Vettel Has Not Underestimated the Competition

May 14, 2011

Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull RB6

Sebastian Vettel is not over confident even though he has won three of the first four races. “I think the day you start to think you are unbeatable is the day you get beaten. There is always someone at some point who will teach you a lesson and beat you.

“We are racing at the highest level. Of course I’m very happy with today and with the start of the season, and I’m very happy with how we work together as a team and pull together in one direction, but there is never time to relax.

“Okay we’ve had four races now, but every single team has had their highs and lows. I’m very happy because we’ve been very competitive in all four races. Sometimes it was quite comfortable, like in Australia, but other times it was very close – like on the Saturday in Malaysia we were not sure to beat McLaren in qualifying.

“Yesterday Mercedes were very quick, and I’ve heard that many teams will bring a lot of updates to Barcelona. That will be the story of the next couple of races – everyone keeps pushing and you have to take everything you can at the time.

“I had a very good start (in Istanbul), which was crucial, and then I was able to pull a gap right in the first stint, which was important because then we could afford to stay out a lap longer, wait to see what the others were doing in terms of strategy and then just react.

“It makes our life a bit easier to find out which strategy works and which doesn’t. It was very much in control. I’m very happy with how we communicated during the race and how we reacted so all in all I’m very, very pleased.

“I think since China we have definitely made a step forward, so we have learned our lesson and we have to make sure that we keep this momentum going.

“I have to say that when I walked in on Saturday morning, every little worry was gone immediately because the mechanics and the whole team gave me the impression that nothing happened, nothing’s wrong, and we will continue as usual.

“Obviously this helps a lot, because people in the paddock I see from time to time, but I’m working with people in the garage all year long and it means a lot if people that are close to you [reassure you] that there is nothing to worry about and make you feel comfortable.”

Mercedes Preview the Turkish Grand Prix 2011

May 1, 2011

Michael Schumacher – Mercedes W01

Michael Schumacher

“It is always exciting when the calendar returns to Europe and the racing schedule becomes more intense. After returning from the first three races, I have enjoyed spending some time with my family in the short break, and I am now really looking forward to the action getting underway again.

“The venue for our next race, Istanbul Park, is a great track and provides a good challenge for the drivers. It’s anti-clockwise, has a lot of gradient changes and different corner layouts, so it’s quite nice to drive.

“I know that the team have been working very hard to continue the progress that we made during the last race weekend in China and, with the help of some developments planned for Istanbul, I am confident that we can enjoy an equally positive weekend.”

Nico Rosberg

“We had a more difficult start to 2011 than we had expected, and the first three races felt a little like a rollercoaster of emotions.

“We were all disappointed in Melbourne and Malaysia but, after leading the race in Shanghai, we have confirmed the potential of our car. The team did a very good job to take a step forward and we learned a lot from the weekend.

“Hopefully we can now make a further step for Turkey and produce another positive performance. After spending time with my family during Easter, I am really looking forward to the race at Istanbul Park. Turn Eight is one of the most challenging corners of the year: it’s taken at full throttle for over eight seconds, with forces of up to 5G.

“If I had to create a fantasy Formula One circuit, this corner would definitely be included.”

Mercedes Aiming to Challenge the Leaders

April 29, 2011

Michael Schumacher Mercedes W01

Michael Schumacher is hoping for a good race at Istanbul: I know that the team have been working very hard to continue the progress that we made during the last race weekend in China and, with the help of some developments planned for Istanbul, I am confident that we can enjoy an equally positive weekend.

Nico Rosberg knows that the car has potential: “We had a more difficult start to 2011 than we had expected, and the first three races felt a little like a rollercoaster of emotions.

“We were all disappointed in Melbourne and Malaysia but, after leading the race in Shanghai, we have confirmed the potential of our car. The team did a very good job to take a step forward and we learned a lot from the weekend.”

Ross Brawn was pleased that the car headed the field in China for some laps but more work is needed to take the fight to the leading teams:  “The team and drivers have worked extremely hard in the short break before the European season begins to ensure that we continue to move forward.

“We have a fundamentally good car and we need to achieve its full potential in the races to come. The Chinese Grand Prix reminded everyone at the team what it is like to fight for a race. We didn’t succeed on that occasion but it’s a feeling that we would like to experience more often.

“When the car is working properly, we can be more competitive and the solutions we are bringing to Turkey will help us achieve this level more consistently. However, we also know that we need to push for more performance if we want to fight regularly at the front. The first three races have been a challenge but we have pulled together and will continue working hard to make progress.”


Tyres and Conditions can affect Overtaking with DRS

April 19, 2011

Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg is very enthusiastic about the new regulations introduced this year. “F1 has done a brilliant job. How exciting have the races been? They have been stunning.

“There is nobody saying we are having boring races. There is overtaking left, right, and centre – everywhere so, they have done a really, really good job and that is the most important thing that needs to be highlighted.

“The people in charge have made the sport from one year to the next so much more exciting, and that is awesome for the fans and everything. It is really cool, isn’t it? It is the tyres and the rear wing.

“The rear wing – best idea ever probably, for this sport no, and tyres also? Pirelli, everybody has been criticising them, but they have made our sport spectacular. So that is cool.”

Ferrari’s team principal, Stefano Domenicali, believes that the condition of the tyres also plays a part in being able to overtake using DRS.

“We’ve seen three different situations in three different races, so we need to wait more to find out what is the right balance. In my view, and this is a personal view, you see the activation point of the DRS has a different effect if you are at the beginning of the race or the end of the race, depending on the tyres that you have.

“So it is a tyre effect, not related to the speed or that you are behind. It is the way the tyres behave, so we need to see what is the best solution in that respect. We saw Australia, Malaysia and China were different, but the main reason in China for overtaking was that the tyres were so different you could overtake.”

Tyre Degradation Will Be Critical

April 8, 2011

Pirelli PZero

Pirelli are still assessing the situation after the first free practice. Paul Hembrey, Pirelli’s director of motorsport stated: “I think on average we are going to see three stops, and I would be surprised if it is four. This is only Friday and we’ve got full running tomorrow and in the race, so things can change.

“In Melbourne, we saw quite a rapid evolution of the track, although I am not sure if that was representative but, at the moment, you are looking at 12-14 laps on the hard tyre, with some evolution to arrive at 18 laps. That brings you pretty close to a three-stop strategy. You will probably also get some people who will try and two-stop.

“This circuit is tough. With a 50-degrees asphalt temperature, aggressive wear, it means that the degradation is more than what we saw in Melbourne for sure but equally it is pretty close to what we were trying to create.

“If you are an engineer working for a team you probably don’t want that, as the balance of your car is changing through the race and through the stint, where there are fuel loads changing as well but from our point of view, it is pretty much in line with expectations.”

“The gap between the compounds is one second, up to 1.2 seconds, which is good actually. That will lead to the qualifying question and there is definitely a choice to be made now.

“Maybe Red Bull might have a different strategy because they can think in a different way, but I think everyone else would have to qualify on the soft.

“Most people tried the soft in the afternoon session and were doing a chromo lap. Some were then trying to back off and go again, which seemed to work for a few drivers.

“At the moment you are looking for eight laps. I don’t know when they would use the soft, either right at the start or right at the end, but it would be a three-stop strategy with that level of wear if you started with it.”

Ferrari Aim to Improve Qualifying Times

April 5, 2011

Fernando Alonso Ferrari F11

Ferrari feel that their qualifying pace has been letting them down although they are reasonably comfortable with the speed of the car during racing conditions. Pat Fry, Ferrari’s deputy technical director, stated: “After the opening round in Australia, we have spent a lot of time analysing all the data acquired in Melbourne and one clear fact is that our race pace there was definitely better than the one we had in qualifying.

“Much of that was down to how our car uses its tyres, so a major part of the analysis has focussed on looking at our one-lap performance, when compared to long run performance in the race.

“In addition, we have looked at that other important factor, aerodynamics, to see in which areas we can unlock more of the car’s potential. The results of all these studies have provided us with the basis of a test programme which we will be working through in Malaysia.”

“After analysing qualifying and race data from Melbourne, there are already things we plan to change and improve for Malaysia. These will be added in to an already busy pre-planned test programme with further aerodynamic updates that were always planned for this race but we have also added a further three or four test items and probably there will be even more new parts to test arriving in the few days between the Malaysia and China races.

“It’s a case of constant development throughout the season.”

Pirelli to try New Compounds in Malaysia

April 4, 2011

Pirelli PZero

Paul Hembrey, Pirelli’s director of motorsport, was encouraged with the performance of the tyres in Australia but anticipates that the rougher surface in Malaysia will necessitate three or even four pitstops during the race. “We were absolutely thrilled by our grand prix debut in Australia but we’re aware that Malaysia should be a very different proposition, with higher temperatures and increased degradation.

“We said all along that we would be seeing two to three pit stops in Australia, but in Malaysia I think that figure is likely to increase to three to four. They say that it’s never a question of if it rains at Sepang but when, so the performance of our wet tyres could be crucial this weekend and we’re certainly looking forward to seeing them out on track.

“The teams will have two extra sets of slick tyres available to them during Friday’s free practice sessions for evaluation purposes. With testing not allowed during the season, this gives us a valuable opportunity to gather more data and feedback, while it also gives the teams an interesting taste of what could be coming in the future.”

Jenson Button commented: “The tyres will be the same in Malaysia as they were in Australia, the hard and the soft compounds but Sepang will be much hotter, with much higher track temperatures, maybe as much as 45 degrees centigrade, and the track surface is very abrasive, particularly in comparison to Albert Park, which is very smooth.

“Sepang really requires a lot of high-speed stability from the tyre so all of these factors will make the tyre situation a bit trickier. I think we’ll see higher degradation and more pit stops. It’s a highly abrasive track, so the fronts and rears will suffer.”

Red Bull May Run KERS in Malaysia

April 3, 2011

Red Bull RB6

Sebastian Vettel won the Australian Grand Prix without having the benefit of KERS because team principal, Christian Horner, wasn’t happy that the system have proved its reliability. “It was a very close call during the Australian Grand Prix weekend as to whether we leave it on the car or take it of.

“In the end we made a collective decision that there was a risk involved and therefore we decided not to run the system because the benefits at a type of circuit like Melbourne, other than at the start, were fairly limited. Obviously those benefits at other circuits become more apparent.

“We ran the system on Friday in Australia. It ran without any real issue, and it was purely based on a lack of mileage on the system that our confidence was relatively low.

“I think now, armed with that mileage, and having inspected all the components, our confidence has grown, and hopefully if it runs well on Friday in Malaysia it will make its race debut during the Malaysia weekend.

“It didn’t hurt us too much at the last race, but it is, you have to remember, a free extra 80 horsepower, so over a lap it’s effectively free lap time of anything between 0.3-0.4s.

“Obviously the motivation and desire is to have it onto the car as quickly as possible, but we won’t compromise the performance of the car or the potential reliability of the car if we feel that the system isn’t race-sturdy yet.”

Ferrari Has Much Work to Do

April 2, 2011

Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa is puzzled by Ferrari’s poor performance last weekend. “The Australian Grand Prix did not go the way myself and the team had expected, as we were not as competitive as we had thought we would be, based on the winter performance. If there is one lesson we take away with us after the opening round is that we have a lot of work to do.

“We urgently need to find out exactly what happened in Australia, understanding what we did and what the other teams did. We did not come away with as many points as we thought we could score in the first race, so we have to get back to where we want to be by the next race.

“I was asked many times over last weekend what surprised me most, the pace of the Red Bulls or of the McLarens. The answer is that I was more surprised by Red Bull, because what Vettel did in qualifying was very impressive. It’s true that McLaren seemed to have made a step forward, but Red Bull was really far ahead of everyone else.

“As for ourselves, our car is better than it looked in Melbourne and it is hard to explain exactly why we failed to deliver, which is why we have to arrive in Malaysia with the car we actually built, not the car we raced last weekend.”

“We did not have to wait long to see the effect of the adjustable rear wing and KERS on the racing, with my fight in the early part with Jenson. You could see he could get much closer to me on the straight, even if he did not manage to get very close on the previous corner, by the end of the straight he was alongside me. Clearly the rear wing helped him, although in the end, he only got past me by cutting the corner.

“During the battle, I feel I did a very good job of defending my position by using KERS, knowing how to save the power until it was time to use it at exactly the right moment so he could not get past but it’s definitely easier to be the attacker than the defender in this situation. I’m sure it was exciting for the spectators and it was a shame that after the incident I did not have the pace to keep fighting him.

“I expected him to give back the position after he got by, because the rules are clear you must do this if you cut a chicane and Jenson is experienced enough to know that, without having to wait for the team to tell him what to do. After he got by, Alonso also got past me, as I ended up being quite slow because of the fight with Jenson and given that Fernando pitted before me, that left Jenson with another chance to give me back position but he did not.”

Mercedes Expect Better Results in Malaysia

April 2, 2011

Michael Schumacher Mercedes W01

Nico Rosberg is keen to show the potential of the Mercedes. “We had a tough weekend in Australia but the team has worked hard and we are confident that the car will be running reliably in Malaysia. Melbourne is a unique circuit and we know that we will have a much better understanding of our level of performance after the next races. I think we can surprise people next Sunday. We know that the car is fast from the last test in Barcelona, so now we have to work on proving that potential.”

His team mate, Michael Schumacher, echoed this thoughts. “There is absolutely no doubt we want to do better than in the opening race, which was a disappointment for all of us. We clearly see that as a challenge and it is much too early to write us off. Everybody in the team remains positive and is in a fighting mood so I expect a better weekend for us to come, a weekend we can build on.”

Team principal Ross Brawn hopes to eliminate the problems that the team encountered in Australia. “We endured a difficult weekend at the first race of the season, despite having reasonable expectations after completing a successful testing programme in Barcelona. We suffered a number of problems which resulted in a far from optimum car for qualifying and the race, and then were unlucky to suffer a disappointing double retirement for Michael and Nico.

“Our priority since Melbourne has been to regroup back at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth, to review the weekend in detail, and to establish the best way to achieve the full potential of the car from Malaysia onwards. How we respond to the disappointment of Melbourne, and the challenges we faced, will be a true measure of our team.”

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