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FP1 & FP2 - US GP 2021 - Team quotes

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By Olivier Ferret

23 October 2021 - 00:58
FP1 & FP2 - US GP 2021 - Team (...)

Red Bull

SERGIO PEREZ

“Today was a good day and FP2 was promising, but it’s going to be very tight in qualifying tomorrow. Mercedes were certainly very strong so let’s see what they have when it counts. I think we have to find a couple of tenths and put everything together to be in the mix for pole. There’s a lot to be done now with the engineers to try and improve the car, I think there is some margin to improve our long run pace and our tyre degradation, but all in all it was a positive Friday.”

MAX VERSTAPPEN

“Overall it wasn’t easy out there today, the track is quite bumpy and to find the right compromise on the car hasn’t been the easiest but there are a few positive things to look at and we’ll continue to work on that overnight. In FP2, we didn’t manage to put the lap in on the soft tyre and it was also just a bit of a mess with the traffic. Hopefully everything will come together tomorrow so we can get a good lap in qualifying.”

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN took to the track for the first time in practice at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin. In the first two sessions of the 2021 United States Grand Prix weekend, the two C41s made good progress with a constant presence in the top ten on the timesheets.

With qualifying tomorrow, the team will hope in another step forward to keep starring (and striping) as the grid for Sunday’s race gets decided.

Kimi Räikkönen

“It’s been quite a straightforward Friday, no big issues so we could do our job. We are satisfied with where we are at the moment, hopefully we can make some more progress tonight and be fast enough in qualifying. This is a track we all enjoy, it’s a bit bumpy and it’s always a challenge to put a lap together but that’s nothing to complain about. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Antonio Giovinazzi

“It was a good day, with a positive FP1 and really good FP2 in terms of qualifying as well as race pace. I’m very happy about it, hopefully tomorrow we can also have a smooth qualifying with a similar level of performance. In general terms, it was a good start to our weekend. The bumps in the track are still there and some corners will be very tricky in terms of comfort with the car, but these are the conditions for everyone and we will do our best. We never give up, we showed in the last few races we can be in the fight for points so that has to be our target.”

Aston Martin F1

Lance Stroll

“It was great fun out there today. There were big crowds in the stands and I enjoy this track. It has been a positive start so far with competitive pace and we have learned a lot too. Managing the tyres will be crucial on Sunday because it is very easy to overheat them in these hot conditions, and we saw that today, plus it is a demanding track generally with some quick sections. We finished the day in P6 and, while I expect others to improve tomorrow, we have some good momentum that we will carry into the weekend.”

Sebastian Vettel

“Today we ran a different practice programme to the majority of the field because we will be taking a grid penalty [due to changing elements of the power unit], so that means our focus is on the race, rather than qualifying. We maximised the sessions to work on longer runs and gather lots of data to review. Hopefully, that will help us on Sunday and we will be in good shape for the race. Although we will start further back, Austin is a track where you can overtake and the hotter conditions will be a tough test for all of us, which will hopefully create opportunities to move forward in the race.”

Alpine F1

Alpine F1 Team finished today’s practice for the United States Grand Prix narrowly outside the top ten after a far from straightforward Friday at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin.

With both Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon returning to Texas for the first time since 2018, the pair found themselves just on the edge of the top ten in both practice sessions around the scorching hot 5.513km circuit.

In the morning session, Fernando’s track time was cut short due to an operational issue experienced immediately after he left the garage. Once the car was recovered and checked over, Fernando resumed his session with just under twenty minutes left on the clock and ended up in fifteenth position on limited running.

On the other side of the garage, Esteban experienced a trouble-free morning. He ran on Softs (C4) and finished ahead of his team-mate in twelfth with a 1min 36.970secs.

For Free Practice 2, Fernando sampled Mediums (C3) and Softs, while Esteban ran Hards (C2) and Softs. In the last few moments of the session, Fernando hit the wall at the penultimate corner after running slightly wide, but he was able to safely return his A521 to the garage.

At the end of the hour, Esteban finished eleventh on a 1min 36.158secs, with Fernando two tenths down in thirteenth position on a 1min 36.376secs.

Esteban Ocon

“Today for me was like discovering a totally different track to when I was last here in 2018. There are a lot more bumps, more dirt on track and some different rules with track limits in places, so it was an interesting challenge today. We improved the car from FP1 to FP2 and we still have areas to work on. It’s not perfect or where we want to be, but we can work overnight and see what we can do tomorrow. It was nice to sample the helmet camera today. It’s awesome to see the footage, as it really gives the vision of how it feels driving a Formula 1 car. To have that technology available is definitely something cool as it shares our point of view. Only 20 drivers have that perspective, and now we can share a glimpse of that to everyone!”

Fernando Alonso

“It was not the easiest day out there for us. We had an issue in FP1, but our mechanics fixed it very quickly which was good, and we got some running in. It’s quite demanding here with the bumpy surface and track conditions. I clipped the barrier at the end of the session, so it shows how challenging it is. It’s difficult to know where we are in the timesheets, but there is definitely some work for us to do tonight. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow and hopefully we have a slightly smoother day.”

Davide Brivio, Racing Director

“It was not our strongest Friday of the season today. For Fernando especially, it was more complicated than usual. We had an issue in FP1, which was quickly fixed, with no physical damage sustained to the car and then in FP2 he lightly hit the wall at Turn 19 towards the end of the session. So, he missed out on some track time today but it was a more productive day for Esteban. Now we will try to use the all information that we collectively have to improve for tomorrow. There was some pre-weekend talk on the bumps here, they are an issue but the drivers are trying to adapt to it together with the car. We’re looking forward to tomorrow, we’ll keep working and we aim to make some improvements.”

AlphaTauri

Pierre Gasly

“It’s been quite a difficult afternoon for us, the car just didn’t seem to click at all, so we’ve got a lot of work to do ahead of tomorrow. I think this is the toughest FP2 we’ve had this season, it’s very strange as up until now we’ve been competitive everywhere, but it’s been very difficult here in Austin today. We’ll work hard tonight, I’m sure we definitely have more pace to find, and I’m confident we can be more competitive come Qualifying.”

Yuki Tsunoda

“It was a really enjoyable first day running here in Austin, this is obviously another new track for me but I think I’ve found a good approach quite quickly and it’s been fun to drive. However, there are lots of things for us to work on tonight, as the pace of the car so far isn’t quite there, and I’ve also struggled with track limits at Turn 19. We’ll analyse all the data and I believe we can be back to our strong performance again tomorrow.”

Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer)

“Today’s running has proved more difficult than we’d anticipated, and not what we’ve come to expect as a team on a Friday. The track is tough on tyres, especially on the rears, and that combined with the hotter than usual temperatures gave the tyres a very hard time. We really struggled with oversteer, so we tried a variety of set-up items across FP1 and FP2, but it was still difficult to find the stability that was required. We will need to review all the changes we have made today and refine the choices for tomorrow. We’ve got a good team of engineers so I am confident that we will understand the limitations from the data and return to our usual level of competitiveness for FP3.”

Haas F1

Round 17 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship began with practice on Friday at Circuit of the Americas as teams prepared for Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.

Track action consisted of two 60-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.513-kilometer (3.426-mile), 20-turn circuit – Formula 1 basking in the Texan heat on opening day with air temperature hovering around 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and track temperature peaking at 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

Mick Schumacher kicked off FP1 with a wake-up run in his VF-21 on the Pirelli P Zero White hard tire – Nikita Mazepin utilizing the Yellow medium compound to start. A switch to the Red soft rubber for a baseline stint delivered a best lap of 1:40.323 for Schumacher. Mazepin failed to set a competitive lap time after an off at Turn 19 cost the Russian the best of his tire set. A final high-fuel outing finished FP1 – Schumacher’s session ending a little earlier than planned after contact with Perez (Red Bull Racing) at Turn 12 – the German returning to the garage as a precaution.

FP2 proved to be another workmanlike affair with Schumacher ending the session 17th overall on the timesheets thanks to a quali sim lap of 1:37.041 on the soft tires. Mazepin was 20th with a best effort of 1:38.026 – also on the soft compound. Schumacher also used the second practice to sample the medium rubber with Mazepin trying out the hard tires to start. Both cars finished Friday’s running with another high fuel run through to the checkered flag.

Uralkali Haas F1 Team ran a total of 83 laps on Friday across FP1 and FP2 – 42 by Mazepin and 41 by Schumacher.

Nikita Mazepin

“It was bumpy and high-speed which isn’t ideal, but it definitely gives character to the circuit. I haven’t had the easiest day with traffic, the track is very long but for some reason I was just not able to fit it together. I saw lots of cars complaining about it so unfortunately on a track where degradation is so high, we couldn’t get the one lap pace we needed today. It should be good tomorrow.”

Mick Schumacher

“I loved it – it’s fun driving here and it’s nice seeing the crowd out. It was a decent start to our first weekend in Austin with still lots to do though. We had a few patches which were very grippy for some reason, some others that weren’t, but it’s about finding the right line and the right set-up for these circumstances which I think will stay all weekend. It would be great to have another Q2 appearance to confirm what we did in Turkey, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Günther Steiner

“Well, the most important element of today was that we were back in the United States in front of fans having missed out last year. It’s been great to see everyone here enjoying themselves and the atmosphere is always energetic at COTA – it’s a real boost and bodes well for the rest of the weekend. On track, it was a solid day – nothing too unexpected from the two free practice sessions, it was all pretty standard. We are where we are performance-wise – we know that, but it was good for Nikita and Mick to get their first laps in at another new circuit, it’s all part of their rookie experience.”

Ferrari

The best thing about Friday in Austin was the crowd, as so many fans turned up to pack the grandstands at the Circuit of the Americas, right from the start of free practice. It shows how much interest in Formula 1 has grown in the United States, as the sport returns here after being absent last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. There were a lot of Ferrari flags being waved in the crowd and plenty of the fans were sporting caps and shirts bearing the Prancing Horse emblem, confirming the long-time popularity of the Maranello marque in America.

On track. Both Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow drivers got through their planned track programme today, completing 85 laps between them. Carlos and Charles worked on set up and on getting to grips with the bumpy nature of the Austin track, especially in the first two sectors.

FP1. In the morning, Leclerc and Sainz started off with the Medium tyres setting times of 1’37”790 and 1’37”824 respectively. Once on the Softs, they significantly improved their times getting down to 1’36”334 and 1’36”508. Charles did 18 laps and his team-mate did 20.

FP2. In the afternoon, the programme followed similar lines, with the drivers again starting on Medium tyres to check the track evolution, while also fine tuning the SF21. Their first quick laps were a 1’36”464 for the Monegasque and 1’36”326 for the Spaniard. At the mid-point of the session they switched to Softs for a qualifying simulation when they set their fastest times: 1’35”572 for Charles and 1’35”919 for Carlos, the latter encountering traffic in the final sector. When it came to race simulation, the pair split the task, with Charles on the Mediums and Carlos on the Softs.

Programme. Tomorrow, the final hour of free practice starts at 13 (20 CET), with qualifying getting underway at 16 (23 CET). The United States Grand Prix starts on Sunday at 14 (21 CET).

Charles Leclerc

“It feels great to be back in the United States. The atmosphere here is always so special, both at the circuit and around the city of Austin. Everyone is really friendly and enthusiastic and it’s been great to already see fans waving their flags and supporting us in the grandstands today.

In terms of our sessions, we ran through the planned programme, testing a bit of everything. What was challenging were the bumps on the track which made it very tricky to drive.
With temperatures running quite high, tyre management was a key factor. Tyres overheated, especially in the third sector. You have to find a perfect balance between pushing in the first sector while losing time in the last one, or saving the tyres in the first part to be quicker at the end of your lap. We will do some more work in FP3 to understand how to optimise this ahead of qualifying tomorrow.”

Carlos Sainz

“It’s good to be back in Austin! The track felt great as always, right from the start. It’s a great circuit and very enjoyable to drive. It’s got bumpier over the years but I think it gives character to the track and it presents new challenges for the cars and the drivers.

We tried different set ups today and improved a bit from FP1 to FP2. Overall, I’m happy with our Friday and the pace is promising, taking into account I got traffic in Sector 3 of my fast lap and couldn’t close an otherwise good looking lap.
Track temperature was very high today and that obviously had an effect on the long runs, where degradation appeared quickly on the Softs. That could make things tricky come Sunday, so we’ll keep an eye on it.“

Mercedes F1

A productive day of running for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, as Formula One returned to action at the Circuit of the Americas

 Valtteri set the pace in the first practice session, finishing just 0.045s clear of Lewis in P2.
 Lewis was third fastest in second practice, narrowly finishing ahead of Valtteri in P4.
 Earlier in FP2, Lewis set a lap time good enough to finish the session fastest, but it was deleted due to track limits at Turn 19.
 Our focus across Friday was on optimising the long-run pace of the car, as well as understanding tyre degradation and track conditions with the bumps.

Valtteri Bottas

I think we have a good car here and even with my five-place grid penalty, we can still have a good race from wherever I end up starting. Today showed it is pretty close at the front but it’s still all to play for. Because of the penalty, the main thing for me was focusing on the long-run pace and that’s what we did, especially in FP2. There’s still a lot of work to do with the set-up, as it wasn’t easy to drive and, in some places, the track has lost quite a lot of grip, so the balance was inconsistent. But we’ll look at the best options tonight and see what we can do, because I will be racing other cars and need to overtake if I want to make it to the podium and fight for the win.

Lewis Hamilton

Generally, it’s been a good day but there’s still work to do. The first session was really good, but I made some changes for FP2 and I wasn’t as happy with the car. The pace wasn’t bad, but I think we lost a bit of ground to everyone, so we need to dig into the data tonight and figure out why. The surface here feels rougher and that means it’s a struggle to keep the temperature out of the tyres, so there’s more degradation than we’ve experienced before. It’s been a productive day so we have plenty of findings that we should be able to navigate well and improve for tomorrow.

Andrew Shovlin

The first session was very good in terms of single lap pace; both cars were getting good grip out of the Soft tyres and the balance was in a good place. The track is pretty bumpy, which causes issues in a couple of corners, but it’s not so different to previous years and certainly not as bad as we feared. The second session didn’t look as strong, it was easy to overheat the tyres and that was making it harder to be consistent. Lewis had a lap deleted that would have us looking more competitive, but regardless, it seemed like we’d lost a bit of pace. That could be down to a number of things; perhaps we’d not adapted to the hotter conditions well, others may have improved, or it could be that some of our changes haven’t worked as expected. It’s useful to have found a few issues that we can get stuck into this this evening as there’s plenty we can do to improve, but the overall feeling from the second session is that it’s going to be very tight at the front and both Red Bulls are looking like they are in the fight for pole.

Williams

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

Today has been difficult, with tyre management dominating most of our running. We didn’t get it quite right this afternoon and we’ve got a lot to go through tonight to work out a better approach to race pace in the hot conditions. In FP1 the pace was quite good and so fundamentally the car isn’t too bad, but we do need to find a better compromise for race stint pace.

George has fitted a new power unit this weekend and so will start at the back of the grid and this obviously increases the importance of his race pace this weekend.

Fortunately, the bumps on the circuit aren’t too bad and haven’t compromised our running too much. They can cause a few issues if abused and so we will need to continue to treat them with some respect.

The circuit remains an interesting and exciting challenge and we are looking forward to taming it better tomorrow.

George Russell

It’s great to be back here in the USA and driving around the incredible Circuit of the Americas track. The race here was sorely missed last year. Nevertheless, we had a tricky day today dealing with the high temperatures and difficult track conditions. We’ve got plenty to review overnight and will be working hard and aiming to solve some issues ahead of FP3 and Qualifying tomorrow.

Nicholas Latifi

It’s been a tricky day, but despite that, I’ve really enjoyed getting my first proper laps in at the Circuit of The Americas. It’s a fun track to drive, especially that first sector. I think there’s definitely some work we can do overnight to improve the feeling of the car for both low and high fuel runs. The conditions we’ve had today have obviously been quite different to what we’ve experienced over the last few races with much hotter track temperatures, so that presents some challenges. Hopefully we can make some gains, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow.

McLaren

Lando Norris

"A decent Friday. It was warm today, and a bit tricky at times – quite bumpy and windy. So not ideal in terms of driving conditions, but in terms of pace, relative to others, I think we’re in a good position. Tonight we’ll work to try and make it a bit nicer to drive, and a bit easier to have some confidence to push that little bit more come qualifying. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow."

Daniel Ricciardo

“It was a pretty good day, pretty solid. There are some good signs. Still some work to do, for sure, there’s a few things overnight – but nothing crazy. I think we’ll work through it, a few little set-up changes, but I think we’re in a decent place. We’re obviously competitive, both cars in the top five, so I’ll try to find a few tenths overnight. It’s just good to be back in Texas. The great state that is Texas. I’m Australian by birth, Texan by the good grace of God!”

Andrea Stella - Executive Director, Racing

“It’s great to be back at the Circuit of the Americas. It’s a beautiful track layout, very bumpy but that makes the challenge more interesting – finding the right set-up, making the right compromises. It’s an enjoyable place to work and the fans generate a fantastic atmosphere. Today was pretty normal on track. We know this track is quite aggressive on tyres and so we were focused primarily on understanding tyre behaviour in these unusually warm conditions. We looked okay relative to the midfield battle and tomorrow we’ll hopefully continue to learn and progress, working towards scoring good points on Sunday.”

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