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Friday analysis - Toro Rosso and McLaren spring surprises

08 May 2015

Near-perfect weather conditions, plus the fact that most of them had tested here over the winter, gave the teams a head start on setting up their cars in Barcelona on Friday. Drivers found varying gains switching from Pirelli's hard to medium compound, although strong winds and a slippery track didn't help paint a consistent picture. We take a team-by-team look at progress on day one in Spain...

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 26.898s, P2/1m 26.852s, P1
Nico Rosberg, 1m 26.828s, P1/1m 27.616s, P3

It took Hamilton until FP2 to iron out the understeer he complained of throughout FP1, and Rosberg aced him by 0.070s in that first session. But in the afternoon the Briton looked good over a single lap and on the medium and hard tyres in race runs. Rosberg, meanwhile, complained of rejected downshifts at times in that session. Overall, Mercedes look in good shape.

Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 27.806s, P3/1m 27.260s, P2
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 27.832s, P4/1m 27.780s, P4

Vettel said things weren't too bad given the slippery nature of the track, but Raikkonen admitted to struggling all day with the conditions. The German added that while Ferrari's upgrades seem to be effective, the gap to Mercedes remains.

Red Bull
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 28.785s, P7/1m 27.943s, P5
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 29.075s, P9/1m 29.098s, P13

Red Bull had yet another bruising day. Ricciardo lost almost alll of FP1 with a throttle problem and only got a couple of laps in right at the end, then lost almost all of FP2 having his power unit changed. Kvyat, meanwhile, was happy to have relatively clean runs which enabled him to bring home plenty of valuable data for the team to process overnight.

Toro Rosso
Max Verstappen, 1m 28.529s, P6/1m 28.017s, P6
Carlos Sainz, 1m 28.132s, P5/1m 28.674s, P9

Both drivers were very happy with aerodynamic upgrades that gave them a balanced car, which is what you really need here. Both of them made strong use of that in the two sessions, as Toro Rosso began the weekend in promising fashion.

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 29.817s, P16/1m 28.494s, P7
Fernando Alonso, 1m 29.813s, P15/1m 28.723s, P11

McLaren showed off not just their new graphite and dayglo red ‘predatory' livery, but also a hitherto unexpected turn of speed which saw Button finish seventh in FP2. But having tried three new front wings without forming a firm conclusion about the effectiveness of any of them, he said that the team still have a lot of work still to do in every area and warned that they shouldn't read too much into the day's times. The last time he said that was in China, where they struggled horribly the next day...

Alonso had a 360-degree spin in Turn 12 in the morning, which he later put down to having a bit of fun. He also insisted that his ERS systems weren't charging properly in FP2 despite the team's engineers confirming that all was well.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas (pm only), 1m 28.525s, P8
Felipe Massa, 1m 28.831s, P8/1m 28.712s, P10
Susie Wolff (am only), 1m 29.708s, P14

Williams spent FP1 evaluating new aero parts and were happy enough with them to carry them through to FP2. Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley said that Wolff had done an excellent job then, even though she was annoyed with a small error which cost her two tenths. Massa's best lap in FP2 was compromised a little by debris damage, but Bottas got going and was close to being best of the rest behind Mercedes and Ferrari. Williams admit they have a lot of work to do overnight, however.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean (pm only), 1m 29.086s, P12
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 30.110s, P18/1m 29.217s, P14
Jolyon Palmer (am only), 1m 29.676s, P13

Palmer did another great job in FP1, a session he described as his best, but Maldonado lost time with a gearbox problem. In FP2 Grosjean took over his car but brought out a brief red flag when a fastener failure led to the rear bodywork exploding off the car in spectacular fashion on the pit straight. Both race drivers said the E23 Hybrid was well balanced, which bodes well for tomorrow.

Sauber
Felipe Nasr, 1m 29.140s, P10/1m 29.333s, P15
Marcus Ericsson (pm only), 1m 29.361s, P16
Raffaele Marciello (am only), 1m 29.630s, P12

All three drivers were happy with the driveability of the C34, but the race drivers said they were hampered by snap oversteer in FP2 as the track surface remained slippery.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 29.409s, P11/1m 29.601s, P17
Sergio Perez, 1m 30.096s, P17/1m 29.707s, P18

Both drivers struggled throughout the day for balance and grip.

Marussia
Will Stevens, 1m 32.471s, P19/1m 31.929s, P19
Roberto Merhi, 1m 32.647s, P20/1m 32.751s, P20

Marussia had a relatively minor aero update to process and had another reliable day learning more about the car. In FP2, try as they might, neither driver could generate serious degradation on the option tyre.