What the teams said – Friday in Russia

SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Daniil Kvyat of Russia driving the (26) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT01


Bottas tends to do well from the off and continued that vein of form, topping both practice sessions on Friday as he did in Mugello. It wasn’t without incident for the Finn though as he struggled for grip and ran wide on a number of occasions. As for Hamilton, a very unusual 19th in FP1 was the result of failing to get a clean lap in on the soft compound tyres before locking up heavily on the C3 compound. At least in FP2 he managed one clean run before a second heavy lock-up allowed Bottas to sneak ahead. Work to do for the reigning world champion overnight here in Sochi.

Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:37.716, P19; FP2: 1:33.786, P2

"The car has been performing really well here, but it wasn't the smoothest day for me, so there's work to do tonight both on the driving side and set-up wise. The day didn't start very well, as first practice was pretty poor. I had a lock-up at Turn 2 on the Soft tyre and then when I went onto the Hard compound, I completely destroyed them, so FP1 was scrapped. The second session was a lot better, but I wasn't able to put all the sectors together so it's still a work in progress: I was a bit down in sectors one and two, but sector three was nice. The grip levels today were pretty low and that made things tricky out here, with a lot of sliding around. But I'm sure it will grip up and things will be closer tomorrow."

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:34.923, P1; FP2: 1:33.519, P1

"There's definitely more to come but overall, it was a positive first day of running. Conditions were quite tricky out there and that's why there were so many drivers making mistakes. There were a few interruptions and that meant we were a bit limited with running, and I also had a big lock-up, which destroyed a set of tyres. Second practice was better, and we managed a lot of laps, but I still didn't quite get all the sectors right. The first two sectors felt really good, but the car was a bit too nervous in sector three. I was doing some rally-style drifting at times, which probably isn't the fastest way around, so there's still a lot of time to find. But we're in good shape and I'm sure we can make improvements ahead of tomorrow."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"The first session was pretty messy; both drivers flat-spotted tyres and it impacted the running we could do later in the session. We managed to get some long run laps with Lewis, but there was still a vibration that was affecting pace and balance. The single lap was quite encouraging, we did the Soft tyre earlier than most and had expected our times to be eclipsed later in the session, so it was promising to see Valtteri finish the session quickest by a solid margin. The afternoon session was much better. Single lap pace was strong for both although as always, getting the tyres to last the whole lap is a bit of a challenge here. The long runs were also good, we look a bit better than we normally do on a Friday despite running a bit less wing here. There's a bit of work to do on the balance for single lap and long run, but overall, it seems like we have got off to a decent start."

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W11 during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 25, 2020 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Red Bull

A below par day for the Bulls, with both drivers seemingly slightly confused as to their lack of pace. Verstappen in particular looked to be struggling with his RB16, running wide and spinning for good measure before complaining to the team on the radio. Neither could fully master the Sochi Autodrom today, and if they can’t find a few tenths overnight, could be pitched back into the tight midfield battle come qualifying.

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:35.577, P3; FP2: 1:35.048, P7

“In general we know that this track is not the best for us but we have been trying different downforce levels in both sessions to see what the best option is. I think we could have done a bit better in FP2 but we tested a lot of things on the car. Some things worked and some didn’t but now we have some good ideas for tomorrow. I think qualifying is going to be tough and I am not sure if we can be in the top three but in the race we look a bit more competitive which I am happy about. Renault also look competitive but we have to look at ourselves and make sure we make the right trade-off for downforce levels and have a stable car. I know qualifying will be tight and there is still a bit of work to do to make sure we can finish on the podium, but I think we will be in the fight.”

Alex Albon - FP1: 1:36.254, P8; FP2: 1:35.242, P12

“This hasn’t been one of our strongest tracks in the past and it’s hard to say if that’s changed or not after today’s practice sessions. There’s some data to look at now as we tried different things on mine and Max’s cars so hopefully we can find something good between the two that works. We knew it would be hard coming here, the midfield have made a big step compared with last year so it will be tight as the times show today. It didn’t feel bad out there but equally it didn’t feel fast either, so we need to do some homework and find what we can. A circuit like this is just about looking after your tyres as it’s such a thermal track. You need to have a really good balance in the car so if you’re good in short runs, you’re also good in the long runs but at the moment we’re missing a little bit in both.”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB16 locks a wheel under braking during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 25, 2020 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Ricciardo might have been left disappointed last time out after just missing out on a podium but it didn’t show – the Aussie picking up where he left off in Tuscany. He was in the top three in both sessions and looked very comfortable around the tricky Sochi track. Ocon likewise was there or thereabouts, albeit trailing his team mate by half a second in each session. Can the Frenchman get on terms by tomorrow?

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:36.061, P6; FP2: 1:35.139, P9

“I think it was a pretty decent Friday. We tested a lot of things that now we have to put together tomorrow, so I think we’re in a good position. We didn’t quite find the sweet spot with the car so there’s more to come from us. We can see the performance is there. That’s positive and up to us now to do the magic tomorrow. There’s not one sector that stands out as all the corners here are quite similar and we’re looking consistent. We know what to do tomorrow.”

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:35.430, P2; FP2: 1:34.577, P3

“We keep on setting the time sheets alight on Friday, so it’s nice to see us high up again today. It’s a circuit I’ve not had too much success or confidence on before, so it definitely gives me a boost. I learnt a lot and showed strong pace in every run. Looking ahead to tomorrow, I think it’ll be a lot closer especially between us and the teams that are about two to three tenths behind, so I think qualifying will be tightly contested. But I draw a lot of confidence from today and we’ll look to string it all together for the rest of the weekend.”

Ciaron Pilbeam, Chief Race Engineer

“It was a good day here in Sochi. The morning session was a bit disrupted with the red flag stoppage and a couple of yellow flags, but the afternoon session was clear, and we got through everything we had planned to do. Our pace looks okay on both short runs and long runs and we’ll remain realistic for tomorrow and Sunday. We’ll do our usual Friday evening homework and come back tomorrow looking to put both cars in a good position on the grid. We’ve tried a few things on set up on both cars and we’ll aim to put together the best bits we’ve learnt today onto tomorrow’s set-up.”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Renault Sport Formula One Team RS20 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 25, 2020 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)


Norris was running a new nose for McLaren as the team sought to compare the experimental upgrade against the version on Sainz’s car. Unfortunately they were unable to collect much data in FP1 after the Spaniard lost the rear and spun into the barriers, breaking his rear wing and sitting out the rest of the session. He did at least atone in FP2 with an impressive fourth overall, a tenth ahead of Norris. It remains to be seen if the team will stick with the experiment though…

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:36.970, P12; FP2: 1:34.723, P4

“Despite losing much of FP1, I think it's been a productive Friday with an intense programme in the afternoon. Thanks to the mechanics for fixing the car on time for FP2. We completed the tests we needed and the car balance looks closer to the rest of the season so far, which is a good sign after our struggles at Mugello. We seem to be back in the mix, but we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see what we can do in quali.”

Lando Norris - FP1: 1:37.110, P13; FP2: 1:34.847, P5

“Tricky day. FP1 wasn’t ideal. Obviously, we have a couple of new parts on the car, so a lot of it was just aero running and trying to understand how it was performing on track. There was a lot of disruption, so FP1 was a bit messy and lacked laps altogether. We tried to make up for it in FP2 and I think we did. I got a bit more comfortable with the car, we made some progress with the set up and I’m feeling a bit more confident going into tomorrow – but we’ve still got some work to do if we want to be as competitive as our rivals. On the whole, a tricky day but I’m reasonably happy.”

Andrea Stella, Racing Director

“It’s been a productive Friday despite losing some time this morning after Carlos had contact with the barriers. That required us to change the rear end of his car, which was a great effort from the team in such a short space of time. We were still able to get through our programme. Today was mainly focused on testing aerodynamic parts and understanding the tyres – in particular the C5 Soft compound, which was expected to be relatively soft for the Sochi Circuit.

“We’ve gathered good information on both fronts and found that, overall, the car is behaving better than it was at Mugello. For tomorrow, we have to continue fine-tuning the set up, working on the details so that we can stay competitive and fight for Q3 and good points on Sunday.”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren F1 Team MCL35 Renault on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 25, 2020 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Racing Point

Stroll was the beneficiary of the sole upgraded package once again, by dint of being higher in the championship standings. He couldn’t put it to good use though, with Perez actually pipping his team mate in both sessions. The Mexican has history here, having stood on the podium in 2015 and is still looking to impress the watching eyes in the paddock as he seeks to secure a seat for next season.

Sergio Perez – FP1: 1:35.796, P4; FP2: 1:34.890, P6

“It was a positive day and the car was feeling good. We’ll go away tonight and look over the data as usual, but I think the car is in a pretty good place already. It was a really hot day out there, so I’m a bit sweaty too! I was surprised at the temperature, and it’ll be interesting to see how that affects the weekend ahead. I think it was clear to see that there’s going to be a close battle for the top positions in qualifying tomorrow – Red Bull, McLaren and Renault are also looking strong. We were able to put in some good laps and improve throughout the day, so I’m confident going into tomorrow and I’m looking forward to qualifying!”

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:35.965, P5; FP2: 1:35.627, P17

“It was a productive day of running and we were able to complete a lot of laps – which is a real positive as we continue to understand our upgraded package this weekend. It definitely feels promising and I was happy with how the car felt, so I think the ingredients are there for a strong weekend – we just need to make sure we put everything together and maximise it. Checo showed some good pace today as well, so I’m confident we can fight for a good position in qualifying tomorrow. It was hot out there, and it looks like it will be all weekend. That’s going to affect everyone, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out. We’re in a good place and I’m happy with our work so far.”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Racing Point RP20 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 25, 2020 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)


Ferrari had a solid if unspectacular day, with both drivers hovering on the fringes of the top 10. At such a power-sensitive circuit, they were always going to have their work cut out, so to be right in the thick of the midfield is a positive. Leclerc did suffer from some mechanical gremlins in FP2 which hampered his running slightly in the afternoon but he still managed a decent haul of laps.

Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:36.323, P9; FP2: 1:35.183, P10

"This was not such a bad Friday and our car seemed to perform a bit better than in recent races. There is still room to improve and find more lap time. However, leaving aside the top two in the standings, you can see this was a decent day for us.

"Qualifying will be very tight tomorrow and it is not easy to put everything together on one lap. Therefore, it will be very important to put in clean laps without any mistakes and with everything running smoothly."

Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:36.896, P11; FP2: 1:35.052, P8

"We struggled quite a bit today, but our lap times were better than we expected. The main thing we have to focus on is the balance, because I think there’s room to improve both in terms of performance and driveability.

"At this track, it is a completely different situation from qualifying to the race and this makes it very difficult to find the right setup. We have plenty of work to do for tomorrow."

Mattia Binotto, Team Principal

"This is an important day for our sport, with the announcement from Liberty Media that Stefano Domenicali will take on the role of President and CEO of Formula 1. On behalf of Ferrari, I would first like to thank Chase Carey. There have been many positive changes made to the sport under his leadership, in particular the promoter’s relationship with the teams. Very important decisions have been taken concerning the future of Formula 1, such as the new Concorde Agreement and the creation of an operational structure that will help the sport grow in terms of its audience and its appeal to the youngers generations. And let’s not forget that Formula 1 has managed to put on a World Championship this year under very difficult circumstances. We very much appreciate the fact that continuity is assured as Chase stays on as the non-executive Chairman of Formula 1.

"We are very pleased that Chase’s role will be entrusted to Stefano as from 1st January. His talents as a manager and especially his knowledge of the sport, combined with his experience and personal qualities, make him the ideal choice to carry on Chase’s reforms. Personally, it will be a pleasure for me to work with a good friend, as we came through the ranks at Ferrari together. I look forward to working along with all the other stakeholders in this sport and with him to make Formula 1 even stronger and more spectacular."

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF1000 in the Pitlane during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 25, 2020 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)


Kvyat is competing at his home event and has spectators here to cheer him on no less. He gave them a good performance on Friday and looks to be on the fringes of the top 10, which bodes well for qualifying. As for Gasly, a mixed day with some technical issues was interspersed with some solid running and he too looks to be in the mix in that very competitive midfield pack.

Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:36.706, P10; FP2: 1:35.210, P11

“I think FP1 was a bit messy with a lot of things happening, such as a Virtual Safety Car and a red flag, so we didn’t really have a clean session, but FP2 was good. It seems like we have a strong race pace and I’m quite happy with the car in the long run. As for quali, I think we are still missing something to really fight for Q3 tomorrow, so we have a bit of work ahead of us tonight and hopefully we can make another step forward.”

Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:36.230, P7; FP2: 1:35.461, P13

“We’ve been working on a few things today and I was pretty happy with the number of laps we did. There’s still some work to do on the balance, but that’s what Friday’s are for, to try and correct all of the limitations you have for Saturday. It’s going to be quite hot for the rest of the weekend, so we’ll do our best to squeeze the maximum out of the car in any conditions. If we do our job well overnight and tomorrow morning, I don’t see why we can’t fight for Q3.”

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer

“One of the big unknowns for this weekend was going to be tyre performance. We believe it was quite an aggressive choice to bring the C5 compound here, as we’d seen in previous years, two years ago in particular, the C4 struggled with graining. One of our main focusses of today was to understand what the best strategy for the race is. We made our tyre choice so that both drivers had two Prime tyres in FP1, that gave us consistent running through the session and allowed us to focus on good mechanical setup work to try and optimize the through-corner balance of the AT01 at this track. This circuit is quite specific: the first two sectors are medium-speed corners, the last sector has low-speed corners, and with the track temperatures, it’s quite hard on rear tyres so you end up with quite a different car balance. Our setup tests were aimed at optimising the car balance over a single timed lap.

"It wasn’t the cleanest of sessions for Pierre in FP1, with the red flag coming out just as he was starting his timed lap on the second tyre, which meant when he went out later the tyres were cold and we couldn’t read too much into his running. Daniil was very competitive, and the changes made gave us a good direction and something to build on for FP2. Moving into the second session, we had our drivers on the Base and they both set very competitive lap times on that compound, they were also generally quite happy with the balance. Going onto the Option tyre, we improved but maybe not as much as we expected, so there’s plenty for us to look at tonight. On the long runs, the performance on the C5 didn’t look bad and it hung in quite well, so tonight it’s going to be a case of putting all the numbers together and coming up with the best strategy choice for the race.”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Pierre Gasly of France and Scuderia AlphaTauri talks to the media after practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 25, 2020 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

A quiet day for Alfa, with both drivers keeping their noses clean as others spun around them. All eyes might be on the potential records being matched by Hamilton this weekend, but take nothing away from Raikkonen who himself could match Rubens Barichello’s all-time starts record of 322 on Sunday. As for Giovinazzi, he is seeking to make it out of Q1 for the first time this season and certainly looks well placed to do so based on today’s morning session.

Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:37.230, P15; FP2: 1:35.516, P14

“Our programme was not very different from what we would do on any other Friday, although the interruptions in the sessions made everything a bit trickier. The car felt okay straight out of the box this morning, but of course there’s always a margin for improvement. It looks like it’s going to be very close once more in the midfield so even a small gain can bring a step forward. Of course, we want to be as high as we can be tomorrow, so let’s do our best and see where we end up on the grid.”

Antonio Giovinazzi - FP1: 1:37.201, P14; FP2: 1:36.053, P19

“It wasn’t the most straightforward of days for me, especially in FP1 where I didn’t get to make any actual flying laps between the red and yellow flags. I managed to recover a little in FP2 and in the end we managed to try quite a few things for tomorrow: my qualifying laps were not very representative and I feel there’s more we can get out of the car. In qualifying, as well as the race, the heat could play a big role but, in the end, it will be a similar situation for everyone: all we have to do is to give our best and put everything together when it matters.”

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Alfa Romeo Racing C39 Ferrari during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 25, 2020 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Kirill Kudryavtsev - Pool/Getty Images)


Latifi was one of two drivers to fall foul of the Sochi barriers in FP1, losing the rear and crashing heavily to end his involvement in the session. That brought out the red flags for good measure, but fortunately the Canadian was unhurt and took part in FP2 after his mechanics managed a quick rebuild of his FW43. As for Russell, he appeared confident and composed and looks to be on the fringes of making Q2 tomorrow.

George Russell – FP1: 1:37.595, P17; FP2: 1:35.575, P16

"Today we were trying out some different things on the car to see how the tyres would react, as that is something that we need to work on to get some more pace on race day. We were therefore looking at how much our qualifying performance would be compromised in order to help us more on Sunday. We don’t know the outcome yet but as it’s a very long run into turn two, it’s potentially less important where you qualify at this circuit as so much can happen going into that first corner and the tyre behaviour is often a bit unpredictable."

Nicholas Latifi - FP1: 1:37.784, P20; FP2: 1:35.563, P15

"I overstepped the limit in FP1. The track was very green, very dusty, which is kind of a characteristic of this track for the first session. I was the one that went off the fastest and had the biggest shunt sadly. It is just unfortunate as it left my boys a lot of work to do to get the car back out there. They did a great job and we were still able to complete most of the FP2 programme, so a big thanks to them. FP2 felt much better and even with the missed track time I felt comfortable with the car. The qualifying simulations and the race runs looked promising which has given us some interesting data to look over going into tomorrow."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

"Grip level this morning was quite low, which caught Nicholas out on his second run. The car was quite badly damaged considering that the incident was fairly innocuous. Fortunately, we were able to repair or replace all the damaged components and although Nicholas lost the opening 20min of FP2, his car was back to full race specification. He was quickly back up to speed and was able to complete some good running at both low and high fuel during the afternoon. He was very happy with the car, which bodes well for the rest of the weekend.

"Both drivers did a good job this afternoon allowing us to explore all three tyre compounds. There is a lot to go through overnight, but if we can get the set-up and tyre preparation correct then we are hopeful of challenging for a place in Q2. At a circuit at which we expected to find it a little tricky, this would be a good result and would set us up for another decent race. No matter where we qualify tomorrow, it is such a long way from the grid to Turn 2 that the order can change quite a lot anyway."

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Formula One F1 - Russian Grand Prix - Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia - September 25, 2020 Williams' Nicholas Latifi during practice REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/Pool


Not the best of days for Haas. They managed a full programme of running but looked short of pace at this power-hungry track. Grosjean in particular struggled, spinning and running wide repeatedly before a set-up change gained him some measure of control in the afternoon session – albeit at the expense of his pace. Magnussen kept his head down but both look set to be fighting it out towards the rear of the field come qualifying.

Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:37.649, P18; FP2: 1:36.858, P20

"We've been working as much as we could all day. The feeling hasn't been there, we're lacking pace and that was quite obvious on the qualifying run. Our race pace was a touch better but it's still not exactly where we'd like it to be. We'll keep working and hopefully come up with a solution for tomorrow. I'm surprised to be 1.1 seconds off the other car, that's not really good. We're looking at everything as obviously that's too big of a gap to be true. Hopefully we can come up with something, and my feeling and confidence in the car gets better so I can push a bit more. I have to hope for opportunities and stay out of trouble. We always give our best that's for sure."

Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:37.430, P16; FP2: 1:35.729, P18

"I think, overall, we're better than we're looking. We didn't get our lap time done on the first lap running on the soft tyres in either FP1 or FP2. So, I think there's a little more left in it. Again, this time, it's very close down our end of the timesheet. A couple of tenths can move you quite a bit forward. I do think we're in slightly better shape compared to Mugello, but we'll see where we are tomorrow when everyone's going flat out. You don't need to find a lot of time, but it's not easy to find that time by any means. We have a few things to work on and we'll see if we can get into Q2 tomorrow."

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

"There's a pattern there now, it's just where we are at the moment. We are always trying to get the best out of our package but today I don't think we got the best out of our cars, especially not for Romain (Grosjean) as he struggled heavily with the car. Kevin (Magnussen), his fast run in FP2 wasn't a fantastic effort but not from his side, we had some tyre temperature issues. At the moment we just go from session to session trying to improve the car. It's the same for tomorrow. We'll work overnight to try to squeeze a little bit more out of the car and hopefully we can get it better. We need to attempt to get at least one car into Q2, that's our aim for now, it's the best we can do."

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SOCHI, RUSSIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Romain Grosjean of France and Haas F1 prepares to drive during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on September 25, 2020 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Kirill Kudryavtsev - Pool/Getty Images)


Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing

"We didn't see any particular surprises from today. Given that the track hasn't been used for quite a while and Formula 2 is the only support event, there was low grip, with a high degree of track evolution. We'd expect that evolution to continue throughout tomorrow as more rubber is laid down on the track. This year, we're bringing softer tyres than before, which obviously means that drivers have to manage their pace more carefully over the longer runs. As expected there was high wear on the soft compound, with some blistering seen on the front-left. Behind the Mercedes – which were particularly impressive on the harder compounds – the pace seems to be closely matched, and the performance gaps between the compounds suggests that many different strategies are possible. These strategies of course begin with qualifying tomorrow: it's going to be interesting to see which teams feel confident of getting through Q2 on the medium compound."


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