What the teams said - practice in Spain
A round-up of the opening day's events from the Formula 1 Gran Premio de Espana Pirelli 2017at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya...
Hamilton said he was very happy with his W08 in FP1, when it felt exactly as he had expected it to with slightly lower weight, revised weight distribution and revised aerodynamics and suspension settings. In the afternoon, however, he like all of the other drivers reported that changed track conditions had reduced grip. Bottas was similarly satisfied with his first day’s work and the progress the team made.
Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:21.521, P1; FP2: 1:20.802, P1
“First practice was very, very good but in second practice the track changed and shifted quite a lot, so it was slippery and quite a lot slower for everyone - especially with the gusts of wind. It was massively challenging but still fun nonetheless. The team has done an amazing job with the upgrades and the car is working just as we expected. It’s been a much better start to the weekend for me than in Sochi, so I’m very happy. We’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep working, we want to be number one.”
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:21.550, P2; FP2: 1:20.892, P2
“Today was an important one for us with the new upgrade package on the car. Our target was to evaluate if the new upgrades are working well and it seems like they are. At this time it’s way too early to tell exactly where we are, but everything seems to be working well so far. It’s always nice to start the weekend in a positive way, but the main days are Saturday and Sunday. As always we will work hard to find any performance. I really enjoyed it out there today so I hope we can squeeze some more performance out of the package.”
James Allison, Technical Director
“It was a pretty good day for the team. We have some new bits on the car for this weekend that we wanted to try out and ensure everything was working well with those and it seems like it is. At a track that can suffer from high tyre degradation we’re keen to ensure that our car is good on both the long-runs and the short-runs. We feel like we’re in better shape in that compared to winter testing. We’ve definitely made some progress and we’ll be in with a shout if we keep up the good work this weekend.”
Ferrari struggled slightly, with Vettel having a momentary gearbox problem in FP1, and Raikkonen being warned to watch his engine in FP2. The German reported that he did not feel like 'the captain of his ship' in FP2, but said he still believes that the SF70H is the same quick car it was here in testing and that they just need to unlock a bit more of its potential overnight.
Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:22.600, P4; FP2: 1:21.220, P4
“Today the conditions seemed to be quite challenging, but we can improve. I wasn’t totally happy as I think a lot was left in the track and I didn’t find it at the end. At the same time I feel the car is quick so I just need to get it right. Overall, the atmosphere is good, but obviously now I am more focused on what happened today. I think everybody struggled today. I don’t know who brought more updates but I think what really matters is who brings the best ones.”
Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:22.456, P3; FP2: 1:21.112, P3
“It was pretty windy and slippery out there today. I think it was the same for everybody; the first day you find out how the track is and you go from there. The lap times from today’s practice don’t tell a lot, we were able to follow our programme and try different things. Compared to winter testing, it’s pretty normal to find different conditions, because temperatures are higher and the track status changes. As on any other Friday, there is some work to be done, so we’ll see what we come up with for tomorrow.”
Both drivers were cautiously optimistic about the progress the RB13 made with its new upgrade. They said there was an increase in grip, which was the primary aim, but that the team were still feeling their way with the revised set-up.
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:22.706, P5; FP2: 1:21.438, P5
“I think it looks like we have closed the gap a little bit to Ferrari so this is a big positive, but it looks like Mercedes have brought a good update package as well so they are still quite far ahead. We are still the third team but the changes are taking us in the right direction and we have found an increase in grip. We still have a lot of work to do to improve the pace of the car and also the performance of the engine so we will keep pushing. There was a lot of unexpected wind out there which caused a few issues. I was at full lock in turn 9 and suddenly a gust caught the rear and forced me off the track and through the gravel, luckily there was not much damage. I saw a few guys get caught out by the wind. This circuit is always quite hard on the tires so the last sector is usually quite tricky but the wind definitely did not help.”
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:23.084, P6; FP2: 1:21.585, P6
“There were times today where the car felt pretty good but at times we were still trying to find our way with the new package. The car was starting to come alive on the soft tyre this afternoon which was nice, but with the harder compounds we still have some improvements to make. I do see a step forward and we aren’t looking too bad against Ferrari but I’m sure they will also have more to bring tomorrow. We need to keep evolving with this new package now and fully understand it. We didn’t come here expecting to be as quick as Mercedes but we are feeling a bit of progress and now we just need to keep fine tuning everything to get a few more tenths out of the car. I think we are in line with what we predicted and tomorrow we will have a much better idea about whether the gap to the leaders has been closed.”
Hulkenberg was happy with what he achieved, while Palmer was relieved to get his best practice session of the year under his wheels, though he still has some fettling to do overnight with his engineers. Yet again Sirotkin’s run in FP1 was foiled. This time, in Palmer’s car, he was restricted to only 10 laps because of a relatively minor water leak.
Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:23.993, P9; FP2: 1:21.687, P7
“A solid Friday for us. We completed our usual programme and there were no dramas with the car. As usual, there are areas we are working on to improve for qualifying tomorrow and we know where some extra pace can be found. It was a real struggle to find grip today so I was presently surprised that we showed reasonable relative pace. If we can carry this through to tomorrow and the race it could be a decent weekend.”
Jolyon Palmer - FP2: 1:21.992, P8
“It was good to get out in the car for the afternoon after sitting out in the morning. The car feels a lot better when using the Soft tyre as the balance on the Medium wasn’t too great. We had a productive session with a strong tally of trouble-free laps. I’ve got a few areas to work on with my engineers but overall it’s been a solid afternoon.”
Sergey Sirotkin - FP1: 1:26.293, P19
“It was a short run for me in FP1, but that’s motor sport and it’s better to have an issue with the car in practice than in qualifying or the race. At least this time I ran further than in Sochi! The car felt good and I was able to do what was required whilst I was out on track. Obviously, I’m hopeful that next time I get a clean session, but I know everyone in the garage is working hard to ensure this is the case.”
Bob Bell, Chief Technical Officer
“Overall it was a reasonably good day for us. The Soft tyre suited us best today with the underlying performance of the car demonstrated by both Nico and Jo in the afternoon FP2 session. In the morning, we struggled more for pace with the harder compounds which weren’t particularly friendly to our car balance. It was also a disappointing morning for Sergey who suffered from a water leak stopping his session prematurely. Fortunately, he did get sufficient track time to gain a feel for the car and his feedback was consistent with that of Nico’s on the other side of the garage.”
Massa was quite happy as Williams focused more on race runs in FP1 and FP2 with both the hard and the medium tyre compounds, but Stroll admitted that he really struggled on the latter and has a lot of homework to get through tonight.
Felipe Massa - FP1: 1:24.618, P14; FP2: 1:22.015, P9
“The session was a good one I would say. The medium and the hard tyres were quite tricky to run, and we did struggle with them a bit, especially with overheating. But, many others were struggling to make these tyres work too, so it’s not so bad. On the whole it was quite a positive day.”
Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:25.919, P18; FP2: 1:23.221, P17
“It was a tough day for me just putting everything together and getting everything to work. I didn’t get the medium working very well, and it was particularly difficult to find grip and stability in the car. It was quite easy to miss corners, have snaps and make mistakes, especially when you lose the temperatures in the tyres, so I have to look tonight to try and make it better for the race. I made a mistake on my first lap on the softs, then did two more laps and I finally did a lap time, but the tyre was gone at the end. Not the end of the world, as it is only practice.”
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer
“Today we did some test work for new aerodynamic parts, and various other settings on the car. We also looked at the different tyres for the weekend. We ran a different programme to normal, with more focus on the medium tyre on race fuel loads in FP1 and FP2. The medium tyre has proved to be a difficult tyre to work with, both in pre-season testing and in Bahrain. We gathered all the data that we needed today and we had no problems, aside from disruptions to the track running with the red flags. Felipe set a good pace, which looks competitive. Lance struggled with the tyres today. But we’re optimistic that he’ll be on the pace of the car tomorrow. There's lots of analysis for us to do tonight and we look forward to the excitement of qualifying tomorrow.”
Sainz said the track condition was a surprise after pre-season testing, but that he got some sort of direction going with the set-up by the end of FP2. Kvyat said he was still working his way through myriad handling problems associated with weather, tyres and track.
Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:24.642, P15; FP2: 1:23.236, P18
“The car has quite a few handling issues at the moment… We need to be patient and try to do things overnight for the car to suit me better because, at the moment, it wasn’t in the correct window for my driving style.”
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:24.004, P10; FP2: 1:22.265, P10
“It’s been quite a tricky first day here in Barcelona. I think the track conditions surprised us quite a bit, as it was much slower out there today compared to winter testing; there was also a lot of wind, which complicated things even more. It wasn’t easy to find the right balance, but overall I’d say we ended the day in a decent way, making some improvements and we can approach tomorrow in a positive way.”
James Key, Technical Director
“We have brought a lot of new development parts to Barcelona, both on the aero and mechanical side. There was an awful lot to learn today regarding these parts, how they were working and how best to set-up the car around them. FP1 was therefore dedicated to a lot of that work and we did a few runs on the Medium tyre as part of this to get initial balance data, which needed some work after the first runs. We made a bit of a step forward for FP2, even though there’s still work to do. Generally, we’ve got a direction which is emerging now and this is allowing us to tune the car into where we think we need it to be. I’d say it’s been a learning day and now there’s clearly some work to do overnight to extract a little bit more out of the car. Carlos was generally happy and clear on what was going on from his side; the longer run for him looks quite promising too. Regarding Daniil, we had a few issues on the shorter runs today, where we couldn’t quite get the balance together. Unfortunately he missed a part of FP2 after damaging the floor, which put his programme a bit behind schedule. However, he was happier with the long-runs and we now need to look into the shorter run performance, specifically on his car. I think we’ve got some good data to work with now, but there’s certainly quite a bit still to find.”
Haas looked strong in FP1, with Grosjean right on Magnussen’s tail despite losing the toss of the coin which saw the Dane getting the sole new front wing and other new aero goodies. But in the afternoon both struggled to get the Pirellis switched on.
Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:23.758, P8; FP2: 1:22.371, P11
“It’s not been an easy day. We’ve been dealing with a lot of things. I think the tires are struggling a bit here to work, or at least we’re struggling to get the tires to work. I don’t think we’re the only ones – a lot of cars have been running wide. So that’s going to be key, getting those correct. If we can do that, we can gain a lot of lap time. We just focused on more work this afternoon, seeing what other tools could be available so we can put everything together for tomorrow.”
Kevin Magnussen – FP1: 1:23.670, P7; FP2: 1:23.007, P15
“We had a good morning and got some good data on the car. There wasn’t really much useful learning in FP2. The track was very different and the car wasn’t behaving as expected. We’ll look into that and hopefully improve it for Saturday. It’s not quite clear yet why we were happy this morning and not in the afternoon. It was a lot windier this afternoon, but then that was the same for everyone. We looked less competitive and we need to try and understand that. Hopefully, we can get back to where we know we should be.”
Guenther Steiner, team principal
“It was a good first session this morning. We got a lot of data, which we still need to go through. It was a more difficult one in the afternoon with the higher temperatures. On the long runs we had challenges. We need to analyse what is next. There’s a lot of work to do this afternoon. Again, we need to go through the data and understand why. We also need to get more data on the new floor. Romain running the new floor tomorrow morning will hopefully help us, and then after that we can make a decision about which one to use going forward.”
Both drivers worked hard gathering data with the VJM10’s new aero package - especially the revised floor - and like everyone else the tyre and track situation didn’t help their quest for knowledge. Perez, no lover of the hard Pirelli, suggested that it won’t be seen again this weekend, but added that he felt they had plenty of information to process as they focus on set-up directions this evening.
Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:24.188, P11; FP2: 1:22.722, P14
“The grip levels were low and it was very difficult to get the hard tyre compound to work. I suspect we will not see much of it on track for the rest of the weekend as the medium and soft compounds are much more representative of what we need for qualifying and the race. We have a lot to do to understand the data we collected today. Of course, when you are testing a lot of different things, it’s tricky to set the car up, but I think we now have a good base on which to build.”
Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:24.324, P12; FP2: 1:22.520, P12
“It’s been a fairly routine Friday, going through our programme without any dramas. We were able to cover a lot of ground and test some development items. Now our focus goes back to the task of preparing for tomorrow’s qualifying. The conditions out there weren’t ideal today: it was very windy and the tyres are very hard, meaning it was difficult to find grip. The soft compound is the one that works best on this track and it’s going to be a challenge to work with the others. We have some work to do tonight, but I am confident we’ll be well prepared for the rest of the weekend.”
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal
“We had a very busy day, with a full testing programme and several new parts to evaluate between the two cars throughout the sessions. Things have gone to plan and we managed to gather all the essential data that we needed. From now on, it’s a standard race weekend: we will need to make all the right decisions overnight and put the best car on track for FP3 and qualifying. This is a track we know very well from winter testing, but the temperatures are much higher now compared to February. Understanding the performance of the tyres has been an important factor during the day so completing our long runs in the afternoon was very important. Qualifying tomorrow will be crucial because it is very hard to overtake here and your starting position is vital.”
McLaren had yet another disaster when Alonso’s Honda engine broke quite spectacularly after only a lap of FP1. The Spaniard went off to play tennis, but managed a handful of laps in FP2 when a new power unit had been fitted to his MCL32. Vandoorne, however, was well in the midfield in both sessions, which was a small consolation.
Fernando Alonso - FP1: No time, P20; FP2: 1:24.077, P20
“Obviously, it’s not an ideal start to the weekend as we completely missed the first practice session because of an engine problem. At least I managed to get some training done – when I heard I had two hours before the next commitment I decided to do just that. I’ve had very little time in the last few weeks to train, and my dedication is still 100 per cent on my fitness and my preparation.
“The poor show in the afternoon session was due to the fact that first of all, you need to calibrate the engine when you put in a new power unit, so in the first couple of runs the power was a little bit inconsistent. We ran out of time, so we put on a new set of tyres even though not everything was calibrated. Towards the end of the session, when we put in more fuel and we were running in similar conditions to everyone else, we were doing more or less the lap time we were expecting, close to our main competitors for the race.
“I feel confident that tomorrow, when we’ll put everything together, we’ll be in a more or less competitive position and hopefully we can be close to the others.”
Stoffel Vandoorne - FP1: 1:24.400, P13; FP2: 1:22.693, P13
“I’ve definitely had one of my best Fridays so far. It’s the first time that I’ve had a Friday this season without any big problems – we ran through our programme without any big issues, so that was good.
“Everything ran smoothly on my side, however, we saw that on Fernando’s side it was a bit more complex. Unfortunately, he missed FP1 and didn’t do so many laps in FP2, so it still shows that reliability is one of the key issues we have to work on for the next few races.
“We’ve brought quite a few upgrades to this race, but at the moment it’s different to judge any of them individually. At the moment, everything is working pretty much as expected, and tonight there’s a lot to analyse to see exactly how the day ran. Hopefully tomorrow we can fine-tune everything a bit, and extract a little bit more.”
Eric Boullier, Racing Director
“Today wasn’t a great day, obviously, especially for the local hero, Fernando, whose running was truncated by an oil leak whose causation we’re still in the process of trying to determine.
“However, Stoffel had a trouble-free day, and consequently put in a decent number of laps in both FP1 and FP2, ending up 13th-quickest in both sessions.
“Friday lap-times are rarely a reliable barometer of actual relative performance, of course; but, even so, we’re pleased that we now have data sufficient to do the necessary number-crunching prior to FP3 tomorrow morning and quali tomorrow afternoon.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“Today was unfortunately a tough day for Fernando at his home grand prix. Shortly after exiting the garage in FP1 a mechanical issue caused an oil leak forcing him to stop out on track. We opted to change the PU before the start of FP2, and we are still investigating the root cause of the problem. The team worked incredibly hard to get him back out on track and maximise data collection for tomorrow’s FP3 and qualifying.
“On the other side of the garage, Stoffel completed 60 laps, and we were able to run through his programme without any problems, which included confirming the effectiveness of the small update installed this weekend, and I think it worked well to improve his performance.
"Despite having a disappointing day today, we still think we have chance to recover the situation in the coming qualifying and race. Our team will have to make another hard effort tonight to send our drivers back on track for tomorrow’s sessions with the best settings, and we hope to have a better day.”
Ericsson said he had a positive day trying new parts, but Wehrlein said his C36 had issues which need to be rectified in the handling department.
Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:24.966, P16; FP2: 1:23.082, P16
“It has been a positive day. We have introduced some new parts today which have worked as expected. Furthermore, we have tested different set-ups that helped us to make the car a bit more competitive. The runs on the medium and hard tyres felt rather difficult, but on the soft tyres we could improve, especially in FP2, which is positive for tomorrow. We need to keep pushing in order to make more steps.”
Pascal Wehrlein - FP1: 1:25.182, P17; FP2: 1:23.599, P19
“A typical Friday practice session, on which we were able to collect some valuable data from the car, especially with regard to the new parts. It is difficult to make predictions yet as we also had some issues with the car today. We still need to fully understand why this was the case. However, I am optimistic that we can improve the car for tomorrow.”
Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing
“The quite strong and variable gusts of wind have made it tricky for the teams to set consistent times during FP2; added to the interruption with the red flag towards the end that stopped the long runs, it hasn’t been easy to put together some reliable data so far. However, we’ve seen a gap of about 1.8 seconds between the hard and medium in FP1, and there is expected to be an eventual performance gap of more than 1.5 seconds between medium and soft. These two will be the race tyres, and as expected we’ve seen some degradation on both. Understanding this more precisely will be the key to the race strategy.”