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Friday analysis - a tale of two tyres (and testing) 11 May 2012

Pirelli tyres.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 10 May 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Lotus E20 nose detail.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams and Alex Wurz (AUT) Williams driver coach.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Timo Glock (GER) Marussia F1 Team MR01 exhaust outlet detail.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 11 May 2012

The biggest task on a Friday of perfect weather was for teams to bridge the two-compound gap between Pirelli’s chosen hard and soft tyres, something that had many of them scratching their heads. The other priority was to see how the updates tried in Mugello last week performed in the more familiar surroundings of the Circuit de Catalunya. We take a team-by-team look at day one in Spain…

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 24.996s, P45/1m 23.399s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 25.252s, P8/1m 23.909s, P4

Button was very happy with his high-nose McLaren’s form in FP2, but was left scratching his head about its relative lack of pace on the harder Pirelli. Hamilton found things the other way round, but was mainly troubled by inconsistent balance. Both expect to be in the fight tomorrow and Sunday, however.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 24.808s, P2/1m 23.563s, P2
Mark Webber, 1m 25.539s, P13/1m 24.065s, P7

Vettel said he was pretty happy with his updated RB8, while Webber admitted after a couple of minor offs that it took a while to hone the balance of his. Vettel, in particular, looked back to his most dangerous best.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 25.607s, P14/1m 23.771s, P3
Michael Schumacher, 1m 25.187s, P6/1m 24.080s, P8

Both drivers said their cars’ performance today validated the findings in Mugello and made them worthwhile, but Rosberg believes they have to be very careful to avoid tyre degradation problems in the race.

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 25.285s, P9/1m 23.918s, P5
Romain Grosjean, 1m 25.217, P7/1m 23.964s, P6

Raikkonen reported a very satisfactory day, on which he assessed a new front wing. Grosjean echoed his sentiments and there is a mood of serious optimism in this camp.

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 24.912s, P3/1m 24.214s, P9
Sergio Perez 1m 25.918s, P15/1m 24.422s, P12

Sauber had a good day and the aero update from Mugello worked well. Kobayashi said he was pretty happy, while Perez became happier as his car’s balance improved in FP2.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 25.339s, P10/1m 24.365s, P10
Paul di Resta (pm only), 1m 34.150s, P15
Jules Bianchi (am only), 1m 26.630s, P18

Hulkenberg and Di Resta were happy with the upgrade packages on their cars which came out of the Mugello tests, and thought they were in reasonable shape. Bianchi did good work in the morning, running a Bahrain-spec VJM05 to facilitate back-to-back comparison.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 25.433s, P12/1m 24.418s, P11
Fernando Alonso, 1m 24.430, P1/1m 24.600s, P14

Alonso was fairly non-committal after setting fastest time in FP1 but having a more normal FP2 in which he was only 14th. Massa had a good day, with 11th fastest time ahead of the Spaniard in FP2. The good news was a continuation of the Mugello trend, where track running confirmed the findings in the wind tunnel.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 26.297s, P17/1m 24.468s, P13
Bruno Senna (pm only), 1m 25.047s, P18
Valtteri Bottas (am only), 1m 25.120s, P5

Maldonado did aero work in the morning and tyre evaluation in the afternoon, losing some time with a DRS problem, while Senna did data gathering in FP2. Once again Bottas did a super job in FP1, when he was fifth fastest.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 25.367s, P11/1m 24.733s, P16
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 26.226s, P16/1m 24.769s, P17

Vergne worked on aero evaluation after Mugello, and preparing his car in race trim, while Ricciardo said he had a better feel for his in the afternoon but still needs to find something good for qualifying.

Caterham
Heikki Kovalainen (pm only) 1m 26.296s, P19
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 27.475s, P19/1m 26.740s, P20
Alexander Rossi (am only) 1m 28.448s, P21

Kovalainen was happy with his work to balance his car in the afternoon, but Petrov found that first he had understeer on both types of tyre, which changes later converted to oversteer. Rossi said he enjoyed his first taste of official F1 but rued a braking problem on his best lap when the team asked him to operate KERS but omitted to get him to activate a switch to maintain brake balance, which caused him to run wide and lose a lot of time to Petrov.

Marussia
Timo Glock, 1m 28.267s, P20/1m 27.314ss, P21
Charles Pic, 1m 28.633s, P22/1m 27.664s, P22

Glock struggled all day with the balance of his MR01, which he found nervous on both sets of tyres. Pic was little slower, and said by contrast that he made good progress in both sessions.

HRT
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 29.107s, P23/1m 28.235s, P23
Narain Karthikeyan (pm only) No time, P24
Dani Clos (am only) 1m 31.618s, P24

De la Rosa assessed a new aero package and said it was a forward step. Clos said he was 100 percent comfortable in Karthikeyan’s car, but got a huge buzz leaving the pits in Spain in a Spanish car in front of Spanish fans. He rolled to a halt with 15 minutes of FP1 left with electrical problems which later kept Karthikeyan in the pits for an hour of FP2 and then halted him on the track soon after he finally got out.

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