Japanese GP: Renault Friday practice notes

Rain rain and more rain in Suzuka... with forecasts for more. Weather forecasts predicted rain for the opening day of practice at Suzuka, and they weren't wrong! Heavy rain arrived in Suzuka during Thursday night and did not stop throughout the...

Rain rain and more rain in Suzuka... with forecasts for more.

Weather forecasts predicted rain for the opening day of practice at Suzuka, and they weren't wrong! Heavy rain arrived in Suzuka during Thursday night and did not stop throughout the day. The conditions limited all drivers to a very small number of laps (around fifteen compared to 40 on a normal Friday) and prevented them from making significant progress on car set-up.

What's more, the weather is expected to worsen tomorrow, with strong winds and rain, before improving on Sunday. Today's fifteen laps could prove to be the teams' entire preparation prior to the Grand Prix proper.

Jacques Villeneuve:

"There is no point in talking too much about our work today: the conditions were very poor and the car was aquaplaning a lot, which meant it was actually floating on the track surface and the driver had no control. However, we managed to complete a small part of our programme and given that it was my first time driving this car in the wet, I was pretty pleased. The R24 is quite easy to drive and predictable in these conditions."

"In terms of driving Suzuka in the wet, there are a few things you have to watch out for. The asphalt is old, meaning that the rubber that has been laid down on the racing line becomes very slippery in the wet and must be avoided. Equally, the cambered corners encourage you to take a wider line as water can collect on the inside. But overall, when the grip is inconsistent, the most important thing to be able to do is adapt quickly."

Fernando Alonso:

"We didn't learn much today: it ended up being a case of just getting used to driving the car again after two weeks. The conditions were very hard, and there was too much water on the track, which meant we were aquaplaning in lots of places. It was the same for everybody, but with bad weather forecast for the rest of the weekend, it didn't really help any of us either!"

"When you are driving an F1 car in the wet, it always feels very light and you don't have a good feeling. At the wheel, the best thing you can do is to follow the wheeltracks of other cars, because that is where the most water has been cleared from, so the grip levels are best. Whatever you do, though, you must remember that the optimum line is changing lap by lap, and react to it."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering:

"When there is as much water on the circuit as we saw today, it is difficult to complete two consecutive laps in a consistent fashion, which makes any comparison nearly impossible. The only real thing we can do is to optimise the electronic control systems, which we managed to do."

"We are expecting conditions to worsen tomorrow, but Sunday should actually prove to be a mirror image of today, with the weather improving as the day goes on. The small amount of running completed today will therefore be useful, but we will mainly rely on the wet set-ups that we prepare before every race."

"Everybody was in the same situation today and the conditions certainly look like giving us some interesting conundrums: for example, we will make a dry tyre choice tomorrow without having run either compound this weekend. I think that overall, though, finding the right set-up will require a cunning combination of experience and educated guesswork!"

Fernando Alonso
Chassis: R24-07
Practice session 1: 1:54.012, 4 laps, 10th
Practice session 2: 1:49.712, 7 laps, 11th

Jacques Villeneuve
Chassis: R24-08
Practice session 1: 1:57.547, 5 laps, 13th
Practice session 2: 1:49.672, 8 laps, 10th

-renault-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Fernando Alonso