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Friday analysis - Ferrari back in the hunt? 23 Jul 2010

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, 23 July 2010 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB6.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, 23 July 2010 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, 23 July 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, 23 July 2010 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Renault R30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, 23 July 2010

Friday morning’s rain at Hockenheim introduced complications, especially as parts of the track remained super-slippery for the rest of the day even though conditions improved towards the end of the opening session. Ferrari looked to be very much back in contention, leaving the likes of Red Bull and Mercedes with plenty to think about overnight. We take a team-by-team look at early progress in Germany…

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 29.684s, P19/1m 16.265s, P1
Felipe Massa, 1m 26.850s, P2/1m 16.438s, P3

Ferrari are desperate for a strong result, and with first- and third-fastest times could draw encouragement from Friday’s two sessions. Nevertheless, Alonso sought to play things down while admitting that they are on the right road as far as set-up is concerned. Massa said it was good to make a strong start to the weekend, but agreed that the real test will come in FP3 and qualifying. It is clear, though, that the latest changes to the F10 have improved the car.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 28.735s, P11/1m 16.294s, P2
Mark Webber, 1m 29.048s, P14/1m 16.585s, P4

Vettel said his RB6 felt really good in the final section of the lap and was quite happy with progress, but noted that Ferrari were “extremely competitive” and that McLaren were fast despite a tough day. Webber said he got lots of good information out of FP2, particularly on tyres.

Mercedes GP
Nico Rosberg, 1m 27.448s, P6/1m 16.827s, P5
Michael Schumacher, 1m 32.450s, P23/1m 16.971s, P6

Rosberg said his car’s balance was terrific in the wet, less so in the afternoon and that he focused instead on race work rather than playing too much with the set-up. His only problem came when he bashed the front wing after hitting a marker cone in Turn One. Schumacher twice damaged his car with excursions in the morning so stopped early, but was happy enough in the afternoon.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 29.429s, P17/1m 17.004s, P7
Jenson Button, 1m 26.936s, P3/1m 17.739s, P15

Hamilton’s day got off to a terrible start when he got caught out by wheelspin in the morning and trashed the MP4-25 badly enough to damage all four corners. He didn’t get out until the final 12 minutes of the afternoon session, but moved quickly up to seventh just shy of the 1m 16s bracket. Button, who had to do all of the grunt work in the afternoon as a result, reported that there were no negatives this time with the blown diffuser. After a bad start, the mood here is quietly optimistic.

Renault
Robert Kubica, 1m 28.903s, P13/1m 17.009s, P8
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 26.948s, P5/1m 17.547s, P12

Kubica actually made a mistake in the wet morning session, but then so did everyone else! The Pole said it was a difficult day because of the changing conditions, and in the absence of any new components deliberately concentrated on getting as much feel as he could for the tyres. He reported that his R30 again felt strange, as it had at Silverstone. Petrov looked quick all day, and said that he had no problems.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 26.947s, P4/1m 17.056s, P9
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 28.193s, P8/1m 17.204s, P10

Once again Williams showed strength and Barrichello said he’d had a productive day and was pleased that the newfound form of Valencia and Silverstone carried over to Hockenheim. Hulkenberg was also satisfied with his day.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 29.690s, P20/1m 17.336s, P11
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 28.486s, P10/1m 17.573s, P13

With a new floor and other sundries, BMW Sauber had a lot of work to get through and the rain certainly didn’t help that. Kobayashi felt that further changes were necessary to enhance the balance today, especially to make better use of the soft compound Bridgestone option tyre. De la Rosa said he had a good data-gathering day.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 25.701s, P1/1m 17.701s, P14
Tonio Liuzzi, 1m 28.300s, P9/1m 17.871s, P16

Sutil was in stunning form to top the morning’s wet session. The balance was good in the afternoon too. Liuzzi struggled all morning with poor traction and it transpired his F-duct was malfunctioning again. After corrections and changes were made he was much happier in the afternoon. Both drivers set their times early when the track was not in ideal condition, before switching to race prep work, so they’re worth keeping an eye on in FP3 and qualifying.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 28.114s, P7/1m 18.147s, P17
Jaime Alguersuari 1m 29.366s, P16/1m 19.327s, P18

Buemi looked strong in the rain in the morning, when the driver could make a difference, but he was not happy with his set-up in the afternoon as the track dried. Alguersuari said he was reasonably satisfied with how his day went as he learned another new circuit.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 28.735s, P12/1m 19.553s, 19th
Lucas di Grassi, 1m 29.500s, P18/1m 20.106s, P21

This was Virgin’s best day since it joined the F1 circus, as Glock was very close behind Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso and fastest of the new teams. The German said he was very comfortable with the direction in which the team progressed with set-up in the morning and ended that session joint 11th with Vettel. Things continued in the same vein in the afternoon. Di Grassi also reported a productive day.

Lotus
Jarno Trulli, 1m 29.280s, P15/1m 20.008s, P20
Heikki Kovalainen (pm), 1m 20.377s, P22
Fairuz Fauzy (am) 1m 30.938s, P21

Lotus had a generally satisfactory day, apart from Virgin’s speed. Trulli said he was happy with his car, though in the afternoon a minor fuel pump problem sidelined him. Fauzy reported a reasonable morning once he’d got the tyre temperatures up, but Kovalainen said he wasn’t happy with that T127’s balance once he took it over in the afternoon.

HRT
Bruno Senna, 1m 31.720s, P22/1m 21.988s, P23
Sakon Yamamoto, 1m 32.791s, P24/1m 23.066s, P24

This time it was Chandhok who lost out in HRT’s game of musical chairs. Senna got straight back into the rhythm after missing Silverstone and said his day was productive. Yamamoto continued up his learning curve.