Latest / Feature

Friday analysis - Ferrari out to ruffle Mercedes' feathers

18 Apr 2014

Overcast and smoggy skies and cold temperatures made things a little tricky for the teams in China on Friday, though most completed their intended programmes. As expected, Pirelli’s softer compound was around two seconds a lap faster than the medium, though several teams encountered graining. The really exciting news was that Mercedes didn’t have everything all their own way, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in particular keeping the Silver Arrows honest. We take a team-by-team look at day one in Shanghai…

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 41.560s, P8/1m 38.315s, P1

Nico Rosberg, 1m 40.181s, P2/1m 38.726s, P3

Hamilton lost a lot of time with a rear suspension problem in FP1 which required removal of the gearbox. It was not resolved until only an hour of FP2 remained. He then quickly jumped to the top with his soft-tyre run, despite too much understeer. Later, however, he complained that the car did not feel right and an investigation is underway. Rosberg looked good in the morning on the medium tyre, when only Alonso’s lightly-fuelled Ferrari was ahead, but struggled a little with the balance on the softer tyre in the afternoon. Nevertheless, the Silver Arrows remain the pre-race favourites.

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso, 1m 39.783s, P1/1m 38.456s, P2

Kimi Raikkonen, No time, P22/1m 39.283s, P7

On the day on which the F1 world was introduced to their new team boss Marco Mattiacci, Ferrari brought some updates for the F14 T. Alonso said it was just another Friday, despite being fastest in FP1 and only 0.141s off Hamilton in FP2, and admitted that he was happy with the way things had gone. Raikkonen lost all of FP1 with an undisclosed technical problem, so had time to make up all through FP2 and did so by sacrificing some race simulation work.

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 40.772s, P3/1m 38.811s, P4

Sebastian Vettel, 1m 41.629s, P9/1m 39.015s, P5

Fresh from their FIA Court of Appeal defeat, Red Bull dusted themselves down and got on with things in China. Ricciardo struggled with his left front tyre in Turns 1 and 13 in particular but Vettel said the graining wasn’t too bad. Their race pace looked extremely promising, as it was right with Mercedes’.

Williams

Felipe Massa, 1m 41.699s, P10/1m 39.118s, P6

Valtteri Bottas (pm only), 1m 39.830s, P14

Felipe Nasr (am only), 1m 42.265s, P13

Williams had new parts, which were evaluated by Massa and Nasr in FP1, then Massa and Bottas worked on new mechanical and power unit settings in FP2. All three reported favourable progress, Massa in particular saying that his FW36’s balance and feel was better.

McLaren

Jenson Button, 1m 40.970s, P4/1m 39.491s, P8

Kevin Magnussen, 1m 41.366s, P6/1m 39.744s, P12

McLaren had some more new aero parts to try, but the aboding problem for both drivers, especially in Turn 1, was the front tyres graining. Magnussen said he had never encountered it so badly.

Lotus

Romain Grosjean, 1m 42.090s, P12/1m 39.537s, P9

Pastor Maldonado, 1m 43.731s, P16/1m 40.455s, P18

Grosjean boosted Lotus with a decent run in the afternoon as he experimented with new parts and engine settings, and said there is more to come. Maldonado made a silly mistake and crashed entering the pits in FP2.

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat, 1m 41.977s, P11/1m 39.648s, P10

Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 41.505s, P7/1m 39.759s, P13

Both drivers completed their programmes with few problems, though Kvyat spun twice as he learned the track.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 41.175s, P5/1m 39.736s, P11

Sergio Perez, 1m 42.733s, P15/1m 40.124s, P15

No real problems here for Hulkenberg, but after a DRS problem in the morning Perez was able to hit his lap target in the afternoon.

Sauber

Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 44.162s, P18/1m 40.359s, P16

Adrian Sutil (pm only), 1m 40.395s, P17

Giedo van der Garde (am only), 1m 42.615s, P14

Gutierrez lost time in FP1 with a clutch problem and then lost speed when the ERS went wonky. Van der Garde has happy with the brake mapping work he did in the morning, but after taking back his car in the afternoon Sutil reported problems getting the tyres into their working temperature range.

Marussia

Jules Bianchi, 1m 44.270s, P19/1m 42.327s, P19

Max Chilton, 1m 44.782s, P20/1m 43.473s, P20

Bianchi lost the morning to a fuel system problem but got going properly in the afternoon and said that he was pleased with his MR03’s balance. Chilton said he was generally happy, but that a DRS problem had prevented him from getting into a good rhythm.

Caterham

Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 44.038s, P17/1m 43.530s, P21

Marcus Ericsson, 1m 44.835s, P21/1m 43.679s, P22

Both drivers had difficulties with some new procedures which didn’t work out so well, and in the afternoon both said they had too much oversteer and were thus unable to extract the CT05’s true potential.