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Australian GP 2019

MARCH 15, 2019

Friday Team Quotes

Nico Hulkenberg, Australian GP 2019
© RV Press

Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport

Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:22.600): "It's really nice to get back out on track. The weather is fantastic, we've already got quite a big crowd. I have a positive buzz from driving the car today - this is what I love doing. The car feels like it's in a similar place to where it was in Barcelona, which is positive coming to a different track. We got through our programme really well, there were no issues on track. There's plenty of stuff that we can improve on, but this was not a bad start. What we have to do now is really study and analyse everything, as we always do on a Friday night. But the fact is we've got two cars that continue to go around, none of us made a mistake and we kept the cars in one piece - that counts for a lot."

Valtteri Bottas (2nd, 1:22.648): "It's nice to be back in a race car, doing the thing we love to do - I had fun today. The car felt better than it did in testing. We didn't bring a lot of new parts to the car, but we were able to optimise the package that we have. It was a solid day for the first day back in the office, but the times are not important on a Friday. We haven't seen the full performance from any of the other teams. We have an idea of how much we can improve for qualifying, but we have no idea how much performance the other teams can still bring. It will be interesting to see what the first competitive session holds tomorrow."

James Allison, Technical Director: "It was a pretty productive day today, we achieved a decent balance with both drivers on both tyres. We also ran some new bits and they seem to work okay. It's way too early in the weekend to have any sort of real idea of where we stand on pace, but what we do know is that the car seems to be handling reasonably well and it seems to have good tyre degradation on both compounds that we ran which is a good sign for tomorrow, but we will only get a clear picture of where we stand later in the weekend."

Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow

Sebastian Vettel (5th, 1:23.473):

Charles Leclerc (9th, 1:23.754):

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal:

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen (3rd, 1:23.400): "I'm quite happy about today and the feeling so far is pretty good. Of course, there are always areas to improve and we are not fast enough yet but it's only the first day of the season and there is a long way to go. It looks like Mercedes are very quick and they seem to be a little happier with the overall balance. In general, the car felt alright with medium and soft tyres but we still need to fully understand the compounds. My running was also a little different to the others in terms of preparation and there is definitely some lap time in that. We will look at the data tonight and see what we can improve but from the engine side there were no problems and it all ran very smoothly. We had no expectations going into today and it's just good to get started."

Pierre Gasly (4th, 1:23.442): "It was great to be back on track for the first Free Practice of the season, and my first Friday at the track with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing was a special moment for me. It was a positive day, we tested a lot of things and my feeling in the car is getting better lap after lap. There's still work to be done but we're pretty happy with the package. We didn't have any expectations today, as after testing it's difficult to have a real idea of the pace of others. We managed to find some good direction for FP2 and I felt better in the car than I did in FP1. Let's see what we can do tomorrow. On the engine side, we had a small loss of power on the last lap and after some checks, it turned out to be a minor sensor issue."

Renault Sport Formula One Team

Nico Hulkenberg (7th, 1:23.574): "We recovered well today after a far from ideal first session. FP2 was good and consistent. I felt comfortable straight away in the car, which is one of the most important things for a driver. We're coming in to a different circuit to that of testing and it's such a contrasting track to get a feel for. I felt at home - happy as we can be at this stage - and we ran to our programme as planned in FP2. Our long runs were good, but there is still a lot of data to analyse overnight before Qualifying tomorrow."

Daniel Ricciardo (8th, 1:23.644): "It was good to get the first day done. It's been a busy week with a big build-up so to get Friday practice completed is nice. We had some consistent running in FP2 and I was certainly growing more comfortable on each run. We still have lots to learn and improve on, but we're getting there. For me, it's about developing the understanding of the car and we've made a good start on that today. Qualifying will be interesting tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it."

Nick Chester, Technical Director: "Overall, we have had a pretty good day to start the season. The earlier session was a little interrupted as we detected a software issue on Nico's car, which needed re-programming. Daniel was really just getting into it in his first practice with the team. We, however, improved the car between sessions and the second was very good. We looked to have reasonable pace on both the short and long runs; we still need to look through all the information, but we are reasonably happy with the opening day."

Rich Energy Haas F1 Team

Romain Grosjean (10th, 1:23.814): "It's good to be back out there. This is a track I've always enjoyed driving, matched by the great atmosphere in the paddock. It looks like it's quite tight in the midfield, which is super exciting. Everything we learned in testing has been working quite well here. We'll find out a bit more tomorrow, but I think for the first day, we're pretty happy with what we've got."

Kevin Magnussen (12th, 1:23.988): "It wasn't too bad today. It was nice to be back driving on a racing track on a race weekend. I'm excited about that. It felt good, but, as always, we've now got lots of things to look at. We'll be working hard tonight, but there's no big issues, we're pretty happy with the performance in the car. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "It was a solid day today. We did a lot of testing, and we achieved what we wanted to achieve. We still need to find a little bit more speed though. Hopefully tonight our guys can do a good job looking over all the information from today, so we can be ready for tomorrow."

McLaren F1 Team

Carlos Sainz (14th, 1:24.133): "It's been a bit of a complicated day for us with a couple of chassis and engine issues which compromised our run plan. However, we were still able to do some valuable laps. We're still in the mix with the other teams in what we knew was always going to be a tight midfield. Hopefully we can work on the issues and we'll see what we can do tomorrow. We're not far from the top 10 and there's more to come from us – we certainly have a margin, but so does everyone else. Tomorrow will be interesting and is the day that counts, first quali of the season, and I really look forward to putting the car in a good position for Sunday."

Lando Norris (18th, 1:24.733): "We improved the car between sessions, and now have a direction in terms of where we go tomorrow on set-up and, importantly, have made progress. It's all about making small steps forward. Getting used to this track for the first time was my main focus in FP1. It's not an easy circuit, very bumpy and easy to lock-up. I was a lot more confident in FP2 and so looking ahead to FP3 I feel pretty comfortable."

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: "It was good to be out on the first Friday of the season and get it under our belts. As suspected from the Barcelona tests, it's a competitive field this year with very small differences in lap time but resulting in large changes in the rankings. From our side in general, we're relatively pleased with both sessions. We have work to do in order to improve the balance of the car. I'm sure tomorrow will provide the great Australian fans with an exciting and unpredictable qualifying session."

Racing Point F1 Team

Lance Stroll (13th, 1:24.011): "It's not easy to take too many conclusions from today's sessions. We ran through a big test programme trying to understand the new aero parts, but it was quite windy and that always makes things a bit trickier. It is early days, but the midfield pack is very close together so every tenth is going to count in qualifying. We will go through the data tonight, work on a couple of weaknesses and come back stronger tomorrow. The car overall feels good, the ingredients are there, we just have to make a few adjustments and I think we can be right there in the fight."

Sergio Perez (16th, 1:24.401): "It's always a good feeling to be back in the car for the start of the season, but we are not yet where we want to be in terms of competitiveness. These first two sessions were quite difficult for me and I am not really happy with the balance of the car and the tyres yet. We had many new parts on the car today and we still need to fully understand them, so we tried to come up with the best possible compromise for tomorrow. It's hard to know where we stand compared to the other teams after just one day of practice, but we know the midfield pack is very close so anything we can find overnight will be beneficial."

Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer: "We've had a solid first day in Melbourne. We clocked up 119 laps, tried the three tyre compounds available to us, and have enough data to help our decision making tonight. Track conditions were pretty reasonable from the start but the wind was strong throughout the day. One of the priorities was evaluating our new aero package and we split a number of test items across the cars. Early indications are encouraging but we still need to work through and understand all the information collected today. The middle of the grid looks very tight so maximising qualifying is going to be especially important because overtaking is never easy around Albert Park."

Alfa Romeo Racing

Kimi Raikkonen (6th, 1:23.572): "We have a solid day of work behind us, there were no big issues. We still have some set-up work to do to improve the car, but overall it felt quite good. I look forward to qualifying tomorrow, behind the top teams anything is possible."

Antonio Giovinazzi (15th, 1:24.293): "Overall, the day was positive. The car felt good and I am happy with our performance, especially regarding the long-runs. I am excited to have started my first full race weekend and look forward to being back on track tomorrow."

Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda

Daniil Kvyat (11th, 1:23.933): "Both free practice sessions today went well, we managed to run through our programmes and complete quite a few laps, which is important around this circuit. The car felt good, I think we maximised our time on track and we just need to look into what we want to change overnight. I think there are still steps we can make to improve the car for tomorrow, so we'll try to work on that tonight."

Alexander Albon (17th, 1:24.675): "I'm still getting used to the timetable of an F1 weekend as well as to the car and the track. This circuit isn't easy, but I think our pace looks good so far and I'm slowly building up confidence. I took it a bit easier after the spin in FP1 and once I got back up to speed we went on with the programme, trying a few more things on the car. Timesheet apart, we're looking pretty strong in a very tight midfield and now it's up to us to do our homework tonight to improve tomorrow."

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer: "After a long winter away from the track, it's fantastic to be back for a race weekend again. Melbourne is always a busy one because you want to do as many laps as possible. With a new car and one new driver, we wanted to spend as much time as possible on the track in FP1. The track evolution is massive here, so it's often quite hard to learn from test items so, being mindful of this, we hadn't planned to do too much testing in the session. Alex spent the session acclimatising himself with the car and track. Having underestimated the loss of grip with the tyres coming up in temperature, he had a spin towards the end of the session - on such a track it's easy to hit the wall, so we elected to give the car a thorough check, which meant his session was only a little bit cut short. FP2 was a busy session, focussing on the two types of tyres over the short runs and then the long runs. Dany's session was quite smooth, but I think it's fair to say we didn't fully get the most out of the option tyre, so there's more time to come from him. As for Alex, on his first timed lap in Turn 11, due to a little glitch, he had to abort his flying lap. The tyres don't perform as well after the first timed lap, so Alex's time isn't representative. It's massively tight in the midfield and only a couple of tenths of a second can make a big difference on the timesheets, so our focus tonight will be to analyse the data and to fine tune the car balance. Our long runs look fairly reasonable, and even though it's still early days, we're quite happy with our pace. All of us and the drivers need to get everything together tomorrow to extract every bit of performance for a good result in Qualifying."

Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director: "Finally we took to the track for the first race weekend of the season. Winter testing went quite smoothly for us and that continued in today's two free practice sessions."

ROKiT Williams Racing

George Russell (19th, 1:26.453): "It was great to get out on the track in Melbourne for the first time. It really is an amazing circuit. On my first lap when I went down into turn three it felt like I was flying as everything was so close together. However, we didn't have the best of days in terms of laptime, as we are a long way off the rest at the moment. We know what we are in for across the first few races so we need to focus on building on that and making sure come mid-season we have something better. Overall, it was an amazing experience, especially with all the fans around the circuit, it is something that I will remember for a long time."

Robert Kubica (20th, 1:26.655): "This morning was quite difficult for us with much less grip from the track. We know Australia is more bumpy and the surface is completely different to Barcelona. We struggled quite a lot with general grip; this afternoon the feeling was slightly better as conditions improved and also the temperatures helped us a bit. We have to try to get the maximum from what we have and it depends what that maximum will be. I think we cannot target much more so the realistic aim is to extract the maximum from what we have."

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: "It was the first official on-track running of the new race season and we were able to complete our normal Friday programme. We started to look at the tyre behaviour of the three different compounds in warm conditions and around what is essentially a street circuit; so quite different to the cold conditions we had in Barcelona. We continued to learn about the basics of the car, picking up from the work we did in Barcelona, as well as getting the two drivers used to driving around Albert Park. For George it was his first time driving in Melbourne, and for Robert his first time in a while. We are doing our basic homework so that we can get the most out of the car tomorrow and Sunday. It has been the first time that we have had both Robert and George driving at the same time, which has given us a chance to compare their feedback and gain an understanding of how they are interpreting the conditions. Their comments are in good agreement and as a result we have a clear list of things to work on tonight."