Sebastian Vettel was fastest in both qualifying sessions Friday -- though one shouldn't read too much into early practice times -- but all the drivers had rave reviews for Circuit of the Americas, the new track in Austin, Texas, designed for Formula One. Here's what some of them had to say...
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
"I think there were a couple of surprises today in terms of pace, so we'll see tomorrow. The track will constantly improve -- it's good that we are amongst the guys at the top, now we'll try to improve the car to make sure we stay there."
Mark Webber (Red Bull)
"It's a pretty good track, it's quick, especially the first sector which is quite full-on, although sectors two and three are more traditional and similar to other tracks. It was very slippery to start with, which was quite frustrating probably for all of us, but in the end the track rubbered in pretty well and we got into a good rhythm. As with all new circuits, you've got to work out where you can prioritize your time and where to compromise. It's got a bit of everything really, so it's good.
Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
"The circuit? A nice surprise, even if we had an idea of what to expect from the simulator: it's very demanding, especially the first sector which is very fast and where you can really feel the acceleration of a Formula One car. The track is very smooth and not at all porous: it reminds me a lot of Portimao in Portugal, so if it was to rain, it could be like driving on glass."
Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
“It's a nice circuit to drive; the sectors are quite different so there's a good challenge there. Of course, like with any new track there was no grip at the start of the day, which doesn't give you a very good feeling, but as the grip improves it will be more fun to drive for sure. This morning was very slippery, this afternoon less so but you still can't really push and it's a bit tricky to find the limit. There's a lot of improvement to come -- from the track surface and from the setup of the car -- so qualifying will be pretty interesting.”
Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
"This is a great drivers' track -- it's very tough to pull together three perfect sectors. Personally, I find the final two sectors easier than the first; those high-speed changes of direction need a good set-up, and balancing that requirement against the demands of the slow-speed stuff is tricky.
"Turn one probably looks more exciting from the outside than it does from inside the cockpit -- it's certainly not easy, though. You can get oversteer, or lock up, and it's tricky to get a perfect line through there.
Jenson Button (McLaren)
"Turn one to turn nine is a brilliant and free-flowing section – particularly if the car is working well. Turn one is a strange corner though – with a very wide entry rather like turn three in India. Turn three here – the start of the esses – is fantastic though. It's quicker than Becketts at Silverstone. It's very unsuual to find a section of corners like this on a modern Formula One track. I love it."
Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)
"It has a very nice layout, and the good thing is that it is very challenging. Yesterday, I went out to explore the track on a scooter, and it was very different from today when the low seating position of our cars compromises your vision a lot. But then, it takes just a bit of time to understand what you have to do and where the biggest challenges are."
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
"I like the new track here at the Circuit of the Americas very much and they have done a great job with the layout. We've also had a really nice welcome for Formula One in the U.S. as you can see how many fans are at the circuit already on a Friday. The grandstands looked really packed."