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Friday analysis - tyres take centre stage 12 Apr 2013

Pirelli tyres.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Sergio Perez (MEX) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 (L to R): Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team, Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team, and Dave O'Neil (GBR) Marussia F1 Team Manager.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013 Ma Qing Hua (CHN) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice, Shanghai, China, Friday, 12 April 2013

Friday’s first free practice session in China was run in consistent conditions on a dry track with ambient temperatures ranging between 21 and 22 degrees Celsius. The second began in similar conditions, enabling teams to do their tyre evaluation and set-up work, in which it soon became clear that there was huge degradation on the soft tyre and the associated build-up of rubber offline soon precluded fast laps after the first three quarters of an hour. The softs were considerably quicker than the mediums - around 1.5s per lap - though teams predict tyres changes could come after less than 10 laps for those who start the race on them. Here’s our team-by-team rundown of the early form in Shanghai…

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 38.095s, P7/1m 35.340s. P1
Fernando Alonso, 1m 37.965s, P5/1m 35.755s, P3

It was a very positive day for Ferrari. Massa said his car was very different on the two types of tyre, but was so good on the softs that he was easily fastest. And even though he wasn’t so happy on the mediums, his long-run pace was also good. Alonso reported a positive and trouble-free day.

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 38.790s, P11/1m 35.492s, P2
Romain Grosjean, 1m 38.398s, P9/1m 36.963s, P12

Grosjean conducted comparison work on the team’s latest exhaust package in the afternoon and ran with a new front wing, while Raikkonen trialled new rear floor aero parts. All of the changes were deemed beneficial, making it a super-positive day for the Australian Grand Prix winners.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 36.717s, P1/1m 35.819s, P4
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 37.171s, P2/1m 36.496s, P7

Once again, Rosberg looked good. He was happy with his single-lap pace, but said that the W04 still needed work for longer runs. Hamilton is suffering a head cold, and said that while changes made his car better in the afternoon, he ran into traffic which compromised his best lap.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 37.658s, P3/1m 36.092s, P5
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 37.942s, P4/1m 36.791s, P10

As the storm raged around their broken relationship, Webber said that there was still plenty of work to be done on fully understanding the Pirellis here, while Vettel admitted that he had a bit of a shaky day and that there were two or three things that needed honing on his car before FP3.

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 38.069s, P6/1m 36.432s, P6
Sergio Perez, 1m 39.360s, P17/1m 36.940s, P11

McLaren had a revised front wing and other new parts intended to alleviate the MP4-28’s problems before a major upgrade for Barcelona. Button said that the fundamental flaws in the car were still there, but that the interim changes had helped. He had a puncture in the braking zone for Turn 14 at one stage and said he was lucky that he was close to the pits, as the tyre wore a hole through its tread. Perez had a shunt into a tyre wall in the pit road at the end of FP1, and then a big spin at the start of FP2. He said the former was down to cold tyres, but could offer no explanation for the latter occurrence.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 38.125s, P8/1m 36.514s, P8
Paul di Resta, 1m 38.561s, P10/1m 36.595s, P9

Both drivers were positive about aero tweaks that they tried, but said that the major part of the day was gaining as much understanding as possible of the tyres.

Sauber
Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 40.032s, P18/1m 37.103s, P13
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 39.180s, P14/1m 38.211s, P17

Sauber experimented with a new rear wing, which was deemed an improvement, but there’s still set-up work to get done. On his first acquaintance with a new track, Gutierrez did well to recover from time lost to an oil leak in FP2.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 39.336s, P15/1m 37.206s, P14
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 39.057s, P12/1m 38.127s, P15

Both cars featured revised exhausts in an attempt to cure recent failures. Ricciardo and Vergne ran different programmes in order to get through a heavy workload. Both said they felt the STR8 was making some progress.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 39.392s, P17/1m 38.185s, P16
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 39.158s, P13/1m 38.276s, P18

Williams tried various new aero parts and set-ups, and will spend the night distilling a mountain of information in order to wring a good performance out of the thus-far disappointing FW35.

Marussia
Jules Bianchi, 1m 41.966s, P19/1m 38.725s, P19
Max Chilton, 1m 42.056s, P20/1m 43.227s, P22

Bianchi got a great time out of the MR02, which sported new suspension components, revised front and rear brake ducts and revised aerodynamics. Chilton was close to him in FP1, but lost a lot of time in FP2 when his car stopped twice. Both times it was down to something activating a safety engine ‘kill’ process.

Caterham
Giedo van der Garde, 1m 42.083s, P21/1m 39.271s, P20
Charles Pic (pm only), 1m 39.814s, P21
Ma Qing Hua (am only), 1m 43.545s, P22

Van der Garde lost his KERS in the morning and then spun in the afternoon, while Pic took back his car from Ma who did a reasonable job in FP1. Pic suffered what appeared to be some hydraulic issues, which were soon resolved.

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