Driver Quotes: Japanese GP Practice




#1 Sebastian Vettel

“I think we can definitely do better than fifth, but we may hit the limit when we get to third! Mercedes seem to be very quick around here but I think we can improve, especially on a short run. It would be nice to fight the Mercedes in the race, who knows if it rains,  but otherwise we will be against Williams, McLaren, who seem stronger here, and Ferrari.”

#3 Daniel Ricciardo

“I made a mistake in FP2. I did a quick lap and then I was trying to get a good exit to start the next one. We were trying to cool the tyres and there was a yellow flag so I was trying to go slow enough to miss it at the start of the lap, but I think the tyres cooled too much and I was too hard on the throttle for the situation and lost the car. It’s of course not what I wanted in the first ten minutes of the second session, but I’ll learn from it. It’s not ideal as we missed running this afternoon, but Sebastian did a full session so we will be able to see his data. The Mercs were really quick today, we think we’re there but then they pull a gap. I think we should be able to be third on the grid.”


#44 Lewis Hamilton

“The gap changes from track to track between us and other cars but it looks pretty good so far this weekend. To come here at one of the most demanding tracks for downforce and to be that competitive is fantastic. It’s amazing what this team has done. The pace looks good but it’s a track that’s very hard on tyres, especially the rears; one minute you have the one lap pace and one minute you have the long run pace, so it’s a very fine line. Qualifying is going to be very important as it’s quite difficult to overtake here. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the weather this weekend; it’s such a challenging circuit but we always come to the weekend prepared for everything. I just want to race.”

#6 Nico Rosberg

“That was a very, very good day for us. Thank you to the team for this great car, we are very quick on one lap and also on high fuel levels. My long run was very good this afternoon, so I’m quite confident for a good race here. There is still a lot of work to do tonight to find the perfect balance for this great old school track. It was a real pleasure to drive this fantastic track here today. Also the atmosphere is great, lots of fans are here already and they are very enthusiastic.”


#14 Fernando Alonso

“It’s always nice running at Suzuka, as it’s one of the circuits that provides the most driving pleasure and where the enthusiasm of the fans is really fantastic. Despite the many interruptions to the second session, today we managed to complete almost our entire planned programme without any problems, working on race set-up for both dry and wet conditions. At the moment, the uncertain weather forecast makes it impossible to take any decision, even when it comes to tyre choice. Here, compared to other tracks, the difference between the two compounds is minimal and their performance level is very similar.”

#7 Kimi Raikkonen

“Today wasn’t easy and the lack of grip from the track surface, especially in the morning, didn’t help. This is a fast and tough track, very demanding for both car and driver. In the first practice session, on the Hard tyres, we concentrated on testing different set-ups aimed at qualifying and the race, then in the afternoon, we made some changes which brought a partial improvement to the handling of the car. But because of the yellow flags and a technical glitch, I only managed to complete just one good run on the Medium tyres. Now we have a full night’s work ahead of us in order to find a set-up that will allow us to get the car to suit any sort of condition.”


#8 Romain Grosjean

“The E22 feels quite good here and it’s always fantastic to be driving a Formula 1 car at Suzuka. We spent a bit of time in the morning getting the brake feel right, but the afternoon was pretty straight-forward. It’s going to be very interesting to see what the weather does over the weekend as there’s been a lot of speculation about this. We were within shooting distance of the top ten today which is always a positive with our generally better race pace. Let’s see what happens in qualifying and what challenges the weather present.”

#13 Pastor Maldonado

“I’m happy with today. There were no issues with the car and the only problem I had was a vibration from my hard tyres in the second session. Suzuka is a great circuit and I think we have quite good potential here. There’s some more pace to come and our car has looked quite reasonable. I will have a bigger challenge in the race as there will be a ten- place grid penalty as we’re now on to our sixth engine, but if we can race reliably then a good result is still possible.”


#22 Jenson Button

“We traditionally lack pace to our rivals on a Friday, so it’s nice to see the performance we have. Naturally, there are still a few more things to work on, but the car was generally working better this afternoon than this morning. That first session wasn’t too bad, but we were able to make some really productive changes to the car as the circuit gripped up and the temperatures rose in the afternoon. The majority of those changes will also help our long-run pace, which is another positive. There’s quite a lot of degradation – there’s quite a lot of high-speed change of direction, which is typical of Suzuka, and it’s very tough on the tyres. We sort of expected that – it’s always a tough race. We’re certainly getting there, which is good to see. I hope the weather stays dry – I just want to race.”

#20 Kevin Magnussen

“Suzuka is a proper racetrack: it’s high-speed and the limit is hard to find. And, when you go over that limit, it can be very easy to go off. This is a really cool place, and I’ve really enjoyed driving here for the first time today. Today’s sessions have been quite encouraging, too. As things look right now, I think Q3 should be achievable for us tomorrow. We still have to do some work to improve how the car operates on the Prime, but things are a bit better on the Option, which didn’t feel too bad. We’ve improved the car through the day – this is a fantastic place to drive, the car is certainly contributing to that feeling, and it handles this place pretty well.”


#27 Nico Hulkenberg

“Today’s practice sessions went quite well from our perspective, even though in FP2 there were a lot of yellow and red flags that brought a few interruptions. We have a clear idea of what we need to concentrate on to find a bit more speed overnight and hopefully some changes in the set-up will improve the balance of the car ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session. I am not overly worried about the rain that is expected later in the weekend; we just have to wait and see, especially for Sunday. In the end, we are all in the same boat when it comes to the weather and we will need to react to what the situation is.”

#11 Sergio Perez

“It was quite a difficult day because we lost a lot of track time this afternoon. It meant we could only do a short run on each tyre compound and I missed out on the high fuel running. Of course, if it rains on Sunday, missing out on this running won’t really matter, but we have to see what happens with the weather. My initial feeling was good on the hard tyre but we still need to work out the right compromise to get the most from the medium tyre.”


#99 Adrian Sutil

“In FP1 we had problems finding a good balance for the car. The hard tyres didn’t work as we had hoped. There was very little grip, which makes it difficult to set a decent lap time. For FP2 we made some changes to the set-up of the car, which improved the situation with the hard tyres, but then I struggled with the medium compound. Overall the balance of the car is just not satisfactory. Our main problems are coming from the power unit, which is disappointing. Unfortunately I don’t see how we can change that for tomorrow.”

#21 Esteban Gutierrez

“Unfortunately, I lost the car in the second practice session in turn 13. With the speed you get there it was difficult to avoid an impact. I am really sorry for the team, and I am sure we will recover for qualifying. In the first practice session we were struggling with the set-up of the car. I think we found a good compromise in the second session, and we will analyse the collected data to get everything ready for tomorrow.”


#25 Jean-Eric Vergne

“Definitely a difficult Friday, with very little running. It didn’t help not having driven FP1, but I have to say Max did some good work with the car this morning. In the afternoon I had a few issues that did not allow me to run as much as I would have liked. We have to investigate and understand what the problems were in order to find a good solution. On the positive side, we have a good base to work on, so I’m confident we can put together a better car for tomorrow.”

#26 Daniil Kvyat

“It was a tough day, but I enjoyed finally driving here in Suzuka and I was able to learn the track quite well. I struggled a bit with the car balance today, so there is still some work for us to do overnight. But I’m confident we can improve the car for tomorrow and hopefully we can get the most out of the car for Saturday’s Qualifying and Sunday’s race.”

#38 Max Verstappen

“Today for me it was all about getting experience in the car, especially on a difficult track like Suzuka. I was impressed with the engine power. The car is bigger compared to the one I’m used to in Formula 3 and there are a lot more things to think about while you’re driving, so I had to use some laps to get confident with such a different car. I was not taking any risks and I drove within my limits for all the session, doing as much mileage as possible. I have to thank Red Bull and Scuderia Toro Rosso for giving me the possibility to be in the car already this year on Fridays and get well prepared for next year. I find myself very comfortable in this team and I like my working group. I hope to drive also in Austin, Sao Paolo and Abu Dhabi. Now that I know what it means to drive a Formula 1 car, I’m looking forward to it even more.”


#19 Felipe Massa

“The car looks very competitive as Valtteri was close to the top. I had some issues today and just couldn’t get any grip; it has nothing to do with the new aero parts as those seem to have worked well. Once we can fix the issues, I think we can be competitive tomorrow. Today’s work was aimed at qualifying performance, as the race looks like it will be wet, so that is another consideration we must take when setting up the car. Our race pace looks strong from what Valtteri has shown, so we will work hard to get my car working the same tomorrow.”

#77 Valtteri Bottas

“From the first lap the car balance was good so we have made a good step forward. The upgrades we have brought have worked well, which is positive to see. It will be interesting to see where we are tomorrow when people start to squeeze a little more from their cars. Although the Mercedes still look strong, there will be a good fight between us, the Ferraris and the Red Bulls.”


#17 Jules Bianchi

“We lost a bit of time this morning because of a reliability issue, but aside from that we have had a reasonably positive start to our weekend. We have made some good progress with the car already, so I think we can improve a little more still, ahead of the race. I think there are some unknowns about the weekend yet, given the weather situation, but fingers crossed we can have a good race here. It’s nice to be back here at Suzuka. It’s such a great circuit.”

#4 Max Chilton

“Overall, it’s been a good day for me. We improved the car with each run and by the end of the day we had a good compromise balance, with more time tomorrow to hone the car further. So I’m reasonably positive for the rest of the weekend. The main unknown is of course what the weather will bring, but we will continue with our planned programme and hope for the best.”


#10 Kamui Kobayashi

“It hasn’t been the best of ways to start my home Grand Prix: after sitting out in FP1, I suddenly lost the rear-left during my first run and that was the end of the day for me as I crashed into the barrier. It’s a shame, but at least we have tomorrow – it’s not much time but I will need to use FP3 to feel the car and luckily this is my home race and a track I know very well. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, hopefully it will be better than today.”

#09 Marcus Ericsson

“I’m happy with today. This morning in FP1 we went through the programme as planned and we tried the new front wing during the last run on used tyres – it felt good and we will definitely get some useful information. We went back to the old front wing in FP2 and it was a decent session. We completed plenty of laps and the car feels nice to drive round here. We have something good to build on during the rest of the weekend. Also, if we look at the gap to the guys in front, I think we are better than we’ve been before, which is positive. I have a lot of good memories from this track: I’ve been on pole and won here in the rain and in the dry and always been quick here back in 2009, so it’s great to be back – the track is great to drive in an F3 but amazing to drive in an F1!”

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