so it was difficult to find a good balance to start with, but after the first run I was happy and then we didn't change so much over the sessions - really just fine-tuned everything. We had a small hydraulic problem before lunch but it was soon solved and we could do several longer runs in the second free practice with some quite good lap times. At the end it was a little bit unlucky I had some traffic on my fastest lap so I couldn't do a good time with the new tyres, but tomorrow is another day and I think we should be much better than last year.”

Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso (18th, +2.634s):
"The track was very green this morning, but it improved a lot and it will continue to change and get better right through to the Sunday. It's a case of so far so good as far as the car is concerned. In the first session I was relearning the track having driven just two sessions here last year.

"There are two or three areas where we can improve tomorrow and then we will see where we are. The tyres usually suffer a lot on a green track, but actually the high temperatures probably helped them today. But once the track is in good shape, it might begin to hurt the tyres."

Nelson Piquet Jr, Renault (19th, +2.959s):
“That was not how I imagined my first day of work would be, and we would have liked to have made more progress. I made a mistake in the first session which caused some damage to my gearbox and meant the team had to do some work on my car between the two sessions. But I was able to get my first feelings for the track and I hope to make a bigger contribution tomorrow. I know that I have a lot to learn, but I was able to get more comfortable with each lap, and that is what I am going to continue to do throughout the weekend.”

Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso (20th, +3.046s):
"This morning was a trouble-free session so I could learn the track for the first time. This afternoon, we had a tyre evaluation programme with long runs planned, but unfortunately we had a problem that sidelined me in the garage for quite some time.

"But I guess that's part of the game, dealing with the bad and the good in F1. This is a nice circuit, but of course the track started out very green and it changed quite dramatically, as we expected.

"Now we will see how tomorrow goes. Obviously, tomorrow the conditions will more closely resemble those we will encounter in qualifying and the race and hopefully we will be able to run trouble-free when it really matters."

Takuma Sato, Super Aguri (21st, +4.104s):
“I am pleased to have started our first day of the 2008 season. Of course we had some issues as our winter preparations were not completed and we had to evaluate many things on our very first day. But it was good to see the cars running and that the team is up to speed. There is a lot of work to do, naturally, but overall today was good.”

Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri (22nd, +4.968s):
“It was a difficult Friday. We had planned a limited programme anyway, but then we had to cut short our run in the afternoon. I hope that we can get to grips with the car more tomorrow and move on from there.”

Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW30.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 14 March 2008 Jenson Button (GBR) Honda.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 14 March 2008 Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR02.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 14 March 2008 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 14 March 2008 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.08.
Australian Grand Prix, Rd 1, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday, 14 March 2008