Free Practice for the Japanese Grand Prix went without any technical problems for the Sauber F1 Team. Esteban Gutiérrez had his first outing at the Suzuka International Circuit with the track proving to be fun and challenging to drive on. Meanwhile Nico Hülkenberg was able to run through the programme without any issues.
Nico Hülkenberg: Sauber C32-Ferrari (Chassis 03/Ferrari 056):
- 1st Practice: 12th / 1:35.900 min (18 laps) / 2nd Practice 13th / 1:35.182 min (34 laps)
“It was a smooth Friday. The weather was fine, and it wasn’t raining as was expected. Everything was going according to plan and we were able to go through our programme. We tested different set-ups and compared rear wings, now we need to look at the data to determine which one is better. Otherwise it was business as usual understanding the different tyre compounds, with the option looking better on the long runs. Tomorrow Q3 will be the target. It’s a challenge and looks to be tight, but, considering how we went today, I think there is still room for us to improve.”
Esteban Gutiérrez: Sauber C32-Ferrari (Chassis 04 / Ferrari 056):
- 1st Practice: 18th / 1:36.760 min (22 laps) / 2nd Practice 11th / 1:35.089 min (36 laps)
“It was an interesting day. It’s a challenge to get to know the track, but it delivered everything I expected it would. It’s a special circuit, with very nice and fast corners and I enjoy driving here a lot. In the morning I focused on learning the track. It’s a complicated track to learn and to find the right lines. In turns eight and nine especially, there is no margin for mistake, otherwise you kiss the wall. The afternoon was a lot better. We worked on the set up and it went well. We still have a bit of work to do, but I was able to get a good idea and will do everything to translate that into a good result tomorrow.”
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: “This morning in FP1 we split the set-up programmes between the two cars. We struggled with rear grip on both cars throughout the day, but were steadily working on and improving that. Esteban again displayed a very solid and mature approach to a very difficult new circuit, and was chipping away run by run. The midfield is still very tight, as we can see by the low and high fuels runs. Looking forward to tomorrow, we shall be working hard tonight to improve the car in qualifying trim.”