It's only day one of the season finale and there's already been high drama. Here's what the pilots thought of today's action...
"One of the critical parts of the race is the angle through Gate 7, so we're just trying to find the right angle, and we're using a reference point. To be totally honest, I picked the wrong reference point, got way too deep in the corner, and then just hit the left wing because we had way too oblique of an angle. I hit the pylon pretty deep in the wing, so it flexed the winglet, and it made a crack in the trailing edge."
"I like the track. It's really tight with nice, sharp turns. With the wind due to swap on Sunday it'll be even more interesting. With the wind coming from the other direction it will totally change the whole track. I think it will slow it down, because the wind is helping us on the pullup at the moment, but it will push us back on Sunday, but we will see."
"The first flight today I didn't enjoy as much because I was working on the back foot because we'd had a total electrical failure. We had to come back, quickly fix it and go again, so my frame of mind wasn't ideal. But in the second flight I really settled down in the track and I'm going into tomorrow relaxed."
"It's a good track and a good feeling coming back to Fort Worth as I've had good results here. And from a sporting point of view it's a great arena to race in. It's pretty straightforward but with two big turns we have to be careful with them. We have to take advantage that we're fast, but not get penalties."
"It wasn't my day. I had lots of penalties today and I got a little neck pull in the first VTM, so I had to go and see the physio. It's fixed now but I took it easy. I'll be better tomorrow."
"It was good to get out there. It's a quick track and the weather is ideal so there was lots of performance in the plane with lots of G available. I just shook off the non-flying dust. The gap between Indianapolis and now was our offseason. The mods had to be done and we were busy with that and even here, we're using these as test flights, so we're not super focused on the racing – not yet anyway. Our focus is on 2019, this is a test weekend for us, but if we get a result out of it, it's fun."
"The track was good and we're starting to figure out the line. We're pretty fast. I pulled up a little early, but we've got it. There are only a couple of places where you're going to win – the VTM and the gates at the start. You've got to take the angle, but you could take out the gate too."
"It was a bit of a disappointing session for us. I picked up a pylon hit, and then on the second pylon hit some of the material wrapped round the spade, so we had to land to get rid of it. So not the best afternoon, but it's a reasonably tight field. We only have one run in FP3 [due to getting into the Final 4 in Indianapolis] and we've got make that count before Qualifying. We always seem to settle in the middle in practice and then dial it in for Qualifying."
François Le Vot
"I only had one training flight because I spoiled the first one, but I'm very happy with the second one. No mistakes, clean runs and the gameplan was followed to the letter. I lost time in the VTM because I was being a little too conservative because I didn't want to make the same mistake. Now that I'm comfortable in the track I can be more aggressive."
"The track was quite interesting. In the second training I tried harder in the turn and I hit the pylon. And as it was the first run I can't really count on the times because the pylon was missing. In the second run I wasn't feeling confident after the pylon and I was at the wrong angle for the chicane twice, so it was not good. I made a modification in the track and that worked. If I can put the first half from this morning and the second half from this afternoon in one run then I should be on for a good time."
"I'm really happy with the day. I've been feeling good in the track since the first flight – we've been setting very good times, and it's a perfect start. But it's only a start, I know that. Free Practice is just a reference point, but definitely the reference point is good. In the second Free Practice, the first run especially was very clean, very smooth, and the fastest. Then I tried to push the line a little bit more, so I had a pylon hit, but it's no big deal, because I was just pushing it all the way. Overall, the picture is very good. The team is working really well, the plane is going well and I'm flying well, so let's see!"
"It felt really good already in FP1, and the smoke didn't work – the smoke pump – so we just put in a new smoke pump again. Then the fuel flow didn't work, so we got a new one of those also. So it worked out in FP2. Quite happy with my flying there. The track feels nice and gives you some opportunities to play. Overall it's good to be back in Texas – the location is really cool inside of the small stadium here. (It's a big one, but compared to Indy it's small.) Feeling good and confident. Let's see what happens."
"It's pretty condensed. Everything comes pretty quickly, and there are a lot of obstacles around. We're still trying to find the right line, but I think we're close to it, and I expect times in the field around 50.0s – not ours, but the quickest times. So we're on the way to improving and we're looking forward to a new engine for next season. We just have to suffer through the last race, but we are looking forward to 2019."
"It's a great track, I hope the weather stays like this until Sunday. In the morning we had a good test especially for the modifications. Everything is working great so the team is happy. I'm feeling comfortable in the track, we changed the lines in FP2 and I improved my time, so we're happy and in the correct place for better times tomorrow."