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What the teams said – Friday in Italy

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19

Red Bull

Red Bull started well, with Verstappen topping the opening session and Perez not too far behind. Roll on FP2, and it was the Mexican who looked the quicker of the two, as Verstappen picked up traffic on his flying lap on the softs. But what was shaping into a pretty decent opening soon unravelled, as Perez lost control coming through Parabolica. He ran wide onto the gravel, losing the rear and spinning backwards into the barriers to bring out the red flags and end his session early.

READ MORE: Perez explains FP2 crash at Monza as Verstappen admits there’s ‘work to do’ at Red Bull

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:22.657, P1, P19; FP2: 1:21.631, P5

“From my side it could have probably been a little bit better today, there is still some fine tuning to do from the low speed to the high speed, but I am, of course, quite confident we will get there. We have been trying a few different wing levels and I think we still need to analyse which way to go, it is sometimes a tricky thing around Monza. We were a little bit interrupted with our programme in FP2 so it was hard to get a read on a few things. On the short run I was blocked a bit in sector two and then on the long run we didn’t get to do a lot of laps, so you don’t really get a good idea but that’s the same for everyone. We need to see what happens when everyone turns up their engines for qualifying, from our side we can do a better job but also today hasn’t been the end of the world.”

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:22.834, P3; FP2: 1:21.540, P3

“It was a shame that we ended FP2 the way that we did as I felt that it has otherwise been a positive day. I had some understeer around the exit to the corner; I thought I had the car under control but then touched the gravel and it was game over. As this happened at the end of my session it meant that we only lost around two laps and it didn’t make too much difference to my programme. Aside from this, the car was performing really well and I feel comfortable with it. We have been working really hard and made some positive steps during the session. For now, the team are looking at the damage to the car. We will be in good shape tomorrow and in a strong position for the rest of the weekend.”

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on September 01, 2023 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari

With a new-look livery for their home race, both drivers set about their programmes on Friday in front of a packed crowd of Ferrari fans. Sainz was celebrating his 29th birthday and did so in style, beating his team mate in both sessions. In fact, the Spaniard wound up on top of the pile in FP2 and deservedly so, putting in a very tidy lap to narrowly beat his former team mate Norris.

READ MORE: Sainz left ‘puzzled’ by Ferrari’s pace-setting start to their home Grand Prix weekend at Monza

Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:22.966, P4; FP2: 1:21.716, P6

"It was a rather tricky day overall. Our performance was quite good, however I struggled with the car balance.

"We will have to work on that for tomorrow, especially for the short runs, as with high fuel it seems to be going better."

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:22.703, P2; FP2: 1:21.355, P1

"Overall it was a positive Friday for the team. The car looks to be back on the pace this weekend and the track characteristics seem to be suiting us better. It’s only Friday and tomorrow is not going to be easy, as the field is super tight with several cars within a couple of tenths. We’ll keep trying to find more performance, especially for the long runs where I think there is more room for improvement.

"It’s great to drive in front of this amazing crowd here in Monza! Let’s keep pushing!"

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-23 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on September 01, 2023 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

McLaren

Norris came out in FP1 sporting some huge aero rakes, and then flow vis paint was spotted on his rear wing. While he tested out different set ups by the looks of things, Piastri ploughed on with some banker laps around this incredibly quick circuit. But having kept their powder dry, the team unleashed both drivers in FP2 and they looked very, very fast. Norris wound up just 0.019s off Sainz in P1, and Piastri wound up in a Red Bull sandwich in fourth. All of which bodes well for qualifying.

READ MORE: ‘We’re not as good as it looks’ – Norris plays down McLaren’s potential at Monza after P2 result in second practice

Lando Norris - FP1: 1:23.241, P7; FP2: 1:21.374, P2

“A good day in terms of progress made. I don’t think we started off in the best position but we made a few good changes and it’s definitely helped us with our overall pace, which is a good thing. However, we’re still a little way off being as competitive as we want to be. We’ll work hard overnight to try and improve on that, and we have a few ideas. But a nice way to end the day, and if we can find some more, I’ll be confident we can have a decent result.”

Oscar Piastri - FP1: 1:23.446, P11; FP2: 1:21.545, P4

“End of Friday, and we’ve had a reasonable day. I think we have some things still to work on and improve on, but the one-lap pace seems to be quite reasonable. Let’s see how we go, there are some things to analyse but not a bad first day.”

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

“Overall, it’s been a productive Friday here at Monza. Red flags aside, we were able to work smoothly through our programme, making comparisons between rear wing levels as we try and achieve the right top speed. The data looks encouraging, and tonight we’ll pick what we believe is going to be the most appropriate configuration for the rest of the weekend. We also had a good look at all three tyre compounds, each of which will be used in the Alternative Tyre Allocation qualifying format tomorrow. Ahead of that we have a busy night, binding together everything we’ve discovered today, preparing as best we can for qualifying and the race.”

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren MCL60 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on September 01, 2023 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Drugovich was in Stroll’s cockpit in FP1, giving a good account of himself. But when Stroll jumped in, he couldn’t make up for lost time thanks to a fuel systems issue. That problem saw the Canadian stop out on track after just two laps, meaning he has next to no running under his belt going into tomorrow. Alonso was held back for some checks as a result, but he soon got out on track and looked to be in the mix in the top 10.

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Fernando Alonso – FP1: 1:23.214, P6; FP2: 1:22.071, P8

"It was a good day at Monza and the adrenaline was pumping. It's always nice to be back here. Very unique on a low downforce set-up. I'm happy to be back, but Lance did have a problem and we had to adapt to using just one set of tyres per session. It's the same for everybody and it will be tight tomorrow – from P6 to P16 it could be split by four tenths. We need to be sharp tomorrow."

Lance Stroll - FP2: No time set, P20

"I don't know where we stand as I haven't been able to complete a lap yet, as a fuel system issue stopped me from setting a time in FP2. The team collected some data from Felipe and Fernando, at least, so we have something to work on for tomorrow."

Felipe Drugovich - FP1: 1:24.140, P18

"I really enjoyed being back out in the AMR23 today; this car is just fantastic. I expected the stability to be slightly compromised by such a low downforce set-up, but I was pleased with how the car was handling and felt confident to push almost straight away. Due to the Alternative Tyre Allocation, we only had one set of tyres throughout the session, but we managed to get through the entire run plan on the Medium compound, so I’m pleased with what we accomplished.

"I spend a lot of time on the simulator helping the team with development work, so I think being back behind the wheel gives me a really good marker of how the car is developing and helps with the correlation between the two. I can definitely take what I’ve learned today back to Silverstone and continue to support the team’s car development.

"I really appreciate the team giving me this opportunity and guiding me through the session; it’s been a pleasure to work with everyone trackside again."

Mike Krack, Team Principal

"As expected, Felipe did a really solid job for the team today and did not set a foot wrong, completing 24 laps during the first practice session. He was tasked with a difficult job given the Alternative Tyre Allocation, but he made his set of Medium tyres last throughout the hour and completed his full run plan within that time.

"We’re pleased with the detailed feedback he’s given today; it will be helpful in guiding our set-up for the weekend."

Tom McCullough, Performance Director

"It was a tough day overall because we only ran with one car in Free Practice Two but Felipe did a great job in FP1. We got all the test runs done this morning as we adapted to the Alternative Tyre Allocation.

"The fuel system problem was a bit frustrating as Lance didn't get to do any laps in FP2. The other stoppage in FP2 didn't help either, but, once again, everyone was in the same boat.

"Luckily we got some data from Felipe and Fernando and we have something to work on tomorrow as we look to maximise Monza."

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on September 01, 2023 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Mercedes

Mercedes had a steady opening session, both drivers in the top 10 and managing a good haul of laps. But come FP2, the team opted to experiment with Hamilton’s rear wing configuration. Whatever they did didn’t sit well with Hamilton, who complained over the radio and wound up not running the soft tyres at all in the session. He was the only car not to do so bar one affected by reliability, on an unusual day for the Silver Arrows. Russell had a more straightforward session, winding up in the top 10 again.

READ MORE: ‘We’ll get to where we need to be’ – Hamilton opens up on new Mercedes deal as he sets sights on 8th world title

Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:23.269, P8; FP2: 1:22.783, P17

“It was a relatively normal Friday programme for me. The reliability was strong, and we got through the work that we needed to, checking off the different tests we had to do. There’s lots of learning from today, and we will have a bit of work tonight to try and improve for Saturday – as we always manage to do. I know that the team will do great work overnight to improve the set-up and car balance, so that we can be quicker tomorrow.”

George Russell - FP1: 1:23.189, P5; FP2: 1:22.176, P9

“It’s great to be back in Monza and driving the car at these high speeds and with low downforce levels. The characteristics are very different to what we had last week in Zandvoort, and that’s something that it’s fun to adapt to. The car was feeling reasonably good, but we have some improvements to make on the soft tyre. The high fuel pace was looking pretty strong, so the focus tomorrow will be on finding more speed for qualifying.”

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

“It’s been a messy day, partly with red flags but also because we’ve not got the car in a good place at the moment. That means we have a bit of work to do overnight to get the setup in the right place for the rest of the weekend. Single lap and long run both need work if we want to be competitive. There’s not much else to say; we just need to get on with the job of sorting the car out.”

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on September 01, 2023 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Williams

At a track Williams hoped would suit their car, Albon had a very good Friday. A P10 in first practice was followed by a seventh place finish, all the more remarkable when you consider that Williams ran the softs first when the track had yet to rubber in. Sargeant couldn’t get on the pace of his team mate but he kept his sessions tidy, and will hope that with the experience under his belt, he can move up the order tomorrow.

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Logan Sargeant - FP1: 1:23.661, P12; FP2: 1:22.755, P16

"It has been pretty tricky today, I’m sure everyone is finding it tricky with the low downforce that we run here, but there’s definitely some time to find for tomorrow. I don’t think we’re too far away, but we want to make a few steps forward. I’m sure tomorrow is going to be a case of avoiding the chaos that Monza usually brings, getting the tyres in the right window and putting in good laps and hopefully that will leave us in a good spot. The goal tomorrow for me is to take it step by step. The first goal is to get to Q2 and then think about the rest after that."

Alex Albon - FP1: 1:23.444, P10; FP2: 1:21.979, P7

"The low downforce set-up is difficult and I don’t think it feels particularly good for anyone, but despite this, the car feels okay. We’re doing an alternate programme to most people, just trying to make sure we understand the Medium tyre going into Q2 tomorrow, as this is going to be important in trying to set ourselves up properly to make it into Q3. There are slightly different issues I’m feeling with the car but nothing I can’t deal with, so we’ll look at these ahead of tomorrow. What’s important is that we’re in the mix but I don’t want to speak too soon. For FP3 tomorrow, we need to weigh up and see what everyone else is doing, helping us to understand where we want to focus on."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"It has been a very interesting day with a full day of dry running to see how the ATA regulations would play out. There was more variation in the run plan and tyre usage than is normal on a Friday; we are happy with what we did, and we think we got a good sight of the Soft and Medium compounds in relevant track conditions.

"The car wasn’t quite balanced correctly in FP1 but by FP2 both drivers were a lot happier and we now have a car that we can work on overnight. There are some improvements that we can make but no major issues to fix.

"It is always very difficult to understand pace differences in Monza as drivers will have done different run programmes, with different PU modes and varying tows. Nonetheless, we are satisfied that we have made a solid start and we can look to build on this over the next two days."

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Alexander Albon of Thailand and Williams prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on September 01, 2023 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Alpine

Alpine really didn’t show their full hand on Friday. They spent much of the afternoon session working on longer runs, and definitely seemed to be focussed on Sunday’s pace. Ocon had a couple of wobbles out on track, running wide and nearly coming a cropper. As to where they might end up in the overall pecking order, that remains an unknown thanks to the ‘Alternative Tyre Allocation’ causing some very different programmes to be run on Friday.

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Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:24.090, P17; FP2: 1:22.716, P15

"It’s always special to drive here in Monza, such an iconic track, and it’s good to be back driving in front of the Italian fans, especially after the cancellation of Imola earlier this season. On track, our Friday was a busy one with plenty to get through. We completed our programme but I think at the moment there are quite a few different things we need to look at in order to be more competitive on this high-speed track. The key will be to get the set-up right ahead of tomorrow for what will be a busy Qualifying session. We’ve got work to do tonight and I know we’ll all be pushing to be in a good position for Sunday’s race."

Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:23.931, P14; FP2: 1:22.651, P13

"It’s great to be driving in Monza again as it’s a very special place for me and it’s also my semi-home race since I live in Milan. On-track it’s been a pretty solid if unspectacular day for us, where we ran through a specific programme filled with plenty of learning for the team. The timesheets are of course not where we aim to be, that said, we know the areas we need to improve and hopefully tomorrow we will be in a stronger position. There’s a long way to go in the weekend and now we’ll analyse the data from today and find a good direction on set-up ready for Qualifying."

Matt Harman, Technical Director

"Today was all about learning for us and, on that front, it’s been a very good day. Both sessions had some interruptions and a couple of red flags but, even so, both cars ran a solid programme and the drivers did an excellent job to run through a handful of test items and provide useful data for the team to analyse. The rear beam wing we introduced to both cars has worked in line with our expectations and that is positive. We know the areas where we are lacking and finding improvements to those areas has been a focus point for us today, which will certainly benefit us in the mid to long term. Right now, it’s all about picking the best set-up on both cars and we look forward to seeing what the rest of the weekend brings."

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Esteban Ocon of France and Alpine F1 prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on September 01, 2023 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

AlphaTauri

Lawson was back in the hotseat, and seemed to work his way through his programme in a calm collected manner. That was in contrast to Tsunoda, who managed to get baulked by Hamilton not once but twice as the day wore on. Both moments frustrated the Japanese driver, but traffic was an issue up and down the field and will only get worse in Q1 tomorrow.

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Liam Lawson - FP1: 1:23.833, P13; FP2: 1:23.167, P18

“We completed everything we wanted today, which is important, and we still have some more time tomorrow during FP3, to prepare for qualifying. The change of tyre compounds for qualifying is something I haven’t experienced in Formula 1, but I’ll just focus on tyre warm-up to extract the maximum out of them, especially from the hard compound tyre in Q1. Yuki’s been great as a teammate, and Daniel offered all the advice he could before the race last week, so they’ve been super supportive, and so has the entire team, trying to get me up to speed as quickly as possible. It’s just about improving and focusing on feeling comfortable with everything behind the wheel and operating the car.”

Yuki Tsunoda - FP1: 1:23.271, P9; FP2: 1:22.696, P14

“It was a normal day today. We completed some test items in FP1, and normal running in FP2, and there’s still more car performance to come. We know our limitations and need to find a couple of tenths, to be able to be in the top 10. We have made a big step in straight-line speed, which we usually suffer with, and now we’re probably in the top part of the field. Because of the red flag, we only managed to do a couple of long-run laps, so we need to see how we go with them tomorrow. I definitely want to make it to Q2, possibly even Q3, so we’ll look deeper into the data tonight and be ready for qualifying.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

“It’s been a busy few days for the team, preparing for this Grand Prix, but at least it has given Liam a chance to reflect on the last event and come here fully prepared for this weekend. The weather has been good, so it’s been a fairly standard Friday. FP1 focused on a series of mechanical and aerodynamic test items for Yuki, while we prioritised the number of laps with a consistent car for Liam. As is usually the case coming here with the low downforce setup on the car, you see more sliding, and the balance is not as together as when you run high downforce. In FP2, we ran on medium and soft tyre compounds. Liam struggled to find the extra grip on the soft tyres and had a bit of traffic, but tomorrow we'll only use the soft compound if we make it to Q3 with the ATA format. The long runs were cut short with the red flag for Perez, so we didn't get a great read on the tyres, but it was the same for everyone. With the ATA format, everyone has different run profiles and tyre usage, and it's more difficult to know where you are competitiveness-wise than simply looking at the classification. It seems like we have a bit of work to do overnight to find some pace, especially in Sectors 2 and 3.”

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Scuderia AlphaTauri talks to the media in the Paddock after practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on September 01, 2023 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo were sporting a striking new livery, but that couldn’t distract from their opening session not going to plan. Zhou had to be wheeled back from the end of the pit lane with anti-stall issues, and Bottas didn’t even make it fully out of the garage with the same problem. When they finally got going, the Chinese racer complained of bottoming out, while Bottas labelled his car undriveable thanks to rear wing stalling issues. Fortunately, FP2 was a smoother affair, with the Finn showing a good turn of pace.

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Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:23.952, P15; FP2: 1:22.595, P12

“Racing in front of so many of our colleagues from our factory in Hinwil and with so many Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake shirts on the stands is special, we could feel the support from the fans and hopefully we can repay their love this weekend. Our Friday hasn’t been the smoothest, starting from a small software issue, which we fixed but which cost us some time in the first session. We made some progress in FP2 and we still have one session of practice ahead of us to get on top of the setup before qualifying. We need to get some work done tonight and make a step forward to be as competitive as we can be in qualifying.”

Zhou Guanyu - FP1: 1:24.232, P20; FP2: 1:23.346, P19

“It’s great to be in Monza, our home race, and the atmosphere is incredible, but despite all the enthusiasm, our work today fell short of what we expected. We had a technical issue at the beginning of FP1 but, in general, I had the feeling something was not right throughout the sessions. We have to understand what is wrong and make a step forward tomorrow: we will all work hard to do that, to have a good performance in qualifying and bring home a good result for the team on Saturday and Sunday.”

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Alfa Romeo F1 C43 Ferrari on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on September 01, 2023 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Haas

Haas focused on a lot of hard tyre running, in preparation for Q1 when that is the mandatory compound. They at least picked up the pace in second practice, and seemed pleasantly surprised with where they ended up in the pecking order at a track they didn’t expect to suit their car. But whether they can stay there tomorrow remains to be seen.

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Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:24.067, P16; FP2: 1:22.291, P10

“FP2 with the long runs were cut short by the red flag, we had two, so they ate into the run plan a little bit and we don’t have all the information and data for Sunday yet. Over one lap, I felt quite confident and good in the car, but we didn’t really get into the high-fuel run, so it’s hard to comment. We know with the alternative tire allocation, we’ll have to see how that changes things. I imagine that will change the dynamic a little bit and make it more difficult for us to survive Q1. That’s the challenge tomorrow, but we’re preparing and getting ready for it.”

Kevin Magnussen – FP1: 1:24.217, P19; FP2: 1:22.574, P11

“We had a good Friday. We showed a little better pace I think than we have done in recent races, on Friday at least, but we know it’s only Friday. We’ve tried looking good in FP2 before, and then in FP3 and qualifying it’s been a different story. Nonetheless, it’s been a positive day and of course I hope we can maintain the pace over one lap. Still, on high fuel it didn’t look great but we need to take what we can.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“It was a strange new FP1 and FP2 because of the alternative tire allocation. You always need to watch out for what other people are doing and try to learn if this continues, and how to do it best with two fewer sets, which is a good way forward I think. In FP1 everyone ran a different program but in FP2, everyone ran at least one set similar and on that set, it was okay for us, better than predicted. As the moment, we need to find a little bit more or hope that others don’t find more.”

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MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Haas F1 VF-23 Ferrari on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo Nazionale Monza on September 01, 2023 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Pirelli

Simone Berra – Chief Engineer

"It was a very useful day in terms of the data gathered which we will now analyse ahead of the rest of the weekend. The ATA seems to have led the teams to modify their programme, allowing us to gather plenty of tyre-related data, split pretty much equally across all three dry compounds available, without in anyway lessening the show on track, given that the laps completed were completely in line with the numbers we saw last year here in Monza.

"Furthermore, we were already seeing long runs in FP1, when the temperatures were more similar to those we can expect on Sunday for the race, when compared to what would have happened with the traditional format. FP2 ran to a more conventional Friday pattern so that we were able to confirm the performance gaps between the Medium and the Soft which we had estimated would be around half a second. From what we have seen so far, the compounds that would seem best suited for use in the race are the Medium and the Hard, as the Soft does not deliver a big performance advantage, given the temperatures this weekend. The track is still evolving and, as it gradually rubbers-in, there should be less of the light tread wear we saw today, especially with the Softs."

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