Drivers: Hamilton upbeat

Eurosport – 

All the driver reaction following the first day of practice for the 2009 Formula One season, with world champion Lewis Hamilton upbeat despite struggling in Melbourne.

FORMULA 1 2009 - Lewis Hamilton of McLaren during practice for the Australian Grand Prix - 0

1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren): “The first session didn’t prove too productive for us. We worked hard to get the prime tyres to operate effectively, but the track conditions and our set-up made it difficult to get them to work, and it didn’t give me the confidence to push hard. The changes we made after P1 made the car feel much better. We’re still working to refine the balance – and we have a number of issues still to address – but we are heading in the right direction.”

2. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren): “Although the track was very green and slippery, the car felt good from the start of the session. Our balance was good, particularly in the high-speed corners, and KERS deployed well, working smoothly throughout both sessions. A reasonable first day – even if the times don’t properly reflect that. We saw some decent pace and made some progress which was pleasing for the new guys on my car this year.”

3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari): “This morning the car went well, while in the afternoon we didn’t manage to find a satisfactory set-up, even though we tried various solutions. I think there is every chance we can improve our performance, but I can’t say by how much compared to the others. Today, it’s difficult to say where we are compared to them and we will see after tomorrow’s qualifying.”

4. Felipe Massa (Ferrari): “We are more or less okay with the set up, although there is still room to improve the performance. I was not able to do a time on the soft tyres in the second session as I made a mistake because of oversteer: in this phase we had a different balance on the car compared to when we had used the hard tyres, which proved not to be the ideal choice. On top of that, towards the end of the session, the wind got up a bit which definitely did not help. Tomorrow, with everyone on the same fuel load, we will see what the situation is.”

5. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber): “We looked to improve the set-up and evaluate the tyres for the race. We collected a lot of data which we have to analyse so we can make more progress. Overall we are lacking grip, and we have to find out why.”

6. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber): “It was great fun to drive here today. It was high time the season started. We had no technical problems and completed our entire programme, with the usual tyre comparison and long runs. The Albert Park circuit isn’t a permanent race track and, therefore, naturally has a very low grip level at the beginning of the race weekend. It improved a little during the two practice sessions but even in the end it wasn’t good.”

7. Fernando Alonso (Renault): “At last, after lots of winter testing, expectations and predictions, we have started the 2009 season. Today we concentrated on car set-up in hot conditions without being too concerned by what our competitors were doing. We now have lots of valuable information and, as usual, we will go over that this evening. We are missing some grip but we have some ideas about how we can overcome these issues. So I’m still confident. We should deliver a better performance tomorrow.”

8. Nelson Piquet Jr (Renault): “That wasn’t an easy day. I struggled to find a good balance on a green track with little grip. However, the settings that we worked on today have still helped us explore some interesting developments for tomorrow and I remain positive.”

9. Jarno Trulli (Toyota): “It was a tough day because we covered quite a few laps and had a lot of things to work on. In general we have worked really hard to understand the tyres and find the right set-up, which is not easy. I am still not completely happy with the car balance and, even though when you look at the timing sheets things look pretty good for us, the car isn’t completely comfortable to drive. Now we have to work on improving the set-up and the balance for tomorrow when it is most important. Anyway, I have to say it’s great to be back at a Grand Prix because I love being behind the wheel with the atmosphere and excitement of a race weekend; this is what I live for.”

10. Timo Glock (Toyota): “In the end I am satisfied with our day but I have to say the first session went better than the second session for me. In the first session I had a good feeling from the car and things were running well but then later on I suddenly had a few problems because the car was a bit nervous and didn’t feel as stable on the long runs. The behaviour of the car seemed to change between the sessions so we have to look at the data to understand why that happened. So we still have some work to do but that is the purpose of practice and we will work hard on the car set-up before qualifying tomorrow.”

11. Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso): “We had slick tyres in GP2, so it is not such a big change (to step up) anymore. In GP2 you work with one engineer and you work with like 15 in F1, so it is bit more tricky, but I would say that driving the car is not such a big difference. It was not too bad, we tried various changes and improved the car lap by lap. The second session got off to quite a good start, but later we had some difficulty with finding the right set-up.”

12. Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso): “It was good that we had a trouble-free day and were able to get on with our work, even if we knew we were not going to be quick enough, as we are lacking some development parts. I was fairly happy with the balance of the car on the super soft tyre, apart from a bit too much oversteer at high speed.”

14. Mark Webber (Red Bull): “It’s great to be back in Australia. I’m proud of the Australian GP; they put on an excellent show here for everyone and it’s good for the local people. They’ve had a tough few months recently with the fires, so I hope they enjoy the weekend. My day today was a bit hit and miss to be honest, as we had a few technical problems with the car. I didn’t get many laps in during the first session, but the second was a lot better. We completed more laps and tried both types of tyres, so we’ve got some good stuff to go through tonight. It was quite interesting to see how low the sun was through the trees towards the end of the second session, it was good to run with that to get used to it for Sunday.”

15. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull): “We had a bad session in this morning’s practice and didn’t get too much running, due to a hydraulics problem. In the afternoon we were able to get some laps in, but unfortunately I made a stupid mistake towards the end of the practice, so we couldn’t run through our programme. Nevertheless, it’s looking alright with what we’ve done compared to the time we had on the circuit, so let’s see how we go tomorrow. Like always on Fridays, it’s a bit difficult to interpret everyone’s lap times, but I think we can be happy.”

16. Nico Rosberg (Williams): “I am a bit surprised (to have topped both sessions). It is difficult to know exactly what to think, but it’s not as if we were driving empty. We are looking much better maybe than we had expected. What happens from now on, we will have to see.”

17. Kazuki Nakajima (Williams): “Sector two is my favourite here at Albert Park. It includes a complete variety of corners, from the medium speed in turn six to the slow speed corners like nine, while 11 and 12 are the quickest. It makes it hard to establish a rhythm.”

18. Jenson Button (Brawn GP): “It was great to finally get the season underway today. We had a good first day of practice and the long run performance looks competitive, particularly on the harder tyre. We still have some work to do on the softer tyre so that will be a priority for tomorrow’s practice session. I had traffic on both of my new tyres runs at the end of the day which was a shame so we don’t know how quick we are over one lap yet but there is plenty of time to find that out tomorrow.”

19. Rubens Barrichello (Brawn GP): “To be here in Melbourne is a real achievement for the team and it feels good to be back in the car and working towards a race weekend strategy again. Despite the limited testing time that we were able to do before this race, we have proved that we have a competitive car and were achieved some good work today. We evaluated both tyres and are happy with the overall performance so I think we have a good chance of a strong qualifying performance tomorrow.”

20. Adrian Sutil (Force India): “I hope this is representative of where we are, but it is still very early on in the weekend. We had a good session in the afternoon and could do some quite promising runs. I was pleased with the car, we had no real problems. The balance depended on the tyres. In the second session we did some race runs and struggled a lot with the softer tyre, but I think once the track rubbers in the tyres will grip better, but overall it was okay and a good position in the end. I think we can be happy with where we are right now.”

21. Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India): “It’s a bit too early to say how we can perform this weekend. The car is better under high speed but so far I am struggling with the rear locking and I’m not 100 per cent comfortable just yet. We’re in better shape than last year for sure though. We will see tomorrow but at least we know there is potential to improve overnight.”

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