DANIEL RICCIARDO, Position: 7th, (3rd Practice – P4, 1:39.755)
”It’s tough to get a lap together around here, for a new track it’s really high in grip but at the same time it’s hard to read the grip; it’s not such a natural feeling that it gives us behind the wheel, but it’s fun and a new challenge. We were trying to get the fronts in and get grip out of them and on the last lap I lost the rear. We’re better off than we were yesterday, but I was hoping for more than seventh.”
SEBASTIAN VETTEL, Position: 11th, (3rd Practice – P10, 1:40.338)
“I wasn’t comfortable in the car today. It was very difficult, I think we took a step back from this morning and we expected the rear to be a lot stronger and the track to pick up more than it did. The car felt nervous, so I couldn’t take the speed into the corners, I lost the rear many times around the lap and therefore wasn’t quick enough.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER: “A difficult session for both our divers, finishing what will become sixth and tenth. We seem to have struggled to have one lap pace so far this weekend, hopefully our long runs have looked stronger and we can make some progress from those grid positions tomorrow.”
THIERRY SALVI: “Daniel did a good job to qualify sixth, but it was a difficult session for us today. We didn’t get on top of our set-up issues and weren’t quick enough to challenge those at the front. Straight-line speed seemed to be an issue too, and that’s especially important at a track like Sochi. Power Unit-wise, at this stage of the season it’s important to manage the mileage and prevent any reliability issues. That could prove vital tomorrow in helping us to score a good result.”
Final Countdown – My 10 minutes before the race starts
The 10 minutes before the lights go out for the formation lap and start of the race are some of the most intense in F1. This time, Electronic Support Group Leader Gill Hall reveals that for her the period leading up to the start has some of the most unnervingly quiet moments of the whole race weekend…
During that final 10 minutes I’m normally sitting in the garage manning the racks because the support engineer for each car has gone to the grid along with the electricians, so I’m the one left in the garage looking after everything.
There are procedures that the guys on the grid carry out and I’ll give them appropriate feedback during that process. That changes with five minutes to go. They’ll then take the power off, so the ‘wheelie bin’ and the laptops are no longer connected, and they won’t be able to ‘see’ the car anymore. My guys will put the car into what we call ‘P2’ mode, whereby the telemetry stream comes through to the garage. At that point I’ll check the telemetry and the general system health to make sure both cars are OK for us and also for Renault. That usually takes us to the three-minute mark and if a discrepancy then appears there are still things we have time to do. A couple of races ago one of the Renault guys noticed an issue on one of the cars and requested that we power cycle the car, which means we simply turn everything on the car off and turn it on again, which should reset it. At that stage we had about 90 seconds to do that. Obviously that’s not normal but it does show that there are still solutions available right up to the wire.
Prior to the car going into P2, I’m in the dark because the guys on the grid are connected to the car, but in the garage I’m not. That is a nerve-racking period, especially if there is an issue happening. But you just have to let the guys on the grid deal with it. And obviously their focus is not on giving me a running commentary on what they’re doing. A lot of the time it’s about picking the right time to get on the radio and ask for feedback. You do watch the TV feed to see if you can spot anything from that. There is often a period of quiet darkness where I might not know what’s happening and that can be pretty unnerving!