Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg began the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS team’s weekend in Suzuka today with the first two practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, the 15th race of the 2011 season.

Michael and Nico completed a total of 93 practice laps today, equivalent to over 540 km. In comparison to 2010, the fastest lap in P1 was 1.0995s slower, and in P2 0.436s slower.

Michael Schumacher
“It was a pretty typical two practice sessions today. We were working on set-up issues as usual and achieved much of what we wanted, however we are aware that the character of our car and the character of this track are not a perfect match and there are areas still to work on. From what I have seen so far, I would guess we will find ourselves qualifying in the region we have been lately, but obviously we will make our best efforts to improve our position further.”

Nico Rosberg
“We had two challenging sessions today as we worked to get the balance of the car right on high and low fuel loads. However at the end of P2, I’m happy with what we learnt, and I think all is going in the right direction for tomorrow.”

Ross Brawn
“Suzuka is a very challenging track and we had a slightly tricky balance to start with this morning. By the end of the second session this afternoon, we had largely got on top of that, with the engineers and drivers doing a good job to find better solutions. It’s clear that tyres will be a major factor in the race on Sunday.”

Norbert Haug
“It was quite an encouraging start to the race weekend on this unique and challenging track. Our lap times during the race simulation on the option tyre look quite consistent, and we should have a decent base to work from this evening.”

Source: Mercedes GP