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Friday practice quotes – Mercedes, McLaren

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451Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, P1 – 1:41.028, 3rd; P2 – 1:39.909, 1st

“It was crazy conditions out there. In the very, very warm temperatures, it’s a huge challenge to get everything right. The cars are on the edge and the tyre degradation was higher than expected today – we are sliding a bit more this year, perhaps because of the reduced downforce levels. We are still having some small issues and therefore we were not able to maximise everything today. The quickest teams seem to be closer together than in Australia, so we still have work to do overnight to improve our level of performance.”

Lewis Hamilton, P1 – 1:40.691, 1st; P2 – 1:40.051, 4th
“I’m happy with our progress over the two sessions today and we were able to complete our programme. The car feels good and our focus was on trying to understand the tyres and make sure the balance is right for the weekend. There are areas where we can improve so we’re keeping focused on our own work, rather than being distracted by what the others are doing. It was pretty tough with the temperature and humidity and it’s so important to keep hydrated here. We would love a good result this weekend, particularly as it is the home race for Petronas, but it’s impossible to predict what will happen at this stage. It’s one of the trickiest races of the year so we just have to make sure we tick all the boxes and that it all comes together for us.”

Toto Wolff, Mercedes team executive director
“We had an incident-free day but not an easy one, as we worked hard to adapt to the challenging conditions here in Sepang. The high temperatures mean we have to adapt both the cooling package and the set-up of the car to cope and we worked through that programme diligently today. It’s not easy to draw any firm conclusions yet about performance; we will keep working hard overnight and see how we compare tomorrow when it counts.”

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Jenson Button, P1 – 1:41.111, 4th; P2 – 1:40.628, 8th

“We’re finding it tough out there today – especially in the heat. We’re not as strong as we’d like to be in high-speed corners – and, when you have downforce issues, they’re further amplified by the hot weather. So our long runs were tricky, in terms of both tyre degradation and outright pace.

“We’re now going through the data, but the upgrades we brought here seem to be giving us something – so that’s encouraging – but there’s a lot of work still to be done. I’m sure people are getting excited about individual lap-times, but they don’t count for too much around here because you can usually overtake. It’s the long runs that you need to analyse, and that’s where we’re finding it a bit more difficult.”

Kevin Magnussen, P1 – 1:41.274, 5th; P2 – 1:41.014, 12th
“I’ve never driven a car in these sorts of temperatures, so I learned a lot today. As I say, the track temperatures are so hot here that the tyres are really suffering, but it’s the same for everyone, so we need to try and get on top of things before tomorrow’s sessions. I’m going to try and set the car up in order to protect the rears.

“There’s always something you can improve, and we’ve currently got a lot to think about and a lot of data to sift through tonight. For me, overheating the rears is my biggest problem – the tyres are behaving very differently from how they did in Australia – so that’ll be my focus. Still, I’m convinced we can make some useful changes to the car overnight.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director
“This morning’s session was an important one for us, because it gave us the first opportunity to carry out on-track correlation of our new nose-box. Initial impressions were positive. Both Jenson and Kevin were immediately able to put in competitive lap-times this morning, and both guys also reported that our car felt good in high-speed and low-speed corners alike.

“This afternoon was a little trickier. The changes we’d introduced between the two sessions didn’t make the improvements we’d been hoping for, and we’re aware that we’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us tonight to get our cars into a stronger position for tomorrow. Still, today is only the first of three days of running. Moreover, I know how hard our engineers will be pushing tonight, and consequently I think we can make up some ground in terms of competitiveness relative to our nearest rivals before qualifying.”

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