Friday analysis - Red Bull at their most dangerous 20 May 2011
The first practice sessions of the seasons European leg were predictably busy, as teams not only trialled some major car updates, but also got to grips with Pirellis 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 Fridays running in Barcelona
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.
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 MP4-26s 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.
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 teams 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.
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.
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 werent yet 100 percent happy with the balance on either C30.
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 days work, but Petrov ran without KERS because of a problem with the system on his R31.
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.
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.
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 hadnt found his cars sweet spot yet.
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.
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 Glocks car with the new blown floor and DAmbrosios 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.
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 teams home race.
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