Driver Quotes: Russian GP Practice





#1 Sebastian Vettel

“Does getting back in the car help us after what’s happened? It does and it doesn’t. It helps to get your head elsewhere and focus on the day job – looking after the best possible set up and comparing the tyres and learning the new track, it keeps you occupied. But on the other hand it’s only been a couple of days, so it’s quite fresh and difficult. It looks like we will struggle here; it’s a nice track, but maybe not made for us.”

#3 Daniel Ricciardo

“After what happened in Japan, you try and do the best you can. I would be lying if I said other things weren’t on my mind, but you do what you can to make sure you’re 100% committed to driving and that’s the best way for our job and our headspace. It’s the best way, but it was tricky and not as easy as I expected. It was our last Friday with that engine, so it’s not a worry that she turned off at the end there. We tried a few settings and we’re not so fast here, the straights are long and we’re suffering a bit.”



#44 Lewis Hamilton

“I like the new circuit; it’s got really good grip and great corners, with a lot at medium speed. It’s good fun. The car has been feeling really good today. McLaren look close which is great for everyone as it should make for a decent race. We’ve got quite a good balance with the car so there are a lot of boxes ticked but we still have work to do to see if we can improve for tomorrow.”

#6 Nico Rosberg

“That was a very productive day from an engineering point of view. The team decided to go two different ways in terms of setup. I took a very creative setup for my car in the second practice session, which didn’t work out. So we will go back to the conservative way for tomorrow, because we saw that Lewis was very quick with that. The track is really cool to drive, very enjoyable. Turn three is a very special one and the asphalt is very smooth, so the tyres last long. We won’t see that many pit stops on Sunday, I guess. That’s a bit surprising to me.”



#14 Fernando Alonso

“The track is very unusual and I didn’t think that Formula 1 had already got such a large following here. Also surprising today was the good level of grip from the track surface, which is unusual on a brand new circuit. From this point of view, I felt comfortable right from the first lap and that helped a lot when it came to today’s most important job, namely learning the track. We worked a lot on set-up and found the two compounds had behaved in similar fashion and tyre performance improved as the laps went by. The track is very hard on brakes, but that is a specific thing we can work on this evening to be well prepared for qualifying.”

#7 Kimi Raikkonen

“This first day of practice was given over to learning the track, which I like and although it’s new, the grip level was good. In the first session, we went through our programme step by step, even if towards the end of the session I was unable to complete my last run. In the afternoon, we focused on tyre behaviour, with both compounds taking a long time to reach the maximum performance, which is unusual, especially for the Soft tyre. In order to have a clearer picture on this topic, we will have to wait for the track to evolve. Unfortunately, here too I still don’t feel comfortable with the front end and this prevented me from putting together a good lap. Now, along with the team, we will try and find a solution that will allow me to get the most out of the car.”



#8 Romain Grosjean

“It was pretty difficult today as we really had to chase the set-up of the car as the track evolved, which always gives you a lot to do behind the wheel. The layout of the circuit is really good and I think it will mean an enjoyable race here. We have quite a bit of work to do to get the most out of the car and the tyres, which is normal for a new circuit. The track is fun to drive and certainly gives you a lot to think about. I’m looking forward to unlocking more pace tomorrow.”

#13 Pastor Maldonado

“It’s great to learn a new circuit and we ran well today. We made good progress with the car through the two sessions as well as the track improving over the course of the day. As expected, there wasn’t too much grip to start with and I think there is still quite a lot of improvement to come in this area tomorrow and even on Sunday too. It was good first day and I think we can expect more progress on Saturday.”



#22 Jenson Button

“Things went okay today from the word ‘go’. We were quick on the Primes [tyres], and the Options on high fuel seemed pretty good, too. On low fuel I couldn’t quite get a balance, but hopefully we can improve that tomorrow. It’s a circuit that seems to suit us reasonably well at the moment, but it will inevitably evolve tomorrow and we’ll have to be very careful of that. In the simulator, however, it wasn’t much fun to drive at all, but here it’s nice to drive, so I can say with confidence that I’m happy with the job the designers and organisers have done. There are a few places that are a bit bumpy, but that adds to the challenge. Turn 13 is particularly bumpy on the entry, and your left front wheel is unweighted, so it’s very easy to lock that wheel under braking; it’s pretty tricky there so we’ll have to make sure we get the brake balance right. Also, a few of the corners are quite difficult to get right on the exit, because they’re negative-camber, so it’s easy to get a big snap of oversteer. Finally, as Kevin says, our thoughts and prayers are with Jules, whom all of us are missing greatly.”

#20 Kevin Magnussen

“It was a pretty decent day for us today, and the car feels good. However, this is a brand- new track, so it’s hard to be sure of where we really are because we were mostly working on set-up rather than outright pace. However, I can confirm that it’s a nice circuit, it has quite a lot of grip, the surface is pretty good, and it appears to suit the Pirelli tyres, so that makes it quite enjoyable to drive. Also, the Options [tyres] seem to last pretty well, so we might see not a lot of pit-stops in the race. Finally, the track is a bit different from how it felt in the simulator, and also from the impressions I formed when I walked it yesterday; better, to be honest. But, as I say, it’s still too early to say anything definitive, because we don’t know if today’s result is the true picture, so we’ll need to wait and see what happens tomorrow. Last but far from least, Jules [Bianchi] is very much in our minds, and we’re all still thinking about him and hoping for the best.”


#27 Nico Hulkenberg

“It was a positive Friday for us. This is a nice track to drive; it’s really cool but also challenging and tricky. There are some very technical parts, especially the last sector. We ticked all the boxes in our programme today and got some good data. We will work on tweaking the balance a little overnight in order to find a bit more pace and improve performance for tomorrow.”

#11 Sergio Perez

“It was nice to get out on track and get our mind off the very difficult week we all had. I would say today was a good start to our weekend. We managed to complete almost all our programme, with the only interruption caused by the red flag. This interrupted our assessment of the prime tyre in the long runs, but it feels like it handles quite well. The track has a very nice layout and the option tyres in particular work really well here. As acircuit, it appears to be quite demanding in terms of fuel, which will have implications for the strategy. These factors should make for quite an interesting race for the fans.”



#99 Adrian Sutil

“It was interesting to drive on a new circuit, and it was a lot of fun as the track has some nice corners. In general, the balance of the car is not yet good enough, but we were able to go through our programme without any issues. We will try to improve some details for tomorrow, however, I do not think we can make a huge step forward. Although we will enhance our package as well as we can to get the maximum out of it. Besides that, I can surely find some extra tenths on this new circuit.”

#21 Esteban Gutierrez

“After missing the first practice session, we had a very productive afternoon. It was  important to catch up with the programme in FP2. I think we are surprised with the track’s performance, as the tyres are working well while the grip level was quite high. We extracted a lot more than we expected today, and we are going to make sure that happens tomorrow as well. Regarding the new track, I really like it, and I am enjoying driving there. Besides that, I want to say that our thoughts and prayers are still with Jules, and his family at this difficult time. The most important thing for Jules is to let him feel our strength, and send him our positive energy. I am going to help in any way I can, and at the same time show my support for Jules and the family. Let’s keep praying for him.”

#37 Sergey Sirotkin

“It was a positive session. I like the track, and it was nice driving the C33. I took it easy at the beginning in order to build up confidence, as I have not driven the car for about half a year, but today I was able to quickly get the feeling for it. During my last fast lap at the end of the session, I was a bit unlucky with the traffic, and the tyres did not have the optimal temperature. The conditions were not ideal, which cost me some time during my last fast lap. I see a lot of potential to improve, as I took it easy, and I was not pushing to the absolute limit. The track is quite nice, but also tricky. Turn 1 seems to be an easy corner which can be taken flat out. However, I was a bit surprised on my first lap when I went through Turn 1, as it was quite bumpy in one place. Nevertheless, after a few laps you get used to the track’s characteristics.



#25 Jean-Eric Vergne

“It was a productive Friday. The team did a great job to arrive here with a car that was straight away well set up for this new track. I think we have a good car but today we didn’t get the best out of the tyres. We still have some work to do tonight to understand their behavior and go quicker tomorrow.”

#26 Daniil Kvyat

“It was a normal Friday and we worked on trying to find the best compromise for the general set up on this new track. Even though we were already looking quite promising today, hopefully we can do another good step forward for tomorrow and look even better. I had a good feeling with the car, which seems quite promising here. It was great to finally get out there and I enjoyed driving on this cool track a lot.”



#19 Felipe Massa

“The first day is always about understanding each corner and finding out what lines you need to take and where you can push the car. My first impression is that the car seems to be performing well around here and I like the track layout. The track surface was very slippery this morning but the track improved a lot over the day and we will see it getting better as the weekend progresses. I’m pretty happy with the cars balance and it’s performing consistently so overall I’m happy with our days running.”

#77 Valtteri Bottas

“I’m positively surprised by the track as it’s more challenging than I expected with quite a few technical sections, especially the final sector and I found it enjoyable to drive. The asphalt is quite smooth and combined with the hard compounds we saw little tyre degradation today, but this has corresponding challenges as it makes it harder to get the tyres to work on your opening laps. We therefore have work to do to make sure we get the most out of the tyres for qualifying tomorrow but overall a good start for us and this track seems to suit our car pretty well.”



#4 Max Chilton

“Obviously a very difficult day for everyone in the Team, and one in which we have had to dig deep in order to focus on the race weekend ahead. In terms of the Free Practice  sessions, we have had a productive day from a technical set-up and track learning perspective. The new circuit here is impressive; I like the fast-flowing high-speed sections and the slow-speed technical challenges. This evening will give us a chance to reflect on the day a little more and hopefully we will come back stronger still tomorrow.”



#10 Kamui Kobayashi

“Missing FP1 wasn’t the ideal way to start the weekend here in Sochi, as this is a new track and it’s always best to get as much mileage as possible, but I think it was a smooth start for me and we were able to gather plenty of valuable data that we will analyse tonight. It was also good to finally drive here; the Sochi Autodrom layout is interesting, I like it. It has some high-speed sections and it’s quite flat, I enjoy driving here.”

#09 Marcus Ericsson

“This morning’s FP1 was all about learning the track and preparing for the rest of the weekend. We didn’t go out straight away as we waited for the track conditions to improve but once we were out it was not too bad; apart from a small energy management problem it was a useful session. Then in FP2 we completed plenty of laps and I felt comfortable, it was a good session. We fined-tuned the car a bit more to suit the track and my driving style and I think we did a decent job and gathered good information for the rest of the weekend. When I saw the layout of this new circuit I thought most of the corners were going to be slow ones but, to be honest, now that I’ve driven it I can say that it’s better than I expected – these 90° corners are actually medium-speed corners and that makes it quite good, it’s a fun track to drive and I look forward to driving here the rest of the weekend. Overall it’s been a good day out on track, but of course we’re not forgetting about Jules, all our thoughts and prayers continue to be with him, his family and Marussia.”

#45 Robert Merhi

“It was a positive morning and I enjoyed driving here in Sochi for the first time. We were late out as we waited for the track conditions to improve. My first run was okay, we used it to check the track out and understand the behaviour of the car – I have to say that I felt comfortable from the very start. We made some adjustments before our second run and they certainly improved the car for our second run. We can be happy, our final result is very positive. I’m feeling more comfortable in the car each time and I’m satisfied with my third practice session with the team.”

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