What the teams said - Friday in Spain
Barcelona is something of a Mercedes stronghold and they certainly started well, topping both sessions with Bottas getting the best out of the W12 in the morning before Hamilton returned the favour in the afternoon session. With plenty of laps under their belts, it was a very solid day for the team, which looked even better when the struggles of their rivals was taken into consideration. As it stands, they start tomorrow as favourites for pole.
Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:18.627, P3; FP2: 1:18.170, P1
"It's been a good start to the weekend, the track is awesome and our balance is similar to what we had in the last race. It looks close but I think we've got good pace - we understand the car and know which direction we need to go balance-wise. We made some tweaks along the way, I don't know if the car got better through the session but there were definitely findings there and we'll analyse the two sessions to hopefully have a better set-up for tomorrow. It's amazing to see the progress that McLaren, Ferrari and Alpine are making, not just Red Bull, and that puts pressure on us."
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:18.504, P1; FP2: 1:18.309, P2
"It was a solid day, the feeling in the car was not too bad and no massive balance issues so I'm fairly happy. On the soft tyre, getting both axles working straightaway for lap one is going to be key because the gaps will be so small. Tonight will be our usual process - fine tune the set-up as best as we can because we know every millisecond is going to be crucial in qualifying. The whole field seems to be close and Ferrari looked strong today but we just need to focus on our performance and extract the maximum from this package."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"We've managed to do some good work today, both drivers have a decent balance and we look to be in a reasonable place on all compounds. Ahead of the weekend we were concerned that rear overheating would cause us more issues but things seem to be under control, even in the hotter conditions of the afternoon session. We still have work to do getting the best out of the tyre on low fuel as we didn't find as much time as some but we have a good baseline to work from. Traffic was difficult today, it's a short lap and it looked like Red Bull may have been affected by that more than ourselves so we'll work on the assumption that they are very close on pace and we need to find everything we can overnight."
It was a curiously sub-par performance from the Bulls. Up against it, having seen his rival win last time out, Verstappen started well but the RB16B wasn’t looking as quick out of the box as it has done. The Dutchman ran wide on a few occasions in FP2, not managing to set a representative lap time on the softs as he struggled for balance. As for Perez, he did set a representative time – it just wasn’t quick. Work to do for them overnight here.
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:18.537, P2; FP2: 1:18.785, P9
“Overall I think we actually had quite a good day and the car seems pretty competitive. I was a little bit wide at Turn 10 on my push lap in FP2 but there is nothing shocking to report from either session. The track changes to Turn 10 seem better over one lap when you are pushing. It is a bit faster and more enjoyable to drive, but for overtaking I think it could be worse. How competitive we are going to be tomorrow is always going to be a question mark on a Friday but from our side we are quite happy. Of course you always want to improve and do better so we just have to make sure tomorrow that we are up there but I’m looking forward to it.”
Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:19.349, P9; FP2: 1:18.918, P10
“It was a tricky day today. We had a couple of delays in both sessions which meant we were rushing a little and running into some traffic, and with less practice time this year it’s important to get the laps in. Tonight we’ve got some understanding to do and pace to find, especially over one lap. I think our long run pace is stronger but there’s work to do. Let’s see what we can find because qualifying here is especially important. Hopefully we can recover the pace and be in the mix tomorrow.”
Ferrari ran a contrary strategy to the rest of the field in FP1, opting to use the hard and medium compounds. That left their true pace something of a mystery but they soon revealed a very quick car in the afternoon session when they bolted on the softs. Leclerc didn’t just top the midfield but came within fractions of the Mercedes of Bottas, which certainly indicates that there is pace in that SF21 this weekend. Sainz fell back slightly as the day wore on, but was still solidly in the top 10 as he seeks a strong result on home soil.
Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:18.996, P5; FP2: 1:18.335, P3
We had a good, clean day. I’ve changed my approach a little bit since Portimão. After every weekend, I try to analyse where I need to improve. So far, I'm driving a lot better and feel I am in a good place with the car, so I'm quite happy. Last year we struggled quite a lot here, and this year the car feels much better. It’s great for the whole team, especially those back at the factory who work so hard and can see it pay off looking at the numbers. It motivates us all. Tomorrow will be important with qualifying on this track. If there is a nice surprise then that will be welcome, but I think that the objective is to be just behind the front runners.
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:19.020, P6; FP2: 1:18.674, P8
It’s been an encouraging day for us. Right from FP1 we saw the track had quite a lot of grip, which helped with the overall balance of the car. However, in FP2, the balance went away a bit from what I was looking for, particularly for the last sector. Hopefully we can keep working and digging and put it all together for qualifying tomorrow. Reaching Q3 won’t be easy, as we expect three or four cars to be in the same tenth, so we need to make sure we are as prepared as possible.
To say it was a mixed bag from McLaren is probably an understatement. They looked seriously quick in FP1, with Norris winding up ‘best of the rest’ in a car that looked planted through the corners here. But his pace vanished in FP2, although the team rarely unleash their charge fully on a Friday and could well be sandbagging. As for Ricciardo, his struggles continue although clean sessions and plenty of laps at least gives him more time to get to grips with the MCL35M.
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:19.732, P14; FP2: 1:19.195, P15
“So, Barcelona. I was going to say not much has changed – but it has with Turn 10. I don't think it's going to change the racing, but it makes it a little more interesting to have a new corner.
“Today, it’s close. Our positions don’t look great on paper, and we do have work to do but I’m only a second off in fifteenth, so it’s really close. Every tenth counts at this point so we certainly have to find a few for tomorrow and put ourselves in a fighting position. We’ve changed a few things on the car and it’s still too early to know what’s good and what needs work, but we’ll spend some time tonight looking at it. The important thing was that we got the laps in. I think FP2 was definitely better than FP1, even if the position doesn't reflect that, so we’ll hopefully make another step in the morning.”
Lando Norris - FP1: 1:18.944, P4; FP2: 1:19.092, P12
"Tricky day. We felt good in FP1 but, as the temperatures came up a bit in FP2, we struggled a little bit more. We need to understand that a bit better if we can and make some improvements for tomorrow. It didn't feel bad, but we were just a bit off the pace. As usual, we’ll work hard tonight and see if we can turn it around for tomorrow."
Andrea Stella, Racing Director
“A busy day in Barcelona. We had an intense programme today in terms of both aerodynamic tests and work on tyres in preparation for the race, which are always a fundamental factor here, given the high wear on the left-hand side of the car. Overall, we worked through our programme well, and we’re happy with the data we’ve gained. Overnight, we’ll review everything we’ve learned and come back tomorrow ready for what should be a very close qualifying session.”
Alonso was the only driver to run the soft tyre first in FP1, while Ocon’s lap on the C3 rubber was disrupted by red flags. That left their pace something of a mystery heading into FP2, so it was a pleasant surprise when they both wound up in the top five. Ocon narrowly pipped his team mate but there wasn’t much in it, which suggests Alonso may have finally found his form on his return to the sport.
Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:19.681, P12; FP2: 1:18.466, P4
“We can be happy with our day’s work. It’s always tricky in Barcelona with the grip and tyre usage so there’s lots for us to learn and understand. I think the new Turn 10 was interesting and, on our side, we have room for improvement there. As a team, we made a good step from FP1 to FP2 and I felt that in the car. The aim is to repeat that in FP3 and make another step in performance. It was a busy two sessions, lots of things tried on both cars and that gives us a lot to analyse to find more speed.”
Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:19.950, P15; FP2: 1:18.518, P5
“It was a good Friday for us today. Over the two sessions we concentrated on some small upgrades that we brought to the car this weekend and then collected some good information about the tyres and our car set up. Overall, I am pleased with our two sessions and I think the car balance feels good, so it gives me confidence for tomorrow. Let’s see where we are for qualifying.”
Davide Brivio, Racing Director
“It was a busy day for us, especially with our work in FP2 this afternoon on both low and high fuel. We tested a few different items on both cars, which gives us some good information to go through. We know this track is challenging, especially for our car in the past, so we can be pleased with this productive start to the race weekend. Of course, the work continues tonight and tomorrow morning in order to be ready for when it really counts.”
After the troubles of Portugal, it was a welcome relief for the team to find a much less blustery track here in Spain. Gasly put the benign conditions to good use in the morning session, and again came home in the top 10 in the afternoon. As for Tsunoda, he had a hairy moment when his car switched off mid-run but other than that, he looked much more comfortable here and even gave his team mate a run for his money in FP2.
Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:19.062, P7; FP2: 1:18.593, P6
“I think overall FP2 was a good session for us, to finish sixth shows the car is strong. The pace of the car is definitely there but the balance isn’t quite right yet, so we’ve got to make a few tweaks tonight to maximise our performance ahead of qualifying tomorrow. Obviously, our main goal this weekend is to score points, as we’re fighting against tough opponents in the midfield pack, and I think if we can improve in the few areas that we’re struggling in we could be up for a good weekend.”
Yuki Tsunoda - FP1: 1:19.669, P11; FP2: 1:18.619, P7
“I’m happy with our performance and the pace of the car today. I’ve driven this track a lot, so I know it well, which meant I could be more confident driving from the offset, unlike in Portugal where I was having to use each session to learn the circuit. I’m very positive ahead of tomorrow. I just need to focus on my own driving and the set-up of the car before FP3 and qualifying - this is what I will work on tonight with my engineers.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“Barcelona is a track that we obviously know quite a lot better than the Portuguese track, having raced and tested here so many times in the past, so we came here more confident that we could extract a good performance from the car. In free practice one we focused on some aerodynamic testing, as we’ve got some new components here this weekend, and they all worked well which is positive. We also took the opportunity in the morning session to better understand the softer tyre performance over a short run, which helped us going into FP2 – where this analysis was our main priority for the afternoon. I think we managed to extract a reasonable performance from the Softs around a lap here, it’s always a compromise between having understeer at the start of the lap versus oversteer at the end, so I think there’s still some more work we can do ahead of tomorrow but overall the performance there is quite positive. We then completed a long run, which was all about tyre management and understanding what our strategy should be for the race on Sunday.”
With both cars now running the upgraded package, Aston Martin certainly appeared to have taken a step forward here. Vettel in particular looked in decent form in FP1, his flying lap on the softs good enough for a top 10 slot despite having been set much earlier when the track wasn’t fully rubbered in. Stroll had a quieter day and seems to be trailing his team mate here as it stands.
Sebastian Vettel – FP1: 1:19.234, P8; FP2: 1:18.947, P11
“I think it was our best Friday of the year so far: plenty of laps for Lance and me, and we have done some important homework ahead of the race. I felt happy today and it was my opportunity to try the new parts, which are a step forward. It is hard to say exactly where we will be tomorrow in a very close midfield competition, but we will try to find a bit more tonight to squeeze a few more tenths of performance.”
Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:19.429, P10; FP2: 1:19.134, P14
“That was a really busy Friday covering lots of laps and learning about the car. Even though it was windy and hot out there, I felt comfortable, and we did some useful work today. It is a case of continuing to understand the car and the new parts we have introduced, which seem to have taken us in a good direction. Today’s times showed just how close the grid will be here, and it is never easy to overtake on this track, so we have got to make sure we have a strong Saturday and hook up the laps when it matters.”
Kubica had Raikkonen’s car for the morning session and was having a good outing until he lost control in Turn 10, spinning and beaching the C41 in the gravel to end his day earlier than planned. When the Finn regained control of the cockpit, he set about gathering data for the team using plenty of flow vis paint. That left Giovinazzi to do the representative running, with the Italian coming home P13 in both sessions.
Kimi Raikkonen - FP2: 1:19.213, P16
“I was able to do a good number of laps in the afternoon, which is always positive. I know the track really well and there is effectively only one new corner to learn. The car didn’t feel too bad so we can be optimistic ahead of the rest of the weekend. We have work to do tonight, but so does everyone and we will see tomorrow where we end up in qualifying.”
Robert Kubica – FP1: 1:21.887, P19
“It was nice to be back in the car in an official session and I’m sorry about finishing the session like this. It was a very small mistake but we paid a high price: I misjudged the grip levels on my first run on soft tyres, spun mid-corner and got stuck in the gravel trap. It still was good to get back the feeling with this car, especially ahead of next week’s test: I am looking forward to trying the new 18-inch tyres and helping the team in making this important step. It will be an interesting session!”
Antonio Giovinazzi - FP1: 1:19.694, P13; FP2: 1:19.122, P13
“All in all, it was a positive day in which we showed to be really close to the top ten. We need to find something more while looking at the data tonight, but we know qualifying will be decided by the smallest of margins. The track layout has improved, I like the new turn ten: I think it’s much better than the previous configuration. It remains a difficult corner and one that can make the difference on the single lap.”
Nissany deputised for Russell in FP1, managing a clean session with plenty of laps. Russell took his car back for the afternoon, but couldn’t find the pace to make inroads in the lower reaches of the midfield. As for Latifi, he struggled with the handling of his car, but still managed a fair few laps with which to get acquainted with this track.
George Russell –FP2: 1:19.957, P17
"It’s always tricky missing FP1 and having half the running, but it was great to get back out in the car after a difficult weekend in Portugal. In terms of the circuit, the new corner at Turn 10 is a nicer corner than the previous one and is fun to drive. We look a little further away on the low fuel pace compared to where we usually are, but our high fuel pace seems relatively decent. Barcelona can be difficult with high tyre degradation and history has shown that we tend to struggle here, so Sunday will be interesting."
Roy Nissany – FP1: 1:20.700, P17
"Today was beautiful, the sun was shining and I was back on the track. It felt great to jump in the car having spent a lot of time, and driven many kilometres, in the simulator. I enjoyed every second and every metre of it and I think the result reflects that. It was a productive day, good to be back and I am looking forward to the next outing."
Nicholas Latifi - FP1: 1:20.270, P16; FP2: 1:20.046, P18
"It was a tricky Friday. Straight away in FP1 the track conditions were not very good with low grip out there. We made some improvements from one session to the next, but I still feel there is scope to improve the basic set up of the car. We have still got some work to do and were more focused on the high fuel race pace, as that was not particularly competitive in Portugal. We are not where we want to be, but we will do some work tonight and see where we can improve."
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance
"The track grip was quite low in FP1 and it was difficult to learn very much about the car. Roy did a good job once again and collected some useful data for us on one of our test parts. He also gave us a clear indication of the early balance weaknesses of the FW43B at this circuit. Nicholas had a steady FP1 session and although he struggled with rear grip in the high-speed corners, he still had a productive morning.
"George took a little time to get up to speed in FP2, and there is still more to come from him tomorrow. Nicholas made good progress this afternoon but as a team we are struggling at this circuit and we have a lot to look through tonight."
Mazepin was fortunate to escape the gravel traps in FP1 after locking up heavily and running straight on. Once he did get going, he struggled with the handling of his car throughout the session and propped up the leader board. The situation was the same in FP2, but Schumacher did manage to extract a bit more from the car as he lapped comfortably ahead of his team mate.
Mick Schumacher – FP1: 1:20.766, P18; FP2: 1:20.326, P19
“It was alright, a bit tricky here and there, but lots learned today and definitely a lot to try and improve for tomorrow. It seemed like the hard tyre was the most difficult tyre to switch on, it looked the same for everybody else, so we quite quickly switched to the soft tyre in FP1. I would say the progress through the day was quite positive, there are little things we have to improve, and can improve. Looking at it, we were quite quick on the straights, but we’re struggling a bit to find the downforce we want – but that’s what we have and we’ll have to work with it.”
Nikita Mazepin – FP1: 1:21.976, P20; FP2: 1:20.753, P20
“I think the track was improving with the sessions, obviously Turn 10 is a bit new, which means the tarmac is very black so there’s still some dust and oil in it – it’s getting more rubbered in with the more laps we do. Again, it’s a Friday, so there are three free practices and we have one more to go tomorrow. I always learn when I’m out but so far, my weekend starts where I’m three steps back from where I used to be driving different cars, and then slowly I make the steps forward. If I end up one step ahead from where I wanted to start, I think that’s a good day for me – it was no different today.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“It was a pretty difficult FP1 starting on the C1 hard tyre for both drivers. Obviously, Nikita (Mazepin) was hurt more as he spun – there was very little grip out there on the C1 which didn’t give him a lot of confidence going forward. They had to readjust everything when they put on the softer C3 tyres. I would say we made some progress in FP2, for ourselves, not necessarily on the timesheet – we can read that one ourselves. We made progress, I think we’re slowly getting there, and this was only really possible because we had more than 100 laps today without any real issues. We have to keep on working and hopefully in FP3 we’ll find a little bit more and be ready for qualifying. At the moment I wouldn’t say we’re ready for qualifying, but everybody will be working hard to get there.”
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"The tyres performed as we expected throughout free practice today with no graining or abrasion seen during each of the sessions and a performance gap between the compounds as anticipated. The surface here in Barcelona is very different to Portimao a week ago, with more abrasive asphalt that produces more grip. The new Turn 10 makes life a little bit easier for the tyres here, especially the rears, as it is more flowing than before. The teams concentrated on the soft and medium compounds in the afternoon, which are likely to be the key tyres for the race. This is due to the fact that there is a bigger performance gap to the hard, and also because there is less time lost in the pits than there was in Portugal, which encourages shorter stints."