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Friday analysis - rapid relief for Red Bull

14 Mar 2014

The first two free practice sessions of the season were run in consistent conditions on a dry track and temperatures which ranged between 35 and 39 degrees Celsius. They were notable for the generally high reliability in the majority of the cars, and enabled most of the teams to sample Pirelli’s hard and medium rubber and to do some useful race running…

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, No time/1m 29.625s, P1

Nico Rosberg, 1m 32.604s, P6/1m 29.782s, P2

Mercedes’ day could scarcely have got off to a worse start when Hamilton’s F1 W05 ground to a halt after only 12 minutes when a sensor calibration problem shut things down as a precaution. But by the second session he leapt up to the top of the timesheet ahead of team mate Rosberg.

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso, 1m 31.840s, P1/1m 30.132s, P3

Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 32.977s, P9/1m 30.898s, P7

While Alonso had a relatively untroubled day and was fastest in FP1 and third in FP2, Raikkonen had a tougher time with undisclosed problems that hampered his running.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, 1m 32.793s, P7/1m 30.381s, P4

Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 32.599s, P5/1m 30.538s, P6

The manner in which Ricciardo and Vettel were quickly down to competitive times whenever they ran hard, and each achieved good race runs, bodes well for Red Bull and is a strong indication of the progress they have made since the troubles in testing. Vettel said the upturn in fortune was “a relief.”

McLaren

Jenson Button, 1m 32.357s, P2/1m 30.510s, P5

Kevin Magnussen, 1m 32.847s, P8/1m 31.031s, P9

Button had said on Thursday that he expected that both Mercedes and Williams could be challenged, and had an encouraging day with second and fifth fastest times. He focused primarily on monitoring tyre degradation and the amount of fuel-saving required around the track. Magnussen did a respectable job on his first day in an F1 car at an official race meeting, with eighth and ninth.

Williams

Valtteri Bottas, 1m 32.403s, P3/1m 30.920s, P8

Felipe Massa, 1m 32.431, P4/1m 31.119s, P12

Williams looked strong in FP1, less so after FP2. Massa lost running time in the former with radio software problems, but couldn’t match team mate Bottas’ pace in the latter. Both drivers said they’d had positive and productive days, and expect to go quicker tomorrow.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 33.533s, P11/1m 31.054s, P10

Sergio Perez, 1m 33.855s, P12/1m 31.283s, P13

Perez spun in FP1, while Hulkenberg put his left rear wheel on the grass entering T10 at the end of FP2, and spun into the gravel. The German was relaxed and said his car’s balance needed a little work, while the Mexican said things had gone well.

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 33.446s, P10/1m 31.060s, P11

Daniil Kvyat, 1m 34.272s, P13/1m 32.495s, P16

Both drivers had some offs as they pushed hard, but said that they had experienced solid, productive days.

Sauber

Adrian Sutil, 1m 36.445s, P15/1m 32.355s, P14

Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 35.578s, P14/1m 32.468s, P15

Sutil glumly reported that several things were wrong with his car, without saying what they were, while Gutierrez had a gearbox problem that lost him time in FP1. Later, in FP2, he had a bit of a dust up with Vettel going through Turns 1 and 2 in FP2, and ran off the track briefly.

Marussia

Jules Bianchi, 1m 40.859, P16/1m 33.486s, P17

Max Chilton, 1m 46.922, P17/1m 34.757s, P19

Marussia showed signs of promise as Bianchi chased the midfield once software problems had been eradicated on both cars in the morning

Lotus

Romain Grosjean, No time/1m 33.646s, P18

Pastor Maldonado, No time/No time

Lotus had a torrid time. Grosjean’s E22 had a gearbox fluid leak in FP1, when Maldonado’s car was stricken by an electrical problem. The Venezuelan went off the road on his sole timed lap and pitted immediately. Later, as Grosjean finally got some laps in before crashing in Turn 6 and damaging his rear suspension, Maldonado failed to run as his car’s wiring loom had to be changed.

Caterham

Kamui Kobayashi, No time/No time

Marcus Ericsson, No time/No time

Caterham’s day was disastrous, with neither CT05 setting a lap time. Kobayashi had a fuel system problem in FP1 which caused a brief fire and necessitated removal of the powertrain. That lost him both sessions. Ericsson had an electrical problem in FP1, and a hydraulic leak in FP2.