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Friday analysis - Red Bull at their most dangerous 20 May 2011

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB7. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150 Italia.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 2011 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C30. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 2011 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Lotus Renault GP R31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 2011 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 2011 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW33.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 2011 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 2011 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus T128.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 2011 Jerome d'Ambrosio (BEL) Virgin Racing MVR-02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 2011 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) HRT F111.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 20 May 2011

The first practice sessions of the season’s European leg were predictably busy, as teams not only trialled some major car updates, but also got to grips with Pirelli’s new harder ‘hard’ prime tyre. McLaren came close, but in the end it was again a worryingly confident looking Red Bull squad who led the way on pace. We take a team-by-team look at Friday’s running in Barcelona…

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 25.142s, P1/1m 22.470s, P1
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 26.149, P2/1m 22.826s, P3

Both drivers looked relaxed after practice. Webber said there was still work to do, but that it was one of his better Fridays. Vettel also thought it had been a very productive day. When they talk like that, you know they are at their most dangerous.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 26.988s, P6/1m 22.509s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 27.138s, P9/1m 23.188s, P4

Hamilton was cautiously happy after splitting the Red Bulls, but admitted that Webber had not looked too troubled by the MP4-26’s pace when they talked afterwards. He believes the RB7s were running decent fuel loads today. Button said he felt all the changes to the car were beneficial, but that he had still to sort out some oversteer.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 26.480s, P4/1m 23.568s, P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 28.654s, P16/1m 24.278s, P8

Alonso said that they had gathered a lot of data on the revised Ferrari and that the extrapolation work now starts, and that they had made a step forward. He thinks a podium finish is even more likely than it was in Turkey. Massa had a tough day with lots of problems getting the Pirelli tyres to work, and one off into the gravel bore testament to that. The team’s new rear wing design raised a few eyebrows, with a higher than normal Gurney flap. The FIA are understood to be considering its legality, with a decision either way expected ahead of final practice.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 26.379s, P3/1m 23.586s, P6
Michael Schumacher, 1m 27.016s, P7/1m 23.981s, P7

Rosberg and Schumacher were both reasonably happy with a productive day in which they had gathered plenty of data for the engineers on the behaviour of the aerodynamically revised MGP W02. The latter said the car was improved, and that he believes they can fight for the third row tomorrow.

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 28.819s, P17/1m 24.290s, P9
Sergio Perez, 1m 26.738s, P5/1m 24.483s, P11

Sauber had a good day, with strong performances from both drivers as they made the most of the new aero package. Kobayashi also tried a new outboard exhaust system. A decision will be taken whether to use that tomorrow. Technical director James key reported that they weren’t yet 100 percent happy with the balance on either C30.

Renault
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 27.132s, P8/1m 24.366s, P10
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 27.241s, P11/1m 24.786s, P12

Both drivers were reasonably happy with their day’s work, but Petrov ran without KERS because of a problem with the system on his R31.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi (pm only), 1m 25.296s, P13
Jaime Alguersuari, 1m 28.995s, P18/1m 25.457s, P15
Daniel Ricciardo (am only) 1m 27.471s, P12

Ricciardo reported that changes in the mechanical balance improved braking in particular, while Buemi complained of oversteer in the afternoon. Alguersuari lost track time in the morning when it was decided to change his engine as a precaution, and subsequent investigation revealed an installation problem rather than something in the motor itself.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 27.212s, P10/1m 25.303s, P14
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 28.005s, P13/1m 25.603s, P16

Williams evaluated new aero parts including a new exhaust system, rear wing and brake ducts. Barrichello said the wing seemed to work well, but that aspects of the floor were marginal and required further investigation.

Force India
Paul di Resta (pm only), 1m 26.073s, P17
Adrian Sutil, 1m 28.163s, P15/1m 27.123s, P19
Nico Hulkenberg (am only), 1m 28.027s, P14

A tough day for Force India, as they worked with their new aero set-up. Di Resta said his VJM04 was definitely improved by the end of the afternoon session, but Sutil said he hadn’t found his car’s sweet spot yet.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 29.231s, P19/1m 26.417s, P18
Jarno Trulli, 1m 31.418s, P23/1m 27.189s, P20

Kovalainen said that changes to the T128 were definitely a step in the right direction but that the revised specification still needed time to hone, while Trulli was happier in the afternoon once further power steering problems in the morning had been resolved.

Virgin
Jerome D'Ambrosio, 1m 30.896s, P20/1m 28.036s, P21
Timo Glock, 1m 31.235s, P21/1m 28.062s, P22

Following recent straight-line tests which helped with heat management, Virgin ran Glock’s car with the new blown floor and D’Ambrosio’s without. The German was still working to get the best set-up with the revised specification, while the Belgian was happy enough without it. Now the team have armfuls of data to work through tonight to hone both set-ups.

HRT
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 32.106s, P24/1m 29.469s, P23
Tonio Liuzzi, 1m 31.268s, P22/1m 29.476s, P24

No problems were reported here, as Karthikeyan and Liuzzi compared and contrasted various updates. And with more development parts due on the car for final practice, the mood was upbeat ahead of the fledgling team’s home race.

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