ESPN rounds up all the reaction from up and down the Sao Paulo paddock following practice for the 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton: ”It’s been a relatively normal day, we got through everything we needed to. The car felt better than it did in Mexico, but we are still working our way through some issues. The pace doesn’t seem too bad, so we just have to keep working on it and improving it. In FP2, it was quite windy and very gusty through the corners, which meant that the car was actually quite tricky to drive. There’s rain forecasted for tomorrow, but I love driving in the rain, so that wouldn’t be a problem. We just need to make sure that we are quick enough in the dry. It’s very close between all of us at the front, but I think there’s more potential in our car, so we just need to try and squeeze it out.”
Valtteri Bottas: ”It was a bit of a mixed day; FP2 was much better than FP1. The morning was quite difficult, it was easy to make mistakes. I had a few lockups and aborted laps, so it was difficult to build a good rhythm. But we really improved the car for the afternoon and I managed to find a rhythm. The pace seemed to be good, but it is a short track, so the margins are small. There was not a lot of tyre drop-off today, but we’re expecting warmer temperatures, so we will have to wait and see if that might bring about some issues. It looks like it might rain tomorrow, but we’ve had a good package in the wet all year, so I don’t think that would be a big problem for us. It is very close between the top three teams, so we can’t feel satisfied about our results today; we know everyone else is going to be working on their performance overnight, so we will have to keep pushing as well.”
James Allison, technical director: ”I don’t think it was a particularly easy day for anyone today with a track that was giving plenty of understeer challenge on the start of the run, but where it was very easy to overheat the rear tyres as well as the run went on; everyone was wrestling with that to a degree. We got the short-run pace good, although we think there’s more to come tomorrow, and the long-run pace was there or thereabouts, but I think that we have work to do overnight – as probably do our competitors – to get the car in a place where it is going to be alright for the hotter track that is coming on Sunday. So lots and lots of things for us to think about overnight, just one short one-hour session tomorrow to confirm everything – and then we’re off to find out whether we’ve made a good job of it or not.”
Sebastian Vettel: “Today was a good Friday and I think we had decent runs; the biggest worry we had today was a little screw that had ended up between my feet, but we found it in the end, so apart from that, I think it was ok. Tyre management was also ok, but Sunday is going to be more challenging. However, we still need to improve the car as it is does not feel perfect yet. There’s still some work to do, but I think that if we can get the balance in the window, it can be fine. It is supposed to be hotter over the next days, so that could make it tricky for the tire management, but we’ll see.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “It was not the easiest day today, quite tricky in many ways, but it’s Friday and that’s how it goes sometimes. Very often, on the first day of practice, we struggle a bit here and there; there are some sections of the track which are good for us, and some others which are not that good, but that’s part of the game. Regarding the tires, the harder compound felt a bit slippery, but it’s more or less what we expected. For sure we have some work to do; we’ll make some changes and then we’ll see where we get to.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “It was a pretty good afternoon and we made a good step forward between FP1 and FP2. It’s always a tricky track to get the car set-up perfectly as it’s quite demanding on the tyres. We struggled a bit with that this morning but we found a sweeter spot in FP2. This afternoon we had a decent car but we are still three tenths off, so pole is probably a bit of a stretch in these conditions. The others haven’t turned it up yet either but our race pace seems solid and that will be our main focus due to the grid penalty. I’ve known about the penalty since last week as the turbo was unfortunately damaged when a marshal used a fire extinguisher on the car in Mexico. I’ve come to terms with that and I’m ready to try and qualify well, race hard and make the best of the weekend.”
Max Verstappen: “I was pretty happy with the car as soon as I jumped in it this morning, which isn’t usually the case around here and showed in the first session. The car felt good but I had a bit of traffic on my quick lap, so I feel the time can still improve a little bit. As this circuit generally doesn’t suit us I don’t have any major expectations for qualifying, our focus is on the race. My long run pace looked OK, the second session was compromised a little bit so I couldn’t do everything I wanted but it felt alright. With only a few tweaks tomorrow I’m confident we can get the set-up where I want it. I was delayed getting out on track this afternoon due to a small oil leak and we wanted to make sure that was fixed and therefore shouldn’t cause any further issues. Looking at the weather, I think today was supposed to be the worst and it didn’t rain, so I’m not sure we will get any help in that respect.”
Esteban Ocon: “I am pleased with today. Both sessions were straightforward for me – no issues on my side of the garage and we did a lot of laps. It’s not an easy circuit to get everything right and there is still some work to do before qualifying. It’s those small details we need to work on to make me feel more comfortable. The target is definitely to reach Q3 tomorrow. In terms of the weather, I don’t mind if it’s wet or dry.”
Sergio Perez: “It was not the best day because I lost quite a lot of running at the start of second practice. There was a hydraulic issue with the steering assistance and we had to make some changes during the session. So I’ve only done 23 laps today which isn’t ideal on such a technical track. Also, because it’s a short lap, every tenth of a second is even more important. We made the best of the session after making the changes, but I still feel we need to make some good steps overnight to be ready for qualifying.”
Nicholas Latifi: “It was a bit difficult in the car today, definitely harder than I hoped. We struggled to find the right balance with the car and as a result it was not where I needed it to be to maximise the performance of the tyres. It is similar to how I felt in Sochi, earlier in the year. I wish I had been quicker today but I am still satisfied with my work. In the end, when you jump in the car you don’t want to make any silly mistakes and you focus on helping the team prepare the car for the race drivers, which is what I did today, so from this perspective it was a positive day.”
Lance Stroll: ‘‘It was the usual Friday, just learning as we are running. It is great to be back in Brazil on this track. I think we made some good steps with the car today and it felt ok. We will see what tomorrow brings and where we are compared to the rest of the field. Perhaps we can get into Q2, and I hope that will be the case, but we will see after FP3 when we will have a much better idea. In qualifying it is a short lap here, so it is about piecing it together and getting the most out of it. it is going to be very tight in that midfield, so it is about every hundredth and every thousandth, which means it should be exciting.
Sergey Sirotkin: ”It was a busy day today, we had some interesting bits on the car for next year’s development. We managed to collect a lot of data and went right back to the baseline. We then had to switch back to race weekend preparations and car set-up which went fine. In these conditions I think we are reasonably good. There are a few bits I could have done better on my lap but I think pace looks good, particularly long pace, which was surprisingly good. Overall busy, but a good day.”
Nico Hulkenberg: “We weren’t able to get on top of the car today and losing so much track time in FP2 obviously didn’t help the cause. I ran wide and went over the kerb, making the car bottom-out which caught me out. I wasn’t able to avoid the barriers so that’s a shame and I’ve given my crew some work to do. On the plus side, Carlos was able to have a productive day so we’ll be looking at the data and we’re hoping to hit the ground running tomorrow.”
Carlos Sainz: “Today wasn’t as straightforward as I wanted and we have some work to do to find a better balance with the car as it’s a difficult place to get the car working as you want at every corner. However, it’s a great circuit to drive and we have a good idea of the areas we need to improve for tomorrow.”
Brendon Hartley: “It’s good to be back in Interlagos! I wouldn’t say we were as competitive as we would have liked to be, but we have been fighting with the balance of the car a bit today. There’s some work to do with the engineers overnight to hopefully find some more time for tomorrow.”
Pierre Gasly: “I like coming to this circuit and it was great to drive here again for the second time. It was a productive day of testing and we made some improvements from FP1 to FP2. Overall, I think we made some effective changes to the setup, but we still need to work overnight to find more balance for tomorrow. I think we are getting closer to the top 10 and hopefully with some good work tonight we can close the gap tomorrow. I think we have a chance to do well here but we just need to put everything together, that will be the main target tonight.”
Romain Grosjean: “It was a good day. I think the car worked pretty well here, especially after Mexico where we struggled a little bit. It was good to be best-of-the-rest in both sessions. I’m happy with that. There’s some more work to be done. We’re exploring a few different things on the setup to see which direction to go. We’ll put it all together to be ready for FP3 and qualifying tomorrow, and then for the race on Sunday.”
Kevin Magnussen: “It wasn’t too bad today. It was a good start for us. The car felt good from the get-go. It was fast, as well. The pace looked good. As always, we have a few things to work on and get right, but we’re in a good place, I believe. I think we’re more or less in the window balance-wise. There are always things you can do better and improve, but we’ll try and be best-of-the-rest here.”
Guenther Steiner: “We’ve had pretty good sessions today. It’s good to be back performing again after Mexico. I always say a Friday doesn’t mean a lot, but it gives us an idea where we should be. Hopefully, tomorrow we can continue on the path we were on today and enjoy a good qualifying session.”
Fernando Alonso: “It was a positive Friday. I missed FP1 and testing one tyre compound, but we still managed to get all the information we needed and do all the tests we wanted anyway, as we had a clean second session, only slightly disrupted by the red flag. We now need to analyse everything and we’ll hopefully be more competitive tomorrow.
“As always on this track, one or two tenths can mean five or six positions, so we need to find the right tuning on the set-up tonight and meet perfection on our lap tomorrow.
“There is a lot of work to do, but I am quite confident.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “It’s not been the ideal Friday for us. We had a couple of issues in FP1 and FP2 which cut our day a little bit short, so we’ve not had quite the running we wanted. We did a lot of testing and preparation for next year in FP1, so it’s not the kind of preparation you want to go into the weekend, but that’s the way it is sometimes.
“Hopefully tomorrow everything will be sorted out and we can start to build on a proper weekend. The field here is always super tight, so it’s important to really extract every tenth you have in the car. We’ll aim to do that tomorrow in qualifying to try and get the maximum there.
“The weather looks a bit unsettled for Sunday as well – hopefully that can play to our advantage. If the conditions are difficult and tyre degradation is hard, then I think there’s always a good opportunity for us.
“Hopefully tomorrow will be better and we can go into qualifying with a bit more preparation, and then we’ll see where we end up.”
Lando Norris: “Today was definitely a more productive day than my last visit to Interlagos! It’s a new track again for me and I was trying to get into the rhythm of the circuit. I got up to pace pretty quickly. I did the tests I needed to do for both my side and the team’s side, and I did some practice starts, so it was a good session.
“During FP2 I try to learn as much as I can in the garage. It’s not just about watching and listening to what the engineers and drivers are saying and going through the data, there are a lot of interesting things that go on in the background that people don’t hear.
“I like going through the data to see what’s good and what’s bad, and comparing some things to my run this morning. Even though the conditions changed slightly and we were on different tyres, there are still things that I like to compare. Whatever I can learn is a good thing.
“You can learn a lot from just one session on track, even if by the end of FP1 I didn’t manage to try everything I wanted – different lines or braking points, for example – because of the amount of time I had. But by already doing what I did, I can come back next year knowing a lot more and can try those things straight away.
“I can watch Fernando and Stoffel and see what they do, but by doing FP1 on a weekend like I am now and then going into FP1 next season is a big help and I think it prepares you a lot more. I can go straight into knowing what’s good and what’s bad next year, without it taking me a whole session to build up to things.
“Interlagos is quite tricky and it’s easy to lock the tyres in Turns Eight, Nine and Ten. It’s quite tough and I don’t think it’ll be the easiest track to overtake on. But it’s a good track and pretty fun and enjoyable to drive.”
Marcus Ericsson: “It was a decent day for me, taking into account that my running time was limited by missing out on FP1. The second practice session went smoothly, and I completed plenty of laps then. The car felt good in terms of the balance and we will work over night to analyse and define what we will do tomorrow. We know that the lap times are very tight here, so it will be about putting everything together in qualifying. In general, it has been a positive Friday and we have a good base to work on for the rest of the weekend.”
Charles Leclerc: “It was a positive day overall. We were quite strong in our qualifying pace and feel confident for tomorrow. Some work still lies ahead of us in determining where we are in terms of our race pace in comparison to the other teams, but it is looking good so far. The weather was better than expected, and we gathered quite a bit of data in dry conditions, which is positive. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve tomorrow.”
Antonio Giovinazzi: “It was a good session this morning. The programme was quite similar to the previous free practice sessions I have completed so far, and my target was to give the team as much feedback as possible. I enjoyed driving here in Sao Paulo, and now look forward to my next session in Abu Dhabi.”
Mario Isola, head of car racing: “As usual, it was very close at Interlagos, meaning that just the smallest mistake or adjustment could result in quite a big difference. The same applies to the strategy too, which can make a real difference when everything else is so closely-matched. At the moment, it’s hard to make any predictions about the competitive order here, but the tyres are reacting as we expected them to. We’ve not seen any cases of excessive degradation – only some blistering that didn’t affect performance – even though the lap times are nearly a second faster than their equivalents last year. Teams were using quite varied run plans during both sessions today, so it’s going to be interesting to see whether or not that translates into a few different strategies on Sunday.”