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Friday analysis - Red Bull feel the Force 22 Jun 2012

Red Bull Racing RB8 front wing detail.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 (L to R): Andy Stevenson (GBR) Force India F1 Team Manager, Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1 and Nico Hulkenburg (GER) Force India F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 Mercedes AMG F1 W03 in the garage.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 Charles Pic (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Practice, Valencia, Spain, Friday, 22 June 2012

It was another day of incredibly close times in Valencia. Against some expectations, Pirelli’s soft-compound tyres degraded quite quickly, and though the unexpectedly cool conditions warmed somewhat in the afternoon, the wind also had to be factored into set-ups. Sebastian Vettel used his Red Bull’s updates to good effect, but it was Force India who caught the eye as his nearest rival. We take a team-by-team look at day one in Spain…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 40.973s, P2/1m 39.334s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 40.984s, P3/1m 39.901s, P9

Vettel said he was happy with how things went, but that it was hard to draw definitive conclusions over the value of several updates. Webber said there was room for improvement, and that his RB8 was better balanced on the medium tyre than the soft.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg (afternoon only), 1m 39.465s, P2
Paul di Resta, 1m 41.105s, P6/1m 39.700s, P6
Jules Bianchi (morning only), 1m 42.175s, P15

Hulkenberg really got the job done in the sole session that he did, setting second fastest time behind Vettel, though that probably depended on relative fuel loads. Di Resta said that his car felt good straight away and that the pace was there on both single-lap runs and longer runs. Bianchi mainly focused on evaluation of front wings in FP1.

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 41.838s, P12/1m 39.595s, P3
Sergio Perez 1m 41.861s, P13/1m 40.511s, P16

The two drivers focused on different programmes. Perez spun in the second session but got going again, while Kobayashi had a hydraulic problem in FP2 which prevented him from doing long runs.

Mercedes
Michael Schumacher, 1m 41.117s, P7/1m 39.601s, P4
Nico Rosberg, 1m 41.182s, P9/1m 39.926s, P10

Schumacher was happy enough with his day, apart from a minor clutch problem in FP2, while Rosberg said his only real problem was the tendency for the front brakes to lock, especially in Turn 12.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 40.890s, P1/1m 40.075s, P13
Bruno Senna (afternoon only), 1m 39.644s, P5
Valtteri Bottas (morning only) 1m 42.299s, P16

Williams reported a good day evaluating new aero parts while also conducting the usual set-up work and tyre comparison. All three drivers were reasonably satisfied with their days, though Maldonado said his set-up still needed tuning.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 41.065s, P5/1m 39.733s, P7
Felipe Massa, 1m 42.109s, P14/1m 40.244s, P15

Alonso reported a positive day in which some updates worked better than others. Massa worked mainly doing aero comparisons, so his times were not particularly representative.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 41.784s, P11/1m 39.868s, P8
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 41.620s, P10/1m 39.945s, P11

Lotus were disappointed that the day was less warm than yesterday, but Grosjean said he was happy with his long-run pace which bodes well for the race. Raikkonen said he was quite happy, but that traffic hurt him in his long run in the afternoon.

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 40.994s, P4/1m 39.990s, P12
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 41.158s, P8/1m 40.147s, P14

Button said that he and his crew did a lot of work to alleviate a wheel-locking problem and that while the single-lap performance wasn’t as bad as it looked on paper, they had a good direction for tomorrow. Hamilton simply admitted that they didn’t get it right and that he struggled, but said that he is confident they know what to do to sort things for FP3 and qualifying.

Caterham
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 43.209s, P20/1m 40.963s, P17
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 42.442s, P17/1m 41.197s, P19

A new floor and front wing were available, as technical director Mark Smith’s new right-hand man John Iley made his first official appearance for the team. As Petrov worked with some new KERS maps, Kovalainen said that his first impressions of the aero changes were positive.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 42.777s, P19/1m 41.121s, P18
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 42.758s, P18/1m 41.263s, P20

Ricciardo said his car felt better on a higher fuel load and that more work was thus needed for qualifying, while Vergne worked on honing the set-up around the revised exhaust layout tried by the Australian in Canada.

Marussia
Timo Glock, 1m 45.338s, P24/1m 42.424s, P21
Charles Pic, 1m 44.173s, P21/1m 42.958s, P22

Pic was entrusted with the lion’s share of the set-up work after Glock fell victim to a stomach bug. The Frenchman said he thought they had identified a reasonable way forward for FP3 and qualifying, while Glock said he was feeling a little better as the day progressed.

HRT
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 45.120s, P23/1m 44.201s, P23
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 44.996s, P22/1m 44.260s, P24

Once again HRT were struggling with their brakes, their Achilles heel in Montreal. Changes improved things for De la Rosa in FP2, before a mistake put him in the wall. Karthikeyan struggled to get his soft tyres up to temperature in FP2.

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