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Brazilian Grand Prix: teams report from day one at Interlagos

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Teams and drivers report from day one of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, Round 20 of the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos, in Sao Paulo.



Fernando Alonso: “We saw today that we seem to be a little bit more competitive here than at some of the previous races, and I believe there’s a chance for us to make it into Q3 tomorrow. In the second session, I had to stop the car due to the fact that we saw an anomaly in ERS water pressure data. We’re going to change the engine anyway for tomorrow, so this issue won’t affect me at all for the rest of my weekend.
With the high temperatures we had today, I think everyone suffered a lack of grip and degradation, but it looks like the weather is going to change, with some lower temperatures, cloud and rain. That would help us, as it would help reshuffle the deck a little. Tomorrow we need to have a good qualifying session – that’s very important as overtaking around here can be quite difficult.”

Jenson Button: “On low fuel, the car didn’t feel too bad, it was relatively fun to drive. The balance still needs a bit of work on high fuel, but we didn’t get much running done because we had an issue with the exhaust temperatures and had to stop. Neither car did much long-running today, which is a pity because we need that information, particularly for our understanding of the Option tyre’s performance. Fortunately, the problem on my car should be very easy to solve; it’s just hurt today’s running. Hopefully, we can get plenty of running in tomorrow – we need it. With the anticipated lower temperatures, qualifying should be fun – getting into Q3 will be tough, but that should be our aim. For the race itself, I’d like the weather to sort itself out and rain!”

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda Racing Director: “It was frustrating to see both cars stop in quick succession of each other, particularly as it meant that we weren’t able to complete our proposed long-run plan at the end of FP2. Looking at it pragmatically, it’s better that these issues occur during free practice rather than during qualifying or the race, and I’m sure we’ll be able to quickly resolve the problems before tomorrow’s sessions. In addition, with mixed and rainy conditions forecast for the remainder of the weekend, today’s lack of running may not prove too consequential at the end of Sunday’s race. On a more positive note, we were able to complete a fairly comprehensive test programme this morning, running through a number of correlation exercises and test-item evaluations, all of which should prove useful to our knowledge and understanding of next year’s car. We’ll have a little bit more work to do during FP3 tomorrow, but we’ve nonetheless made a positive start to the race weekend.”

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo: “Today it was really hot and you could feel the tyres were having a hard time, and it means we were not as quick as we’d like. On the long run today I didn’t feel we were that strong towards the end of it but I feel that once the track cools it’s going to be completely different. We are a bit closer to Mercedes than we probably expected, and there’s still a bit more to come from the car, but to really have a chance to win then I think we need some rain to help us. The rain would be fun just to change it up a little bit but even if it’s just cooler tomorrow and on Sunday as forecast it will be better on the tyres. Of course we will try and improve what we have done today but I think tomorrow will be another story.”

Max Verstappen: “First practice was really good this morning, we then made some changes for second practice which meant my short run pace wasn’t fantastic, along with the increase in track temperature. We went back on some of those changes and the long run in FP2 looked quite positive. I think we are happy with the pace over that distance, we just need to make some modifications for tomorrow to get the short distance pace back. Using both the soft and medium compound today meant we got a good understanding of how they will react around here, no real surprises to be honest. Mercedes are still too far ahead in my opinion but after them we are up there and competitive. I am hoping it will rain on Sunday as this will close the gap, give us a good shot at winning and add to the excitement. If conditions are like this then it will be a bit tougher for us to be up front.”


Pascal Wehrlein: “I’ve been struggling with some car issues today. We looked at it between FP1 and FP2, but FP2 ended up being massively compromised. I had to stay in the garage for most of the session. It’s not ideal, but Fridays can be like that, and now we just need to get to the bottom of the problem and fix it before tomorrow. Challenges are there to be overcome and they simply make you fight harder. I was able to get out on track for the end of the session and even though I had half the laps of some people out there, I was pleased with where we ended up, considering. I’ll come back tomorrow and see what we’ve got for qualifying.”

Esteban Ocon: “I’m loving the track; it’s a circuit that has a lot of character and is short but really interesting. With the car, it feels like a much better start to the weekend than Mexico and I think we’ve done a good job to get up to speed quite quickly. There’s more to come as we build towards qualifying and the race, but with how things look so far, I think we can have a nice fight with the cars around us. I think we found the problem and my car feels ‘back to normal’ after the problems we had in Mexico. I’m much happier with the way the car is handling and the pace looks good – ahead of a Renault and a Sauber. So far so good.”

Dave Ryan, Racing director: “Not the best start to the weekend on Pascal’s side of the garage. We’ve experienced a few problems in both sessions, some of which we identified and got on top of and some of which require further investigation. That lost him quite a bit of time confined to the garage and his programme was significantly impacted. However, he did a good job to come back from that and had a positive end to what has been a pretty poor couple of sessions. We need to sort those problems out for him. With Esteban, he had a straightforward day and was able to demonstrate that our one-lap pace is looking good versus our immediate competitors, but there’s still a lot of work to do to prepare for the race.”


Romain Grosjean: “The main item of the day was trying the new brakes. I’m pretty happy with them. I think I’m going to stick with them all weekend long. We’re still not perfect in terms of maps, balance and usage and so on, but the feeling was pretty good. We’ve been struggling a bit with the heat and the temperature of the track, and our afternoon was a little more difficult than our morning. There are a few items here and there to work on to get the car to go faster, but at least we have some direction in where to go and what to do.”

Esteban Gutierrez: “It was nice to get back driving after sitting out FP1. I think it was important just to do our program. It was a little compact fitting it all into FP2, but it went reasonably well in terms of evaluating the car. Now we can improve a lot. I was not very happy with the balance, so we have some work to do tonight to try to put that together. We need to try to optimize everything for tomorrow.”

Charles Leclerc: “It was great to get back into the car. I love the Interlagos track. It’s my first time here. I love the second sector, especially. It’s very interesting. It’s been a long time since I’ve driven a racecar because we’re on a bit of a break in GP3 at the moment, and it’s been even longer since I drove the Formula One car. It was a bit of an adaptation in my first runs this morning, but in the end it all went well. We ran through our program and the team gave me the feedback that I was helpful to them, so that’s all good.”

Guenther Steiner, Team principal: “I would say we had an abnormally good Friday, as Fridays lately haven’t been very good to us. Today we had a problem-free FP1 and FP2. In FP1, Charles drove Esteban’s car and Romain his. It went pretty well. We did our program and made progress. In FP2, Esteban was back in his car and we got through our whole program. It seems like as soon as temperatures go up, our car goes slower and we lose grip. I think we know now how to cure this. We still have work to do, but fortunately the forecast has it getting cooler, so that may help us. But we cannot rely on fortune, so everybody’s working hard to see that we get the performance in the car for tomorrow. We also tested different brakes on Romain’s car. They seem to be working fine. We had no issues. We’ll now review if we continue to use them or not.”


Jolyon Palmer: “Despite the fact that we did a decent amount of laps today, I think that there is still some work to be done as I haven’t felt completely happy with the car. I want to make a jump forward tomorrow. The positive is that we have gathered a lot of data with all the running done in FP1 and in FP2. I tried the halo for the first time early on this morning and my first impression is that it felt a bit like I had a roof over my head.”

Kevin Magnussen: “We did a good afternoon’s work and I felt comfortable pretty much straight away. I was able to get some good laps under my belt including a respectable long run. I’m happy with the way today went and look forward to preparing for the rest of the weekend with all the data we’ve gathered.”

Sergey Sirotkin: “It was very nice to be back at the wheel of the R.S.16 this morning as it’s been a while. Interlagos is a legendary circuit so it was great to drive around this historic track behind the wheel of an F1 car. Unfortunately we didn’t do as many laps as we would have liked due to a problem with the car after I’d completed 10 laps. These things happen and that’s what practice is for. Of course, it was frustrating not to get more time driving, however I’m still really looking forward to my next opportunity for an outing with the team.”

Bob Bell, Chief Technical Officer: “Despite the issue encountered this morning, it has been a reasonably positive day. Sergey was unfortunate to lose laps because of a wiring loom glitch, however we were able to complete a normal Friday morning programme with Jo. In the afternoon we completed our full programme so have plenty of data to work on. Kevin was happier with his car than Jo so we know there’s work to be done. We hope to be able to improve on both sides of the garage ahead of qualifying.”


Sebastian Vettel: “I think it was a tricky day. The track was very slippery, the temperature hot, and I think everybody was struggling with the tires. It was a bit difficult to find the rhythm. The long run was a bit better for us: I haven’t seen what the others were doing, but I felt a bit more confident with more time and more laps in the car. So in total we tried a lot of things, and now we need to go and see what actually was best. Towards the end of the day it seemed to calm down a bit more, finding the rhythm, which wasn’t the case for the short run, for the fast lap, where I wasn’t very happy. The good news today are that the gaps were very close. Mercedes for sure, as expected, is a bit up front: but other than that, if it stays like this, it bodes well for tomorrow.”

Kimi Raikkonen: “It was a pretty normal Friday: we tried different things to make it better for tomorrow. It was a bit tricky to find the balance, the set-up is not ideal yet, but we are going in the right direction. I only did a few laps with the Soft, it felt pretty ok and obviously it has the best grip. Unfortunately at the end of the second session we had an issue with one visor which obstructed the cooling duct: the brakes overheated and I had to stop.”

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg: “It was a good Friday – just what you want from a day like this. We had two dry sessions and collected some very useful tyre information with two long runs. The car feels ok, but there is still a lot that can be done to improve the balance overnight. It’s a good starting point. It’s still too early to know just how competitive we are, but it feels like we have the potential for a strong weekend.”

Sergio Perez: “A very hot day, but things went to plan and I feel positive. This afternoon I didn’t get a clear lap for my first run on the soft tyres so I feel there is more potential to come. We tried a few set-up adjustments that did not really work, but we’ve learned some things which will give us a better direction for tomorrow. We expect the weather to be slightly cooler over the weekend, but I still think the work we’ve done today is representative and we just need to adjust if the track temperatures drop. Overall I feel happy with what we’ve done today and we have a good idea of where we need to improve overnight.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: “As the forecast indicated, we had a very hot day with high temperatures, up to 50 degrees on track, in both FP1 and FP2. This allowed us to learn a lot about the set-up of the car and the performance of the tyres in these conditions. However, we are aware that cooler weather is expected for the rest of the weekend, with a realistic chance of rain, so we need to keep that in mind when looking at a qualifying and race set-up. Overall, it was a fairly standard Friday in which we were able to complete our programme with no issues. Both drivers were quite happy with the car by the time we got to the long runs at the end of the day, but there is still some work to do in regard to our low-fuel performance. It will be our focus tonight as we prepare for the weekend.”


Valtteri Bottas: “For a Friday, it was good. The balance was quite good in the first run, so it has just been fine tuning after that. The long runs were consistent, the car feels ok and the pace seems promising. But it’s only Friday so, like every weekend, we will need to find a lot more for tomorrow because everyone else will improve as well. I’m happy with today, but it’s tomorrow and Sunday that count. I think we can be more competitive than we were in the last race, but it’s difficult to say in detail after practice because everyone is trying different things.”

Felipe Massa: “It’s definitely been a good day. It’s always nice to see your name near the top of the leaderboard. I’m really looking for that competitiveness tomorrow and especially on Sunday. This is a track that I love and the people here really support me, which gives me so much more confidence. I hope we can stay up there this weekend. It won’t be easy but I will definitely try!”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: “We are pleasantly surprised at how good our pace was today. We’ve done a lot of set-up and development work in the simulator, and then subsequently on the track here, and the drivers are happy with the results. We knew we had to take a slightly different approach for a track like this, with the low-speed corners, so that’s what we’ve been concentrating on. Both the low and high fuel runs looked good, we could run the soft tyre easily as long as we need to, and it was good on the medium tyre as well. There was a lot of degradation on the high fuel, but the degradation was high today so the aim is to have relatively less than other people. Felipe suffered a flat spot on his long run that knocked his pace back a little bit, but overall we’re in good shape.”

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat: “It was a decent day. Even if we missed a bit of track time this morning, we’ve completed a good amount of laps today, as we were able to catch-up well in FP2. We’ve ticked all the boxes and it therefore was a useful Friday. It will be an interesting race on Sunday because it’s quite hot here as we saw today, but the conditions can quickly change and we will need to be fast reacting to them.”

Carlos Sainz: “It was a bit of a scrappy Friday if we compare it to the last two, but it still hasn’t been a bad day. During this morning’s FP1 we were not able to run as much as we wanted due to some cooling issues, but these were solved for FP2. We had some catch-up to do this afternoon but in the end we were able to complete our programme, and that’s what counts. This is a challenging track, particularly the last sector, which is flat-out and up-hill and where we lose a bit of time. Despite this, we are still in the fight and I feel comfortable in the car.”

Jody Egginton, Head of Vehicle Performance: “Dry weather here at Interlagos today has allowed us to complete our run planned programme, although we had a bit of catching-up to do following a few issues disrupting both sides of the garage in FP1. Focusing on the soft and medium compounds and opposing tyre usage at specific points in the FP2 programme has provided us with a large and useful amount of data to optimise our long and short run pace further. We feel that, although today was reasonable, there is still lap time to be found from short runs and we can also make similar gains on long runs. This is why this will remain a focus for tomorrow, when we expect to see lower track and ambient conditions. However, looking at the weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday, we could well also be switching our focus to wet-running at some points, so we will be working hard to cover all scenarios tonight.”


Marcus Ericsson: “In FP1 it was interesting to test the halo system. For me it was positive, I did not have any issues with it in terms of visibility. The rest of FP1 was ok. In the afternoon session, it was unfortunate that I spun on my first lap in FP2, which flat spotted my medium tyres. We could not use them anymore for the rest of the session. On the soft tyres we have a bit of work to do in order to get them to work better. I am not fully satisfied with the balance of the car, so we need to improve that for tomorrow as well. But that’s what Fridays are there for. We know what we need to do in order to be stronger for the rest of the weekend.”

Felipe Nasr: “First of all, it is great to be back in Brazil and to be driving in front of my home crowd. In terms of the practice sessions, it was a positive Friday. We were able to work through our programme today. I feel that we can improve the balance of the car, although we already made improvements for the afternoon session. We were able to make the right adjustments on the car for the warmer conditions in FP2. Tomorrow we have to anticipate the weather change to get the best out of the car.”


Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been a good day. We got through all of our run programmes and the car is feeling really good. It’s pretty tough out here physically right now with the heat as high as it is. Not just in the car but for the guys in the garage too. Finding the right balance isn’t easy either in these conditions as the tyres are getting really hot. But our long run pace seems to be strong so we can be happy with the start we’ve made today.”

Nico Rosberg: “It’s been very hot out there today – more so than we expect it to be for the rest of the weekend. As a result, that makes it difficult to fully prepare for qualifying and the race. Other than that, it was a pretty normal Friday. Our car looks quick but Red Bull are definitely close. The Soft tyre is degrading quite a lot on the long runs, with blistering on the rears. There’s a surprising amount of degradation on the Medium tyre too – but I think overall we’ve got decent pace on the long runs. Strategy-wise it won’t be straightforward for the race. But, again, it’s meant to get quite a lot colder so we could see something completely different on Sunday. It’s great to be back in Brazil. It’s a proper race track and it always feels special driving somewhere with so much history and tradition.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical): “Great weather here at Interlagos today – although the risk of sudden rain has already proven itself to be a threat since we arrived earlier this week. Our programme so far has run exactly as planned, with no problems to report on either car. We worked exclusively with the Soft and Medium tyres and our pace on both compounds at low and high fuel looks relatively encouraging. We are, however, a long way from the conditions we expect to see in qualifying and the race. We have a lot more work to do before then, with the potential for a very close competition. This is a circuit renowned for throwing jokers into the pack, so we take nothing for granted heading into the weekend.”


Paul Hembery, motorsport director: “A busy day at Interlagos today, but we’ll see how useful it turns out to be over the rest of the weekend. The teams got a good initial read on the wear and degradation rates here, which seem reasonably high on the soft tyre in particular, with the right-rear tyre doing the most work over a lap of Interlagos. Whether it’s wet or dry we’re likely to see a multi-stop race, but the weather will be the key determining factor of both qualifying and the grand prix itself.”