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Friday analysis - tyres hold key to teams’ race prospects 25 Oct 2013

Pirelli tyres and the paddock by night.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Friday, 25 October 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 25 October 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Friday, 25 October 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 25 October 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Friday, 25 October 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28 in the garage,
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 25 October 2013 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Friday, 25 October 2013 James Calado (GBR) Force India.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 25 October 2013 The car of Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 25 October 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Friday, 25 October 2013 Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 25 October 2013 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Friday, 25 October 2013

Despite smoggy skies over the Buddh International Circuit, consistent weather conditions enabled all of the teams to complete their Friday programmes ahead of the 2013 Formula 1 Airtel Indian Grand Prix. High degradation on the soft Pirelli tyre was the greatest cause of concern to the largest number of runners, and that’s where much of the technical focus will be with the engineers this evening. The general feeling is that while the mediums last forever, the softs are finished after only a few laps. We take a team-by-team look at the early progress in New Delhi…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 26.683s, P1/1m 25.722s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 26.871s, P2/1m 26.011s, P2

Neither driver had any problems, beyond working out how to get the best out of the soft tyres. Once again, Red Bull, especially Vettel, have a speed advantage over their opposition which will make it very tough to beat them on Sunday.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 26.990s, P4/1m 26.220s, P3
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 28.730s, P17/1m 26.632s, P8

Yet again Lotus - and especially Grosjean - looked very strong and they are in a good position to push Red Bull in both qualifying and the race. As usual, Raikkonen still had more understeer than he likes on the revised construction Pirellis.

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 27.227s, P5/1m 26.399s, P4
Nico Rosberg, 1m 26.899s, P3/1m 26.582s, P6

Hamilton spent a lot of time reducing understeer and finally felt that he had his W04 to his liking when he was fourth in FP2. Rosberg was faster in the morning but ran into understeer as track conditions evolved during the day. The German believes they can fight to be ‘best of the rest’, but suggested that the Red Bulls will be beyond reach in qualifying.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 28.214s, P12/1m 26.430s, P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 27.692s, P8/1m 26.601s, P7

Ferrari had a mixed day as Alonso only managed six laps in the morning because of a gearbox problem that required some parts to be changed but not the whole box. He was his usual cagey self, but Massa was happy that his F138 felt good right from the start.

McLaren
Sergio Perez, 1m 27.416s, P7/1m 26.857s, P9
Jenson Button, 1m 27.335s, P6/1m 26.972s, P10

McLaren opted for a more radical set-up on the MP4-28s, for FP1 but both Perez and Button reverted to a more conventional configuration for FP2. Button said that the focus of the changes was in the wrong place in the morning and that he struggled with the balance in both sessions. Perez concurred, but by the end of FP2 both looked in more respectable shape.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 28.336s, P13/1m 27.304s, P11
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 28.035s, P11/1m 28.431s, P18

Ricciardo was reasonably happy with his car in the morning but lost time in the afternoon after sliding over a kerb and doing a bit of damage that required repair. While he still believes getting into Q3 is possible, Vergne was left trying to figure out where his STR8’s performance from FP1 had gone during FP2, when it was much slower.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 28.468s, P15/1m 27.375s, P12
Paul di Resta (pm only), 1m 27.608s, P15
James Calado (am only), 1m 29.197s, P18

Sutil said he was pretty happy with what a policy of small set-up changes achieved on his car, and despite missing the morning Di Resta said he was reasonably happy with what he had done by the end of FP2. Calado ran the Scot’s car in the morning and again impressed. Had it not been for a half spin at the end of the session he would have lapped within three-tenths of Sutil on his first appearance at the tricky venue.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 27.800s, P10/1m 27.429s, P13
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 28.342s, P14/1m 27.720s, P16

Performance-wise Williams had a little bit of a boost here, but that was offset when Maldonado’s right-front wheel came loose after a pit stop in FP2. The nut had been cross-threaded, but since this was the team’s second offence in two races the FIA stewards imposed a hefty 60,000 euro fine.

Sauber
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 27.770s, P9/1m 27.491s, P14
Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 28.538s, P16/1m 27.949s, P17

Hulkenberg looked good in FP1 and said he was happy with the C32’s performance on the medium tyre but that more work was needed to get the best out of the soft. Gutierrez struggled all day and was unhappy with his car’s handling.

Caterham
Giedo van der Garde, 1m 29.413s, P19/1m 28.692s, P19
Charles Pic, 1m 30.026s, P21/1m 29.366s, P21

Van der Garde said this was one of his best Fridays of the season and that straight away with car felt well balanced and driveable. Pic struggled more to get his to his liking, but both reported reasonable and consistent performance on the medium tyres which bodes well for the race.

Marussia
Jules Bianchi, 1m 29.560s, P20/1m 28.799s, P20
Max Chilton, 1m 30.471s, P22/1m 30.164s, P22

Bianchi was very happy with his Marussia’s performance and believes that he can fight strongly with the Caterhams on Sunday. Chilton admitted that he never really got the balance of his MR02 sorted to his liking and had several moments while trying to cope with that.

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