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What the teams said – Friday in Spain

Special Contributor

Becky Hart
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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Logan Sargeant of United States driving the (2) Williams FW46 Mercedes

Mercedes

Mercedes were one team not to run the softs in the opening session, instead concentrating their efforts on the medium and hard compound tyre. But Hamilton set the timing screens alight in the second session, topping the leaderboard in style. His lap was very tidy indeed – but Russell’s was not. That explains the difference between the two, with both likely to be confident of being right in the mix for qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton – FP1: 1:14.911, P7; FP2: 1:13.264, P1

"FP1 wasn’t the best session for us but we still learned quite a lot. FP2 was a lot better though and the car was feeling great. The track was very hot, so it was tough on the tyres, especially on the long run. Overall, though, it didn’t feel like we were too far off being right in the mix at the front.

"We have taken a step forward with the car in recent races. Everyone has worked so hard to get us to this point and make those incremental gains. We’ve got a clear direction of where we want to go moving forward too. We’re starting to see that feed through to our performance on track. Hopefully we can continue the momentum from today into Saturday and get closer to our competitors ahead."

George Russell - FP1: 1:14.614, P4; FP2: 1:13.722, P8

"We had a good day on track today. The car was performing really well around this circuit. It was encouraging to see Lewis top of the timesheets and we were consistently at the front.

"Our long run pace in FP1 was competitive. In FP2, it seemed that our single lap pace was slightly stronger than our long run speed but overall, the car is feeling strong. It is only Friday, but it has been a while since we’ve been consistently at the upper end of the field. I’m feeling good and excited as this is what we’ve been chasing for a while. We won’t get ahead of ourselves though and will work diligently tonight and tomorrow to prepare as best as we can for Qualifying and Sunday’s Grand Prix."

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

"We've had a solid first day on track here in Barcelona. We made a step forward with the updates we brought to Monaco and Montreal, but it's been encouraging to see that the car is working well around a track with plenty of high-speed corners.

"Our single lap pace looks competitive and quite close with several other teams. It's always hard to know where you stand on Friday given the range of power modes and fuel loads, but we've also had many a good first day followed by a tough qualifying session. We will therefore focus on improving on the feedback that the drivers are reporting and see where we end up tomorrow afternoon in Qualifying."

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team W15 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

McLaren

Norris topped FP1 on the soft tyre, although he did complete his lap slightly later than Verstappen and thus had arguably better track conditions. But given he was half a tenth off P1 in FP2, it looks like the McLaren is going to be quick here – and could be in the mix for pole. Piastri will have to work slightly harder to get on the pace of his team mate, he was a few tenths off in both sessions.

Lando Norris – FP1: 1:14.228, P1; FP2: 1:13.319, P3

"A positive day in hot conditions. It was difficult to get the perfect balance, which I think is the same for everyone, but overall, I felt comfortable with the car today.

"I feel like we’re in good shape with some things to improve overnight, but not a lot and I’m confident we can put ourselves into a good position. It’s super-close, like we’ve seen in the last few weeks, so, it’s about the smaller things and trying to get everything together. Tomorrow will be the key."

Oscar Piastri - FP1: 1:14.867, P6; FP2: 1:13.622, P7

"That’s Friday done, a decent day with a few areas to tidy up but I think the car’s looking competitive, which is good. I found a few things in FP2 with my driving and the set-up, so it’s about dialling everything in a bit more overnight. There’s some work to do ahead of Qualifying and as expected, it looks very tight at the front so getting the most out of our package tomorrow will be important for Sunday’s race."

Andrea Stella, Team Principal

"A useful practice day in Barcelona. There were no major issues, and we completed our run plan which included establishing the correct car set-up, which is extremely important here given the demanding nature of the track for grip in these long corners, and hot conditions.

"We have been able to work on the tyres, trying to understand which compounds are the best for the race, and how to use the Soft tyre for Qualifying. I think we have collected good data, which we will now review overnight.

"Overall, no surprises. It looks pretty tight at the front of the field, and we can see, like we’ve been seeing lately, that all cars seem to be able to produce quick laps. We’ll have to stay focused and deliver good laps, but the potential is encouraging, and we’ll try to maximise our performance to score as many points as possible this weekend."

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: 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 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ferrari

Sainz had a brief wobble in FP1 when he complained of a loss of power, but that situation was soon rectified. As for Leclerc, he caught some traffic on his fastest lap on the mediums so didn’t set a representative time, with Ferrari not running the softs in the opening session. They did run the softs in FP2, with Sainz only narrowly behind pace-setter Hamilton’s Mercedes. The Spaniard does tend to go very well on home soil, but has yet to score a podium in front of his adoring fans.

Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:15.434, P11; FP2: 1:13.597, P6

"Overall, a tricky day on my side. We struggled quite a bit with the balance of the car, so set-up work will be our main focus ahead of tomorrow. We ran a new package in FP2, but we still have lots of work to do as I am not fully comfortable yet."

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:14.572, P3; FP2: 1:13.286, P2

"Quite a tricky Friday, as always here in Barcelona when the sun is up and the track changes quite quickly. We struggled a bit in both sessions to get the right balance on the car, but I think everyone had similar issues today. So overall, I’m reasonably happy with the car, but we have work to do, especially race pace-wise. What I really enjoyed today was the atmosphere at the track. Thank you to all the fans for their support. I’m looking forward to putting on a good show tomorrow!"

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Ferrari SF-24 leads Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-24 during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mark Sutton - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Red Bull

Verstappen had a fairly quiet opening to his weekend in Spain, in the mix without dominating the timing sheets. He complained a few times about his car, but seemed far more content than he has done on Fridays of late. As for Perez, he was in the garage for a chunk of time in FP2, coming out much later than the rest to set his soft-shod time. He could only manage P13, but did run in changeable conditions so it remains to be seen quite where he will be in the pecking order for tomorrow.

READ MORE: Verstappen pleased with ‘more normal’ Friday in Barcelona as Perez focused on ‘super crucial’ qualifying

Max Verstappen – FP1: 1:14.252, P2; FP2: 1:13.504, P5

“Today we just tried a few set ups out there in FP1 and FP2 and we have been trying to fine tune the car a little bit. I think the day itself has been positive and a bit more normal without any issues. This is what we have been hoping for, so now it’s about tidying things up a little bit more, which is quite normal. There is still a bit of work to do but we are feeling positive going into the weekend."

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:14.692, P5; FP2: 1:14.081, P13

“I started the day well but then going into FP2 we made quite a few changes on set-up and I think we lost track somewhere, so there are plenty of things to analyse overnight. We made a lot of changes and explored the car quite a bit today, so hopefully we are able to pick the right bits from that going into tomorrow. We will work tonight to ensure the car is in the correct place for optimal performance for qualifying and the race, it’s about finding the right balance. Qualifying will be super crucial to me this weekend due to the three place grid penalty, the lack of overtaking around here means it will be very important to be high up, in order to get into a good position on Sunday."

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: 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 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Alpine

Gasly had to come into the pits with an issue and lost some running, but with Ocon finishing in the top 10, it was a decent opening to the weekend for Alpine. But better was to come with both drivers making it into the top 10 in the later session. Ocon was a decent P9, but Gasly inserted himself right up the order with fourth – less than two tenths off Hamilton’s leading marker. They could have been running lighter fuel loads than their rivals – or perhaps their latest upgrades are really doing the business out there for the French team.

READ MORE: Alpine drivers taken aback by strong practice showing in Spain as Gasly says P4 result ‘put a smile on my face’

Esteban Ocon - FP1: 1:15.086, P8; FP2: 1:13.766, P9

“To end the day with both cars in the top 10 is a little bit unexpected from where we thought we would be entering the weekend on this particular track. Obviously, we do not know what the others are doing but overall, it is a positive start to the weekend. It was not the best lap on the C3 tyre for me in Free Practice 2 with some traffic and there were a few interruptions in both the long and short runs. There are definitely improvements we can make in order to find lap time, so we will keep digging and try to make steps forward for tomorrow’s Qualifying, which is important around this track.”

Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:15.484, P13; FP2: 1:13.443, P4

“It’s been a positive Friday for us, especially Free Practice 2. The end result, finishing in fourth place, probably flatters us and it was certainly a surprise, but a pleasant surprise, and one that brings a smile to my face! In Free Practice 1, we had some minor aerodynamic issues on the car, which we had to fix. Once we did that, the car felt good right from the start of the second session. We have a strong baseline to work from and my push lap on the C3 was good but I’m not completely comfortable in the car. There are some things we need to fine tune with the aim of feeling even better in the car tomorrow when it counts.”

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A524 Renault during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Aston Martin

Alonso caused the first red flag of the weekend when a part of his front wing fell off and needed to be retrieved, but other than that it was a quiet opening session for the home hero. The team opted to make quite a few set-up changes between the sessions, and it didn’t work for them with both drivers going backwards. They might need to reverse some of those if they want to fight for Q3 tomorrow in qualifying.

Fernando Alonso – FP1: 1:15.222, P9; FP2: 1:14.091, P14

"It's good to be back racing in Spain and seeing the passion of the fans here. It was quite a challenging day with low levels of grip out on track.

"We haven’t found the right window for our car yet, so we definitely have some work to do overnight to try find some more performance ahead of Qualifying tomorrow."

Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:15.512, P14; FP2: 1:14.402, P18

"It was a challenging day on track for us. We don't have the pace we need, so there’s a lot of work to do ahead of tomorrow.

"This circuit is always high degradation, especially in the heat, so Sunday’s race will be about managing tyres. There’s some rain on the radar, so that could mix things up."

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Haas

Bearman took part in FP1 in place of Hulkenberg and gave a good account of himself, with plenty of laps completed and no incidents. When the German reclaimed his cockpit, he had a steady FP2 alongside his team mate. Haas didn’t expect this high-speed track to suit their car, so 11th and 12th at the end of FP2 can only be seen as a success. Whether they can stay there when everyone turns up their engines in qualifying though, remains to be seen.

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the FP2 action from Barcelona as Hamilton goes fastest and Gasly springs a surprise

Nico Hulkenberg - FP2: 1:14.053, P12

“It was a smooth session with no problems, but only FP2 for me today. I felt relatively good straight away with the car, certainly over one lap. In the long runs, I think we have some work to do as we need to find some harmony and balance somehow. My initial thought is that our one lap pace is definitely stronger for us, but in Barcelona the race is long and if you don’t have a good race car, it’s going to be a long, tough race. We’ll take it from here and see what the weekend has to offer.”

Oliver Bearman – FP1: 1:15.865, P19

“It was nice to get back into the VF-24 here in Barcelona. I really enjoyed myself, it was nice to get back-up to speed again in a Formula 1 car and see the capabilities on a track like this, especially with a lot of high-speed corners. We completed the program that we wanted to, which is the main goal, and I felt really happy and confident in the car. I’m already looking forward to the next one in Silverstone.”

Kevin Magnussen – FP1: 1:15.644, P17; FP2: 1:14.021, P11

“I think today has gone okay, but most importantly the long runs looked decent for me, but I haven’t seen any data or lap times. Barcelona used to be the baseline track for the season, but we have more and more street tracks these days, so these circuits are becoming less and less similar to the average track. In the high-speed sections, we didn’t expect to be that good around here, so I’m excited to see whether we can maintain this level of competitiveness or if it was the circumstances at the time.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal

“Overall, I think it was a good day. In FP1 we had some aero testing to collect some data which we completed. Ollie was in the car and as before he did a very good, so we can’t fault him. In FP2, Nico was back in the car alongside Kevin, and I think we made some good changes between FP1 and FP2 with Kevin’s feedback, as we modified his set-up a little bit. Long run pace looked decent as well as low fuel pace. We’ve got more work to do tonight but it’s a good start to the weekend.”

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Kevin Magnussen of Denmark driving the (20) Haas F1 VF-24 Ferrari on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Williams

It was a mixed bag for Albon on Friday in Spain, the Thai racer grabbed P10 in FP1 but fell down the order in the later session. As for Sargeant, he too struggled for pace and had a couple of moments where he seemed to be caught out by the wind, struggling to keep his car out of the looming gravel traps. As such it is very difficult to predict where Williams might land come qualifying, but with Aston Martin and RB struggling, there do look to be opportunities here for them to sneak a strong result.

READ MORE: Albon gives his take on ‘interesting’ driver market situation amid Sainz’s links to Williams

Alex Albon - FP1: 1:15.417, P10; FP2: 1:14.807, P19

"FP1 was pretty good. We haven't gone well in Barcelona historically, but we've made some good steps forward compared to last year. Going into FP2, we made a couple of changes to combat issues from FP1, but as the track gripped up, the same issues continued. We'll revisit overnight and see what we can do to address them. It's tough to be in P19 and P20, so I'm hoping that the track cools and the wind dies down to help us find a bit more pace."

Logan Sargeant - FP1: 1:15.752, P18; FP2: 1:15.070, P20

"It’s been a bit of a tricky day. This track has always been difficult for us and it’s proving to be so this weekend. There’s been positive flashes today like our long run pace which doesn’t look as bad as what it did last year. We had a bit of a compromised run plan on low fuel. There are still things to be optimistic about, but we have some work to do to find some time for tomorrow. We need to get the tyre working better on low fuel. From a balance point of view, we’re not too far away. We’ll do some digging tonight."

Sven Smeets, Sporting Director

"Last year we struggled at this track, especially when the track temperature went up. Today we learned that the FW46 is better balanced and a good step forward from last year, but that we still have to solve some issues we encountered in both Free Practice sessions to find performance for Qualifying and the race. We will be working hard tonight to go through all the data and try to find some solutions to help the drivers. Sunday seems still to be a cooler day which could help us to find performance."

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW46 Mercedes on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

RB

Tsunoda seemed to struggle with some technical issues in FP1, spending a chunk of time in the garage and not troubling the timing screens as a result. But he didn’t jump up the leaderboard in FP2 – and nor did his team mate. The in-form midfield team seem to have some genuine struggles here, unless they can land on a set-up more suited to this track.

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:15.580, P15; FP2: 1:14.257, P16

"We struggled a little bit today and missed a bit of competitiveness, but driving is always fun and before today I hadn’t done this track with this last sector. It was the old one a long time ago, now the new one again, and I have to say that I much prefer it because I think that it definitely brings the track to life a bit more. The main upgrade we brought here is the floor, and with these cars, it’s such a big part of development. There’s still some optimism and once we dive into it tonight, we’ll find how it’s working and better ways to set up the car around it. We still have a bit to do but I hope we can improve for tomorrow."

Yuki Tsunoda - FP1: 1:15.916, P20; FP2: 1:14.211, P15

"Today was trickier than usual. The pace isn’t where we would’ve liked it to be, so we’ll look into what we’re missing and hopefully, it’ll be better tomorrow. The upgrade is working the way we were expecting but we are not where we want to be and off the pace we usually have, so we'll review all the data to find what we were missing today."

Alan Permane, Racing Director

"It wasn’t the most straightforward day for us today. We had a slightly scrappy FP1 in which we had a problem with one of the cooling systems on Yuki’s car which cost him track time to fix. We had an issue with the DRS on our new rear wing and that caused us to run with that closed for the rest of FP1 to be cautious. Of course, that costs a lot of lap time, and you never get the full feeling of the car balance if you don’t run it in the correct conditions. For FP2 we made some changes and reverted to an earlier spec of wing while the factory is carrying out a full analysis of the new one. We adjusted the setup of both cars to try and calm the rear end down a little bit, but it's fair to say that even in FP2, neither driver was fully happy with the car. We’re lacking a little bit of rear end grip and we have work to do overnight to improve the setup and move back up the timesheets to what we feel we can achieve tomorrow. We’re happy with the numbers coming from the upgrade, all is working well and no issues there. The focus will be on the mechanical side of the car and improving the suspension setup."

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mark Sutton - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Kick Sauber

Kick Sauber spent a large portion of the opening session data gathering, with the team running several new parts here. Bottas certainly looked to have made a step forward, with a decent quick lap in both sessions. As for Zhou, he was slightly further back and was left frustrated by some traffic in the form of Tsunoda. He’ll be studying the data overnight to see where he can make up the time to his team mate.

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:15.472, P12; FP2: 1:13.924, P10

“Overall, it’s been a decent day in the office. We had two good, productive sessions, during which we tested different setups – ultimately finding one that allowed us to unlock some extra lap time throughout the day. Performance-wise, it seems like we are in a better place compared to the most recent events, which is without doubt a positive, and gives us confidence for the weekend ahead. The new bits we have on our car ran smoothly after a few small hiccups that we promptly fixed, and actually allowed us to make a step forward already in the second practice session, which is good. Obviously, it will be once again down to fine margins, so it’ll be important to go through the data we’ve gathered today, and extract everything we can from our car ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying.”

Zhou Guanyu - FP1: 1:15.616, P16; FP2: 1:14.345, P17

“Today has been quite a promising day. We introduced a different spec of rear wing and, while I haven’t tried it yet on my car, Valtteri’s performance looked quite strong, which is giving me a good feeling for tomorrow. My lap felt good, overall: I encountered a lot of traffic in the last corner, but otherwise, I reckon that my time could have been close to the top 10. I’m happy to see that some performance is back – and so is my confidence. Before coming to Spain, we changed a lot of things including the chassis. The team has done a great job and I feel like I am back to where I was earlier this season. While it’s too early to talk about qualifying and the race, we definitely look to be more in the mix, especially compared to previous races. Today was about collecting lots of data and insights and we were successful in doing so – now we shift our focus on getting everything right for qualifying to secure a good position on the grid.”

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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Kick Sauber C44 Ferrari during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Pirelli

Simone Berra, Chief Engineer

“Barcelona always provides a stern test for all the parts that go to make up a Formula 1 car and the tyres are no exception to that rule! That was the case today, in high temperatures, with the track getting close to the 50C mark, which added further stress to the tyres that are already subjected to some of the highest lateral forces of the whole season.

“Honestly, we have not seen anything particularly surprising in terms of the performance of the three dry weather compounds, even if obviously we have not yet had a chance to study today’s data in detail. The performance difference over a flying lap seems to match the predictions – six to seven tenths between Hard and Medium and just over a second between Medium and Soft – and the C3 appears to be a possible option for the race, especially in terms of exploiting its performance advantage off the start line and over the opening laps, as indeed we saw last year.”

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