Friday's Selected Quotes - France
Juan Pablo Montoya - 2nd: "We have done a lot of work today and played with the car quite a bit. I think we have a good idea of where we want to go and it looks like I'm going to be pretty quick. However our opposition also looks strong, so it should be an interesting weekend, but I'm really pleased with how the car is behaving. I have been quick during the past couple of races and am really getting the hang of the car, so I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend."
Kimi Raikkonen - 24th: "We were going through our planned programme in the morning session, but unfortunately during my first run early in the second practice I had an engine failure. That is obviously going to affect my weekend quite a bit as I will have to move ten places down the starting grid which will make things more challenging. However we will do the best we can and continue working as hard as possible."
Pedro de la Rosa - 1st: "The car ran reliably today which allowed us to complete our planned programme. We have a good idea about the direction of our Michelin tyre selection and it should be a strong weekend. There was a bit of understeer this morning but we solved that for the afternoon session."
Ron Dennis: "Juan Pablo and Pedro completed their planned programme without any problems. Both drivers gathered a lot of data which will determine our strategy for the rest of the weekend. Unfortunately Kimi's running was cut short with an engine failure which will make his race even more challenging."
Norbert Haug: "Kimi had an engine failure in the second free practice when he was on his first flying lap. This engine specification ran various times reliably between 1200 and 1500 kms of testing on and off track. We will fly the engine back and investigate the reason for the failure immediately. It should not be a general problem with this engine specification after all our thorough testing programmes, but we will know more tomorrow."
Michael Schumacher - 3rd: "This has been a productive Friday and I am quite happy with what we have achieved. The car seems to behave quite well as do the tyres, which probably explains why I have the impression the car is sliding around less than usual on this track. I think we can be fighting for the win this weekend. The team has worked very hard over the past weeks and even months and it seems that all this work is beginning to pay off now."
Rubens Barrichello - 7th: "Magny Cours is always a tough place to get the set-up right. I think we have done a reasonable job with the two sets of tyres I used. We have a pretty good idea already which tyre to choose for the rest of the weekend. We still need to improve the package, although I am a lot happier with this new tyre. Now we need to work on our pace for the race distance."
Jean Todt: "We went through our usual Friday programme, centred on defining the best set-up on the cars and carrying out a comparison of the two types of Bridgestone tyre available to us. It is too early to make any predictions and now we have to study the data to be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and for the race. Although I'm not particularly keen on celebrating anniversaries, the fact of being here at Magny- Cours on 1st July means I cannot help but think back to this day twelve years ago, when I took charge of the Gestione Sportiva."
Ross Brawn: "The lap times we saw today are quite encouraging, however, we have not yet found a good balance on our cars. So we still have some work to do on the cars to improve that as we have too much understeer, which is costing us precious time in the long corners. Once we have fixed that, I think we will be quite competitive for the rest of this weekend."
Fernando Alonso - 4th: "We had a good balance on the car right from the start of the day, and we didn't change the set-up at all. That's always a good way to start on Friday, because it means you can use your laps to test the tyres properly and work on other things. The biggest problem today was the wind, which made the handling quite unpredictable in the high-speed chicanes, and the car was not consistent lap to lap because of this. But overall, I think we look quite strong at the moment."
Giancarlo Fisichella - 5th: "It was a good day for us - we are very pleased with our positions after second practice. I think we are in good shape for the weekend and even though we don't know our tyre choice yet, I think we can be optimistic regardless of which tyre we choose. I had some high-speed understeer in the car which we need to work on overnight but we are in a good position."
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: "We had a very normal Friday session, with a good balance on the cars from the word go and just some fine-tuning to complete tomorrow. The day was relatively trouble-free, although Fernando had to cut his run short this afternoon because of a cracked exhaust. The tyre test was slightly compromised by traffic, but we will be able to pick out the relevant data overnight. All in all, it was a standard Friday, and we encountered no problems that might worry us for the race."
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations: "Like our competitors, we completed a substantial number of laps today in order to get the best possible baseline for our race performance. We encountered no significant problems, and will work overnight on tuning the performance of a number of new peripheral parts that we have introduced since Indianapolis. On the technical front, today provided a substantial amount of information for the rest of the weekend; on the sporting side, I believe it showed we have the potential to be very competitive this weekend."
Jarno Trulli - 8th: "That was a normal Friday, with tyre testing and set-up work, but it's still too early to say how we can perform over the weekend. The car seems reasonable in terms of handling, now we can perhaps look at the data to try and find a bit more speed. It was also fun to have Olivier here for this one-off Friday in front of his home crowd."
Ralf Schumacher - 9th: "I spent the day doing the usual Friday work on set-up. The tyre choice is not yet clear, so we'll have to discuss that tonight, but overall the car felt pretty good so far. The weather can always be a major factor here at Magny-Cours, so we'll have to see what it does over the weekend. But a good solid points finish should be within our grasp again."
Olivier Panis - 6th: "I'm very happy to return to the track for Friday testing at the French Grand Prix. I enjoyed myself a lot, having a bit of fun with my former colleagues. I did the job that the team asked me to do without any problems, including the long runs, and it was fantastic out there. The team looks pretty good compared with last year, too. I can feel improvements in the way the team works, with everyone extremely calm and productive, and I'd like to thank them for giving me this chance today. Now I'll go back my job as test driver for the programme I have for the coming months."
Mike Gascoyne Technical Director Chassis: "We had no problems on any of the cars, and we have all the information we need to make a decision on the tyres, so that was a good day for the team. It was good to have Olivier with us for the French Grand Prix. I think he enjoyed his day, completing his tyre evaluation programme. He was pretty happy with the handling of the car, as were the two race drivers. Jarno and Ralf both worked through their programmes too. Now we just have to carefully evaluate the data for the tyre choice and aim for another finish on the podium."
David Coulthard - 10th: "A pretty normal Friday really. We've been evaluating the tyres the best we can and the balance of the car isn't so bad. Obviously, we'll have to see where we can make changes to get closer to the pace, but the balance doesn't feel too far away now and, ultimately, that's a good sign. If that's right, everything fits into place. We'll just have to wait and see how our pace is relative to the competition tomorrow."
Christian Klien - 22nd: "In the first session, I completed ten laps to get a feel for the track and see how the balance of the car was. It felt much better than it did ahead of the last two races - a lot more stable at the rear and easier to drive. I think that, definitely, the car is more competitive here than at previous races. In the second session, I was quite quick through the first timed section, the car had good balance and grip. But, I turned in at the chicane a bit too early, hit the kerb, lost the rear and went off."
Tonio Liuzzi - 15th: "In the first session I had a spin and went into the gravel, which caused some stone damage, so we had to stop. I waited while the team changed some parts before completing the practice. In the morning we did quite a few runs, which was important for us to look at the performance of the tyres, but I felt that the car was better in the second session."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Unfortunately Christian made a mistake at the high-speed chicane (Turn 6 & 7) and had quite a heavy impact, which damaged some of the new aerodynamic update that has gone onto the cars this weekend. Christian's car will be repaired overnight and he'll be ready to go first thing in the morning. Generally our performance looks quite good, David's times were very respectable, Tonio worked well through the tyre programme and I think we're looking in reasonable shape."
Jacques Villeneuve - 11th: "My new tyre lap was pretty good, but for the long runs the set-up was not so good so we have a bit more work to do. But overall I'd say this was a promising start to the weekend."
Felipe Massa - 13th: "On new tyres I made a mistake and also had some traffic, but on the long runs my car was really, really good, quick and consistent. We have a strong car so I am very much looking forward both to qualifying and the race."
Peter Sauber (Team Principal): "We expect much hotter weather for the race, so our work on set-up today was conducted with these potential circumstances in mind. Both C24s ran flawlessly and I believe that we have a good basis with tyre choice and chassis set-up."
Jenson Button - 12th: "It's been a good day today and we've achieved a lot of good tyre work. This morning, the track was very dusty and slippery, so we didn't do too much running and therefore couldn't gather much data. This afternoon we were able to make up for that. We've done some long runs, the car has been working well and the tyre work has been very consistent, so I'm happy with the package that we have for Magny Cours We've still got a bit of work to do to get closer to the top of the timesheets for tomorrow but the baseline is there and I'm hoping we can look forward to a positive weekend here."
Takuma Sato - 14th: "We have carried over all of the good work that we completed in testing to the practice sessions today, concentrating on race set-up during our longer runs this afternoon and working through our tyre programme. The car seems to have good balance, similar to the way we were running in North America, and the very different high-downforce aero package that we have for this race appears to be working well. Our data is showing very positive signs."
Gil De Ferran, Sporting Director: "Looking at the final timesheets, one could be forgiven for thinking that we are disappointed with today's result. However, the opposite is true since we are quite happy with today's outcome. Once it became clear that rain was no longer a threat and track conditions were likely to remain reasonably consistent, we very much concentrated on doing longer runs, especially in the afternoon when the track was quickest. The Michelin tyres proved to be quite consistent during those long runs and we believe that we have made a step forward in our high-downforce configuration for this race. We are hopeful of a good performance in qualifying tomorrow. Finally, it feels good just to be concentrating on racing again after a turbulent few weeks."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development: "Generally, we have made a positive start to our French GP weekend today. We are using the latest specification of Honda engine here and, as expected, the performance has been very good. We look forward to a strong weekend here in Magny Cours."
Nick Heidfeld - 17th: "The only true problem we had today was that we had to change the radio in the second session therefore we had to do a small compromise on our planned schedule, changing it a bit around. Still, overall it was a good day in terms of what we managed to do."
Mark Webber - 16th: "We have worked hard in both sessions in terms to get more out of the car because we have to find some more pace, no question about it. We've done some work with Michelin too to pick the right tyre, which are both working well. We will go through our data tonight and I am sure the engineers will do a good job and we'll come back with a better pace tomorrow."
Sam Michael (Technical Director): "We have had a reasonable day in terms of the programme. We did all our homework on tyres, brakes and cooling. We have some aerodynamic improvements here to the car. They are all working well and as expected. Now we need to work on improvements for tomorrow."
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director): "From the engine side it was a trouble-free practice. Both our drivers completed the scheduled laps for tyre evaluation. In terms of performance it is too early to say where we will be here."
Narain Karthikeyan - 19th: "I had a normal opening day today, working especially on the car set-up and Bridgestone tyre comparison. Robert Doornbos was driving the new EJ15B, which was very useful for the team and the car has obviously more potential. Of course, there are some little teething problems but generally it looked better. We are quite please with the work we have done today and we will now see how it goes tomorrow."
Tiago Monteiro - 23rd: "We had a busy day and not the best for me today. I went off on a kerb this morning and damaged the rear suspension and lost a set of tyres, which conditioned my afternoon programme. We tried different set-ups to improve the balance of the car and I hope tomorrow will be more a normal day."
Robert Doornbos - 18th: "I had a lot of fun today driving the new car. Everybody was very keen and focused on the programme. There is a definite improvement over the old car but we still need to do some work on the set-up. We made big step forward in this area in the afternoon."
Adrian Burgess - Sporting Director: "We did not have a bad start but it was not a perfect start either. Narain did a solid job. We learnt some useful information from him in order to go in the right direction for the rest of the weekend. Tiago had a brief spin this morning, which damaged the car but then we were able to catch up in the afternoon. Robert did a good job as normal and put another 200 kms on the new car, which allowed us to gain very valuable information and solve some of the issues we had. It was a very productive day for the EJ15B."
Christijan Albers - 20th: "It's a pity we lost some time during the second session because of a gearbox problem, which required it to be replaced. I have to say, however, that once again, the team has done a really fantastic job, which enabled me to get back on track quickly and register some consistent lap times before the end of the session. Unfortunately, I encountered some traffic on my last run, and therefore wasn't able to discover the real limit of the car, but we have had a very productive day, testing a number of new components. Tomorrow is another day, and we will aim to make further progress."
Patrick Friesacher - 21st: "Generally, it has been a positive day. We had a good second session, and I feel we have definitely progressed with the car. I am confident there is still a margin of improvement, however, and we will certainly make the most of tomorrow's two practice sessions to find the best set-up for the afternoon qualifying run."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, Minardi Cosworth: "It's good to be back doing what F1 teams should focus on, which is the racing. Both sessions today went reasonably well for Minardi, other than a gearbox change that had to be carried out on Christijan's car during the second session. Once again, the mechanics did a fantastic job to make the switch in less than 20 minutes. It's interesting to note that, despite this year's new regulations designed to slow the cars, the Minardi Cosworth PS05 is a second quicker than its predecessor was here last year. We're very pleased at the huge effort, both here at the track and back at the factory, that has generated this progress."
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director: "Magny-Cours differs from some other circuits in that it offers good, consistent grip almost from the start of a race weekend. Its character tends not to change too dramatically as more rubber is laid down and we saw some very representative times being set during today's first session. It is always nice to race on home soil, of course, but it doesn't make a shred of difference to our preparations - we tackle every grand prix with exactly the same degree of commitment. People sometimes assume we have an unfair advantage in France, but that's absolutely not the case because we don't conduct F1 tests at Magny-Cours. From our data, however, we can see that the tyres we are using this weekend - there are two compounds, each available with two subtly different constructions - are well suited to the conditions."
Hisao Suganuma, Bridgestone Motorsport Technical Manager: "The track was quite green this morning which resulted in poor grip conditions and we noticed many of the cars struggling with understeer. We could also see some front tyre graining but as normal the situation improved through the afternoon session when the tyres started to work better. We did some long distance runs in the second session and now we just need to check the tyres for wear, blisters and so forth to make sure there aren't any problems and that they are durable enough. Once this is done we can make our recommendations as usual this evening to the teams."
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