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FP1 & FP2 - Mexico GP 2021 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

6 November 2021 - 00:10
FP1 & FP2 - Mexico GP 2021 - (...)

Red Bull

MAX VERSTAPPEN

“It was quite a good day for us as a Team, of course we are always trying to improve and make the car better but overall, it’s looking pretty good. The track was very dirty in FP1 which made it quite difficult for us but FP2 was much better. It’s always difficult to know how we are going to perform in qualifying after Friday practice, and there are quite a few things to look at to improve performance. It’s been a positive start and we have a good feeling as a Team heading into the weekend.”

SERGIO PEREZ

"I think we didn’t lose that much progress today, despite the shunt in FP1. It was a shame we damaged the car and we gave a little bit of extra work to the boys in the garage but other than that incident it was a positive day. I am feeling more comfortable on the long runs than over one lap, so I think there is still the potential to improve the car on the short runs. I have one more session to work on them and my target is to be on that front row tomorrow. The margins are going to be very close in qualifying to the Mercedes but hopefully we can lock out that front row. I don’t think it has been a representative day in terms of predicting qualifying, tomorrow everything will be even closer, and it will be interesting to see how we all line up. The fans have been incredible already, it is great to look around and have so much support here, everyone is being so enthusiastic and is pushing me to go faster. Every time I stop the car, I can hear the crowd and it’s only Friday!"

Aston Martin F1

Sebastian Vettel

“It was a decent start to the weekend and it was good fun, despite the dusty and slippery conditions. I felt happy in the car and we gradually worked through the programme and built up the knowledge of the tyres. It is difficult to know exactly where we stand because the track was constantly evolving and getting quicker and quicker throughout the day. I think we have made good progress, though, and I expect it to be very close in and around the top 10. As ever, we will aim to fight for Q3, but I think all the teams have more to extract, as do we. Let’s see tomorrow.”

Lance Stroll

“As we are expecting to start towards the back of the grid due to power unit change penalties, the focus today was on the longer runs and race pace, so it was a different programme to usual. I think we have made some encouraging progress, but tonight we will go away and look into ways to improve the car. It was dusty on track early on, so FP3 tomorrow will be a useful session to learn more about the car. The goal is to make sure we are in a good place to fight our way through the field on Sunday.”

AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly

“I must say, I’m very happy with today. We’ve finished both sessions in the top six and there are lot of positives with the car so far, I think we can even find some more performance tomorrow. It’s really slippery out there, which doesn’t feel great, but we’re still very competitive, so I’m really pleased. Looking to the race, the tyres felt pretty good as well. We know that usually here in Mexico the track isn’t so tough on the Hards, especially compared to last time out in Austin, but we’re happy with the long-running we’ve done so far, which we now need to analyse ahead of Sunday.”

Yuki Tsunoda

“I’m quite happy with today, I think the balance of the car has been good and we’ve shown strong pace straight from FP1. We’ve obviously got the penalty, which means that our approach to Qualifying will be slightly different, but we’ve still collected a lot of important data for the engineers to analyse tonight. Mainly my focus is on the race, more so than the one lap pace for Qualifying, so I’ve done a lot of long-running today and I feel comfortable in the car so far.”

Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer)

“We’ve been able to hit the ground running here in Mexico, showing a good performance and completing our test plan. This weekend we needed to take a PU penalty with Yuki, so he will start from the back of the grid, therefore his focus has been on long-runs, in preparation for the race. Even so, he was still able to have an excellent short-run performance and continue building his confidence in the car. For Pierre, it was a more normal Friday plan with the focus on learning about the tyres and optimising the setup for the conditions we face this weekend. The track was very dirty and dusty in FP1, so the overall grip and balance was poor. This improved through the day, but we still didn’t reach a balance we were fully satisfied with, so there is more to find in the short-runs tomorrow. Overall, it was a solid Friday, the performance is good and we still have room to improve, so we’ll give it our all to challenge for good points on Sunday.”

Haas F1

Round 18 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship began with practice on Friday at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez as teams prepared for Sunday’s Mexico City Grand Prix.

Friday’s action consisted of two 60-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 4.304-kilometer (2.674-mile), 17-turn circuit with both Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin making their respective career track debuts in Mexico.

The team opted to split the tire strategy to kick things off in FP1 – Schumacher heading out first for a wake-up run on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium tires with Mazepin utilizing the White hard compound. Both VF-21s transferred onto the Red soft rubber for baseline runs – setting their best laps along the way. Schumacher clocked a 1:22.144 to Mazepin’s 1:22.819 – placing P19 and P20 respectively. High-fuel runs closed out the opening session.

FP2 saw both drivers add to their morning lap tallies with another solid session in the afternoon. Schumacher classified P16 having set a fastest lap of 1:19.620 during his qualifying sim on soft rubber. The German started the session sampling the hard compound for the first time. Mazepin placed P19 with a best lap a 1:21.581 – also on the soft tire. The Russian commenced his run plan starting with the medium rubber. Schumacher and Mazepin wrapped up Friday’s running with long-distance stints through to the checkered flag.

Uralkali Haas F1 Team ran a total of 109 laps on Friday across FP1 and FP2 – 57 by Schumacher and 52 by Mazepin.

Nikita Mazepin

“It’s been tricky out there. It felt a little bit like a street circuit during FP1, with so much dust and my helmet was covered in it - I think I went through over 10 tear-offs which I’ve never done this season before. Apart from that, I’m getting to know Mexico – it’s a very low downforce circuit and we’re using our maximum downforce, which isn’t enough here. We knew what we were going into – I’ve watched a lot of onboards and listened to what the engineers have been told by other drivers. It’s what we expected but we still need to improve the balance and we’ll go from there tomorrow.”

Mick Schumacher

“Overall, it was positive. I think we solved the issues in FP2 that we had in FP1 and we can be happy with the day. We’ve learned a lot – the track is fun to drive – and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. It was better than I expected in terms of behavior of the car and that’s a very positive trait for today. There’s still more to come, hopefully, it’s all about trying to hit the right lap and be in the right spot at the right time.”

Günther Steiner

“Maybe not two completely smooth sessions for our drivers today, but in terms of bagging mileage at a circuit that’s new to them both, it’s at least been a productive to start the weekend. There’s no substitute for logging those laps and getting over 100 in on Friday – with two rookies – it’s a good thing. There weren’t really any surprises today in terms of the pace of the VF-21 but I’d say Mick’s FP2 lap time is a positive takeaway. Both drivers will build on what they’ve learned today and we’ll apply that tomorrow in qualifying having looked over all the data tonight. It’s always tough here, Mexico’s never been a kind track for us, but we’ll push in qualifying and see what Saturday brings.”

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN returned to action in Mexico as the team completed the first two practice sessions for the 2021 Mexican Grand Prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Kimi Räikkönen and Antonio Giovinazzi had a straightforward day, setting the tone for the weekend and ticking all the boxes needed ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session.

Kimi Räikkönen

“A fairly regular Friday. Like every time we are in Mexico, the grip is not there on Friday: the track is very slippery and you’re not helped by the very little downforce you have, but it’s the same for everyone and we expect things to improve slightly tomorrow. I think we’re in a decent place with the set-up of the car, there’s nothing too urgent to address but, as always, we’ll need to squeeze some more speed out of the car overnight.”

Antonio Giovinazzi

“Friday in Mexico is never the easiest day, we were struggling with the grip overall, but I think it was mostly because the track was so green, especially in FP1. Unfortunately, I got traffic in my push lap in the qualifying simulation, so my times are not reflective of our performance. The race pace was not too bad, so we can be optimistic for the rest of the weekend: we are there, we will keep working tonight in order to have a better day tomorrow. The target is to do the maximum we can do which means Q3. The track will evolve a lot in the next sessions and then we can have a better lap time and a better result than today.”

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team got its weekend off to a solid start in today’s Friday Practice at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, as the Mexican crowd were treated to Formula 1 cars in the flesh for the first time since 2019.

Despite being greeted with low levels of grip around the dusty 4.304km circuit, Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso completed a routine morning practice session with all their mileage done on Pirelli’s Soft (C4) tyres.

Fernando saw several of his push laps spoilt by heavy traffic in the tight and twisty stadium section of the track, but still managed to steer his A521 nicely into seventh at the chequered flag on a 1min19.656secs. Esteban Ocon was only a tenth adrift of his team-mate and finished the session ninth on a 1min 19.759secs.

The afternoon promised higher grip and the tarmac’s evolution didn’t disappoint, with Fernando opting for Hard (C2) tyres and Esteban starting on the Mediums (C3). After some exploratory laps and with good grip clearly available, both cars soon switched to Softs.

Fernando – who will be looking to qualify inside the top ten tomorrow the first time in Mexico – completed his day in tenth position on a 1min 18.732secs with Soft tyres. Esteban, who also posted his fastest time on Softs, finished fourteenth with a 1min 19.431secs.

Esteban Ocon

“Firstly, it’s nice to be back in Mexico as the last time I raced here was in 2018. On track, we had a productive day, which we can be pleased with. The track was quite dirty in the early running, but it improved as the day grew on. It’s a different challenge to the previous race with the conditions and other factors, but that’s something we enjoy as drivers as it’s about trying things to find a good set-up. We’ve made a solid start to the weekend, which we’re looking to build on. The car felt decent across both sessions and, as always, we have work to do overnight to keep improving.”

Fernando Alonso

“The circuit started with very low grip today because of the altitude and it was very dusty this morning too which made it feel slippery in parts of the track. The track evolution is huge which is quite obvious when you look at the times from the two practice sessions. This makes understanding any changes on the car between FP1 and FP2 very difficult. We have some work to do, but let’s see if we can find some solutions for tomorrow. It was good to be back to a relatively normal Friday for us, after a difficult one in Austin. It was also nice to see the passion of the fans here, it should be exciting tomorrow!”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“After a difficult weekend last time out in Austin, it was important for us to have a smooth and productive Friday practice here. Overall, we’ve had a decent day. This morning the track was dusty and quite low grip, but the performance started to get better and better as the track cleaned and improved. Also, for our drivers, it was good for them to grow in confidence at this circuit as the last time they raced here was in 2018. Free Practice 2 was quite an important session to understand more things with the track in much better shape. We did a good job and we collected a lot of information on both cars, which we will use to find improvements ahead of tomorrow. On a personal level, it’s nice to be back in Mexico City. In fact, the last time I was here was for world superbikes in 1993 when the race was actually cancelled due to some interesting disturbances on track! I can say the track has certainly improved in that time into a fantastic facility.”

Ferrari

Friday free practice for the Mexico City Grand Prix was as complex as expected, mainly because the condition of the track evolved constantly throughout the day. It meant the teams had few reference points, which complicated the job of refining the car set-up in order to make the most of the third free practice session which starts tomorrow at 11 (18 (CET). The situation looks very evenly matched between the teams behind the two that are fighting for the title and qualifying should be particularly tight.

Busy programme. The Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow drivers worked on several items given that, apart from trying to find the best set-up, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc were also running reliability tests, as this is one of the key factors in Mexico because of the rarified air which makes cooling various components more difficult than usual. They also evaluated the three tyre compounds on offer. Apart from the work on track, the team also did several pit stop practices to optimise this vital operation.

FP1. On his sixth lap, Charles crashed going into the final corner. The low speed impact with the barriers meant he had to pit for the mechanics to change the rear wing on his SF21. However, the poor condition of the track at the start of the first session meant that the other drivers were not doing that many laps, so that by the end of the session, Charles’ programme was not badly affected with Carlos only completing 26 laps, six more than his team-mate on 20. They both set their quickest times on the Softs: 1’19”463 for Sainz and 1’19”667 for Charles, who actually had to abort what would have been his quickest lap because of another usual difficulty here, namely traffic.

FP2. In the second session, as expected, the track evolved still further and as it cleaned up and rubbered-in, the lap times dropped significantly, even though the surface was still very slippery. All the drivers continued to struggle to get a clear lap, mainly because of traffic. Carlos and Charles started out on the Medium tyres, before switching to Softs in the middle of the session when it was time for the qualifying simulation runs. They then reverted to Mediums for the race simulation. Carlos posted a 1’18”318, while Charles stopped the clocks in 1’18”605. They each completed 28 laps, making a total of 56.

Programme. As mentioned the third free practice session starts tomorrow at 11 local (18 CET), with qualifying getting underway at 14 (21 CET).

Carlos Sainz

“A challenging Friday as always here in Mexico, where the lack of grip affects the behaviour of the car a lot. We tried some changes from FP1 to FP2 which didn’t seem to work, so we came back to this morning’s set-up during the session to try and replicate the balance I had in FP1 when I was happier with it.

Tomorrow we’ll try other alternatives to see if we can keep finding lap time and improve the overall performance of the car. Some of our competitors look very quick so it’s going to be a tight fight.

Whenever I switch off the engine, I can hear the fans shouting loud in the grandstands. It’s been great to see so many Ferrari flags out there here in Mexico. We feel the support and we will try to put together a good weekend for everyone watching!”

Charles Leclerc

“It’s great to be back in Mexico City! The atmosphere here is amazing as always. Even before arriving at the track, it’s really impressive to see so many fans around town and we really appreciate everyone’s support.

Our sessions today were quite different. In the morning, there was a lot of dust on the track, which made it quite slippery and tricky to drive, especially in terms of braking.

The track evolution was significant between FP1 and FP2. Lap after lap, you could feel that you are getting faster. It’s still difficult to compare ourselves to the others and understand exactly where we are.

For tomorrow, we just have to focus on putting together the best lap we can and then I am confident that we have the potential to do a good job this weekend.”

McLaren

Lando Norris

“A difficult day as we struggled with the balance and the overall grip level. I think we’ve found some positives between FP1 and FP2. We can be confident we’re going to make some improvements into tomorrow and find a bit more lap time. It’s not easy, so we’ll work hard overnight and see what we can find.”

Daniel Ricciardo

“Unfortunately, we didn’t really get much done this afternoon. We had an issue in FP2, so we only completed the Hard run. These things happen, and we’ll just have to get into it tomorrow. We don’t have any time to waste so we’ll get amongst it. We’ve got a few challenges ahead but we’ll be alright. We got enough information from Lando today to be able to pick it up tomorrow.”

Andrea Stella - Executive Director, Racing

“Today’s practice sessions showed us what we expected to see here in Mexico City. The altitude pushes us to tune several aspects of our set-up to cope with the cooling requirements and low downforce levels that are a feature of racing on this circuit. What we weren’t expecting was the need to curtail Daniel’s afternoon session. We stopped him early after seeing some markers in the data, related to his gearbox, that we thought prudent to explore.

“This leaves us with work to do to ensure we are competitive in qualifying and the race. It seems very tight this weekend with Ferrari and AlphaTauri in good shape – but we know what we have to do to meet our objectives over the next two days.”

Williams

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

We’ve had some issues today that hampered the programme, especially in FP2. We found an issue with George’s gearbox at the end of FP1 and so we opted to fit his race box for FP2. Unfortunately, this suffered with a different failure during the first run of FP2. We reduced the running on Nicholas’s car whilst we understood the problem and confirmed that he wouldn’t suffer the same issue. George will now take a new gearbox, which will leave him with a grid penalty on Sunday. This is frustrating, but at least it happened today rather than during the race.

The car is behaving as we expected, with the low downforce dominating and making the tyre management difficult. However, we have completed some useful testing today despite the shortened running and we are confident that we can get the most out of the car over the next couple of days.

Obviously, George has some catching up to do having lost FP2, but with the car working reasonably well and his previous knowledge of this track, he will do this quickly tomorrow.

George Russell

Unusually, we encountered several gearbox issues today and have consequently had to take a new gearbox which will give us a grid penalty. It’s not ideal but it’s Sunday where the points are awarded. FP1 on the other hand was a strong session for us. The car was feeling good, I found a decent rhythm and we showed some strong race pace. That race pace is going to be critical as the high altitude makes it really difficult for the cooling, for the brakes and for the power unit. If we’re on top of that then I think we can be on the front foot for the race.

Nicholas Latifi

Today was tricky. With the gearbox issue on the other side of the garage we needed to understand the problem and make sure that didn’t happen to me so unfortunately, we didn’t get through our full programme. We still have FP3 to dial in the car though so it’s not all lost. We learned what we needed to from the high fuel and, as we’ve seen in previous years, getting the cooling levels correct through the power unit and the brakes is so important here. Despite the issues, I think we still got what we needed to get today.

Mercedes F1

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton finished free practice in the top three as they worked to adapt the W12 to the Mexico City circuit.

 Track conditions improved rapidly through FP1, with lap times falling by over three seconds on the dusty track surface.
 Both drivers ran Soft tyres through the morning sessions, working on set-up and calibrations to optimise the package for the unusual high-altitude conditions in Mexico City.
 Each driver used a set of Hard and a set of Soft this afternoon, completing a mix of short runs and high-fuel race preparation, with further work to be done overnight to improve the balance around the lap.

Valtteri Bottas

It was a tricky start to the day with low-grip conditions and the dusty track. This made it hard to get a proper read on the car but nevertheless, it felt not too far off how it should be, and that mean we could fine-tune things for FP2. This afternoon, the car felt okay but there’s still time we need to find because Red Bull look quick. They seem faster than us right now, and they showed strong pace on the Soft tyre on a single lap, so we need to find more time if we want to fight for pole.

Lewis Hamilton

The car’s generally feeling okay and we’ve not had any major issues today – we’re giving it everything we’ve got and Red Bull are just a bit quicker than us right now. We’ve been chipping away at the set-up and trying to improve it, but you can see we are lacking a bit of overall downforce here and that shows in the lap times. It was great to see lots of people came out today, and I’m looking forward to continuing the battle this weekend.

Andrew Shovlin

We’ve had a reasonable day, the first session was a bit cleaner than the second but the car and power unit seemed to be coping well with the altitude. We’ve stayed very much focused on our own programme for single lap and long run. It’s clear there is a bit of time to find to Max on the single lap but we’ve got a few balance issues to fix so hopefully we can close that gap a little. The long run picture is a bit tricky because we were on different tyres to our competition but the balance is reasonable and the hard tyre seemed to be working nicely. We didn’t come here expecting it to be easy and there is clearly a bit that we need to work on but compared to some of our Mexico Fridays, we’ve got off to a decent start.

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