First time out for F1 cars at the impressively equipped Sepang circuit found Jacques Villeneuve setting the pace in the first sessions of untimed practice. The day started wet, and with most teams still seeking a good balance as they evaluated...
First time out for F1 cars at the impressively equipped Sepang circuit found Jacques Villeneuve setting the pace in the first sessions of untimed practice. The day started wet, and with most teams still seeking a good balance as they evaluated not only Bridgestone's wet-weather tyres but the two available dry-weather compounds, a big improvement in lap times is expected during qualifying tomorrow afternoon.
Yoshihiko Ichikawa, Bridgestone Motorsport Technical Manager: "There is a reasonably big difference between the performance of the Soft and Extra Soft compounds here, but the surprise on this new circuit is that the Extra Soft is more consistent than usual and did not show the sudden degradation which we have seen elsewhere. At Nurburgring and the Hungaroring we saw lap times on the Extra Soft drop between the second and tenth laps, then improve again as the understeer disappeared. Here that has not been a problem. On the other hand, we saw today that we will have to keep an eye on the wear factor with the softer rubber. It has has been quite high on the Extra Soft, especially at the rear."
Jock Clear, Senior Race Engineer, British American Racing: "On this brand new circuit everyone has been in the same situation today, with the engineers having to find a good setup and the drivers learning the layout here at Sepang. Jacques has always been good on new circuits: he quickly learns the right lines and understands which way to go with the setups. We have therefore made a lot of changes since this morning, in fact we have probably changed the car more today than we did in the last three races. After a short period of wet running this morning we stayed with the same set of dry tyres virtually all day, and we are very happy because the tyre we chose seems to be showing better durability than anyone else's. We did put a new set on at the end of the session, just to check the balance, but we didn't attempt to set a fast time on them. I can confirm therefore that Jacques' quickest time of the day was set on worn tyres. If we find that we need more outright performance tomorrow, then we may review our choice, but so far we are more than happy with the compound that we used today. The circuit will be quicker tomorrow and we will need to find more performance, but we have learned a lot today and we are very happy."
Gabriele Dellicolli, Alesi's Race Engineer, Red Bull Sauber Petronas: "Today was quite difficult for us, but of course we are quite pleased to be in 3rd place on the provisional grid. This morning we stayed out quite a long time on the wet tyres, but that helped us to find a good balance, which meant that everything went well straightaway in the dry this afternoon. The changing weather here presents us all with extra problems, especially because the rain tends to fall so heavily. As far as tomorrow is concerned, we noticed that it tends to rain here at about 1 o'clock. We are enjoying our first visit here, not just being in our sponsor's country but also because this is such a nice circuit. It looks as though overtaking should be easier here than at many other circuits, and that will allow us to develop some different strategies for the race."
TEMPERATURES AIR TRACK WEATHER Morning 28:-30: 32:-38: Cloudy - dry Afternoon 30:-31: 35:-38: Cloudy - dry