The Honda Racing F1 Team enjoyed a positive start to what is one of the most demanding grand prix weekends of the year for both car and driver. At the conclusion of the opening free practice sessions, Jenson Button was lying in fourth position ...
The Honda Racing F1 Team enjoyed a positive start to what is one of the most demanding grand prix weekends of the year for both car and driver. At the conclusion of the opening free practice sessions, Jenson Button was lying in fourth position whilst team-mate Rubens Barrichello ended the day in 11th place.
As predicted, the weather conditions were very hot but no more so than those experienced in Australia just one week ago. The ambient temperature was never below 30C but the cockpit temperature exceeded 50C and unlike Melbourne the humidity was over 70%.
The two drivers completed a total of 115 laps between them. Jenson was ninth fastest in session one, but managed to improve his fastest lap by 1.2s in session two to jump up the time sheets to fourth place. Rubens was 13th in session one and he too managed to improve his lap time in session two to end the day in 11th place.
Car No: 16
Bes time: 01:37.282
Best time: 01:36.037
Car No: 17
Best time: 01:37.776
Best time: 01:36.879
Weather Very hot and humid (70%)
Temperatures Air: 28-34C Track: 40-57C
Q: What was the focus of your practice programme today?
A: "The track here at Sepang has been completely resurfaced since last year, so it was important to see how much of a difference this has made. We also ran through the usual tyre evaluation and set-up work and we have completed a lot of running, which is good. All in all, a very valuable day of testing in preparation for the weekend."
Q: Fourth position appears to be quite promising. Is this a good indication of what we can expect for the weekend ahead?
A: "We have made good progress over the day and I'm happy with the car and the balance, which is positive. It's always difficult to know where we stand on a Friday versus the rest of the field but I'm hopeful that we can continue to improve the car through this evening and tomorrow."
Q: How is the set-up of the RA108 after today's practice sessions?
A: "I was quite happy with the set-up of the car on old tyres this afternoon and we achieved some good work on the long run pace. However, I am still struggling with the set-up on new tyres so we need to look at the data overnight and improve on that for tomorrow."
Q: After a strong drive in Melbourne last weekend, what are you expecting from this race?
A: "We had a good weekend in Melbourne but it is important to keep our feet on the ground and continue to work as hard as possible. The car is very driveable and providing we get the set-up right for qualifying tomorrow, we are aiming to make it into the top twelve. If we can achieve that, then I am confident we can have a good race from there."
Head of Race & Test Engineering
Q: What are the particular challenges placed on the car and driver by the climatic conditions at this race?
A: "We came to Malaysia expecting very high temperatures but in fact we have not yet seen the exceptionally hot weather we experienced in Melbourne. For the car it is the temperature that is critical for reliability; the driver has another issue - that of very high humidity, which is more difficult than heat alone since the body's cooling is less effective. Dehydration is a real issue during the race and they have to work hard at managing their fluid intake. The heat and the severity of the newly resurfaced track are proving a challenge for the tyres and we are seeing both fronts and rears overheating."
Q: What are your expectations at this stage for the rest of the weekend?
A: "So far the results look quite encouraging. The balance of the car is not yet where we want it to be so we can still improve. However the pace is quite encouraging, particularly on race fuel loads. Whilst it is perhaps optimistic at this stage in the car's development, we hope to be challenging for a place in the final qualifying session tomorrow."