Kevin Magnussen: “It was a pretty decent day for us today, and the car feels good”
The first day’s running at the brand-new Sochi Autodrom passed without mishap for the McLaren team, and both Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button declared themselves reasonably satisfied with their day’s work.
Kevin Magnussen (FP1: 1m43.026s, 28 laps, 5th / FP2: 1m40.494s, 32 laps, 2nd): “It was a pretty decent day for us today, and the car feels good. However, this is a brand-new track, so it’s hard to be sure of where we really are because we were mostly working on set-up rather than outright pace.
“However, I can confirm that it’s a nice circuit, it has quite a lot of grip, the surface is pretty good, and it appears to suit the Pirelli tyres, so that makes it quite enjoyable to drive. Also, the Options [tyres] seem to last pretty well, so we might see not a lot of pit-stops in the race. Finally, the track is a bit different from how it felt in the simulator, and also from the impressions I formed when I walked it yesterday; better, to be honest.
“But, as I say, it’s still too early to say anything definitive, because we don’t know if today’s result is the true picture, so we’ll need to wait and see what happens tomorrow.
“Last but far from least, Jules [Bianchi] is very much in our minds, and we’re all still thinking about him and hoping for the best.”
Jenson Button (FP1: 1m42.507s, 28 laps, 3th / FP2: 1m40.718s, 32 laps, 6th): “Things went okay today from the word ‘go’. We were quick on the Primes [tyres], and the Options on high fuel seemed pretty good, too. On low fuel I couldn’t quite get a balance, but hopefully we can improve that tomorrow.
“It’s a circuit that seems to suit us reasonably well at the moment, but it will inevitably evolve tomorrow and we’ll have to be very careful of that.
“In the simulator, however, it wasn’t much fun to drive at all, but here it’s nice to drive, so I can say with confidence that I’m happy with the job the designers and organisers have done.
“There are a few places that are a bit bumpy, but that adds to the challenge. Turn 13 is particularly bumpy on the entry, and your left front wheel is unweighted, so it’s very easy to lock that wheel under braking; it’s pretty tricky there so we’ll have to make sure we get the brake balance right.
“Also, a few of the corners are quite difficult to get right on the exit, because they’re negative-camber, so it’s easy to get a big snap of oversteer.
“Finally, as Kevin says, our thoughts and prayers are with Jules, whom all of us are missing greatly.”
Eric Bouliier - Racing director, McLaren Mercedes: “Our first impressions of the Sochi track are good. Our drivers enjoyed driving on it, and the organisation and facilities here are impressive.
“As ever, when you’re running on a brand-new circuit for the very first time, however, your learning curve is necessarily steep.
“But, as far as we’re concerned, this morning’s and this afternoon’s sessions went more or less as planned, and we’re satisfied with the progress we made during today’s three hours of potential running time.
“Having said that, we’re well aware that a lot may change tomorrow, and indeed on Sunday, so we aren’t about to make any outlandish predictions.
“Suffice it to say, therefore, that both Kevin and Jenson did a good job, as did the team, and that we’ve gathered a lot of data which we’ll crunch this evening in an effort to set ourselves up to qualify both cars in decent grid positions tomorrow.
“Like Kevin and Jenson, I want to end by saying that our thoughts and prayers remain with Jules.”