2013 Japanese Grand Prix – Free Practice Report
"This weekend has been overshadowed by tragedy"
Suzuka Circuit, Friday October 11
JENSON BUTTON, MP4-28A-04
|FP1||1m35.635s (+1.478s)||19 laps||11th|
|FP2||1m34.912s (+1.060s)||34 laps||9th|
"It’s great to be out on the circuit. Throughout the day, we saw a lot of drivers making mistakes, but that’s the nature of this place – it’s unforgiving. Obviously, we don’t like to see accidents like Checo’s, but you appreciate that you have to respect this place.
"It’s been a relatively good Friday. We found a good balance on the Prime tyre, but still need to do some work with the Option, because we didn’t gain too much going from the harder tyre to the softer one.
"Nevertheless, while both compounds are working reasonably well, I believe there’s a cooler weather front coming in for tomorrow, so we need to be careful about the direction we take with the set-up to best cope with it.
"Today’s news about Maria de Villota is horrendous and tragic. She had been through so much – much more than most people will ever have to go through in their lives – and it’s been so tough for her. This is a real shock to the whole Formula 1 ‘family’ and the world of motorsport. My thoughts are with her family at this time."
SERGIO PEREZ, MP4-28A-03*
|FP1||1m35.450s (+1.293s)||27 laps||9th|
|FP2||1m35.709s (+1.857s)||8 laps||16th
*Checo will run chassis #1 on Saturday and Sunday
"My accident during FP3 was my error. I was setting the car up for the entry to Spoon, put my right-rear wheel onto the grass, and just lost the back end. At the speed I was travelling, and with relatively little run-off, there wasn’t much room to scrub off speed so I went straight into the wall.
"The impact was quite hard, but fortunately I’m fine.
"The accident meant we didn’t get the track time we needed for the high-fuel and Option tyre runs in our programme for the afternoon. But we’ll be able to use some of the data generated by Jenson, and our aim for tomorrow has to be to get into Q3.
"I only heard the very bad news about Maria de Villota at the end of the session. It’s incredibly sad to learn this news about somebody you know. My thoughts are obviously with Maria and her family during this terrible time."
MARTIN WHITMARSH - Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
"Checo’s accident in FP2 was obviously a setback for the team, but the main thing for all of us is that he was able to walk away unhurt from what was quite a sizeable impact. Unfortunately, his chassis wasn’t so fortunate, and it will be replaced with the spare by the mechanics overnight.
"Jenson made good progress throughout the day and both sides of the garage will be a little more dependent on the data he accrued in the afternoon – particularly his experience of the Option tyre, and his work running on a heavier fuel load.
"However, our progress on the track this weekend has been overshadowed by tragedy. The entire F1 community is very shocked by the news that Maria is no longer with us. She was an inspiration not just to women in this sport, but also to all those who suffered life-threatening injuries. Her story, determination and subsequent inspiration flowed from F1 through sport as a whole, and to see the images of her in Barcelona on the grid earlier this year, surrounded by a throng of jubilant children, told a great story. Maria participated in the Manhattan Fans’ Forum on behalf of her team, Marussia F1, last year, and made a lasting impression on the fans who attended. She will be sadly missed, and we wish to pass on our sincere condolences to her family."