Friday March 2nd, 2001
Rubens Barrichello: "We have done a good job of adapting the car to the track conditions here. It's a nice feeling to be able to drive the new car on a different track to the ones we have tested at over the past few weeks. It is much hotter here than when we were testing in Europe. Although I am pleased to be first, the main satisfaction comes from having been able to accumulate new data as regards the handling of the F2001."
Michael Schumacher: "As far as the accident is concerned, I was warned of yellow flags in Turn 5, but I did not see them. So I speeded up again and then there were yellow flags in the braking area for Turn 6 which was far too late. I thought we had the same problem as this morning when there was an accident and no yellow flag in Turn 1. I was really on the limit. I touched the brakes a little bit harder to slow down enough for the situation and that's why I lost the back end. It was not actually a heavy impact as I did not hit the wall, so it was just a gentle roll and I am fine. When I looked at the track yesterday, I did feel there was a problem with the run off area as there was a step down from the grass to the gravel. But for that, the consequences of the accident, which looked more spectacular than it was, would have been far less serious. Apart from that, the car feels very good and we were quick right from the start. Today has confirmed the good results we achieved in winter testing and so I am very confident for the race."
Jean Todt: "I would say the first impressions with the F2001 are favourable. I think we have a good potential, even if today did not paint a clear picture of the pecking order of the teams, because of so many variables, such as tyres and fuel loads. We concentrated on finding the best settings for the car and I think we are working in the right direction. Luckily, Michael Schumacher walked away uninjured from the accident and now we must check the chassis for signs of damage. Our first impression is that it is repairable."
Jarno Trulli: "We had quite a good session and I am satisfied for the moment but it's only Friday. It was a little bit slippery but there and we have some work to do with the tyres and on set-up. I had a problem with the electronics on the steering wheel and lost about half an hour of running time, but after that everything was good. Friday is really about trying new things with the car's set-up, and my new engineer and I are getting on well. We just need some more time to really get to know each others ways of working, but we have some good ideas for tomorrow and hope we can improve the car."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen: "We've had a trouble-free first practice for the Australian Grand Prix. One part of the track was quite slippery and I went off into the gravel but luckily managed to keep going, whereas some of the other drivers were not so fortunate. The car is quick and our chances for the race will only materialise tomorrow during qualifying, but I'm looking forward to it. Things with my new race engineer are also working well, and it will be good to build a strong relationship with him throughout the season."
Tim Holloway, Head of Engineering: "The very positive thing about today is that we had no real problems and the car was consistent. Jarno had an electronic problem on his steering wheel which we overcame without any trouble and Heinz made a mistake under braking, where otherwise he would have finished higher up in the time sheet. It's still hard to be sure where we stand in the field though."
David Coulthard: "It's always difficult to predict how the set up will work on a dirty track so I was a bit worried when I arrived this morning. However I'm pleased with our performance today. The big issue at this track is to get front-end grip and I was pleased to see how well the car responded to the mechanical grip we have. Considering the levels of fuel we were running I'm comfortable with where we are at the moment."
Mika Hakkinen: "All in all a successful day where we experienced no problems and got through a lot of work. We spent the majority of the time learning about how the tyre compound reacts in the temperatures experienced at this track. I also managed to achieve a good feel for the circuit and get the balance of the car to a level, which can help us ensure we are on the front row for Sunday’s race. I'm sure we can improve the car further tomorrow."
Ron Dennis: "A trouble free day where our performance appears to be quite good and reasonably consistent. As always on a Friday the lap times merely reflect the different fuel loads."
Norbert Haug: "We learned a lot today and had a trouble free opening for the new season. Obviously it is difficult to judge where we are in comparison to our competitors. David's and Mika's positions today do not necessarily reflect what they can achieve tomorrow."
Ralf Schumacher: "We are not really there where we would like to be but the season is just at the start the gap to the top is bigger than we expected and we need to work on that. We struggled with understeer, which appears to be tyre related. But this is no surprise, with Michelin we are in a completely new situation. I believe anyway that tomorrow we could qualify in the top eight."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "I've been struggling a bit with the set up of the car today. In the first session the car was definitely better than in the second. But I’ve done some learning today, on a track that was completely new to me. The main problem for us was a big understeer and when you have such a problem you loose a lot of time. All in all, we collected useful data to work on the car and get it ready for tomorrow and this is the most important task."
Patrick Head, Technical Director: "A useful first day, where both the cars ran without technical problems and covered a lot of work that we need to do for race conditions. We collected enough information in order to choose our tyre for the race and will be focusing this afternoon and tonight on trying to optimise the car for qualifying tomorrow."
Gerhard Berger, BMW Motorsport Director: "Even though free practice sessions are not generally very reliable evidence, several things became obvious today: Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes are setting the pace again and the strength of Jordan is confirmed. Our gap to the top is bigger than expected, we have to analyse the reasons why. A clear positive is that no technical problems showed up, neither on the engine nor on the car side and therefore we could do many laps and tried a lot of things. Ralf was consistent. Juan Pablo was facing the task to set up the car for the first time under the pressure of a Grand Prix weekend on a circuit he has never raced on before. It is not easy for him but he makes every effort."
Kimi Raikkonen: "I'm pleased with 11th place today, but I have to say that I didn´t come here with any specific expectations. I just wanted to take things as they came and let the situation develop. The circuit is not too difficult to learn, and my only real problem was that I persistently had too much understeer in the final sector. We´ll be working on that for tomorrow, but today was a good start to my F1 career."
Nick Heidfeld: "Naturally I'm disappointed to finish the day in the gravel in Turn Six, but overall it has been a good start for us. The car was reasonably well balanced all day and I could push hard. The lap times were good, and the tyres remained consistent.I went off because the brake pedal went solid and nothing happened for a moment, then the brakes worked again but I was already running out of road. Maybe there was a stone in the caliper, but we have to investigate. Next time I think I'll get out of the car quicker; I'd just spoken to the team on the radio, climbed out and reattached the steering wheel, when I turned round to see Michael's accident. Fortunately he was okay."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "It was normal Friday practice today, but a good practice for us. Nick was able to perform consistently all day until his problem, and Kimi Räikkönen's first official F1 practice was really great. Eleventh place makes him the fastest rookie."
Jean Alesi: "I am very happy and relieved at the end of the first day. The winter tests went extremely well and both the team and myself were very anxious to see how we would perform here. So, being in the first ten today, is a great start for us. The car is behaving very well and now it's a matter of finding a good setup for this track, for tomorrow's qualifying. Since we have been very competitive on the Barcelona and Estoril circuits in testing, I think we have a fairly high chance for a good position on the grid"
Gaston Mazzacane: "I am satisfied of this first session. We did not have any mechanical problem and therefore I was able to do quite a lot of laps, working on different setups and brakes. We ran with high-fuel level to improve the car's balance. I am confident that we are going in the right direction for a good qualifying"
Alain Prost: "We can be reasonably satisfied with this first day's practice, as this is a very different track from the ones where we tested this winter. Despite few minor problems this morning, we have been able to complete our programme in terms of tyres and fuel levels with both drivers. Everything seems to be running smoothly but it’s qualifying that will tell where we really stand. At the moment, everything is going according to plan and we will prepare for the race focusing on reliability"
Jacques Villeneuve: "I did not have a great day. I had some gearbox problems which delayed my time in the car during the first session which was a bit frustrating. The car felt good but we need to look at our information now to help us improve."
Olivier Panis: "I am happy to be back racing. I had a good first day and managed to get in a lot of laps. I am happy with the balance of the car although we still have a lot of work to do before qualifying, but it is a good start."
Craig Pollock: "I am bit disappointed as it seems on the face of it we are lacking a little bit on performance. However we have collected a significant amount of data which will help us to improve and we will be working hard on that overnight."
Eddie Irvine: "It was marginally better than we expected, we're probably a place or two places further up than we thought. So we're probably a little bit worse off than we look at the minute."
Luciano Burti: "It was okay until I put it in the wall, the first session was pretty good. I was trying to learn the track. It's quite difficult here because the track gets quicker and quicker. I had a problem with the engine and I probably lost 20 minutes of the session. I just got my left rear wheel on the grass, which spun me round. Unfortunately here there is no room for mistakes. I spun pretty slowly but it was enough to put me in the wall."
Bobby Rahal: "I think we feel pretty good about today, We continue to work with the car and it continues to react as it should to changes. Eddie seems to think it's not too bad, and we'll see tomorrow how far up the grid he can put it, Trulli and the Jordan are right up there, but it's going to be the tyre groups, isn't it? Frankly, not knowing quite who's on what fuel or whatever, you'd have to say there's not as big a difference between the tyres as we thought there was going to be, at least to my mind."
Jos Verstappen: "We started off well as the car immediately felt very good. We had to change the brakes at the end of the first session but still the car didn’t feel too bad. We've worked on the set-up for tomorrow, doing long runs to sort out our tyre choice, which we've made a decision on. So, in general, it's pretty good. I’m reasonably happy with our day's work and think we can improve the car for tomorrow."
Enrique Bernoldi: "This afternoon's session was better than this morning's as I managed to do more laps. I still have a few problems with braking but we're working on that. I hope we can do a lot more running in tomorrow's practice sessions so we have a solid base to work from in Qualifying."
Tom Walkinshaw,: "We had a constructive day today. We got through all the jobs we needed to and are reasonably optimistic about the rest of the weekend."
Didier Debae, Asiatech: "Enrique met with a minor electrical problem in the first session which restricted his laps a little but on the overall evidence of today's sessions I have to say that the hard work and effort our team has put in is starting to bear fruit. Together with our partner, OrangeArrows, we are hoping that the promise shown today will be maintained for the remainder of the weekend."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "We did some good work today - mainly working on set-up for the race - and made good progress with the balance. We also found what we think is the best tyre for us here, but we are far too far down the times so we have a lot of work to do to get us where we need to be."
Jenson Button: "Well this was not a very satisfactory day for me, We started with some general set-up work, then at the end of the first session I had a problem with the engine and it had to be changed so I lost the first half of the second session. When I went out again, I then had a problem with my rear tyre, so I got very little running done, Luckily the team completed the programme on Giancarlo's car so we have some good data to work from."
Mike Gascoyne: "We had a small problem on Jenson's engine which meant we had to change it between the sessions and while the boys did a very good job to get Jenson out, that and the ensuing problem with the rear tyre seriously affected his programme. On Giancarlo's car we got through a lot of work on tyre evaluation and set-up for the race, but we have clearly got a lot of work to do."
Fernando Alonso: "This morning the car had some understeer, but the engineers worked really well to sort it out. In the afternoon session I was definitely luckier than Tarso and had the opportunity to improve the car further. Now the car has completely changed and it looks more competitive. We will probably only make a few slight changes now to improve the car further. The potential is definitely there and I believe we will have a good car for the weekend and for the first race of the Championship, which is so important for us now."
Tarso Marques: "The car ran for the very first time today and clearly there was a lot of work to be done in order to find the right settings and to check its overall behaviour. I was unfortunate in the afternoon as, on lap one, an engine failure ended the second session for me. I feel disappointed at not being able to continue, especially because we really need to pile up as many miles as possible and today turned out to be a bit of a wasted day. I feel confident for tomorrow, however, and am looking forward to getting behind the wheel of my car again."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "What can I say? The miracle continues. I'm just so proud of the performance of the whole team today – it was terrific. Right from the start of the first session, Fernando showed what we know he can do. I'm sorry that Tarso didn't have a proper chance to shine, but we intend to make amends for that tomorrow. Overall, though, I totally pleased with European Minardi F1's first test session!"