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French Grand Prix
What the teams and drivers said - Friday
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What the teams and drivers said - Friday
Ron Dennis: "An uneventful day. Both drivers were reasonably happy with the cars. Let’s hope they feel this way after tomorrow’s qualifying."
David Coulthard: "We worked on the car to find a good set-up for the race, and I’m confident that we have made progress. We went through a range of different possibilities and now we will look at the data and continue our work. The grip level was lower than when we tested at the circuit a few weeks ago."
Mika Hakkinen: "Today we were focusing on finding the right configuration for the race and we made progress with the car throughout the session. As always after Friday’s practice you can never really tell where you are compared to the competition. Let’s see what happens tomorrow."
Bobby Rahal: "There seems to be a difference between our last test here and our performance today, but I'm happy with how we have begun the weekend. Our main priority was comparing the tyre compounds and evaluating set-up for Qualifying. There's more speed to be extracted from both cars and we are looking at ways to achieve this. The slippery nature of the track this morning didn't help anybody and as we saw, many drivers took trips into the gravel today. Eddie's electrical problem from this morning has been fixed and we now look forward to carrying this work forward."
Eddie Irvine: "Conditions are very different to those we experienced at the test session we completed here and the car doesn't feel quite as good as it did then. The circuit was very slippery in the morning session and windy too and I lost the majority of that session anyway with an electrical problem that shut the car down. I'm sure the team will fine-tune the car in an effort to extract more downforce for qualifying but I'm reasonably satisfied with how we have started the weekend. There's work to be done on the balance and set-up but we expected this and we now have a clear baseline on which to build and improve.”
Pedro de la Rosa: "The Free Practice session was OK from my point of view. Our plan was to evaluate the tyres and we have decided on which Michelin compound to go with for tomorrow. We played catch-up during the first session and the track was very dirty and slippery. We did, however, make gradual progress throughout the two sessions to the extent that we have a much better idea of where we want to go and how we're going to get there. There are certainly more changes planned before Qualifying and so far everything seems to be OK."
Jacques Villeneuve: "It was a positive session today because we were able to do a lot of good work. We took the fuel down to try to improve on our qualifying performance because that's where we have the most problems. The car was running well this morning set-up wise, so we wanted to take the fuel down and see how we could get the most from the tyres. They seem to have helped a lot so I'm very happy with the improvements. It looks like we will be able to really make the tyres work for us so we're confident about tomorrow. We should be better in qualifying than we were at the previous race."
Olivier Panis: "I’m quite positive about the car today. I made a mistake because the rear was locking under braking but I don’t think it’s a huge problem because Jacques had a very good day so I can take some of the information from Jacques’ car. We compared the two different tyres and one is working very well. The car is going well today and we are optimistic that we can find a good set-up for the car ready for tomorrow. I’m looking forward to racing here at my home Grand Prix and in front of the French spectators"
Patrick Head: "It’s the usual story for Friday, we have done some useful homework for the race. We overcame the problem with Ralf’s car from this morning, didn’t change the engine and it ran fine in the afternoon . Although we lost some running time for Ralf, we tested here with him a few weeks ago so it is not so damaging. We have been doing some work on the two Michelin tyres and we will have to think carefully this evening about which to focus on for tomorrow, when we will be concentrating on getting more speed for good grid positions."
Ralf Schumacher: "At the end of the second session my car felt quite good despite the fact, due to some technical problems, I couldn’t do as many laps and as much set-up work as I would have wished."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "It has not been an easy day, and we have been working hard on getting the car right. The car is difficult to drive at the moment, but we are doing a lot of work to try to improve it. We did quite a few laps, but we still have a lot of work to do."
Jean Todt: "Today we worked on identifying the best set up for the car and on getting a good understanding of the way the tyres are behaving, given that one of the options has never been tested before. As we expected, the degradation of the tyres will be a key factor in the race and that will mean we face a difficult choice for tomorrow's qualifying. The cars are not yet running at their best and that is what we will be concentrating on tomorrow."
Michael Schumacher: "The circuit conditions are pretty much the same as they were during the test here before Canada. At the test the temperature was around the thirty degree mark, with a very high track temperature and that's pretty much what we have had today. The situation in terms of today's times is quite similar to what we have seen in the Nurburgring last week. We have concentrated on our usual program and we are pretty confident. We have tried the new Bridgestone tyres and we are very happy with them."
Rubens Barrichello: "It was very hot today, as is usually the case at Magny-Cours and it seems the conditions should remain more or less stable for the whole weekend. We worked towards Sunday's race, concentrating especially on the tyres. I did some long runs to check the likely consistency of the tyres in the race. Overall, I am quite happy with the handling of the car but we still have to do some more work on the set-up."
Tim Holloway: "No problems today. This circuit is all about finding the best tyres for the race and we've done a lot of work in that direction. We've made good progress and gathered useful information."
Jarno Trulli: "'It was a positive day. We have developed a set-up for the race and I'm pretty happy with it. Tomorrow is a different day in that we don't know about the weather and the track conditions. It's difficult to judge anything from the lap times overall today because some people were running with low fuel and went quicker as a result. But, for me, I'm pretty happy with what we've done. The circuit was a little bit slippery to start with but it got better as the day went on, the track getting closer and closer to the conditions we experienced during the recent test here."
Heinz Harald Frentzen: "The car was running very well. It was a good day's work for a Friday, and I'm quite happy with it. I did 45 laps, which was important for me because I hadn't been able to test here. I had a small problem with the brakes but we managed to work around that. There's a new exit to the pit lane, which makes the first corner quite a bit safer. This is the first time we have used it and it's a challenge to get through as quickly as possible because the exit is outside the pit lane speed limit and is effectively another corner."
Alain Prost: "Today, apart from the set-up work and tyre testing work usually done on Friday, we also carried out an important evaluation programme on the new aero parts we have brought this weekend. We have fully exploited both cars to make a back to back analysis, and were able to draw lots of valuable information. However, this weekend will be complex in terms of strategy, as the Magny-Cours track varies a lot during the day, which has high effects on cars and tyres’ performance. Our competitiveness will depend on our capacity to adapt to the changing track conditions and we wait for tomorrow to evaluate our progresses."
Luciano Burti: "This was a pretty good day actually. It has been quite difficult sometimes because of the difference in the behaviour of the car when we run on new or scrubbed tyres, which reflects in the laptimes. We also introduced important modifications on the car and we needed to learn a lot about their influence. At the end of the day it looks very positive. We achieved quite a good balance but it can be improved for tomorrow for sure."
Jean Alesi: "The team worked very hard to be able to bring the new aerodynamic parts for this Grand Prix and I wish to thank them for that. Today we worked with heavy fuel loads throughout both sessions to try and find the best set-up for the car in race configuration. At the moment, we still have mixed feelings : our performance is obviously not at its best, but on the other hand, we have confirmed the new aero package is working. What we need is to fine-tune the set-up tomorrow morning and prepare for qualifying : we know we are competitive and, naturally, once with low fuel we will be much quicker tomorrow."
Peter Sauber: "We concentrated exclusively on race set-up on both cars today, because we anticipate a very tough Grand Prix if the weather conditions persist. Unfortunately Kimi Raikkonen ended his day in the gravel and was not able to continue his part of the program."
Kimi Raikkonen: "My car felt okay today, but unfortunately this afternoon I got into some oversteer going into the first corner and slid into the gravel bed. The car went a long way and lost its front wing, so I wasn't able to get it back to the pits."
Nick Heidfeld: "We managed to do a lot of laps today which was important for us, and I was able to do several long runs while making comparisons between Bridgestone's two types of tyre. We have a lot of data now to analyse. I'm not that happy with my position but we can definitely improve in qualifying tomorrow when everyone runs with low fuel."
Pat Symonds: "Today we were running with our old-spec engine and without our latest aerodynamic parts, because we were concentrating on finding a basic set-up for the cars. We feel that we have found a good tyre for the weekend, although we have a little way to go to balance our chassis. Both drivers felt the car was quite nervous in the high- speed corners and that we needed to improve our exit speed in slow- speed corners. Other than that, however, it has been a straightforward, productive day's work."
Jenson Button: "We had a bit of understeer at the start of the day but we managed to dial that out and the car was well balanced in race trim by the end. There is still stuff to work on, obviously, but for the first time this season I have managed to find a good base set-up on a Friday. We need just to fine-tune the chassis a little rather than making any big changes. The other piece of good news is that we'll be running our new engine evolution for the first time tomorrow and I think the combination of these two factors should help me take a step forward in qualifying."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "I have not had a fantastic day, really. On the positive side we did some work with the tyres and made some improvements. But at the end of the session, when I was running on used rubber, the car felt totally different and began to oversteer quite a lot. We need to find a better set-up for tomorrow, but I am looking forward to using the up- rated engine for the first time."
Mike Coughlan: “Well first of all we're very grateful to Enrique for lending his car to Jos. I know it's hard! Losing a car meant we had to stay on high tanks so low-fuel running will have to wait until tomorrow morning. Tyre choice is easy so that's all done and now we're hoping for a trouble-free day tomorrow.”
Jos Verstappen: “We got some really good work done this morning, trying out various aerodynamic parts and adjusting the car to get rid of the small amount of oversteer we had. I had an engine failure during my first run this afternoon which spoiled our data a bit but I was able to get some track time in Enrique's car at the end of the session - Thank you Enrique!- so I could do my tyre compare. I did two lots of four laps and we were able to gather some very good data so I'm pretty happy.”
Enrique Bernoldi: “This morning's session went pretty well for me. We were concentrating mainly on set-up but had a good starting point from the data we have from testing here. I lost the start of the afternoon session as my gearbox was still being fixed, did some runs then gave my car to Jos.”Paul Stoddart: "The European Minardi team is satisfied with today’s performance, both cars completing their assigned programmes without any notable problems. Fernando was 15th quickest for much of the two sessions, which is encouraging on a Friday, when we are concentrating on set-up and not particularly concerned about lap times. In any event, we made good progress today and look forward to Saturday’s qualifying session."
Fernando Alonso: "The day turned out well. We completed both sessions without experiencing any problems, which was very good, especially because we were able to test some new things. We are not so far from the other teams in terms of lap times, and I therefore believe we can hope for a good day tomorrow, too."
Tarso Marques: "We had a few problems today, the most significant being an electronic one affecting the upshift and downshift. We still need to improve the balance of the car, which is a little too much towards oversteer. Once we solve this matter of the gear change, though, for sure we will go better and should be able to make quick progress with fine-tuning the handling."