“An unusual and inconclusive day”
Sochi Autodrom, Friday October 9
With weather more akin to a wet weekend in Margate than a balmy day on the Baltic coast, there was little action to report from either FP1 or FP2 at the Sochi Autodrom today.
Indeed, the most noteworthy incident of the day happened before first practice, when a large diesel spillage on the circuit rendered the track unusable, and prompted a 30-minute delay while safety crews cleared the extensive spillage.
Lunchtime rain meant the afternoon was effectively meaningless, with only eight drivers setting lap-times during the session. Nonetheless, both our drivers worked hard, setting the fifth- (Fernando) and eighth- (Jenson) fastest lap-times of the afternoon.
The team has taken a strategic decision to change components on Fernando’s power unit – these mean he will take a 35-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.
#14 Fernando Alonso
FP1 1m47.443s (+3.088s) 16 laps 14th
FP2 2m01.077s (+0.619s) 12 laps 5th
“We had a couple of extra things to learn about today. We installed a new engine for FP1, then removed it and fitted an existing one for FP2. This was the engine that we ran at Suzuka a fortnight ago. So, regardless of the weather, we had to go out and calibrate the engine – the data we gathered showed that it was all working as expected.
“Unfortunately, I have a 35-place grid penalty due to those component changes, so we need to see how we can best manage the race. It looks like being a one-stopper for everybody, so there won’t be much we can do in terms of strategy. I’ll just try and enjoy the race regardless of the result – we have a good opportunity to learn about the car, so there’s lots we can still do this weekend.
“I’ll start 20th – so I’ll attack every corner and have fun on Sunday.”
#22 Jenson Button
FP1 1m46.231s (+1.876s) 12 laps 11th
FP2 2m02.845s (+2.387s) 8 laps 8th
“Despite the weather and this morning’s track issues, we managed to get a fair amount of running under our belts today. FP1 was disappointing for everyone, but at least Fernando and I made the best of the conditions.
“There was very low grip out there – and the water settled strangely on the circuit. It didn’t run off anywhere, so I think a bit more drainage could be needed – especially at Turn One.
“We also struggled to get useful tyre temperatures when the track was at its wettest. This year’s car hasn’t been the best in wet conditions, but we’re getting to the bottom of those issues now.
“FP3 will be action-packed for everybody – I’m looking forward to it.”
Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“It’s been an unusual and inconclusive day.
“This morning’s diesel spillage, and subsequent delay, meant there was little effective running during this morning’s FP1 session; then the afternoon rain shower, which affected only half the circuit, made it impossible to learn anything conclusively this afternoon either.
“These sorts of unpredictable occasions definitely put the team on their mettle, however, and mean that we go into tomorrow’s sessions – which we anticipate will be dry – with much potentially to gain.
“Nonetheless, for the fans who arrived in high spirits hoping to see a few hours of thrilling action, it’s been a somewhat lacklustre day. The fans are the ones who make this great sport what it is, and, after sitting in the rain for much of today, I hope we can give them lots to cheer about on Saturday and Sunday.
“Both drivers did a good job to keep plugging away in the wet, and we’ve got some useful information to analyse ahead of Saturday. For Fernando, this is a special weekend – it’s his 250th grand prix, an achievement that establishes him as the sixth most experienced racer in Formula 1 history. Bravo, Fernando!”
Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport
“With the tricky track conditions during both FP1 and FP2 sessions, we made the best of the time allotted today.
“During FP1, we applied our new spec-four ICE to Fernando's car, and confirmed the fundamental performance of the engine on the track. Unfortunately, the session was cut short to 60 minutes, so we had less time than we would have liked, but we were able to get good feedback from the engine for the races to come.
“Jenson ran solidly today, setting up the car during FP1, but his track time was also cut short owing to the heavy rain in FP2. Hopefully, the weather conditions will improve for the rest weekend, and we can prepare to run in the dry.”