Friday March 16th, 2001
Jarno Trulli: "Today I had a good day. It was my first totally trouble free session in a long time and I just hope that I have a similar day tomorrow and not a repeat of Melbourne. I am confident that every time I step in the car I can push to one hundred per cent. I am also satisfied because we don't appear to be too far from McLaren and Ferrari which is good progress. It's good news to see that our car is reacting much better on this track this year, as last year we weren't so competitive here. It seems we have taken the right direction in the development of the car's performance and I'm happy for myself and the team. But as always, it's only Friday and as I said let's just hope for the same trouble free running for the rest of the weekend."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen: "It was a very routine Friday practice for us as we concentrated on the usual set-up work. The heat is immense and will play a big part in the outcome of Sunday's race. If it's as hot as this then it will easily be the toughest race of the year."
Eddie Jordan: "Friday isn't very meaningful nevertheless it's good to be at the top. The best thing about today was that both cars ran without any problems in the high temperatures."
Tim Holloway, Head of Engineering: "Today was a very good day for us. We tested a lot of different things and have gained strong conclusions from the work we carried out which is pleasing and productive. The cars proved reliable, even in these high temperatures and the tyres were very consistent which made it much easier to work on chassis balance."
Michael Schumacher: "A pretty normal Friday during which we sorted out the tyre situation and tried various set-up solutions. The car coped well with the high temperatures and from a driving point of view I felt cooler in the car than out of it. Nevertheless, I am sweating, which is unusual for me. It would be nice to take the air-conditioning system out of the office and put it in the car. The tyres are quite good for me; we have two very good types of tyre to choose from. We have had a good day, but now we must wait and see what the others can do tomorrow. Everything seems fine for now."
Rubens Barrichello: "It was quite a positive day. I feel fine physically, even though it is very hot both inside and outside the cockpit. Just as was the case after free practice in Australia, I am convinced I can go well here. We are working on finding the ideal set-up and we still have a couple of things to try out. The heat has a big effect on making the best choice of settings."
Jean Todt: "It was a routine Friday. We worked mainly on car set-up. The high temperatures make life particularly difficult for the drivers, but we expected that. The F2001 has confirmed its good potential and in qualifying we can expect the traditional battle with our usual rivals for the front two rows of the grid. Tyre choice will not be easy. At this event, the difference in lap times compared with last year's grand prix, will not be as great as they were two weeks ago in Australia."
David Coulthard: "There is no doubt that it's very hot out there and it will be a tough race on Sunday. We have done a lot of work today but we still have some way to go before I'm happy with the car. However what matters is Saturday's qualifying which is when we can really see where we are in relation to our competitors."
Mika Hakkinen: "We are having some problems finding the right balance for the car to suit this track. The main problem is lack of grip at the front, which means the car is very difficult to drive. We are going to study the data and find out how we can improve. Today is free practice and you never know what level of fuel the competition is running with."
Ron Dennis: "We have had more productive practices than those of today. The drivers and their engineers have not yet achieved the car balance, which has always been difficult to find on this circuit."
Norbert Haug: "We have been working on our race set-up and have not yet met our targets but tomorrow is another day to further improve our cars."
Eddie Irvine: "We seem to be more competitive here, but our car seems to go well here, it went well last year and the year before. These guys work well here. We were doing a programme we had to do. We're not going to be in the same position tomorrow, but we're going to be more competitive here than in Melbourne. We had a lot of problems in that session – clutch, power steering, car – too many problems. We didn't get all the things done that we needed to get done. We got a good indication of where we need to go. But the handling of the car is far from good. I don't know what the problem is."
Luciano Burti: "Of course it's not too bad. The main thing today was to learn the track and choose the tyres for the weekend. I think I managed to do that. Of course we don't know what other people are doing, so it's difficult to tell if that’s as fast as they can go. I'm sure my best comparison is against Eddie, and I seem to be in the ballpark, so I'm happy with that. It's not sliding that much, but it's very difficult to get a good balance. That's the main thing for tomorrow, to get a good balance. Grip level is not a big issue."
Olivier Panis: "We changed many things on the set-up and tested two different tyres although we have not yet decided which one we will use tomorrow. The car balance is good and so is the baseline. I am confident going into the race because the car is very consistent and the team have done a good job. We still have some work to do for tomorrow but everyone is working hard."
Jacques Villeneuve: "We had a very hard day and it was very hot. We had some engine problems in the first half-hour of the morning session but we fixed that and then started working on the car. We were a little bit lost in the set up but it got better towards the end, although we are a bit behind right now."
Craig Pollock: "A pretty normal Friday for us although we still have a lot of work to do overnight. We were struggling a bit on set-up so that set us back a little. All of the teams looked very close today so it will be a very interesting qualifying session tomorrow."
Malcolm Oastler: "We spent today carrying out a bit of work on set-up and evaluating tyres. We had no major problems with the cars but we still have more work to do. We feel that we are reasonably competitive looking at the times and are optimistic going into the weekend."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "It looked like every problem was falling on me today. First a fuel problem, than an electrical problem. We changed the battery and some more bits but in the end this didn't help. I don't know this track at all and I really needed to learn it. From what I could see the circuit is better than what I thought, mainly because it's really very wide. "
Ralf Schumacher: "I had some set-up problems today. The car was oversteering in many corners, which still gives us some work for tomorrow. It wasn't a tyre induced problem though, the reason for the imbalance lies in the set-up of the car. As I didn't suffer any technical problems we could complete all the to-do-list on my car and test what we had planned."
Patrick Head, Technical Director: "We lost a lot of track time with several problems on Juan Pablo's car with a leak from the fuel pump this morning which disguised the fact that there was also what looks like an alternator problem, that was found this afternoon. Disappointing for Juan Pablo who needs mileage on this track but we covered many laps with Ralf's car and have done a number of back-to-backs collecting a lot of data to look at this evening, in order to decide our set up for tomorrow and the race."
Dr Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "Whilst the engine in Ralf's car ran trouble-free the whole morning allowing him to work on the set-up according to his programme, Juan Pablo suffered a number of technical problems. He could achieve just one lap in the morning due to a mechanical fuel pump problem and on the fourth lap of the second session he had an electrical black-out. It looks like it could be an alternator defect but we are analysing the reason for that."
Nick Heidfeld: "Everything ran very smoothly for me today so I was able to focus throughout on setting up the car. Even the heat did not cause any problems. This morning we improved the car and I was happy with it, but this afternoon we tried a couple of changes and the balance of the car was not as good."
Kimi Raikkonen: "This is a nice circuit, and no problem to learn. I think I had a reasonable day, considering it's my first time here, but we have some work to do on the set-up. I had too much understeer and in general the car felt a little nervous. But it'll be okay tomorrow."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "After a good start this morning we made some changes to the cars but were unable to improve. Our main objective was race preparation, bearing in mind that this is the hottest race on the calendar. I believe that we have a good direction to pursue for free practice and qualifying tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "We worked well on the balance of the car and have made a good improvement since this morning. We still have some understeer in the slow corners, but considering I lost so much time this morning due to the battery change on my car, I am pleased with the progress we have made."
Jenson Button: "I didn't get any timed laps completed in the first session as there was a problem with the temperature of the gearbox. In the afternoon session we focussed primarily on set-up and tried a few different directions to improve on the low speed understeer. We have made a step forward but we are not where we want to be with the balance yet, so we will have to do more work on this tomorrow."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "A minor electrical problem on Giancarlo's car and a gearbox problem on Jenson's car limited running in the morning session, but we had a productive afternoon and although we weren't able to complete the entire programme, we got some good groundwork done that should stand us in good stead for the weekend ahead. Giancarlo is happy with the balance on his car, but there is still some work to do with the balance on Jenson's, so we hope to make more progress on this tomorrow."
Jos Verstappen: "First and foremost I want to thank my mechanics for doing a fantastic job. The engine change we had to do between the sessions was the fastest they have done so far. The sensor problem in the first session basically lost us this morning's track time so this afternoon was spent evaluating tyres. We're still a long way out on set-up so there's a lot of work to be done there but hopefully we can make up for lost time tomorrow."
Enrique Bernoldi: "We had a problem with the clutch this morning which cut our track time. This afternoon we managed to do a lot more laps which is necessary for me to learn the circuit. I would also like to thank my mechanics for their speedy work in these difficult conditions. Like Jos, we still have to do our set-up work and hope to find more pace tomorrow."
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "We're disappointed we lost the first session today but we recovered well. We concentrated on tyre comparisons this afternoon and are looking forward to getting on with it tomorrow."
Didier Debae, Asiatech: "After their curtailed morning session, both drivers had an industrious afternoon in Sepang's intense heat. They covered around 20 laps each providing the team with valuable information for tomorrow's sessions."
Jean Alesi: "Today we worked in several areas and we tried numerous set-ups. But there are still many details we need to improve and tomorrow morning will be very important to finetune today's work."
Gaston Mazzacane: "It has been quite a difficult day, with the heat and the atmosphere here, but all the teams had to cope with it anyway. These first practice sessions have been productive for me, since I've been able to complete a lot of laps, and we were able to test various mechanical set-ups, with varying degrees of success. It is much too early to analyse our positions and laptimes of today because the hard work will continue tomorrow morning and hopefully the track conditions will evolve consistently."
Alain Prost: "On this particular track, and with such temperatures, the behaviour of our car is very different from the one we had in Melbourne. We learnt a lot today from the high number of laps we completed. However, it is impossible to say exactly where we are in relation to the other teams. All we know is we have a lot of work to do to adapt our car before Sunday's race, and that is what we are focusing on at the moment."
Tarso Marques: "I am very happy, for today's session turned out to be fine and definitely much better than the one I had in Australia. Now I think we should keep working on further improvement for tomorrow. It was a shame that I lost almost half of the second session due to a gearbox problem. We should have been able to go much faster than we did because the track improved a lot, and given that we did not use fresh tyres in the second session, there is certainly good scope for improvement. I am now looking forward to tomorrow."
Fernando Alonso: "As far as the morning session is concerned, there is not much to say because I could do only two laps due to an electrical problem with the fuel pump. It occurred again in the afternoon, causing me to lose a further 40 minutes. Once the problem was sorted out, I was able to run eight laps more over the last 20 minutes. The car was then much better, which allows me to be confident for tomorrow's qualifying."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal: "In the heat of Malaysia, both cars suffered. Tarso went well, though, and occupied 16th place on the timing screens until near the end of the afternoon session, when he stopped prematurely with a gearbox problem. Unfortunately, Fernando was plagued by teething problems on his new chassis, which denied him valuable track time. On the positive side, we're particularly pleased that both drivers have adapted so quickly to a track they've never been to before, and I feel comfortable that we'll see a significant improvement in the team's performance tomorrow and for the race."
Gustav Brunner, Technical Director: "It has been a difficult day. Fernando has a new chassis this weekend that seems to have been suffering from small assembly bugs. There was an electrical problem that proved difficult to trace, but he did get out on the track at the end of the second session. He was then running a car that hadn't had any set-up work done on it, and he actually did very well to set the time he did. In Tarso's case, we think he had a gearbox problem as the result of a small off-track excursion that caused operating temperatures to rise."