FP1 & FP2 - Abu Dhabi GP 2021 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

10 December 2021 - 16:43
FP1 & FP2 - Abu Dhabi GP 2021 - (...)

AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly

“The layout is really different, it feels like a new track with a lot more high-speed corners, so it’s really cool. We tried some different things with the car today, but I still haven’t felt that great, so we’ve got some work to do for tomorrow.”

Yuki Tsunoda

“I’ve already driven here for the Young Driver Test last year and of course knowing the track beforehand always helps with my approach to the weekend, which hasn’t always been the case this season. I’m really enjoying the new layout of this circuit, we’ve still got some things to work on but I think the pace so far is quite good. We’ve got a lot of data across the two cars, so we’re in a good position to continue to improve tomorrow. My aim is to get through to Q3 in Quali again, as we’re looking quite strong here and then our race pace is looking good also, so we just need to put it altogether when it counts.”

Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer)

“There have been a number of changes made to the circuit since 2020, so we spent the majority of FP1 understanding how these affect the circuit characterisation, with fewer low-speed corners and now more medium speed left handers. We were concerned that graining could be an issue with the softest tyre choice, especially in FP2 with cooler track temperatures, but they held up better than expected, so we will need to see how that impacts Qualifying and the race. We tested some alternative setup directions across the two sessions with both cars and focused more on the long run pace. This meant our short run competitiveness wasn’t quite where we typically are for a Friday, but we expect to make an improvement tomorrow, once we have analysed all of the data and put the optimum car setup together.”

Aston Martin F1

Sebastian Vettel

“It is a good challenge to have the new circuit layout and it is faster and more exciting to drive. I think some of the weaker turns have been replaced with stronger corners – the highlight being the new banked Turn Nine. We are still learning the circuit, but it is a positive first impression. The goal now is to extract more from the car and finish qualifying for the year on a high tomorrow.”

Lance Stroll

“It was good to experience the new Yas Marina Circuit layout today. It is definitely faster and has more flow to it, which makes it cool and fun to drive. We were able to complete our programme today and put in some good laps. We have learned a lot across the two sessions, so now it is about reviewing the data and trying to extract some more performance ahead of qualifying tomorrow.”

Haas F1

Round 22 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship began with practice on Friday at the Yas Marina Circuit as teams prepared for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – the season finale and championship deciding round.

Friday’s action consisted of two 60-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – around the 5.281-kilometer (3.281-mile), 16-turn circuit.

Schumacher and Mazepin shared identical run plans for the final FP1 of the season – starting with a wake-up stint on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium tire followed by a baseline run on the Red softs. The session concluded with a high-fuel outing returning to the mediums. Fastest laps were set on the soft rubber with Schumacher posting a 1:27.698 for P19 while Mazepin was P20 turning a 1:28.305 lap.

FP2 saw the lights around Yas Marina fire into life. Lap times dropped as the evening session played out –Schumacher and Mazepin recording their fastest times on their qualifying simulation runs. Armed with fresh sets of soft tires, Schumacher logged a 1:25.784 for P19 with Mazepin’s best effort a 1:26.336 for P20 on the timesheets. Low and high fuel runs on the medium and soft compounds rounded out the run program.

Uralkali Haas F1 Team ran a total of 99 laps on Friday across FP1 and FP2 – 51 by Schumacher and 48 by Mazepin.

Nikita Mazepin

“I like Abu Dhabi – I like this track and obviously it’s got a slightly modified layout this season. It was interesting to get a few laps in and it was quite smooth with no issues, just working on the set-up as a standard first-time Friday. I loved Abu Dhabi the way it was – it had 21 corners from what I believe, and now it has 16 so it’s a slightly shorter track that I love but nevertheless I think it’s a good one.”

Mick Schumacher

“Overall, it went well – I got to learn the new track which is a bit different to before but in general it hasn’t changed much. It has the same philosophy in terms of approach to some of the corners although obviously the corner itself is very different. It’s dark, we have all the lights on, so it’s different and I enjoy driving here. There are different lines you can take, especially at T9, so I think there will be variations over the lap and overtaking should become easier. I think we’re closer than we were at the beginning of the year with those ahead.”

Günther Steiner

“It was really the Friday practice we needed with a pair of relatively uneventful sessions, but that’s a good thing. FP1 isn’t usually that representative here but we got plenty of laps in at least. FP2 in the evening was really a case of more of the same. We completed our run plans with Nikita and Mick with both getting their first real-world taste of the revised layout. It’s our final qualifying of the season tomorrow – I’m not expecting any change to our pace, but we’ll be pushing hard as we have done all year long.”

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team trialled the redesigned Yas Marina Circuit today in the final Friday of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship ahead of Qualifying tomorrow for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Esteban Ocon finished his Friday in second with Fernando Alonso sixth as lap times were up to thirteen seconds faster than in 2020.

For Free Practice 1, Fernando and Esteban put together a tidy session and ran very much according to El Plan as displayed on the rear wings of their A521s.

This was in addition to the entertaining Secret Santa exchange between Fernando and Daniel Ricciardo, who both have ’El Plan’ tattoos affixed to their arms for this weekend’s Grand Prix to honour the Spaniard’s ongoing plan.

Running on Softs for FP1, they finished their respective afternoons in sixth and eleventh, with Fernando’s time, a 1min 25.625secs, only six tenths from the fastest time on the board.

Abu Dhabi fell under dusk for Free Practice 2 and both Alpine drivers found the circuit to be much improved on the afternoon. The pair started on Mediums before switching to the red striped Softs. Esteban and Fernando floated around the top six positions for much of the session, and the Frenchman briefly topped the timesheets on his running on the Soft tyres.

By the chequered flag, Esteban’s earlier lap time on Softs, a 1min 24.034secs, was enough to finish second. Fernando ended up in sixth place on a 1min 24.495secs, after his fastest time which was two tenths quicker, was deleted for track limits on the exit of Turn 16.

Esteban Ocon

“It’s been quite a productive Friday learning the new Abu Dhabi layout, which proved to be quite challenging in many aspects. I had a close call in FP1, similar to where Kimi went off in FP2, so you have to be careful pushing the limits there. Some of the new parts are quite tricky, so it’s important to keep getting dialled into these corners. Some of the areas on the track with new tarmac are interesting and learning the changes there will be important in understanding how the tyres behave. So far, we have both cars in the top ten, which is decent and that is the aim for tomorrow. It always looks cool to be in the higher positions and we ended in second place today, which has a nice sound to it. We’ll remain realistic, though, and keep up our hard work.”

Fernando Alonso

“It was a good Friday for us and I liked the track changes out there. It’s the third consecutive weekend that we discovered a new circuit on Friday, so it means we get to play around a little out on track and try different lines to find the lap time. We maximised our time on track today in both sessions and my fastest time was deleted in Free Practice 2, so there was a little bit more than what was shown on the final timings. While we still need to fine tune a few things on the setup, I think we can look back on a good day for us and we have more to come tomorrow.”

Alan Permane, Sporting Director

“Both sessions have been good today. The first one was about learning the new parts of the track and trying to understand the tyres here around the new layout, which looks to flow a bit nicer and might be better in the race with possibly some more overtaking opportunities in Turn 9 and possibly Turn 5. The drivers were pretty happy with the car. There was a bit of understeer in the first session, and we made some changes between both practice sessions and saw improvements on both cars for the afternoon. We look fairly happy on low fuel and high fuel and so we are looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”

Williams

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

The changes to the circuit have injected some renewed interest to the circuit. The combination of reprofiled corners and new tarmac has changed the nature of the circuit significantly. We had a good FP1 with Jack doing an excellent job and providing some excellent feedback in his return to F1 duties. Nicholas too came to terms with the circuit revisions quickly and was able to do some good running at low and high fuel.

George had a solid FP2 session but clearly missed some of the early learning from FP1 and there is more to come from him tomorrow, especially at low fuel. Nicholas made a small mistake early in FP2, but we were able to repair the car quickly and get him back out to complete most of his original programme. Separate to his minor contact with the wall, we identified a developing problem with one of his rear dampers, which we were unable to change during FP2. We will rectify this overnight, which should help improve the handling of his car. Despite this issue, his high fuel pace was decent, and we were able to learn quite a lot about the likely behaviour of the tyres on Sunday.

As always, there is a lot to look at tonight and there are definitely further improvements to come from the car and the drivers as we complete the finetuning for the new circuit layout here at Yas Marina.

George Russell

It was interesting trying out the circuit changes and I have to say I liked them. The track is now faster and flowing and therefore nicer to drive. Ultimately though, it all comes down to lap time. I was a little bit off the pace today, but I still felt that my laps were pretty decent nevertheless. We’ve got a bit of work to do to close the gap to Alfa Romeo and the midfield cars ahead tonight, but I think there is more lap time to come from me and it’s only natural that you find more lap time throughout the weekend. The aim is to qualify well tomorrow; we will be working hard tonight to do that and end the season on a high.

Nicholas Latifi

It’s good to be back at Yas Marina Circuit. I think the updated track does suit our car slightly more; it’s definitely better fun to drive and has a nicer flow to it. I believe that it will help with the racing too, so hopefully we’re in a position to take advantage of that on Sunday.

I had an incident at Turn 13 in FP2 and damaged the end plates of the rear wing, but the guys and girls in the garage did a great job to get me back out there so I could continue with the session. I was struggling a bit with the balance of the car in FP1; we made some slight adjustments going into FP2 which did help a bit, but there was a problem with a rear damper that we weren’t able to resolve during the session. We’ll get that fixed tonight and continue to work through the data, so we should be in a stronger position heading into Saturday.

Jack Aitken

It was really nice to be back in the car after such a long break and to feel the progress that’s been made across the last year. I spent a lot of time making sure I was on top of the car’s set-up and various procedures, but everything went very smoothly and I was happy that we collected some valuable data. The car felt good to drive around the updated track layout and I was pleased with the pace today. I think the team will make some good progress over the next few sessions, so hopefully it’ll be a good race to finish off the season on Sunday.

Most importantly, I kept the car in one piece so that George could jump back in for FP2!

Red Bull

MAX VERSTAPPEN

“I like the new track layout, it’s more fun to drive with the faster corners, especially in the last sector. We made a few changes to the set up across the two sessions and I do think they are positive. We are still learning and understanding a few things. The short runs didn’t go to plan, we are lacking a bit of pace but I think the long runs were more competitive so that’s important. I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow to put it all together.”

SERGIO PEREZ

"I don’t know how much the track has improved since last year. It’s still nice to drive but there are question marks for me on whether it has improved the racing. I think we have some work to do overnight after today’s sessions. We ran very different set-ups across the two cars, so we’ve got plenty of information that we need to go through in detail and pick out the best parts for qualifying. There will be learnings to take forward into our final practice session so we can look to qualify strongly on Saturday.”

Ferrari

On paper, it looked like a straightforward Friday with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz securing the same places – eighth and ninth respectively – in both sessions on the first day of practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The new Yas Marina layout was significantly quicker, by a dozen seconds or so per lap. As usual, the track got faster as the temperature dropped and also bit by bit as the surface rubbered in. The team got through all of its planned programme without any problems, completing a total of 104 laps.

FP1. In the first session, Charles and Carlos used just the Soft tyres to learn the track, especially the parts that had been resurfaced in line with the modifications. They completed 46 laps: 20 for the Monegasque who started off acquiring measurements by running obvious aero rakes on his SF21 while the Spaniard did 26. Charles’ best time was a 1’25”846, while Carlos stopped the clocks in 1’25”886.

FP2. In the evening session, the drivers continued with fine tuning the car and evaluating the tyres, starting on Mediums before switching to Softs for qualifying simulation runs. On Mediums, Charles did a 1’25”194, having had a 1’25”104 cancelled for exceeding track limits, with a 1’25”270 for Carlos. Once they switched to Softs, the Monegasque got a best time of 1’24”557, with the Spaniard doing a 1’24”844. They both ended the session in race trim, but on different compound tyres, Softs for Leclerc and Mediums for Sainz. This evening the team will carry out an in-depth study to fine tune the set-up and to look at the behaviour of the tyres. It will be very important to work out the best allocation of these for tomorrow’s qualifying that starts at 17 local time (14 CET) as this is always key at Yas Marina, as well as for Sunday’s race. There will be more time available for this during the third and final free practice session, although, starting at 14 (11 CET) it is not so representative of the conditions facing the drivers over the rest of the weekend.

Charles Leclerc

I quite like the new layout and it was fun to drive. The modifications seem to make it easier to follow the cars ahead, so it appears to be a positive track update.

The track evolution was quite big over the course of the day, but that’s more down to the temperature as it becomes much cooler here in the evenings. This helps us to gain grip. Tyre degradation is quite high but I think our car is reacting well to this circuit so far.

In terms of pace, we did a good job with the race simulation and still have a little work to do to prepare for qualifying. We are lacking a bit there compared to some of our closest competitors and I hope we can put it all together for tomorrow.

Carlos Sainz

It’s been a challenging day here in Abu Dhabi with the new track layout and surface, making it very different to any other year we’ve driven here in the past.

It’s been a very difficult Friday because since FP1 I wasn’t feeling at home in the car and I’ve been chasing the balance the whole day. That’s quite unusual because we’ve been starting on the right foot pretty much every weekend and today, I feel we have a lot of homework to do, going into Saturday.

We will now sit down with the engineers, see where we can improve the car and hopefully find more performance for tomorrow.

Mercedes F1

Productive practice day for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team in Abu Dhabi

 As the cars took to the reconfigured Yas Marina circuit for the first time, Valtteri went second-quickest in FP1, with Lewis just behind in P3.
 In the cooler conditions of FP2, Lewis topped the timesheets with Valtteri in P3.

Lewis Hamilton

It’s been a decent day, I like the changes they’ve made to the track – it’s made it free-flowing and more enjoyable. It’s obviously close between us all and a little unknown in terms of relative pace but I’m sure it’s going to be super close, as it has been in the previous races. The car doesn’t feel too bad, it started off in a good place and then got a bit worse in FP1. In FP2, it was little better with some of the changes we made. Now we just need to crunch through the data and try to figure out how we can improve, the target is always moving. On my long run, I was trying to follow the car ahead and it still wasn’t easy here but it should be better than in the past. Overall I feel good, I feel great in my body and we made some positive steps setup-wise so we’ll try to perfect it tonight and come back hard tomorrow.

Valtteri Bottas

It was nice to get a feel of the modified layout, the track feels better than before with more flow and some increased overtaking opportunities. When I had a little moment on track, I went off-line where it’s very dusty and I was a little too wide on the kerbs before that corner and paid for it in the next one – a nice drift!

We changed the car quite a bit from FP1 to FP2 and it felt like a step forward so I’m comfortable overall with the car, but none of the laps today were amazing so there should still be more to come. We had a decent long run with the Medium tyre and the car was pretty consistent, you could feel the new faster corners stressing the rear axle a little more than before. We’ll do important work overnight and be ready for tomorrow.

Andrew Shovlin

It’s been an interesting day and we’ve covered quite a lot of ground as far as the setup work goes. In the morning we weren’t particularly happy with the single lap work but the long run was well balanced. In the afternoon, the single lap was coming quite easily but the long run wasn’t great and neither driver was particularly happy with the car. The challenge tonight is to understand the effect of the changes we’ve been making and to find the right compromise between the low and the high fuel running. We’re warming up the simulator in Brackley for a busy night of setup work but we’ve got a good read on the issues today, so hopefully between the work here at the track, and the work back there, we can make some good progress overnight.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN completed the final Friday of practice of the season on the Yas Marina Circuit. Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen displayed good pace and were able to complete their full programme of tests ahead of the race weekend, although the proceedings were halted in the closing moments of FP2 by an accident to Kimi, without any consequence for the driver.

99% of a positive day, then, with that 1% missing being addressed. The crew is already at work to restore the Finn’s car to its original state ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session, while the engineers will focus on optimising the C41’s performance overnight.

Kimi Räikkönen

“It had been a normal Friday until the last lap. We have been trying things, seeing what happens and what works, as we always do: we had finished nearly all our work when I had my accident. I just lost the rear in a place where there wasn’t any run-off and went into the wall: these things happen. It was interesting to try the track after the modifications. Making changes is good and I can see why they were done, but I am not sure whether overtaking will be any easier. In the end, it is what it is, it’s different and we’ll have to adapt.”

Antonio Giovinazzi

“We had a good start to our weekend and, overall, it was a good day. We made a decent improvement from FP1 to FP2 and if we can repeat it tonight, we should be in a good place for qualifying. The new track layout is quite cool, it’s more fun to drive as they replaced slow chicanes, which weren’t much fun in these cars, with some fast corners. I am not sure if this will help much with overtaking, but it’s a lot faster. Tomorrow will be interesting: we want to build on the strong result from Jeddah, the fight in the midfield will be close and everything will hinge on hundredths of a second, but I am confident we can have a good day.”

McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo

“Today was fun, a new layout and some new corners to learn, which I enjoyed. We made some progress in the second session, but we’ve still got a bit to find. Overall, the day was positive, so we’ll chip away at it and make some improvements heading into Saturday.”

Lando Norris

"A decent day. I think we learned a lot. We maybe weren’t so quick, but the car felt relatively decent so I’m hoping tomorrow things will just click a little bit more and we’ll find some pace. So, a positive day I think. It’s also nice to drive the new circuit, there are quite a few differences – both in the layout but also how the tyres behave as well. It’s something else to get used to and we’ll have our guys and girls look at how to maximise everything, including the tyres and the set-up, going into qualifying tomorrow."

James Key - Executive Director, Technical

“Abu Dhabi has become a well-established end-of-season venue, but the track has changed this year. There’s been lots to learn about the new layout, but also the grip levels on the new asphalt. With very few test items on the car we’ve been able to spend all of our time focusing on set-up and tyre work. High track evolution meant lap-times were a bit hit or miss, but we made some good progress. There’s a bit more to come from the car, and we must do some hard work tonight to refine our set-up, but we’re comfortable with where we are.”

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