FP1 & FP2 - Portugal GP 2021 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

30 April 2021 - 19:18
FP1 & FP2 - Portugal GP 2021 - (...)

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team finished with both cars inside the top six at the Algarve International Circuit today as preparations began for this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso – driving for the first time in Formula 1 in Portugal – was the fifth fastest driver in Free Practice 2, 0.4secs off top spot, with Esteban Ocon just 0.015secs adrift in sixth.

For Free Practice 1, the team ran aero test items on the A521 to assess some further updates to the chassis package. Fernando started his day on Pirelli’s Soft (C3) tyres to bed himself into the circuit with Esteban on Hards (C1).

By the end of the session, Esteban finished tenth, on Soft tyres, with Fernando outside the top ten in fourteenth.

Free Practice 2 was delayed by 10 minutes as minor track repairs were completed at the 4.653km circuit. Both drivers started the session on Mediums (C2) and ran strongly inside the top ten.

At the midway point, both drivers assessed low fuel runs on Softs with Fernando’s 1min 20.220secs good enough for fifth and Esteban’s 1min 20.235secs putting him sixth after a series of push laps.

Both drivers ended the day with long runs, Esteban assessing the Softs and Fernando the Mediums.

Esteban Ocon

“It was a pretty solid day for us, especially in terms of mileage. We completed a lot of laps and that was quite nice. We tested all the tyre compounds and we have a good read on that ahead of the race on Sunday. This circuit is certainly a tricky track in terms of grip, but I would say it has improved since last season. It’s still a challenge for us and we’re working hard to get a little bit more grip from the car for tomorrow.”

Fernando Alonso

“It was a good practice day for me and the most comfortable I’ve had this season compared to Bahrain and Imola. I was happy with the setup of the car quite early in the day, so I concentrated mostly on becoming more acclimatised to the circuit and then evaluating the tyres over the two sessions. There is still lots of data for us to analyse, but it’s a good start to the weekend. I enjoyed driving the circuit for the first time in a Formula 1 session, but I think traffic could be a challenge tomorrow in qualifying. It’s an exciting track to drive, that’s for sure.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“I think it was a good day for the team today. It is just Friday, though, and we won’t be looking too much into the timesheets. We were able to test a few things on each car in the morning, and then we completed our usual long runs in the second session on each tyre to collect data and information for the race. The drivers did a good job; it’s Fernando’s first time here in a Formula 1 car, so he was getting used to the track a little bit and Esteban ran very consistently in both sessions. It’s a positive start to the weekend, we’ll keep working hard and see how the next two days unfold.”

Red Bull

MAX VERSTAPPEN

"It feels great to be back on track in Portimao, the circuit is amazing but the conditions are very similar to last year and the tarmac is super slippery. The tyres have of course changed and we all lost a bit of grip from the cars compared to last year. It’s very tricky out there and not easy to switch the tyres on which is a shame because it seems to be all about tyre preparation and temperature. It’s the same situation for everyone so we just need to make sure we are on top of the car so we can make the best out of it. It seems tight with Mercedes this weekend again and the car felt alright but we still have some work to do ahead of tomorrow, that’s for sure.”

SERGIO PEREZ

“Today we had very similar track surface conditions to last year with limited grip on the new tarmac so it’s really hard to get the tyres to work. It’s not easy so the main focus is to understand what’s going on with the tyres. I think the pace on the mediums was good but when we went on to the soft compound we didn’t find any lap time so we’ll need to look into that and hopefully sort it out in time for qualifying. It’s hard to compare with the last round in Imola as it’s a very different track here and everywhere just has less grip overall due to the tarmac but I think we have pretty good pace in the car so hopefully we will be in the mix to fight for pole tomorrow.”

AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly

“It’s been quite a difficult day, the car doesn’t feel that good so tonight we need to analyse everything and see what we need to do to improve, as we’re not currently utilising our full potential. Compared to the last few races, we’re really struggling on braking in the low-speed areas, so we need to look at what we’ve changed. Obviously, the conditions and layout are very different here – it’s quite slippery – so we might need to make some different adjustments to usual. The midfield is so tight at the moment that we have to work on this a lot tonight to find the extra time for tomorrow – two or three tenths at the moment can lose you six or seven places, come Qualifying, so it really is crucial. I think I’ve been in Q3 for the last five or six races so I really want to continue that train and I’m confident we can make some changes tonight so that can happen again tomorrow.”

Yuki Tsunoda

“Today was the first time that I’ve driven the track here in Portugal and I really enjoyed it – especially the up-and-down areas of the circuit – and I’ve learnt quite a bit in the two sessions today. There’s a lot of new elements to understand, there’s really low grip levels compared to Bahrain and Imola, so at first I struggled to adapt to that but I think I managed to learn fairly quickly and my progression through the day has been good. I’m continuing to build the pace in the car and tonight I’ll look through the data with my engineers, analysing the set-up of the car, and then tomorrow I hope to put it altogether for Qualifying.”

Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer)

“It wasn’t quite as successful a Friday as we were hoping for, or that we’ve become accustomed to maybe. For FP1, our focus was on the medium and hard compounds, alongside some aero testing on Pierre’s car. Yuki spent the morning session learning the track, as he’s never driven here before, and we came out of that session relatively happy with the car and the performance. Likewise, going into the start of FP2 on the Mediums, we were quite comfortable with the pace of the car. We then moved to the soft tyre, which has been an issue for us as we weren’t able to extract the pace from the car that we would’ve liked. The conditions here are very challenging with the wind – there was a tailwind on most of the corners and then a headwind on the start/finish straight, which doesn’t make it easy for the drivers. Tonight, there will be quite a lot of work for us to do to understand why we’ve struggled on the Softs – I think that’s going to be the key for us going into tomorrow.”

Alfa Romeo

The first day of action in Portimão was a veritable rollercoaster – and not just because of the undulating nature of the Algarve track. A surface that started very slippery improved as the day went on, but changes in the direction of the gusty winds in the afternoon added a level of trickiness to the sessions. This made it really hard to get the data required by the engineers in the garage.

On the other hand, there were undeniable highs, with newly-announced additional reserve driver, Callum Ilott, making his debut in an official race weekend session; the Brit delivered a consistent and promising performance. Furthermore, we got two, glorious hours of running on such a brilliant circuit, whetting our appetite for the rest of the weekend.

Friday results are not to be trusted and tomorrow’s picture may be very different; as always, we’ll retire to our trucks to crunch data, trying to squeeze every drop of performance from the C41 ahead of qualifying. Saturday is when things start counting: after a rollercoaster Friday, we’re aiming for a slightly smoother ride…

Kimi Räikkönen

“It was not the easiest of Fridays and we have some work to do before we are where we want to be for qualifying. The track was quite green and the wind, especially in the second session, made it difficult to find proper reference points. We tried some things to improve the balance of the car in FP2, hopefully that gave us enough data to make a step forward overnight. We’ll see if it’s enough tomorrow.”

Antonio Giovinazzi

“Jumping in the car for the first time in the difficult conditions we had in FP2 is always hard: the wind gave a very inconsistent feeling, especially when the car is light, but we still have one night to look at the data and find something to improve. We’ll see tomorrow where we stand in qualifying, our aim remains the same – to get to Q2 and play it from there – and we know we can make the step forward needed.”

Callum Ilott

“I really enjoyed being in the car today. The team made it as easy as possible for me to hit the ground running and it was an excellent opportunity to gain experience, make the most of this hour and help the team gather data for the weekend. This is not an easy track, but I was able to build confidence with every run. The first run on hard tyres was good and I was able to get comfortable with the car; when I made the jump to softs I was a bit caught out at first as there was a big grip increase, but I was able to get more of a feeling for where to exploit the grip towards the end of the session. Having worked with the team in the past really helped: all in all, it was a successful day, running consistently and learning a lot.”

Haas F1

The third round of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship began with practice on Friday at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve as teams prepared for Sunday’s Portuguese Grand Prix.

Two 60-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 4.653-kilometer (2.891-mile), 15-turn circuit were held under partly cloudy conditions as the Portimao track hosts only its second-ever Formula 1 race weekend – the first having been just six months ago in October 2020.

Both Mazepin and Schumacher went straight to work as pit-lane opened, both drivers searching for grip early in FP1 as a very green track awaited the field. Run plans were identical across the two VF-21’s – a wakeup stint on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium tires followed by baseline laps running new sets of the Red soft compound – on which both drivers set their respective best times. Schumacher posted a lap of 1:21.929 to place 18th with Mazepin recording a 1:24.224 for 20th overall. The morning outing wrapped with a final stint on the used softs – both drivers logging 29 laps each in the session.

Lap times dropped in FP2 as the track began to slowly rubber-up. Schumacher ran a short stint on medium tires before bolting on a set of softs for a qualifying sim – producing a best lap of 1:21.537 from the F2 Champion. He finished his track time with a high-fuel run utilizing the White hard tire for the first time before pitting for his earlier set of softs. Mazepin began the session on the hard compound before he too switched to softs for a qualifying sim – a 1:22.638 the rookie’s fastest run. A 10-lap high-fuel stint on mediums followed before a final pit onto softs to end the session. At the checkered Schumacher sat 18th on the timesheet with Mazepin 20th.

Uralkali Haas F1 Team ran a total of 115 laps on Friday across FP1 and FP2 – 57 by Mazepin and 58 by Schumacher.

Nikita Mazepin

“On average, if you take all the circuits that we go to in F1 and F2, this is one of the least grippy tracks – which is a bit of a shame as the layout is really cool. If you could go a bit faster, and with a bit more confidence through it, it would be nice. We have what we have. The grip is building up with all the laps we’re doing so that’s good. There are fine lines here and, in that respect, I think we had a good Friday. There’s a lot still to be extracted and it’s tomorrow that matters.”

Mick Schumacher

“It was definitely a lot more slippery than I’m used to but it was fun. We had a very lively car out there, it brought back memories from F3 and go-karting. It was interesting. The track is quite impressive and quite intense. It wasn’t difficult to build confidence here, it’s just about getting a clean lap and that’s very difficult if the car is difficult to drive. I think we’re getting into a window where it’s more and more resilient. I’m also getting more comfortable with a lively car. If we do our jobs, which we always do, we should be in a good window tomorrow for qualifying.”

Günther Steiner

“For us it was a good FP1 and FP2 as we did a lot of laps – 115 in total I believe. That’s good as it meant the drivers got to drive a lot. We learned that the conditions were not easy, the track was a little bit slippery, and the wind picked up quite a bit in FP2. But that was the same for everybody, I know that. Overall though it was a good session. Hopefully we can take what we learn into tomorrow and make progress from there. I’m pretty happy with the day.”

McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo

“It was a pretty good day in terms of my personal feeling in the car. I felt pretty comfortable from lap one this morning. The more laps I do, the better I feel, but it certainly felt like everything was more familiar when I hopped in the car today. I was ready to get on with it. I think we’re getting there. We were eighth this afternoon, so we’re definitely in the ballpark. I’ve still got a bit to find but we did make a small step forward for the afternoon session. We’ll try to make another step tonight and we should be right in the mix tomorrow.”

Lando Norris

"Not a perfect day, a couple of issues here and there which interrupted some of our running. It wasn’t too bad, it just meant we didn’t quite get through the run plan as easily as we wanted to. We definitely have some work to do overnight on some things. I think there’s some quite clear areas we can focus on that, if we improve them a little bit overnight, we can definitely find some performance. So, that’s our aim tonight, we’ll see if we can come back stronger tomorrow."

Andrea Stella - Executive Director, Racing

“Today, both practice sessions were very busy – the shortened 60-minute duration makes it quite challenging to get through the programme. In addition, here in Portugal, the conditions are quite testing because of the low-grip tarmac, the slow warm-up of the tyres and because of the wind, which make driving the car at the limit difficult. We had a very useful Friday and gathered good information on where we would like to improve the car overnight, and also on the likely behaviour of the tyres for the race. We’ll put it all together tonight, make some adjustments, and do our best tomorrow.”

Aston Martin F1

Lance Stroll

“It is great to be back in Portugal. The track is a lot of fun and the elevation changes are a real challenge inside the car. The conditions were not ideal today, which made it quite tricky to find the best balance – but I think everyone would say the same after today’s running. We will all be looking to make gains tomorrow. With just six tenths separating the top 10 cars, qualifying should be unpredictable and a great watch for the fans back home. I am excited to get going tomorrow.”

Sebastian Vettel

"It was not easy to get the laps together out there because although the track surface has more grip than it did in last year’s race, it is still quite tricky. The windy conditions were also challenging, but it did not stop us completing plenty of laps and working through the programme. Every lap is important for understanding the car and making improvements, so it was positive in that sense. Getting the balance right for qualifying and making sure we hook up the laps tomorrow is the focus tonight.”

Williams

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

It has been a good day overall and it has been enjoyable being back here in Portugal. The track surface has changed a bit since we were here last autumn, and we have spent a good deal of today understanding how this has influenced the tyre behaviour; we have collected some good data across the compound and fuel ranges and we will use this to finalise our plans for tomorrow.

In the calm conditions this morning, the car was performing well, especially for George. Nicholas was testing a few items and was generally less happy with his car this morning. With the tyres on the edge in the cool conditions of FP1, anything that prevented the drivers from pushing hard quickly led to a large loss of laptime, and this is what Nicholas suffered with.

In FP2 the wind was stronger and gustier, and this harmed our performance a little. However, Nicholas was happier with his car following some changes during the break and although there is still a lot to do overnight to get him fully happy, we have a direction to work with.

As always, there is a lot to do overnight, but we’re pleased with our start to the weekend and we look forward to pushing hard again in qualifying tomorrow.

George Russell

Naturally the car has moved forward and the team is looking in great shape. I think we are getting the most out of our package and I’m pleased with that. The wind really picked up in the afternoon and it is no secret that we struggle in those conditions. I don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver, but if the wind dies down we will improve and I think P2 was the worst of it this weekend. This circuit is incredibly exposed and undulating, so if you do get a gust of wind you really do feel it. Looking ahead to tomorrow, I think Q2 is the minimum for us and I hope we will be fighting for points on Sunday.

Nicholas Latifi

Overall I’m not very pleased with the day. We definitely have our work cut out for us tonight to try and claw back some of the pace that’s missing. Straight away in FP1 there was quite a contrast to how the car felt in Imola. There’s a lot of flat-out kinks on this track, corners that should be easy flat-out, that were borderline flat-out for me, especially in FP1. So it’s just really a lack of confidence in the car. We did try some things going into FP2 which made it marginally better, but still pretty much the exact same struggles as in FP1. So not how you want a Friday to go, but we’ll do some homework tonight, try to reset and find some pace tomorrow.

Mercedes

Promising practice sessions for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team on a warm and windy day at the Algarve International Circuit

 Valtteri went quickest in the first session of the day, with Lewis in P5.
 Lewis topped the timesheets in FP2 with Valtteri finishing P3.
 Today’s programme focused on aero evaluation work and gaining a better understanding of tyre temperature performance.

Valtteri Bottas

In terms of pace, it was not a bad start - I think we are there or thereabouts. It’s going to be close, no doubt. Quite similar feelings to last year here, it’s a slippery tarmac and the rear of the car is pretty loose in places, so it’s not easy to get clean laps. For me, the softer we went with the compounds, the more tricky the car became, and the Medium tyre looks to be working best.

The track has improved from last year, slightly more grip and definitely a step in the right direction. Tomorrow it is going to be important to get the heat in the tyres in the right way - it’s going to make a big difference. It will be close between us and Red Bull and could swing either way. Whoever finds more lap time overnight gets pole.

Lewis Hamilton

It’s a little grippier here this year but it was very windy today so I think everybody was struggling with balance and sliding around. Not a massive amount of track evolution between the sessions – as it got hotter, the track got slower. This morning seemed to be a little bit better, then this afternoon it got warmer and windier so it seemed to make it harder for people to find time and work on their balance.

I think it’ll be a close one this weekend. I don’t know what Max’s lap was like in FP2 but mine wasn’t perfect so we definitely have some time to come from the car and improvements to make. But I’m sure Red Bull have too. It was close, as it has been the last couple of races, so I’m sure it’ll be an exciting qualifying and race in store.

Andrew Shovlin

It’s been an interesting day. The first session was quite tricky in the cold conditions and in the afternoon it was warmer but the wind had picked up strength and was pushing the car around, affecting the balance. Valtteri seemed quite comfortable with the car, he was on the pace from the start and able to generate good grip from the tyres which allowed him to get into some useful setup investigations. Lewis struggled more with the rear end and whilst he topped the timesheets, we’ve got some work to do to improve the balance for him tomorrow.

We’d found some damage on both cars at the end of the day that will have been costing some performance and will certainly explain some of Lewis’s issues on the long run but even with that corrected, we could do with finding a bit more pace. The single lap looks really close with Red Bull but Ferrari were also consistently around our pace so we’ll prepare ourselves for another close fight tomorrow. Likewise, the long runs all seem to overlay pretty closely so hopefully that’s a sign we’ll be in for an exciting race on Sunday.

Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow had a trouble-free Friday of free practice for the Portuguese Grand Prix, which takes place this Sunday at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve di Portimão near Portimão.

FP1. In the first free practice session, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz started off running the Hard tyre as they got used to the track, notable for its many changes of gradient and a low level of grip, which was made even worse because of rain in the past few days. On this compound, they posted times of 1’20”759 and 1’20”858 respectively. In the second half of the session, both SF21s were fitted with the Soft tyres that Charles and Carlos used to set their best times. The Monegasque stopped the clocks in 1’19”884, while the Spaniard lapped in 1’20”680. They each completed 27 laps.

FP2. In the second hour, Sainz and Leclerc started off on the Medium tyres. Carlos did a 1’20”197, while Charles posted a 1’20”987. Halfway through the session, the team went for a qualifying simulation, with both drivers running the Softs: Sainz now managed a 1’20”197, while Leclerc did a 1’20”360. For the final twenty minutes the work involved running in race configuration, with both drivers lapping at a pretty consistent pace. Over the course of both sessions, the team also evaluated some parts that might be used in the upcoming races.

Programme. Qualifying starts tomorrow at 15 local (16 CET), preceded by the final free practice session at 12 (13 CET). The 18th Portuguese Grand Prix to count for the World Championship gets underway at 15 local (16 CET) on Sunday.

Charles Leclerc

“It was quite a good start to the weekend. It was fun to drive, the track was very slippery and especially with the wind it was tricky. It’s a real pleasure to drive in these conditions. You are always on the limit with the car and I really enjoy that.

FP2 was a lot of fun, there were a lot of gusts of wind all around the track. We completed the whole programme we had planned and it looks like we are quite competitive. The short runs were good, the long-runs a little bit less so and I think that is the main weakness for me today so I still have to work on that. We are all very close and I think it will come down to who makes the least mistakes in qualifying and the race.

I hope it will be a good weekend for us and that we can build on this positive first day.”

Carlos Sainz

“Another positive Friday, another day of building experience with the car. We are maintaining our positive learning curve, as this weekend the conditions and the tarmac are very different to the previous venues. Bahrain and Imola were high-grip tracks, while here in Portimao it was quite slippery and really windy today. I like the challenge of having to find the grip where there isn’t any! Last year, I really enjoyed racing here a lot.

We are fully focused on tomorrow. We saw in Imola that Friday may be misleading when comparing our one lap pace to our competitors, so we are wary of that. I think the key to the weekend is going to be understanding the tyres, as we set similar times on Soft and Mediums. We need to master the car’s behaviour with the different compounds, understand how to warm up the tyres properly and then identify when is the right time to try and set the fastest lap. Looking forward to tomorrow. Vamos!”

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