What the teams said – Friday in Spain
After the disappointment of being pipped to the victory in Silverstone, Mercedes bounced back in style, topping both practice sessions. Bottas looked the more composed in the morning before Hamilton took over P1 in the afternoon. Their qualifying pace is reasonably assured, with the two team mates pushing each other closely. But once again they did appear to struggle slightly with tyre wear, which could make Sunday’s race very interesting.
Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:16.824, P2; FP2: 1:16.883, P1
"It's definitely been quite tough out there today. I don't think I've ever been to Spain when it's been this hot. The weather is beautiful, but it's tricky for the car and very tough on the tyres as well. It's also been quite windy and that can make it difficult out there, but it's a good challenge. It's been a positive day, particularly the second session which went better for me. We didn't see any blistering, the tyres felt okay and the long runs didn't look too bad, but we also didn't see any blistering last Friday, so we'll have to remain careful. We'll debrief this evening and see where we stand and what we can do to improve. The Red Bulls look very close to us on the long runs, so we can expect another close race here."
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:16.785, P1; FP2: 1:17.170, P2
"It's been a good day for us, and we've gained plenty of learnings. It's a nice feeling to be back on track here and feeling the improvements of the car since we were last here, back in pre-season testing. The car felt good out there, but obviously there's some fine-tuning to do. The morning session was a bit better for me today than the afternoon. I struggled with some understeer at the beginning of FP1, but that was quite easy to fix, and it felt a lot better by the end of the session. We did long runs on all of the tyre compounds today and I didn't experience any blistering, so there will be lots of learnings for us to look into in order to really maximise tyre performance here. We're looking strong but the main thing will be Sunday with these temperatures and whether we can keep these tyres in a good condition."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"It's been pretty hot here today with the air temperature around 30°C and the track around 50°C. Our programme was fairly standard, mainly trying to learn about the tyres in the hot conditions. Our single lap pace looks promising, we seem to be getting the soft tyre to work fairly well in particular. The long run is more of a challenge and the area we need to work on tonight. The story looks similar to recent races; we're reasonable compared to all cars except Verstappen - with him it looks very close. The strategy options are fairly open here both with the number of stops and start tyre - as such it's important that we can find a bit more pace before Sunday."
A mixed day for Red Bull. Verstappen was quick enough to grab third in both sessions, but lacked the pace to challenge Mercedes. His race pace looked more competitive though, which bodes well for Sunday. As for Albon, he had a few technical gremlins in FP1 but managed more running in the afternoon. He is lagging behind his team mate on one-lap pace though, which won’t help his confidence going into Saturday.
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:17.724, P3; FP2: 1:17.704, P3
“The car was performing quite well and overall it was a positive day. Over one lap we are clearly still lacking to Mercedes but on the long runs the car felt nice to drive which is of course what is important for the race. We are using the hardest tyre compounds here which is different to last weekend. I would maybe have liked the softer tyres (laughs) but that is not for us to choose, the tyres are manageable and it is pretty hot out there! I expect in qualifying that Mercedes will still have the edge as they are very fast but who knows in the race. I felt quite good today so let’s see if I feel the same on Sunday when it matters.”
Alex Albon - FP1: 1:18.606, P8; FP2: 1:18.491, P13
“I felt pretty comfortable with the car in FP1 and I think we found a good direction in that session. We tried a few things in FP2 that didn’t quite go the way we wanted them to but that’s what Fridays are for, seeing what works and what doesn’t. We’ll have a look at the data this evening to see how we can maximise our performance tomorrow. The tyre degradation today felt okay compared to last weekend at Silverstone, saying that, it’s tricky out there with track temperatures at around 48 degrees so there will be a lot of tyre management on race day, that’s for sure!”
A much better showing from the Scuderia, with Vettel making the most of having a new chassis to run his team mate close in FP1 as they looked comfortably the third best team behind Mercedes and Red Bull. Leclerc again was there or thereabouts in FP2 but Vettel dropped back and seemed to lose some rhythm, running wide over the kerbs and sending his car airborne on occasion.
Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:17.981, P5, P20; FP2: 1:18.404, P12
"It was a mixed day: I was reasonably happy in terms of our one lap pace, even if in the afternoon I struggled a bit more to put the laps together. However generally I have a better feeling with the car. Today we tried a few things and we have learned some things we can use tomorrow. Let’s see where we are after quali.
"In terms of race pace we should be quite okay, but obviously there is still some work to do. In particular, managing the tyres will be key and with the high temperatures expected to continue, this will be far from easy."
Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:17.970, P4; FP2: 1:18.147, P6
"It has been quite a good day, once again better than expected, which is positive. Our quali pace was good, even though there’s still some work to do here and there to improve, so I am confident we can extract the maximum out of the car in quali and if I manage to get the balance where I want it to be we can have a pretty good result.
"Also, the race simulation we did went fairly well. We have a lot of data on this track from winter testing, but it’s very difficult to compare it with the data we gathered today in such different conditions. With regards to the heat, out on track is not that hard because at least there’s some air, but when you are in the garage it’s like being in a sauna!"
Perez returned to the Racing Point cockpit and slotted in like he’d never been away. He had the beating of his team mate in both sessions, as the team chose to focus on learning more about the tyres. Can they translate that data into the optimal strategy for Sunday and grab a first podium of the season? They’ll need good qualifying slots tomorrow if they want to make good on their car’s potential here.
Sergio Perez – FP1: 1:18.471, P7; FP2: 1:18.293, P8
“It was great to be back in the car today: I’d missed Formula 1 so much! I’m very pleased to be behind the wheel and working with my team again. I thought it would take me some time to get back up to speed after missing two race weekends, but I’m pleased that I was able to get back into the rhythm very quickly. It was a physical day out there in the high temperatures, but the main thing is that we showed promising pace, so I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. We completed today’s programme, and I’m happy with what we achieved, so we can aim for a good result in qualifying and points on Sunday.”
Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:18.643, P10; FP2: 1:18.357, P11
“It was pretty toasty out there! I’m looking forward to a cold shower now! It wasn’t the easiest Friday, but we know there are areas where we can make improvements overnight and for Sunday, so I’m confident we can take a good step forward. We’ve seen in today’s running that a strong race result will require good tyre management as the track temperature is so high this weekend. Now that we’ve experienced these types of conditions, we can go away and make sure we set the car up as well as possible for tomorrow and Sunday. It was great to see Checo back in the car too. I’m confident that we'll be fighting for points on Sunday.”
Renault opted to run the soft tyre first in FP1, and thus set their lap times on a dusty track. Their positions in FP2 were more representative, with Ricciardo again looking promising over one lap, and Ocon not too far behind. They’ve had some of the best race pace of the midfield of late, so a good qualifying tomorrow could make a big difference for the team.
Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:18.736, P12; FP2: 1:18.303, P9
“It’s not been an easy day, but nevertheless, we’ll work hard tonight and find some solutions. Conditions are very warm here and that doesn’t make things easy. On our side, we have a bit of work to do at the moment, especially on car behaviour and finding some consistency. It was a little challenging to drive – especially with rear stability - and we’re not on top of the issue from Silverstone yet. The good thing is that the car has great pace and we just need to unlock it. Physically, a tough day too in the heat but I’m feeling fine and ready for tomorrow.”
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:19.230, P18; FP2: 1:17.868, P4
“It’s been a pretty good day for us, especially the afternoon’s running. On the timesheets, at least, it’s another decent Friday: third last week, fourth today, so we’ll try and keep that going. Our long run was looking quite competitive as well. I wasn’t too happy with the car in the morning, but we made a good step in the afternoon, similar to Silverstone last week. The tricky thing here is the heat. We haven’t driven here in the heat for so long and it’s completely different to what we felt at winter testing. We’re trying to understand that, but we got a better grasp on it this afternoon with the tyres in a better place. We have more work to do before tomorrow, but we’ll aim to put in a good one.”
Ciaron Pilbeam, Chief Race Engineer
“We’ve had a smooth day’s running with both cars getting through their programmes without any hiccups. We’ve looked at all three tyre compounds this afternoon between the cars with the usual analysis to follow. Daniel’s soft tyre run certainly looked quite competitive. Esteban, meanwhile, has been less happy in the car all day, so we’ve got some digging to do tonight to find the cause of that. It seems to be the same issue throughout the day more or less. That aside, it’s been good day’s running and the conditions look to stay the same for the rest of the weekend. We have more to build on from today.”
Grosjean had a topsy-turvy day. He ran strongly in both sessions on the soft tyre, despite one-lap pace normally being their downfall. But a good day was marred by late engine trouble in FP2. As for Magnussen, he ran wide and squabbled in traffic but completed a good number of laps, albeit lagging down the order compared to his team mate.
Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:18.291, P6; FP2: 1:18.133, P5
“I don’t really know where this performance came from. In all fairness, it’s the same car from the beginning of the year, we’ve just been making some good set up work since Silverstone. The performance there was really good, but it was power sensitive, here that’s maybe a little less. Sixth in FP1, fifth in FP2, then the long run pace was pretty good too – we’re really happy with all that. There’s a little bit more work to be done on the car to bring it more to my liking. I hope nothing changes though, I hope this all stays the same so tomorrow we can go for a really good qualifying session – that would definitely set up a good weekend.”
Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:18.620, P9; FP2: 1:18.761, P16
“It’s been a positive day. I didn’t get a great run on low fuel in FP2, so my best lap time doesn’t look good, but Romain (Grosjean) showed what’s in the car. Running on high fuel, it was all very positive. The car seems to be working very well around here. It’s been very hot, there’s a lot of heat in the tyres, but it seems to be working. I think this track obviously suits us a little better. I’m pretty positive and very happy with today. It’ll be harder tomorrow, but hopefully we can get a little further up in qualifying than we have done so far this year, from there we can have a good race.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“For sure, these have been our best Friday sessions this year. This kind of circuit, where there’s less high-speed sectors, it helps us as it’s a lot less power sensitive. We’ve always been relatively good here in Barcelona, I don’t know the reason why. I was cautiously optimistic in testing at the beginning of the year, and this shows that I wasn’t wrong. So, it looks encouraging but I’m not getting over-enthusiastic about it yet because we still have to qualify on Saturday and race on Sunday. There are still a lot of things we need to get right – which we could get wrong, so I don’t want to be negative. But overall, I think this is a big boost for the team. It’s great that we’ve been this competitive today, it’s an uplift for everybody. Now we have to put in the hard work so we don’t make any mistakes over the next two days. Hopefully we’ll bring home a good result.”
Sainz is running a new chassis at his home race in a bid to solve his cooling issues from last time out, but it won’t be until tomorrow when he learns if that has fully fixed the problem. Both drivers completed full programmes, with flow-vis paint evident on both cars as the team opted to gather data today ahead of those all important sessions tomorrow.
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:18.733, P11; FP2: 1:18.214, P7
“A normal Friday for us, where we tried a couple of test items and mainly tried to understand the overheating issue we had in my car over the last weekend. Unfortunately, the problem is still there and costing lap-time, so we’ll keep investigating in order to take the best decision.
“Apart from that, performance-wise, the car wasn't too bad today. There are still a few changes to make for tomorrow, but the main focus point now is still the cooling.”
Lando Norris - FP1: 1:18.744, P13; FP2: 1:18.506, P14
“A tricky day in terms of getting to know the car a bit around here, but not too bad to be honest. We’re trying a few of the things we struggled with in Silverstone, but we also made a fresh start as it’s a new track.
“I think we’re fairly comfortable, we’ve got a good direction to work in but we’re not there yet – I’m basically looking for more grip overall. The car doesn’t feel bad, so I think we can make some improvements overnight and be a bit more competitive. On the whole, today was clean, we got our running in, got a good understanding of the car – that’s what’s most important.”
Andrea Stella, Racing Director
“We’ve had a productive Friday and have been able to work through all our planned test items and improve our understanding of the balance of the car, the level of grip and the tyres. The temperature in August is, of course, hotter than we’re used to in Barcelona for the race, and that creates some particular challenges for cooling and tyre temperature. We still see the split of temperatures across cars and we’ll make further changes tomorrow in order to resolve this anomaly.
“On the tyre side, it looks like the behaviour is more typical than we saw in Silverstone, where we suffered with some issues. We know that when the track is windy, our car becomes a bit temperamental, but we’ll try to extract the most out of it tomorrow and be fighting for Q3 to give us the best chance of good points on Sunday.”
Gasly has been the pick of the AlphaTauri drivers over one lap, but was unusually tetchy today, complaining to the team over the radio on several occasions. Kvyat likewise was unhappy with traffic on the track, turning the airwaves blue, although his frustration could have been due to missing some track time with technical issues. Hopefully their drivers will cool down overnight and be more composed for Saturday.
Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:18.888, P14; FP2: 1:18.312, P10
“It was a positive Friday for us, we managed to do quite a few laps and completed an extensive test session. In FP2 we managed to finish in the top 10, even if I still feel like I’m not fully happy with the car. We weren't able to get the balance exactly where I wanted it to be unlike in recent weekends, so I think we’ll have a bit of work to do for tomorrow in order to improve the balance, find a bit more performance and be in a good position for qualifying.”
Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:19.145, P17; FP2: 1:18.642, P15
“We had a productive Friday, we managed to do quite a few laps despite having a problem in the morning. It was not ideal to miss the first part of FP1, but we managed to recover some of the lost time in FP2, so I’m looking forward to putting together a clean day tomorrow and have a strong result in qualifying. We’ve got some work to do tonight to understand where the car is at and where we can find the last couple of tenths to put us in a position to fight for the top 10.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“We had two weeks of testing here when the car was brand new back in February, and it’s good to be back. This year we are in Barcelona later than when we typically come for the race, so we need to take a lot of our historical data for this track with a pinch of salt because the track temperatures and the weather are extremely different to what we had in March, and what we normally experience when we come here in May. Today we had 50-degree track temperatures which have a big impact on the car.
"Unfortunately, in FP1 we had a minor hydraulic issue on Dany’s car that we were able to fix and get him back out, but it meant he missed some track time which put him on the back foot. It was a very hot track so both drivers were struggling for overall grip and to find a good balance on the car, so we analysed the data between FP1 and FP2 and made some small changes to the car based on what we saw in the morning.
"I think we showed a step in performance and we were able to improve our competitiveness. Pierre got a good lap on his option tyre, while there’s still a bit more to come for Dany as so far, he's had less track time this weekend. The short-run is looking reasonable and in line with expectations, and we’re happy with our pace on the long runs too, so we're positive for the rest of the weekend. It looks like the midfield is extremely tight again, a tenth of a second can make the difference between four places in qualifying, so we need to look through all the data tonight to decide what to do as for the tyre allocation for the race on Sunday and get everything together for a good qualifying.”
The Alfa Romeo team again seemed off the pace, and look to have a tough ask to get a car out of Q1 tomorrow. As if that wasn’t enough, Raikkonen also suffered some brake issues on a scorching hot day in Barcelona. Can they dig through the data and work out anything they can do overnight to improve the performance, or will they remain the only team yet to get a car into Q2?
Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:18.981, P16; FP2: 1:18.900, P17
“It was a fairly regular Friday: we tried various things, trying to find the best way to set up the car for tomorrow. The car feels very similar to the last few races, you can’t expect big changes in such a short time, and that’s not yet where we want it to be. The key at this stage is to understand how to extract the best from the package we have at the moment.”
Antonio Giovinazzi - FP1: 1:18.917, P15; FP2: 1:18.964, P18
“Not the easiest day to start our Spanish Grand Prix weekend: we struggled a little in these conditions and there is a lot we can improve in terms of pace. We know there’s a lot of work ahead of us, we need to make some solid work tonight and try our best in the limited amount of time we will have in FP3 tomorrow.”
Roy Nissany took over from Russell in FP1, and ran well in his first ever proper session bar one large spin caused by braking too heavily. Russell therefore only had one session, and the lack of track time looked costly as he struggled for grip on the hard compound tyre, comparing them to like driving on ice. Latifi got the beating of his team mate in FP2 and seemed the happier of the two drivers today.
George Russell – FP2: 1:19.391, P20
"It was very tough; I think the track temperatures being so high meant that the tyres were really struggling for everyone in these difficult conditions. It wasn’t awfully pleasant, and I think we have a bit of work to do to get on top of it for tomorrow. I was a bit off the ball to start the short run having missed FP1, and then going straight in on the hard tyre didn’t help. We are not used to seeing Barcelona with these track conditions, we pre-empted that, but I think we need to go a step further. I think we can get some more pace out of the car for tomorrow, but I think Q2 which has been our focus and our aim in the last few races will be pretty tough this weekend."
Roy Nissany - FP1: 1:20.664, P20
"It was a very positive session and I am pleased with my performance. Working with the team was perfect, we were quite close with the pace and I think it was a very encouraging experience for my first outing. I have learnt a lot and I think I gave good feedback to the team in terms of the development of the car. I come away with very positive feelings and I am already looking forward to the next one."
Nicholas Latifi - FP1: 1:20.334, P19; FP2: 1:19.155, P19
"It was definitely very hot out there and the conditions were much more humid compared to Silverstone. It was a tricky day trying to get the right settings for one lap performance versus high fuel running. Especially after the previous rounds where we seemed a bit more competitive compared to our direct competitors, it seemed we were struggling a bit more today. We have lot of homework to do tonight to try and get back on the pace of the Haas and Alfa tomorrow."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"Roy Nissany drove the car during FP1 and did a very good job, showing good pace and completing his part of the test programme without issue. Between the two cars we got through quite a lot of chassis work during FP1, but the main observations were around the tyres, which clearly weren’t easy to use in the hot conditions.
"George was back in the car for FP2 and during the session we began our work on qualifying and race preparation, but we struggled for basic pace at both fuel levels. We need to make some sizeable changes to the car overnight to get us closer to the pack, but we have a good idea of what we need to do and we’re sure that we can get it together overnight and put in a stronger performance tomorrow."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"Tyre performance today was in line with our expectations, with the gaps between the compounds as we thought they would be. Today’s work consisted of evaluation of all the different compounds, with assessment of the soft over the course of one lap as well as over a longer run probably being one of the keys to the strategy. So far, there’s a distinct performance gap between the soft and the hard, which makes it important to understand how to maximise the soft, with some teams perhaps already looking at a potential two-stop strategy involving the soft, in order to capitalise on the extra speed. That analysis will continue overnight, but all three compounds look set to play an interesting role here as things stand, as we saw from the extensive running on each compound throughout free practice."