Friday March 1st, 2002
Michael Schumacher: "We are quite pleased with today's performance and we feel more confident than before arriving here. But I am not over confident because a lot can change between today and Saturday. Actually, I am a little bit surprised about the gap to the other teams, but as usual on Friday you can never be sure about what fuel loads teams are running. Anyway, the Bridgestone tyres were working very well which contributed to our performance. But I will now study the data more fully to get a more complete picture."
Rubens Barrichello: "A good day and I am relaxed about things. We were able to test out the balance of the car on the wet and then on the dry. We are quite confident. I think that the times will be much closer tomorrow, as today we did not get a clear picture of what the other teams can do. We did a very good job and now we can concentrate on tomorrow."
Ross Brawn: "We ran a tyre programme on one car and despite the tricky conditions, we have a fair picture of what we want to do and the tyres looked good. We know the F2001 very well and it is close to being well balanced. Of course, the other teams are running new cars which might have more potential than ours, but I think we will be competitive tomorrow after a good first day of running."
Ralf Schumacher: "We were a bit unlucky with the weather today. At the start of the first session the track was wet and we had some rain later as well. A positive thing was that I could test both the wet and the intermediate tyres. Additionally I also tried the two types of dry tyre options and we have decided which we're going to use for tomorrow. Ferrari appears far away but I hope that we will be able to catch up during the weekend."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "The track was very slippery at the start, so it was quite difficult to adjust the car to it. I suffered with oversteer in the first session and understeer in the second and the intermittent rain did not help as the conditions of the track were quickly changing and weren't even consistent over the lap. We managed anyway to work on the tyres and I think we have collected valuable data. We'll see tomorrow."
Sam Michael: "We had to start off with a wet session, which affected our normal Friday plan. We did a lot of homework for the race, looked at two different tyres checking the car in race conditions. This is obviously a very hard circuit on brakes and we are straining other components on the car as well. We have a lot of data to look up now to try to put us in a good position tomorrow and we are feeling reasonably confident going into Saturday."
Mario Theissen: "It's good to have finally started, after all the winter testing and preparation work. Also positive is that we didn't experience any problem on the engine side in this first Free Practice of the new season. Both cars have run many laps Ralf completed 33 and Juan 36. The main target of today was finding a good base set-up for this track and the weather helped as it allowed us to test every kind of tyres."
Nick Heidfeld: "Obviously I'm happy so far. It's nice to be fifth quickest on the first day of the new season. I stopped at the end of this morning's session when a faulty sensor caused a warning light to come on, but the second session was fine apart from some brief rain. We didn't do everything that we wanted to today because of the weather, but the performance of the Sauber Petronas C21 confirms the good feelings I have had for the car all winter and my position is even better than I had hoped for."
Felipe Massa: "I think that's a pretty good start for me! The car was really nice today and I was able to learn the track very quickly. I was being very careful to get the first corner right, because otherwise it spoils the second corner as well if you make a mistake there. Everything went well, and I'm really happy. My aim is to qualify in the top 10, so this is a good foundation for me."
Peter Sauber: "It's Friday again! But it is the start of a new season and I am quite happy with the whole day. Both drivers performed faultlessly, and Felipe especially did a great job for his first 'real' day as an F1 driver. It's not easy for a 20 year-old. The car was reliable and fast, and as usual the team was very efficient. It's good that we are all working so well together again at a race track."
Mika Salo: "The practice went as we expected really. The circuit was wet to start with and we knew we would struggle because of a lack of downforce and lack of experience with the tyres. When the track was dry, the car seemed to be performing well and we had no problems with the car really and it was quite a motivating day."
Allan McNish: "The session today was pretty good but unfortunately it was interrupted by wet weather conditions. We have made some small progress with the car but I think the circuit is still green right now. We tried to keep our heads down and do our job, which everyone did very well. Overall I am happy with how it has gone, but I hope it will be dry tomorrow."
Gustav Brunner: "The weather was obviously not on our side this morning, but generally we are very happy with the first session. The team worked very well together and also the car functioned well, but we are not as good as it seems on the timesheets. Tomorrow we have to continue with this and qualify as well as we can. All systems are go and I am quite positive."
Kimi Raikkonen: "There is no doubt that the weather conditions made things tricky today and changed our planned programme a bit. We had a few minor problems and like most teams we have a completely new car here so we just need to familiarise ourselves with how it works at this particular track. I'm now looking forward to tomorrow's qualifying."
David Coulthard: "It's great to be back in action again. We didn't run in the latter half of the second session as there was a problem with the left rear wheel, so I didn't get a quick run on new tyres which was a shame. The weather made things a bit difficult so let's see what happens tomorrow when hopefully the sun will be shining."
Ron Dennis: "A reasonably normal Friday practice session apart from the weather which interrupted our programme but we used the time available to concentrate on race set-up. I'm sure everybody would appreciate better weather tomorrow."
Norbert Haug: "David lost about half of the second session following a problem with the wheel hub. We will not know where we are in comparison with the competition until tomorrow's qualifying."
Giancarlo Fisichella: "Not a bad start to the weekend at all. The first session, when I finished third in the timings, went very well. In the second session I tried some different set-ups, concentrating mainly on race configuration."
Takuma Sato: "I must say I am pretty happy. It was very exciting to have my first outing at a Grand Prix weekend and overall I am very pleased at how it went. I lost about ten minutes of running time towards the end of the second session due to a problem with my steering column, but otherwise things ran smoothly."
Jarno Trulli: "For me, it was a good first day with my new team. In spite of difficult conditions this morning, and some light rain during the afternoon, we worked very well and improved the balance of the car during both sessions. Overall, a very positive day."
Jenson Button: "Everything went very well today, and we managed some good running in preparation for the race. Although the weather posed some problems, we know which direction we want to go with setup, and I'm pleased with what we achieved."
Mike Gascoyne: "A good, trouble-free first day for the team. Despite the weather, we completed our race preparations without any problems. The drivers are both happy with the balance of the car, and we are looking forward to qualifying tomorrow."
Jacques Villeneuve: "Twelfth position is not too bad for the first day. We've worked mainly with the race in mind and we're certainly looking better than last year. The car is a lot more driveable. We're not quick enough yet but this car is good to drive aggressively so I think we will be better off in qualifying. We should continue to get closer during the weekend. I love this track so I'm looking forward to the race on Sunday."
Olivier Panis: "Despite the result on the time sheet, I feel good about the car. In damp conditions this morning I was the quickest at one point. When the track was drier I was using the different tyre and the car still felt competitive; my second sector was quick. We spent quite a lot of time making some alterations and I lost the chance to use my new set of tyres, so we didn't see the full potential. Generally, I'm feeling positive and I'm looking forward to qualifying tomorrow."
Pedro de la Rosa: "The car felt very good both in wet and dry conditions. Overall, the package is better than what we expected. I suffered a transmission oil leak about twenty minutes from the end of the second session and that cost us some important information. Nonetheless, I am pleased with our performance and in particular, the handling characteristics of the Jaguar R3. Compared to how the car felt at the last test in Silverstone a week ago, we have certainly taken another step forward in development. It would have been nice to have done some laps at the end with a new set of tyres and consequently the lap times aren't worth reading into. Tomorrow is a different story and we'll see exactly where we stand relative to our immediate competition."
Eddie Irvine: "I am pleasantly surprised with the car. It seems very well balanced, but we need to extract more speed from it. I suffered some hiccups this morning but the last couple of runs were pretty good. We worked through our planned programme and made some changes between the two sessions which worked well. The problems in the first session were aero-related and the changes we undertook made sense in relation to what we have subsequently learned about last year's car. It's the first time this year that the car has handled that well. The challenge now is finding the speed. We didn't have much time over the winter testing period to work on set-up and we must now do what we can to understand this car better and make the most of what is a well-balanced package."
Niki Lauda: The car seems very well balanced but we are suffering from a lack of aerodynamic grip. Both drivers worked through a usual Friday programme and apart from a minor gearbox oil leak on Pedro's car, there wasn't anything that troubled us too much. Eddie suffered some minor set-up issues during the first session and these were addressed in time for the second session. With the weather conditions changing as much as they did today, it is impossible to make predictions about the weekend ahead. Tomorrow's qualifying session will provide us with the first real indication of the competition ahead of us. Until then, there is little point in reading too much into today's Free Practice sessions."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen: "We got some good work done this morning in the wet conditions. It's quite interesting to run here in the wet as this is one of the few times we have seen rain here in Melbourne. I had a small problem with the car but nothing we can't fix. It's not a good idea to try to judge our competitiveness by today's times, we really have to wait until tomorrow for that."
Enrique Bernoldi: "The morning session went really well for me today. The car felt good on a wet and intermediate set-up so I'm pleased about that. I had a gearbox problem in the second session, which is a shame as it stopped me early on but we still have time tomorrow to finish the work we need to do. I have to say that overall I am pretty happy with the progress we have made so far."
Tom Walkinshaw: "Today's sessions went pretty much as we planned. The times were quick this morning so the car looks to be in good shape. Enrique did some good work this morning but had a small gearbox problem during the afternoon session. Heinz-Harald has settled in extremely well with the team and we're happy with what he has done today. He was running on full tanks this afternoon in case the race is dry and we get more rain tomorrow. This also meant we
could check the brakes on high fuel loads."
Mark Webber: "It was a baptism of fire for us, where we had a few issues with the car in the first session. The mechanics are doing a great job, but one hour goes incredibly quickly. We will be working hard tonight to sort things out. We could do with more track time – something we don't have a lot of at the moment – but it was a great experience to drive here for the first time."
Alex Yoong: "After an engine change on my car, I managed to get out for what should have been the last 15 minutes of the second session. Unfortunately, I was caught out by a curb that was still wet, and went off. Of course, I'm disappointed, but I'm now just going to concentrate on doing my best tomorrow."
Paul Stoddart: "Despite not profiting from what we feel is a significantly improved car compared with last year's, the KL Minardi Asiatech team is still pleased with today's performance and has yet to demonstrate its true potential. Mark performed well despite some technical glitches that denied him the lap time of which both he and the car are undoubtedly capable. Alex would probably rather forget his first day on the fabulous Albert Park circuit. He suffered a suspected sensor problem at the end of the first session and was then exceptionally unlucky to spin into the gravel after touching a wet curb on his first flying lap out of the pits in the second session. I'm nonetheless proud of the way the whole team performed and look forward to a fantastic weekend in front of an enthusiastic Australian audience. Now it's onwards and upwards to Saturday."
Published at 07:27:56 GMT