by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

Japanese F1 Grand Prix 2012: Friday's Free Practice Report (VMM)

- MP4-27A-04
- FP1: 1m34.740s (+0.233s), 26 laps, 2nd
- FP2: 1m32.707s (+0.214s), 32 laps, 2nd

“I have the coolest job! Suzuka is such a phenomenal circuit!

“The first lap out of the pits felt great. Just driving through the first couple of corners and feeling the acceleration, it takes a few laps to get warmed up, but you keep getting faster and faster as you push the limits.

“But you need to be careful. At Spoon we saw a few people making mistakes today. If you put a wheel on the dirt, it’s very easy to lose the car.

“As always, we’ll be fine-tuning the car tonight ahead of tomorrow’s sessions, but it looks very close between ourselves and Red Bull. I feel comfortable with our car – it’s the best that it’s ever been around here – and I think I could have matched Mark’s [Webber] fastest time with an optimal lap.

“It’s going to be very close in qualifying tomorrow.”

- MP4-27A-03
- FP1: 1m34.507s, 20 laps, 1st
- FP2: 1m33.349s (+0.856s), 22 laps, 7th

“I love Japan. This is a crazy race for me – the fans are fantastic, they’re true supporters of all the drivers, and they get so excited about the sport. Also, there’s such a flow about this circuit. It’s important to find the right gear ratios though, because you’re up and down the gearbox all the time.

“I didn’t do too many laps in FP2: the balance wasn’t quite right and we knew we couldn’t go back on the changes we’d made until after the session, so there wasn’t any point doing too much running.

“Still, we know how to dial the car in for FP3 tomorrow, and that’s the important thing. The car felt good this morning, so we’ll go back to something similar with just a few detail changes.

“Overall, the car is working well here. Qualifying will be very competitive, but I think we’ll be up there.”

Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“It’s always a thrill to arrive at Suzuka – it’s a mighty motorsport amphitheatre, and a place which showcases Formula 1 at its finest, whether it’s through the graceful, high-speed sector-one Esses, the pincer-sharp Degner apices or the great sweeping arc of Spoon.

“We spent the morning evaluating and experimenting with a handful of useful new components that we wanted to compare. For FP2, we were conducting set-up experiments across the garage and we’ll assimilate that data tonight in order to determine the cars’ optimum configuration for qualifying and the race. We got some extremely useful data, and that will all filter into the work we do ahead of FP3 tomorrow.

“Both Jenson and Lewis were happy with their cars today. Of course, Jenson’s five-place grid penalty is unfortunate, but, while it puts us on the back-foot, I’m still convinced that he, along with Lewis, will be able to fight for victory on Sunday.”

~ Official photos and report courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes ~

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