Friday, 31 October 2014

Hamilton leads the way once again as Mercedes complete another 1-2 at the Circuit of the Americas

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team's Lewis Hamilton lead the way once again in Free Practice 2 ahead of Sunday's United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas. Hamilton, who currently leads the championship by 17 points set a fastest time of 1m 39.085s just 0.003s ahead of team mate Nico Rosberg. Hamilton's session was cut short with a suspected hydraulic issue.

Speaking following the session, Lewis Hamilton stated:

'The car felt good today and we were able to improve consistently over the two sessions. I only got a couple of laps of my long run which was unfortunate as we lost a bit of track time but Nico got the data for the team so we should be ok. I’m not sure exactly what the problem was and we had to stop as a precaution but I’m sure they will identify and fix it overnight. These small glitches happen and I’m confident that we won’t have problems moving forward. 

It’s better that it happened today rather than later in the weekend, of course. It looks very close with Nico out there and I’m expecting a very tough battle this weekend. I love being here and it’s great to see so many fans around the circuit already, so I’m excited for the rest of the weekend and feeling ready to put on a show for them.'

Nico Rosberg stated:

'Our Silver Arrow feels very quick around this circuit which is very impressive to see. Between Lewis and myself, the times were very tight as usual. But it was worrying to see that Lewis had a problem with his car as it shows that our car is still not 100% robust at the moment. We need to work on that but overall I’m really looking forward to the weekend. 

It looks like it will be a close battle between my teammate and I, so let’s hope we can put on a great show for the fans here in Texas.'

Mercedes Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff stated:

'While it is positive to see strong pace from our car, the main focus must be on ensuring bulletproof reliability. Of course, it is better to have these problems on a Friday than on a Sunday and we will be working hard overnight to ensure that this is not the case. It is great to be back in Austin and to see Formula One growing in stature here in the United States. It is a key market for the sport, so to see the reception we have had already this week is a big positive.'

Mercedes Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe said:

'We’ve shown good pace here today and both drivers are happy with the performance of the car. Unfortunately, however, Lewis had his afternoon cut short by a hydraulic problem. We spotted something in the data and decided to call Lewis in to play it safe. That aside, we ran to our scheduled programme throughout the day. 

The tyre compounds nominated for this race – medium and soft – are a step softer overall than those seen last year. As such, they are coming into their window quite quickly and we are seeing a reasonable amount of degradation on the long runs – both on the prime and option. This should lead to a notably different race from a strategic perspective to that in previous visits to this circuit – or indeed at the last race in Sochi.'

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was best of the rest in third place with a time of 1m 40.189s with the Spaniard ending the session just ahead of Infiniti Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo. Speaking following today's running the Australian stated:

'It was tricky out there today, the wind makes it difficult; it’s quite an open circuit, so any form of cross wind or tail wind upsets the car a lot – we saw a few spins in FP2 from a few guys. 

We got the car in a good window to work with and hopefully tomorrow we can find a bit more speed. We didn’t run much this morning but in FP2 we ended up in the top five and the long run looked reasonable, so I think we had a pretty good afternoon.'

The Williams Martini Racing Team's Felipe Massa was fifth fastest in the FW36 with a time of 1m 40.457s to finish the session just ahead of former team mate Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. Speaking following the session Massa stated:

'I always enjoy driving this track and we’ve had a productive day and completed what we set out to do. It was very windy in the afternoon which made it difficult to really judge the car balance and the car was feeling different from the morning to the afternoon because of this, although the wind is likely to change for Saturday and Sunday which may result in us having to adapt our set-up slightly. I’m happy with how the car is feeling and we’re looking on the pace going into the weekend. '

Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat had another great session as he finished in 7th place just ahead of the McLaren duo of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button.

Sahara Force India's Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten 1.715s behind Hamilton's fastest time of the day. Speaking following the day of running the German stated:

'I think we can be reasonably happy with our Friday. We did all the work we set out to do at the start of the day and it's always good fun to practice on a track like this. 

There was a big shift in conditions between the morning and the afternoon - it was much hotter and there was a very strong wind which was challenging. 

All in all it was a good day: we will have the usual amount of fine-tuning to do on the set-up and we will need to look at the tyre data to understand how the compounds work, but that's all standard stuff on a trouble-free Friday. It's Halloween tonight, so hopefully we'll get more treats than tricks for tomorrow's qualifying!'

Valtteri Bottas finished the session in 11th place. Speaking following the session, the Finn stated:

'We gained a lot of information about temperatures and the tyres in FP2 and seem to have found ways to get more performance out of them. 

The car was not particularly easy to drive today because of the very windy conditions and it was not easy to find the optimum balance, so we have a lot of work to do tonight to understand the car and its true performance at this track. Personally I still think I can find a bit more lap time out there so FP3 will be a chance to push the limits more. '

The team's test and reserve driver Felipe Nasr drove in this morning's opening session and stated following his run saying:

'This was my first time in the FW36 since Barcelona so I had to get back up to speed quickly and this is also a new circuit for me. 

The track is very fun to drive and has a good flow to it, especially the first sector which has a lot of fast and exhilarating corners. The car has improved a lot since I last drove it with improved grip in all areas and it’s easier to drive. It was a very positive session for me and we managed to cover some good mileage.'

Williams Martini Racing's Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley commented by saying:

'On the whole a good day for us – we completed our programme and looked strong on both high and low fuel runs which is encouraging. 

Having said that we can expect different conditions over the weekend because the track always evolves the more running we do and we’re also expecting different wind strengths and directions alongside slightly cooler conditions. I think we have a competitive package so a prime target is to make sure that we stay on top of the track evolution. '

The Lotus F1 Team's Romain Grosjean was 12th fastest on a good afternoon for the Enstone based outfit despite a number of spins for both the Frenchman and his team Pastor Maldonado. Speaking following the session, the Frenchman stated:

'It was a bit of a rodeo ride out there at times and we’re still working on finding the best set-up for the car today. Certainly the wind in the afternoon didn’t help us with trying to get the car easier to drive although our position on the timesheets at the end of the day wasn’t as bad as we’ve seen on occasion this season! There are a few areas we know we can change which should make an improvement so there is progress to be made.'

(Lotus F1 Team)

The Lotus F1 Team's Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane stated:

'It was a solid day for us with a good number of laps completed and some interesting evaluations undertaken for the rest of this weekend as well as for the development of next year’s car. 

Romain ran in the morning with a front nose concept relevant for our 2015 car whilst Pastor evaluated the latest iteration of the 2014 nose. Both cars ran reliably so it’s now the usual trawl through the data to determine the best set-ups for qualifying tomorrow and the race on Sunday.'

Jean Eric Vergne was 13th fastest in the second Toro Rosso finishing the session just ahead of Sergio Perez in the second Sahara Force India VJM07. Following the session the Mexican stated:

'It was definitely not a bad start for the weekend. We had some upgrades on the car and our main target was to do as much running as possible to assess their effectiveness. We were able to do some good progress on the balance between the two sessions so I am feeling quite positive for the rest of the weekend. 

There's still plenty to look at tonight, especially in regard to the two different compounds, to try and squeeze out more performance ahead of tomorrow. 

I am quite optimistic even if today's times don't really show where we stand, but the points are given out on Sunday and that is what my focus is on.'

The Sahara Force India F1 Team head into this weekend's United States Grand Prix 20 points behind McLaren Mercedes. Team principal and managing director Dr Vijay Mallya stated:

'It was a very windy day, which makes it hard to assess the balance of the car as the conditions change continuously, but it was the same for everybody so we just have to carry on with our work. 

We had a very busy day, testing upgrades and collecting lots of data: this is very important as a lot of it will feed directly into our designs for next season. 

In FP2 we achieved a pretty good balance with our car and we were able to switch our attention to the long runs. Overall it was a very good Friday and we're looking forward to tomorrow.'

Pastor Maldonado was 15th fastest in the second Lotus. The Venezuelan finished the session just ahead of the Sauber F1 Team duo of Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez. Speaking following the session Maldonado stated:

'It was great to be out on track again in Austin at the Circuit of the Americas as it really is a fantastic facility. We worked through our usual Friday programmes and learnt a reasonable amount. The car was a little tricky at the limit as myself and Romain both found, but we expect that to improve tomorrow. '

The Sauber F1 Team's Esteban Gutierrez stated:

'It was quite a tricky day, but it was positive that we completed our programme well. On the other hand, I had some issues which we are trying to solve. The car’s balance is overall reasonable, as we were experimenting with the set-up in order to find a suitable one. The conditions were not easy today, because it was very windy. 

We need to consider this for tomorrow. In general, the tyres were working well. The soft compound is degrading more than the medium tyre. It looks like both compounds are a good choice for this track.'

Adrian Sutil commented by saying:

'It was a normal Friday. We went through our planned programme without having any issues. We tested several set-ups on the car, as well as the soft and medium tyres. Tomorrow we will try to get more out of what we have.'

The Sauber F1 Team's Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall'Ara commented by saying:

'It was a smooth day on the operational side. We were able to fulfill the programme and gained knowledge for the weekend. We are pleasantly surprised by the usability of the tyres, as we were expecting to struggle a bit more, but they seem to fit the track. They were degrading during the long runs, so there will be more options for different strategies.'

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel completed the runners in 18th place 5.352s behind Lewis Hamilton however it is likely that the German was running high fuel levels as he will start the race from the pit-lane.

Speaking following the session the German stated:

'It was a different practice today, as we focused on Sunday preparation. We had an issue with the gearbox this morning so we lost some time, but overall it was okay. 

It’s not great knowing that you can’t go out and fully go for it in qualifying tomorrow, but we knew it from the start of this weekend, so we focus on the race and hopefully we will have a good come back from the pit lane on Sunday.'

© Ben Johnston 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment