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Friday analysis - tyres remain the hot topic 20 Apr 2012

Pirelli dry tyres.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20 makes a pit stop.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012 Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012 Charles Pic (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012 Force India VJM05 exhaust detail.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Friday, 20 April 2012

After a slippery first session teams spent the afternoon dialling in their cars, but the work was further complicated for some by a change of wind direction. All teams received one message loud and clear: rear tyre conservation will be paramount in the race. We take a look at the form on day one in Sakhir…

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 34.249s, P4/1m 32.816s, P1
Michael Schumacher, 1m 34.483s, P7/1m 33.862s, P5

While Rosberg said he was happy with the way things went and to be fastest, he wasn’t sure about his long-run race pace. Schumacher, meanwhile, said he was pleased with his but that his single-lap run had been spoiled by traffic. All in all, though, it was a solid day for the Chinese Grand Prix winners.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 34.552s, P8/1m 33.263s, P2
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 33.877s, P2/1m 33.525s, P3

Webber said that the fast degradation of the tyres was a surprise, and that he felt the times were really close with the qualifier that individual fuel loads were unknown, while Vettel was happier with the set-up and feel of his car and said that he thought Red Bull had found the answers they wanted to the questions from China. They and Mercedes seemed very quick over a single lap.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 33.572s, P1/1m 33.747s, P4
Jenson Button, 1m 34.277s, P5/1m 34.246s, P6

Hamilton voiced everyone’s thoughts when he said that tyre degradation will be a big issue for all teams and that the race will be all about who can look after their tyres the best. He also noted that the direction of the wind played a huge part, with a headwind going into Turn Four one lap, then a tailwind the next, then a crosswind. He set his quickest lap half an hour after Rosberg had done the day’s fastest, when the wind was completely different. Button, meanwhile, said that he wasn’t happy with the direction they’d taken on set-up and that he was chasing the balance all day, but thinks that although there is a big gap thus far between the top times, that won’t be the case in the race.

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 35.929s, P16/1m 34.411s, P7
Sergio Perez 1m 35.024s, P11/1m 34.893s, P10

Kobayashi said his times on the soft Pirellis weren’t bad but that there is a lot of work to do for qualifying and over long runs on both compounds. Perez said he’d had a very positive day but needed to sort a few little things out for qualifying.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 35.436s, P13/1m 34.449s, P8
Felipe Massa, 1m 35.719s, P15/1m 34.941s, P12

Alonso said he had a fun day even though the wind and sand and the generally ‘green’ nature of the track meant that the first day’s times were hard to read. Massa said he made reasonable progress familiarising himself with the tyres and the trying to sort the F2012’s set-up.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 34.847s, P10/1m 34.615s, P9
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 34.609s, P9/1m 35.183s, P13

Lotus evaluated a new floor and front wing in the morning together with the medium Pirellis, and Grosjean in particular thought that they had made a big step forward compared to where they were this time last week in Shanghai.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 36.591s, P20/1m 34.895s, P11
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 36.195s, P17/1m 35.229s, P14

Ricciardo struggled with his set-up in the morning, especially on the prime Pirelli, but got going better in the afternoon. Vergne switched for the afternoon from an older specification set-up to the new one Ricciardo had in the morning, and was happier as a result.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 35.268s, P12/1m 35.459s, P15
Bruno Senna (pm only), 1m 36.169s, P18
Valtteri Bottas (am only), 1m 35.497s, P14

Though conditions were tricky all day, all three drivers said they were happy with the consistency of the FW34 and that they felt they were working in a good direction for Saturday. Once again FP1 sub Bottas did a strong job.

Caterham
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 36.484s, P19/1m 35.913s, P16
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 36.330s, P18/1m 35.968s, P17

Both drivers talked a lot about tyre degradation, but otherwise said they were very happy with the way their day went.

Marussia
Timo Glock, 1m 38.006s, P22/1m 36.587s, P19
Charles Pic, 1m 37.467s, P21/1m 37.803s, P20

Glock and Pic split the development running/set-up work this morning, and the German reported a very difficult afternoon as he in particular struggled with sudden tyre degradation.

HRT
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 38.877s, P23/1m 37.812s, P21
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 39.996s, P24/1m 39.649s, P22

Both drivers worked through extensive set-up programmes, with De la Rosa on the soft tyres and Karthikeyan on the mediums. Both were very happy with modifications to the bodywork which kept the Cosworth engines within acceptable temperature limits, boding well for the race.

Force India
Paul di Resta (am only), 1m 34.150s, P3
Nico Hulkenberg (am only), 1m 34.344s, P6

Force India did a lot of running in the morning, including trying the soft Pirellis, before opting not to run in the afternoon for logistical reasons.

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