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What the teams said - Friday in Spain

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull

Red Bull

Verstappen looked quick from the word go in Spain, finishing comfortably ahead of his team mate in the opening session. He did complain about clipping though, although that didn’t slow him down much. He picked up where he left off in the afternoon session, once again top by a decent margin. Plain sailing for him, but Perez had a slightly tougher time of it. He couldn’t match his team mate and dropped back behind a few others in FP2 as he failed to fully hook up his first flying lap.

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:14.606, P1; FP2: 1:13.907, P1

“We had a good day today. The car was in a good window and of course we will try to fine tune a few things here and there but the short runs and long runs look good. The last two corners are better and more fun to drive, F1 cars feel much better at high speed. I tried to follow a few cars through there as well and it seemed okay, I’m positively surprised by the overtaking opportunities. I still need to look at the data and see how the other cars compare but today was a good day.”

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:15.374, P2; FP2: 1:14.219, P4

“We always try a lot of stuff in Barcelona, because it is always the most representative track we visit and really puts the whole season together. The new variation on the last two corners is quite tough on the neck, but obviously it was a very short day and I think we will feel it more on Sunday, it could be tricky on the muscles! Today was a good day, there is plenty of information for us to look at overnight. All in all I think there were lots of positives to take but we have to turn up a gear for Quali, as well as try to understand the tyres for the long run. This will be key for Sunday with the tyre degradation around this track.”

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Alonso came out of the blocks sporting aero rakes in FP1 with Aston Martin, like many teams, doing a spot of benchmarking and data gathering. Once that was dispensed with, he looked quick, sliding through the corners as he left nothing out there despite it being only first practice. He launched himself up the leader board in FP2, taking the fight to Verstappen and almost matching him on longer run pace too. Stroll couldn’t come close as he struggled to hook up a lap here, a couple of scruffy efforts on the soft tyres all he had to show for his session.

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Fernando Alonso – FP1: 1:15.547, P6; FP2: 1:14.077, P2

“It’s so close over one lap that I think a couple of tenths will put you in a completely different position in the classification, so we won’t read too much into the times. We went through our test programme this morning in Free Practice One and learnt about the prototype tyres, with the track a little slower than we expected. The upgrades we’ve introduced are helping the performance of the car and we are happy with them so far, but let’s see where we are tomorrow when everyone is pushing. A lot of the grandstands are green and our Aston Martin merchandise is very popular. The fans have been amazing and it’s great to see their support. Hopefully we can put on a good show for them tomorrow.”

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:15.939, P15; FP2: 1:15.010, P18

“The focus of today has been running various new test items and evaluating the new Pirelli construction prototype tyres, so that made for a couple of busy sessions on track. That’s given us a lot of data to work through tonight and hopefully we can find some more lap time ahead of qualifying as the car wasn’t quite where I wanted it. The field was incredibly tight in both sessions, so we know how important it is to find that pace and we’ll be working hard to do so.”

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team takes a photo from the fan stage prior to practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Dan Mullan - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Alpine

Ocon picked up where he left off in Monaco, looking quick from the off. He did damage the rear of his car running over the kerbs though, losing a few shards of carbon fibre. The Frenchman didn’t show many signs of slowing down in FP2, once again impressing over one lap. As for Gasly, he had a near miss with Sargeant in FP1 and was lucky to escape mostly unscathed, and while he couldn’t get on terms with his team mate, he wasn’t too far back.

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:15.418, P3; FP2: 1:14.242, P5

“It was a productive Friday here at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the team. We used both Free Practice sessions well, testing different things and getting through our planned programme. We made the necessary changes from Free Practice 1 to Free Practice 2 but there is still some work to do to get the car in decent shape both on low and high fuel. Overall, we are satisfied with the day’s work, with plenty to go through tonight in order to be in a good position for Qualifying.”

Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:15.545, P5; FP2: 1:14.457, P10

“I would say it’s been a solid day for us in Barcelona. The car felt good and we’ve made a decent start to our weekend which has given us a foundation to build from for the rest of the weekend. It’s been good to be back at a permanent race track and a nice challenge with the revised circuit layout without the chicane, which makes the lap feel very quick. There’s a few small things for us to solve on our side – normal for any Friday – and I’m feeling confident that we can have a strong outcome tomorrow for Qualifying where we aim for another Q3 appearance.”

Ciaron Pilbeam, Head of Trackside Engineering

“We’re back on a permanent and conventional circuit here in Barcelona after racing at the last few events on semi-permanent or street circuits. It’s a place everyone in Formula 1 knows well and it’s a good venue for testing all aspects of the car. We’ve had a relatively productive day where we’ve aimed to further validate the benefits from recent upgrades and continue to learn more about the car, especially off the back of a strong performance last time out. We look to be in reasonable shape with both drivers having similar feedback and showing decent pace. It’s important to qualify well here but tyre degradation in the race is quite high too so we need to get everything right. The aim is to see both cars in Q3 to put ourselves in the best possible position to have a good race.”

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Esteban Ocon of France driving the (31) Alpine F1 A523 Renault on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari

Sainz was running the upgraded package in FP1, but he wound up fractions of a second behind his team mate. That could be accounted for by the fact he was mostly data gathering, running flow-vis paint for much of the session. Roll on FP2 and once again Leclerc had the edge, despite this being a track where Sainz normally excels. Both struggled with bouncing, the car looking a handful in both sessions.

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Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:15.694, P8; FP2: 1:14.246, P6

"It has been an interesting day, as we had some new parts to try, so we ran very different programmes between the two cars. It was a productive day as we got through all the tests we wanted to do even if it’s difficult to read where we are in terms of performance right now.

"We will keep pushing to try and make the steps forward that we want in order to be more at ease with the car tomorrow and then we will be able to see where we are. For today, it’s clear that although Red Bull has the edge over everyone, the rest of the field is very, very tight."

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:15.726, P9; FP2: 1:114.274, P7

"There were plenty of new things to try today on the car and we were constantly adapting to the setup changes and analysing the differences between parts across the two sessions. We also tried all three compounds, so overall it has been a full day of preparation for the rest of the weekend.

"Thanks to everyone cheering from the grandstands today, it feels great to see so many people at the track already on Friday!"

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-23 leads Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-23 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Haas

Hulkenberg opted to just run the softs in FP1, and seemed to be on a different programme to his team mate. Indeed, it was Magnussen that impressed with a top-10 time despite the field being very evenly matched. The Dane was running the upgraded front wing in FP1, which seemed to be doing the business. In the later session, it was Hulkenberg who came to the fore, nailing his flying run on low fuel to wind up a very impressive third. He has previous over one lap, but whether he can stay up there tomorrow when engine modes get turned up remains to be seen.

Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:16.461, P18; FP2: 1:14.177, P3

“It felt decent, especially that lap on new softs, it gives you a lot of grip over one lap. Particularly in FP2, I think we picked up some performance which wasn’t quite there earlier. I’m satisfied with how it’s gone and hope we can keep it up for the next two days. There’s always more to explore, there’s always more to do, but I had a good rhythm today and felt at home in the car. I felt like I was in the driving seat which is important – especially around here – it’s been a positive Friday.”

Kevin Magnussen – FP1: 1:15.689, P7; FP2: 1:14.713, P15

“Today was fun. The new layout is pretty full-on, it’s a good change. FP1 was very good for us, we tried something that didn’t work in FP2 but Nico was fast, so we know the speed is in the car and we’ll work tonight as we always do to try and get on that pace tomorrow. It’s super tight, I was P15 and seven tenths off P1 which is crazy, but it is what it is and means we have something to fight for.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

“It was a good start to the weekend today. In FP1 we tested the new tyre which will be used at Silverstone to get some experience and data but otherwise, pretty good running. Obviously with Nico reaching P3 in FP2 it’s good, but we all know that qualifying is tomorrow and the race is on Sunday.”

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Kevin Magnussen of Denmark driving the (20) Haas F1 VF-23 Ferrari in the Pitlane during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

AlphaTauri

De Vries put in one of the best laps in FP1, winding up fourth overall with an incredible effort. He did say he was looking forward to returning to a circuit he knew well, having driven here in other categories and his confidence showed. He dropped down the order in the second session but still had the beating of his team mate, in what was a very decent day’s work for the rookie.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the FP2 action from Barcelona as Verstappen tops the session again

Nyck de Vries - FP1: 1:15.504, P4; FP2: 1:14.785, P16

“It’s been a decent day for us, especially FP1. I believe we were slightly out of position, but we hit the ground running fairly well. During FP2, we didn’t quite get everything together. We tried different things and I think they will give us a better idea for tomorrow to be able to put it together when it counts. Tonight we will check how much the new upgrades are working, as it’s the first day we can have a proper read on it. There's more emphasis on the front axle with the new changes, when previously it was on both. I’m not sure whether the new layout will produce better racing on Sunday because we noticed that it was difficult to follow, but I don’t think we can jump to any conclusions too quickly.”

Yuki Tsunoda - FP1: 1:15.915, P14; FP2: 1:14.840, P17

“Overall, today went ok. We have to make some changes ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying to achieve the highest possible position because today, we ended up in the bottom part of the field. The track is definitely faster in the last two corners and harder on the tyres too. Tomorrow is a new day though, which gives us some time to work on our limitations. As usual, I will work together with the engineers tonight to improve the car as much as possible to try to make it through to Q2, and maybe even Q3 tomorrow.”

Claudio Balestri, Chief Engineer – Vehicle Performance

“It was a fairly busy Friday on track. We had a long list of tests to be completed in FP1, including some important runs with aero rakes, while also testing the new Pirelli tyre. We had a positive session where we gathered interesting data on the new Barcelona layout, now characterised by several high-speed corners which are very demanding on the front axle. In FP2, we focused on optimising our setup to extract the maximum from our package, testing different levels of fuel loads and different compounds. We didn’t find a competitive lap time on the soft tyre on the first lap, so we need to look into this, while on the long run, we tried to get a better understanding of tyre management for the race on Sunday. We have a busy night ahead of us to try to find how to improve our lap times and maximise our package tomorrow.”

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MONTMELO, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Nyck de Vries of Scuderia AlphaTauri and The Netherlands during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Mercedes

Mercedes were off the pace in FP1, with both drivers complaining about bouncing through the final corner, something that was becoming apparent as a problem for much of the field. Roll on FP2 and Russell made a trip through the gravel as he had to take avoiding action to avoid a slow moving Piastri. When he stayed on track, he was the pick of the two Mercedes drivers, with Hamilton unusually below par and seemingly uncomfortable across the board.

READ MORE: Hamilton fears ‘struggle to get into the top 10’ in Spanish GP qualifying as Russell gives verdict on Mercedes updates

Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:15.845, P12; FP2: 1:14.549, P11

"I would say it was a difficult FP1 and FP2, trying to get on top of the tyres and the degradation. The car felt ok overall though, and we’re fighting as hard as we can to learn as much as we can.

"Our long run pace didn’t look too bad in FP2, but we need to focus on trying to extract more pace from the single lap. It’s very close between ourselves and the cars ahead. It’s impressive to see the improvements those around of us have made, so it’s not going to be easy. I’m focused on doing the best job we can tonight to make the right set-up changes. There are improvements I know we can make, so we will get on top of that.

"Finally, the final two corners are awesome! It’s very fast and I definitely prefer it to the chicane we had in the past. I haven’t followed anyone through there yet so I don’t know how that will affect overtaking during the race, but it’s going to make it tough on tyre degradation."

George Russell - FP1: 1:15.753, P10; FP2: 1:14.392, P8

"We learned a huge amount today and have got a lot of data to go through tonight. We need to learn what we can from the information we’ve got and try to move forward; I think we can find some gains as there were a few surprises out there today. It’s only Friday and we tend not to be Friday specialists. We usually take a step forward on Saturday and Sunday, which is the right way to be. We expect the story to be slightly different tomorrow and then again on Sunday. After all, the points are scored on Sunday so that is what we are aiming for.

"It was also fun to drive around this version of the Barcelona circuit. It’s gone from one of the worst corners in F1 to one of the best! It’s now a really enjoyable sector and I think it will help with overtaking in the Grand Prix."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"It was difficult to read the order in the first session, because the extra prototype tyres meant everyone deviated from their normal run plans. Our programme in FP1 was biased towards long run work on the new tyres and it does give us the data we need ahead of their full introduction at Silverstone.

"The second session was more normal and the conclusions for us were quite familiar; single lap needs a bit of work and long run looks OK. We looked at two different wing levels, which is useful as we have a bit of data to study to understand the effects on tyres and overall pace. We’ve got a good idea of what the limitations are in terms of balance and hopefully by the morning, we’ll have come up with a few solutions to those issues."

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W14 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

McLaren

McLaren looked off the pace in the opening session, with Norris requiring some set up changes early on. Piastri ran flow-vis paint on his car in FP1 as he did the donkey work of data gathering, but did jump further forward in the second session. With Alpine having improved of late, the fight to make the top 10 should be fierce tomorrow, with McLaren needing to find some overnight improvements to be in the mix.

Lando Norris - FP1: 1:15.783, P11; FP2: 1:14.694, P14

"After a very different track in Monaco, it took me a few laps to get back into the swing of things here in Barcelona. We struggled a little bit with the car from the off, but we improved in FP2. We have a lot of things to look into tonight to try to unlock some more pace from the car. It’s not bad, we just need to work on driveability and take a step forward ahead of tomorrow’s sessions."

Oscar Piastri - FP1: 1:16.353, P17; FP2: 1:14.583, P12

"It felt like a decent Friday on track, I made some good steps forward from FP1 to FP2. I think there's a bit of work for me to do on the one-lap pace, but our long runs looked reasonably competitive, so all-in-all, we can be pretty happy with today’s running. We’ll try to make some improvements overnight, and I’ll take some learning from the data ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session."

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

"It’s been a solid Friday at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with many laps on the board, helped by the extra experimental tyres provided by Pirelli. We’ve done some aerodynamic work today with rakes to support short-term and long-term development. We also worked on our understanding of the tyres, that is going to be crucial here, given the expectation of it being a multi-stop race. Our competitiveness contained no surprises, and our task now is to do a good job overnight, to give us a car tomorrow that is a Q3 contender and capable of scoring points on Sunday."

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Alfa Romeo

A quiet day for both Alfa Romeo drivers, who completed plenty of laps on all three tyre compounds. Bottas focussed his longer runs on the soft compound tyre, while Zhou completed a higher fuel run on the mediums. They are leaving no stone unturned in their quest for data, as they seek to end their points draught, having not scored since Australia.

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Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:15.978, P16; FP2: 1:14.448, P9

“I think we had a decent day. The car felt better for me in the second practice session after we made a few adjustments, and my lap time improved as well. Now, all our focus will be on analysing the data we gathered today, in order to find something more ahead of tomorrow. I like the changes they made to the track; I think it’s good fun. I prefer this layout without the final chicane, I think it adds more flow to the lap which is nice. As predicted, the field is extremely close, and any tenth could be key for a good qualifying. I think we can set a realistic target of aiming to get into Q3 tomorrow, which is what we will be working towards.”

Zhou Guanyu - FP1: 1:15.906, P13; FP2: 1:14.585, P13

“I like high-speed tracks, so today has been quite a fun experience here in Barcelona. It was a rather smooth day, we did a lot of work to understand our upgrades and the new layout. The new final sector is demanding for the tyres, it will add some challenges with overtaking and with tyre degradation: it’s also quite bumpy, but overall, I’m quite happy with it. The field is really close, P8 to P20 are within fine margins so tomorrow we’ll need to be at our best in qualifying. Of course, we will need to find a little more tonight, but if we do our homework we can be in the mix for a good result.”

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Alfa Romeo F1 C43 Ferrari on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Williams

Sargeant had a moment in FP1, not noticing Gasly barrelling down the inside as the Williams man came across to take the apex of the corner. That resulted in a small bit of contact between the two, but luckily neither came off too badly from it. Sargeant also ran wide in FP2, when pushing hard. But other than that, the only thing to note is that this track doesn’t appear to suit the FW45, with both drivers struggling for pace.

Logan Sargeant - FP1: 1:16.506, P19; FP2: 1:115.415, P20

“We reacted well from FP1 to get the car in a reasonable window for FP2. Honestly as a team, it’s not where we want to be on pace, so we have some work to do for sure. I think we have the car in a reasonable place for the quali and race sims, so we just need to get more out of it tomorrow.”

Alex Albon - FP1: 1:16.630, P20; FP2: 1:15.056, P19

“This track never really suited us but I don’t think our car feels that bad. There’s not a fundamental issue with it that we have to try to fix for tomorrow, but that’s also not a great feeling because the car is where it is. We can find a couple of tenths here or there if we get everything right, which we’ll go for, but not much more as this is just where we’re at.

“We’re sort of a normal gap from the top but there are some of the midfield teams like Haas, Alfa Romeos and McLarens doing a very good job, only a tenth off the Mercedes, which makes it look a bit worse.

"The changes to the last couple of corners of the track feel nice. It’s made it a bit more physical which is always a challenge which makes it fun for the drivers."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance

“It’s always good to come to Barcelona and get a reference for the car. It’s clear that we weren’t very quick today, which isn’t too surprising, but there is still a lot to learn about where that deficit stems from. We completed some setup tests in FP1 and got some useful direction. We reverted to a more normal Barcelona setup for FP2, which the drivers preferred. We took the opportunity to look at the new tyre construction, which we will race from the British GP onwards.

"It will be difficult tomorrow, but there are still a few things to look at that may allow us to extract a bit more pace from the car in qualifying. There is also the possibility of some variable weather, which may also present a useful opportunity."

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 02: Logan Sargeant of United States driving the (2) Williams FW45 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 02, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Dan Mullan - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Pirelli

Simone Berra, Chief Engineer

"It was a very busy Friday at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit. Apart from the usual programme, with teams evaluating the three compounds available for the Grand Prix, they also tried two sets of C1 tyres, with a new construction, which will be used as from the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The increased work load made for a busy time on track throughout the two hours. As for the new construction, the initial analysis of the data gathered suggests that it matches our predictions in terms of its behaviour. Namely, that it delivers similar performance compared to the current construction. Therefore, it is interesting to note that some teams used one of the two available sets to do longer runs on this Hard compound to gather data for Sunday’s race. In fact, over the two hours of free practice, only one team used the white-banded tyre.

"The C1 introduced this year was actually based on the experience of last year’s Spanish Grand Prix when the Hard, the tyre now called C0, was hardly used in the Race as its performance was unsuitable, whereas the current C1 now looks one of the most likely race tyres, which is why some drivers have two sets available for Sunday.

"Finally, it is worth noting that today’s quickest lap time is already almost as quick as simulations for pole position suggested and that, here on a permanent race track and despite the unknowns relating to what each team is doing, the times are very close with seventeen drivers within less than a second of each other in FP2."

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