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Belgian Grand Prix
What the teams and drivers said - Friday
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What the teams and drivers said - Friday
Jean Todt: "This was a busy Friday. In the first hour, when the track was dry, we worked on set-up, trying to perfect the handling of the car, as well as trying out the tyres. In the second part of the session, when it was wet, while trying to avoid a slower car, Michael ran into it, damaging his front wing in the impact. It was a worrying moment, luckily with no serious consequences. As for Rubens, he was able to try various types of wet weather tyre. The latest weather forecast for tomorrow predicts very changeable conditions. In any case, I expect the usual fight between this seasonís top three teams."
Ross Brawn: "The weather forecast predicted rain for the second half of the session, which is why we did as much dry running as possible in the morning. We have a reasonable idea what tyres we want to use. We had planned to do some tyre comparisons in the afternoon as well, but unfortunately because of the incident with Michael and De La Rosa, we did not get as much done as we would have liked. But at least we checked out the performance of the wet weather tyres, both the rain and intermediate types, for the mixed conditions which are predicted for the rest of the weekend. We ran with new tyres earlier than some of the others this morning in the dry, so the times are not really that meaningful."
Michael Schumacher: "Regarding the incident with Pedro, the situation was the usual one when you are running in spray; you have no chance to judge the distance nor to see the rear light. All you see is the spray. You have to hope that the driver in front behaves normally and accelerates down the straight. I was being careful, because I knew there was a risk of aquaplaning, so I was not going flat out. For whatever reason, I just had a feeling he might be going slowly, which is why at the last moment, I moved over, even though I could not see anything. By then it was already too late. You can only see the car ahead when you are one metre behind, but in this case, the speed difference between us was too great. I could not avoid him."
Rubens Barrichello: ďI did a lot of laps today in order to understand how the car is handling. We knew from our forecast that it would rain during the afternoon part of the session, which is why we packed in as much work as possible in the morning. I am not yet hundred percent happy with the car, however we have done plenty of work which has provided us with a lot of useful data to study for tomorrow."
Trevor Foster: "Obviously it was a difficult day because of the weather. It was slippery early on this morning and that caught a lot of people out. The cars were sliding, particularly at the rear, and I think it took teams a few runs to get that sorted and some drivers were caught out very badly. We had an inkling that the weather front was coming in so we decided to do the tyre evaluation this afternoon. We now have a very good indication of which way we want to go, so it's been a productive day. We had the opportunity to run both the intermediate and the wet weather tyres and everything looks okay. The drivers seem fairly happy with the balance and we now have to sift through the information we have gathered."
Jarno Trulli: "It's been a productive day. We were able to test tyres and a lot of things on the car. We were able to do some laps in wet conditions. The car seems pretty good and I'm optimistic for tomorrow that we can get a result. The weather will be critical because I would prefer it to be one way or the other; not like today where the rain comes and goes just enough to make the track wet, and then it begins to dry out. When it was wet, I had some brake problems. I had too much brake balance on the rear and I spun twice."
Jean Alesi: "Today was important for me. This was the first time I was able to drive the car in wet conditions. I'm really happy with what we learned today and now we have to work on getting the best set-up for qualifying and the race."
Pat Symonds: "We are pleased with today's result, which puts us in an optimistic frame of mind. Times are seldom meaningful at any circuit on a Friday ≠ and that's particularly true at Spa because of the variable weather. That said, we had not previously seen the benefits of the changes we have recently made to our car and engine, but perhaps we began to do that today. We were running with realistic fuel loads but were able to extract more of the performance that we know the car possesses. Giancarlo had a trouble-free day, which his position reflects. Jenson's run of ill-luck continued when he was forced to stop early this morning because he needed an engine change. With this afternoon's rain his dry running time was restricted and in view of that his 10th position is an excellent proof of his ability."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "It was an excellent day because we set fourth fastest time while running a heavy fuel load. We worked hard this morning, the car was very well balanced and we found a good set-up for the dry. It was also pretty good in the wet however, I didn't have any particular problems and was very happy with the way things went. I'm confident we can be strong tomorrow and definitely think we can qualify in the top 10."
Jenson Button: "Tenth position isn't too bad. I am fairly happy, even though I am quite a way behind Giancarlo. My track time has been restricted today. In the first session we had to change an engine following a problem and I only got one dry run this afternoon because of the weather. When I switched to wets I made a mistake at the Bus Stop chicane, clipped the barrier and broke a front track-rod. After that I did just one lap on wets before switching to intermediates, on which I managed about half a lap because the chequered flag came out. It was a very frantic session."
Ron Dennis: "Whilst David's mechanics worked hard to rebuild his car following his off they were unsuccessful in their efforts. Mika's practice was less fraught but still handicapped by the rain, which saw him unable to evaluate fresh tyres. However his performance in the wet was well on the pace"
Norbert Haug: "In both wet and dry conditions Mika was close among the fastest. The team learnt a lot today and have found a good basis for the weekend. David's car was repaired and he will use it again tomorrow."
Mika Hakkinen: "I had a few problems getting a clear run in any of the sectors today as there was either traffic or yellow flags. I put on new tyres to go for a quick run but then it started to rain heavily. We have some work to do with the balance of the car before tomorrow but I'm sure we can achieve what we want. I always enjoy driving at Spa, it's one of the most exciting and challenging tracks, especially the blast up to Eau Rouge. Set-up is crucial and often has to be a compromise as it can be dry on one part of the circuit and raining on another as we saw today."
David Coulthard: "Obviously it's not an ideal situation as every lap you don't do on a track is a handicap. I got on the grass on the wrong side of the kerb and lost the back end of the car. The mechanics worked very hard and almost succeeded in having the car ready before the end of the session. We have lost some information, but we will look at what Mika has been doing. Anyway I really like the circuit as it has the perfect mixture of fast straights, corners and tricky hairpins and offers numerous overtaking opportunities."
Peter Sauber: "Today gave us a valuable chance to try the C20 in race trim on dry tyres and later on wet and intermediate rubber. We were quick in all track conditions, so I am satisfied with what we have achieved here so far."
Kimi Raikkonen: "The last time I was here was in a Formula Renault, and it got a bit boring when it ran out of power. In an F1 car this is a much more enjoyable circuit, certainly one of the best on the calendar. I didn't get to run both types of dry weather tyres before it rained, but the car felt good this morning on a dry track and again this afternoon in the wet, so I'm encouraged."
Nick Heidfeld: "This morning I was reasonably happy with the way things were going, but later when I went out for my warm-up lap it began to rain so I came straight in. I was able then to try the Bridgestone wets and the intermediates, and the car felt good on each type of tyre as the conditions changed every lap. It is important that we had this opportunity today, and our times were quick, though I had some traffic on my quickest wet lap. The car is giving good feelings again, though there are a few small things we need to change to improve it further tomorrow."
Patrick Head: "We didn't achieve a good balance on either car in the dry morning session, then when it rained Ralf had a gearbox problem which didn't allow him to run in the remainder of the session. Juan Pablo ran in the wet and was reasonably competitive, but then went out at the end and, went off and did quite a bit of damage. Not a great day, but we will be working hard tonight and intend to recover the situation tomorrow."
Dr. Mario Theissen: "We had no engine problems, but we do have some work to do on the set-up of the cars. Unfortunately the weather and a technical problem on Ralf's car in the second hour limited our program. The rain did have a positive aspect however - we could work on the adjustment between traction control and rain tyres. Looking at the weather forecast this might be quite useful."
Ralf Schumacher: "In the second session I was not able to do as many laps as planned due to the gearbox problem, but the current Michelin tyres left me with a good impression, much better than expected. In the dry conditions in the first hour the balance of the car wasn't perfect as I had too much understeer. We have some work to do but I am confident of the outcome."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "I struggled with understeer for most of the session, but the car was very balanced and had plenty of grip on full wets - this was maybe the best I had ever felt the car in any condition. Near to the end of the session, we tried intermediates, but with seven or so minutes to go, I lost grip, turned left and then right, but the car just went straight on into the barrier."
Niki Lauda: "Typical Spa!. Not a great opportunity for the drivers to prepare for tomorrow, but this is what people have come to expect from Spa and I'm surprised in the least. We have several areas that need addressing and the team are working on those. The balance of the car around here seems good and until we have done a full tyre comparison, it's hard to judge the set-up options. A wet race may actually be better for us, but it's too early to make a complete judgement on this. I didn't see the full replay of Michael's accident with Pedro, but in these conditions, it's very hard indeed to apportion blame. I will discuss the incident with Pedro, but there's nothing to add to what he has already said. On the whole, it's an OK start to the weekend but not brilliant."
Eddie Irvine: "We completed most of our planned program today, but there's still work ahead of us before qualifying starts. The weather here just hangs around and today we again witnessed the havoc this brings to drivers at Spa. The second session was littered with casualties and it's very hard to see anybody on the track when it's that bad. I was lucky not to get caught up in any mistakes today, but there's still a long way until the end of the weekend. As we expected, there's an uphill task facing us this weekend and at this stage, it's hard to know what to expect, least of all the weather conditions."
Pedro de la Rosa: "That wasn't a particularly pleasing free practice session for me. The first session was used for set-up work, but the heavy rain interrupted the important tyre comparison work. There's still a lot of work left to do for tomorrow, but the car feels OK so far. I am having some understeer problems in some of the corners but this is something we can hopefully address tomorrow morning. As far as the Michael incident is concerned, it most certainly didn't seem to be a fault of mine. I was running down towards Eau Rouge and I saw Michael approaching in my rear view mirror. I pulled over to the right in an effort to allow him to take the racing line into Eau Rouge but he came smashing into the rear of my car. With so much rain, it was difficult to see exactly why this happened. As Michael passed, I noticed that most of the front-end of his car was missing and in my case, I lost the rear-left wheel. I haven't had a chance to discuss this with him yet, but I'm sure we will."
Olivier Panis: "Iím feeling quite positive after practice today. We had a small gearbox problem this morning and we didnít improve the car in the first session. However, it still felt OK. After that it started raining but I think we are quite competitive in the wet conditions. We just need to find the right set-up for tomorrow so we can get a good balance. Generally, Iím feeling optimistic for qualifying."
Jacques Villeneuve: "I spun off in the first session after one lap so we didnít get much dry running because of that. Then I did only two laps this afternoon before it started raining - not enough to set-up the car but enough to figure out what work we needed to do on it and to get a few ideas. The car seems to be competitive in the wet so I guess a wet weekend would be OK for us. If itís not dry all morning tomorrow then I wouldnít want to qualify dry. The car was working in the wet and that was fun. If we get enough time in the morning and itís dry, Eau Rouge will definitely be flat."
Henri Durand: "As it often happens in Spa, we suffered from changing weather conditions today, and unfortunately this morning we only worked with one AP04 since we had an engine failure on Luciano's car. But Heinz- Harald went through an aerodynamic development programme and his conclusions were very interesting. We will now capitalise on them to prepare for tomorrow."
Heinz Harald Frentzen: "I must say I feel satisfied, especially with the progress we made during the morning session. Fortunately for me everything went fine today, and I did not have any particular problem, except the changing conditions which all the teams had to endure. I get to know my car better and better, and for sure I am a lot happier with its balance than I was in Hungary. We made some important improvements in the morning and we also had a good second session in wet conditions. It was a good opportunity for me to get a better picture of the way the Michelin tyres work as we could evaluate the different compounds they offer this weekend. All in all, it was a very productive day and I feel happy with what we have achieved so far"
Luciano Burti: "I don't like to say that but this was a horrible day. Unfortunately during the morning session, I had an electrical problem in the engine. It caused a traction control failure, which made me spin. I managed to come back to the pits, but the engine was gone and the team immediately started to change it. Thanks to their efforts, I was able to get back on the track quickly after the second session started. I just had enough time to do a lap in order to check everything was working well, and it started to rain heavily. Therefore I was not able to work on dry set-ups at all. I chose to take it easy under the rain because the last thing I wanted was to crash the car considering the little time I had left on the track. Having such a difficult day is very frustrating and I hope it will not affect too much the rest of the weekend."
Graham Taylor: "The weather has always been a huge factor at Spa and today was no different. We didn't manage to get a pure back-to-back run on the grooved tyres because of the changing weather so we will have to do that tomorrow morning. We did discover the crossover point between the wet and the intermediate tyre which is useful information. Both drivers made big improvements in the balance of their cars in the dry so we can be pleased about that."
Jos Verstappen: "We spent the morning adjusting the set-up of the car and finished up reasonably happy with the balance in the dry. The rain came just as we began our tyre programme so that made it a little difficult for us. While the track was wet we took the opportunity to try out the different wet tyres. All in all we stayed on the black stuff so I don't have any complaints."
Enrique Bernoldi: "I wasn't happy at all with the chassis balance first thing this morning but we did make some big improvements just before the rain began. Unfortunately this stopped me from trying out the new set-up on new tyres. The balance we achieved in the wet was okay though so I'm quite happy but we have a lot to do before qualifying."Paul Stoddart: "In typical Spa tradition, today's practise sessions had a little bit of everything. We started off in dry conditions, then the rain came, and finally, we ended up on a wet, but drying track. Both sessions were very useful for European Minardi F1 and were trouble-free, with the exception of a minor clutch problem with Fernando's car close to the end of the second session. The team made steady progress, particularly in terms of tyre evaluation, and now has a good baseline for what is certain to be an interesting weekend."
Fernando Alonso: "Today was just a routine Friday. On the basis of today, we certainly seem to be performing better in the dry than in the wet. There is still a lot of work to be done on tyres, but generally both sessions were productive. I was not able to finish the afternoon session due to an electronic problem developing with the clutch. Tomorrow, the weather will play a crucial role in the choice of tyres and chassis settings"
Tarso Marques: "I was very happy with the improvement we made in the car during the morning session. It was therefore a shame that it started to rain in the second session, when I had completed only one run. The car felt better and I'm sure we could have been much faster if it hadn't been for the rain. We then did some tyre comparisons, however, and I felt comfortable with the balance of the car in the wet."