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Friday in Barcelona - team by team

13 May 2016

A round-up of the opening day's action at the Formula 1 Gran Premio de Espana Pirelli 2016 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya...

Toro Rosso

The team reported no problems, and Sainz said he was very happy with the way his day progressed as he ended up the fastest of the four Red Bull stablemates. Kvyat admitted that he was still feeling his way back into the team’s working practices, and learning the limits of the STR11.

Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:26.078, P8; FP2: 1:25.131, P5

“We had a really good Friday and we’ve started my home Grand Prix weekend well. I’m happy with today and I feel very comfortable in the car, but we need to keep working like we are because tomorrow it will all be much tighter than what it looks like today. It feels like we can have a strong weekend here in Barcelona and I’m really looking forward to it!”

Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:26.583, P12; FP2: 1:26.375, P15

“It was my first Friday with the team, so there were plenty of things to look at and adapt myself to, as well as trying to find the best compromise for tomorrow. We’ve definitely learned a lot from today and we know in what direction to go in order to make steps forward for the rest of the weekend. I already feel like at home here, the team has really given me a warm welcome and we are working well together.”

Phil Charles, Chief Race Engineer

“It has been a pretty good day for us. Carlos worked through all of his program list and some more, so I’d like to thank him for his very good work today. We know Barcelona pretty well from all the laps we do in the winter, but for Carlos to complete his whole program here today means we have collected a lot of useful information to optimise the car around the particular conditions of this weekend – most specifically, the way the track and tyres are interacting in these temperatures, as well as correcting balance for the wind. For Daniil, it has been really nice to re-start our relationship with him and he is settling in nicely already. I would say the whole team is very happy to be working with him and he is already making us laugh in and around the debriefs. In terms of today, there is still a little work to do to get him happy in our car - matching balance to his driving style and getting the best from the tyres - but nothing that should be too tricky and so I am confident he will be ‘on it’ this weekend.”

Sauber

Despite using the 2016 Ferrari engine for the first time Sauber continued to struggle, with their aerodynamic shortcomings exposed on this aero-dependent track.

Marcus Ericsson - FP1: 1:27.392, P18; FP2: 1:28.501, P22

“It was a decent day. We started off with a different set-up in FP1, which was not working as we would have hoped it would. Therefore, we reverted back to the original one for the second run. In FP2 we mainly focused on race preparation, so I did quite a lot of laps on the medium and hard compounds. It was a productive day and we learned a lot. We will see tomorrow how the qualifying pace will be.”

Felipe Nasr - FP1: 1:27.253, P15; FP2: 1:27.812, P20

“It was a good Friday. We were able to work well on the set-up of the car, and I feel we are going in the right direction. We only tested the medium and hard tyres. I am satisfied with the behaviour of the car on the medium tyres, even on the long-runs. We have to see tomorrow how the car is going to behave on the soft tyres. Now we will analyse all the data collected today and see in which areas we can improve.”

Williams

Williams had an interesting - and not entirely straightforward – day, working through their usual aero and tyre programmes while also trying to figure out the best set-up to get through to Q3 tomorrow. They are expecting the battle to be very close in qualifying…

Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:25.672, P7; FP2: 1:25.708, P11

“I think today was okay. We knew it would be a bit trickier here, but I’m sure we can be better tomorrow than what we’ve seen from the lap times today. We still have some things we can turn up for qualifying. I reckon it’s going to be very close in terms of lap times, and in Q3. Whatever small things we can find today, with both the set-up and driving-wise, will be a big help tomorrow.”

Felipe Massa - FP1: 1:26.186, P9; FP2: 1:26.491, P16

“It wasn’t a very fantastic Friday. I managed to understand the tyres which is the most important thing. I made some mistakes on my laps on the new tyres, which is why I couldn’t do a better lap time. It wasn’t like the Friday we had in Russia, but we are working hard for tomorrow to be as fast as we can.”

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering

“We’ve had an interesting day. We’ve mainly been concentrating on the car set-up, and trying to find different areas to work on which would suit this type of circuit. It’s a very low-efficiency type of circuit, where the benefit of low drag and high power is less favourable, so we’re trying to find a way to claw back a little bit of performance. We were a little bit more competitive in FP1 than we were in FP2, so we need to look at what changes we made between the sessions and understand if they have affected that. In the long runs we looked OK, not where we want to be yet, but it was reasonably competitive. On the lower fuel runs we’ve got some work to do overnight, especially in sector three, as the cars were not very well balanced.”

Mercedes

Hamilton used a new version of the troubled MGU-H after his recent problems, while Rosberg moved to his second ICE of the season and a new MGU-K.

Generally, Rosberg had the upper hand as Hamilton admitted to struggling with the balance of his car, especially in FP2 when he also had traffic at the end of his best lap which cost him half a second. Both are very aware of the threat Ferrari pose here.

Nico Rosberg - FP1: 1:24.454, P3; FP2: 1:23.922, P1

“It’s great to be back in Europe and to be back in Spain. It was a good start for us today with two good practice sessions. Times were looking good on the longer and also on the shorter stints. I feel very comfortable with the car with some new parts added and they seemed to have worked well. Ferrari also look very strong around this circuit so I’m looking forward to Saturday’s third practice session as well as qualifying and to seeing how we can perform out there.”

Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:24.611, P4; FP2: 1:24.641, P3

“That wasn't an easy day for me, I struggled with the car balance through the day and this afternoon in particular it felt really tricky to drive. I had traffic on my quick lap, so the lap times don't tell the full story, but it's clear we have plenty of work to do this evening to get the car driving like I want it to. But we will get our heads down this evening, work through the data and I'm confident we can pull things around for tomorrow.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

“This is a circuit we know well after completing nearly 1,300 laps during pre-season testing and that makes it all the more surprising when we struggle to balance the car well on the race weekend. But the conditions are of course much warmer than back in March, and this presents a different set of engineering challenges. We completed a regular programme with both drivers but the balance was not perfect on either car and there’s still plenty of work to do in order to get the car handling how we want on the medium and soft compound tyres. We conducted a comparison of a new front wing design across both cars in first practice, which delivered the expected results. Our performance is quite close to Ferrari and we will therefore be working hard overnight to optimise the car set-up and performance for qualifying and race conditions.”

Red Bull

All eyes were on Verstappen as he graduated to Red Bull, and he gave a good account of himself as he shadowed Ricciardo throughout both sessions. The Dutchman said he was still getting used to the RB12 and finding its limit, while the Australian said he was happy with the way things went and believes there’s more to come tomorrow.

Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:25.416, P5; FP2: 1:25.194, P6

“Everyone is keeping a close eye on the team this weekend to see how Max goes; I’m a small part of it, but it’s exciting. Coming into the weekend we are expected to be the top five, so we’ll keep that goal; anything better than that will just mean bigger smiles. I was relatively happy with today; I think there is a bit more for us to find, but generally it was a good day. I know what this car is capable of, so a few changes tonight and then tomorrow hopefully we will be a bit further up the front. We did a good long run on the soft and the medium, which gave us a lot of good tyre information. This has given us the info we need for tonight to make smart decisions for tomorrow.”

Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:25.585, P6; FP2: 1:25.375, P8

“I’m happy; for a first day you can’t complain! We got through a lot of work and did a lot of laps and I think that’s the most important thing for me at the moment. I’m still getting used to the car, I don’t feel its full limit yet. It’s a new car, but I wasn’t nervous this morning, I just wanted to experience the car, I was eager to just go out and drive. I’m still learning a lot about the car; the seat position, the steering wheel position, all the switches and the procedures are all completely different to the Toro Rosso, but we are working on it and it’s getting better and better. Red Bull Racing is a good team and I enjoy working with them. If we have a good feeling tomorrow I will do my best and from there on we will see what happens; for sure you need a few weekends to be fully comfortable.”

Renault

The second car proved something of a poison chalice; Ocon only managed six untimed laps in FP1 before a rear-end problem stopped him, which turned out to be a straightforward puncture. Then Palmer suffered a more dramatic left rear tyre failure at speed on the straight early in FP2 and had to sit out most of the session as his RS16 was recovered. Pirelli are still investigating the cause.

Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:26.576, P11; FP2: 1:26.244, P14

“Grip levels felt pretty low in the morning but things improved through the day. It looks like I was definitely on the lucky side of the garage today so I hope the luck holds for the rest of the weekend. We’ve got a good idea of where we want to go after today and I think our pace is around where we expected it to be.”

Jolyon Palmer - FP2: 1:26.770, P17

“That was pretty unfortunate. We don’t know what caused the puncture and it was frustrating to lose so much track time. We thought we might not be able to get out again after the car was recovered, however my crew was able to do a fantastic job to repair the damage so I’m thankful for those laps at the end of the session. Fortunately, Barcelona’s a track I know well so I’m looking forward to a busy day behind the wheel tomorrow.”

Esteban Ocon - FP1: No time, P22

“I was really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the R.S.16 so it was a shame that Friday the Thirteenth decided to pick on the team and I! I did get a brief amount of time in the car, but I didn’t even get a timed lap so it’s too early for any real thoughts about driving the car as I didn’t have an opportunity to really push. The team could see the tyre was losing pressure so I was brought in. I waited in the garage until I could go back out on the next set of tyres then the battery had an issue so it definitely wasn’t my day! I can’t wait to get back in the car on Tuesday for a full day of testing.”

Nick Chester, Technical Director

“Not quite the day we wanted although the positive is that Kevin had a good day of running. Esteban did a good job for his brief time in the car and we’re looking forward to him getting a proper crack at the whip in next week’s test. His puncture looked to be a clear cut case of a small piece of debris piercing the tread and we have no ongoing concerns about the battery issue which subsequently stopped him running. Jolyon was also unfortunate with a puncture and we are working with Pirelli to understand the cause. We were able to get him back out later in the session for 11 laps on the soft tyre and we have a reasonable amount of data to digest from today. Barcelona’s a track we all know well so although we didn’t get all the laps we wanted, we still have a good idea where we’ll go in terms of set-up and strategy.”

Haas

Both drivers described their VF-16s as extremely difficult to drive, and said they lacked traction at low speeds. In the circumstances, Grosjean did a fine job to set 13th fastest time in FP2 on soft Pirellis, while Gutierrez set his time on the hards.

Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:27.258, P16; FP2: 1:25.899, P13

“Not too easy a day. I struggled a bit with the higher track temperatures to get everything to work. It helps us to get the data from the winter testing now and see what we’ve done differently, which direction we took on the setup. We may revert on a few things we’ve done, as we’re not so happy with the car. It was good to get some mileage, but I think we realized the last setup change we made wasn’t as good as we were hoping. We’ll change that for tomorrow and hopefully have a better car.”

Esteban Gutierrez - FP1: 1:27.283, P17; FP2: 1:28.205, P21

“It was very tricky driving in FP1, which I wasn’t expecting as the conditions were good. It was sunny and the wind was pretty low. I was expecting to have a clear feeling from the tires but, unfortunately, it wasn’t the case on the medium tire. FP2 was a little more complicated due to the wind, which is affecting the car quite a lot. Then we had an electrical issue, which prevented me from going back out on track. Once the team gets the car sorted, I’ll be ready to drive it as fast as possible. That’s what I love doing. We’ll work together as a team to put this car in the points.”

Guenther Steiner, team principal

“We learned a lot today in FP1 and FP2 about the setup, what we need to do and where we maybe went in the wrong direction in the last two grand prix. Again, we are not where we want to be yet, but I think by tomorrow we’re getting closer to it.

"Romain’s car’s efforts were positive. Esteban missed track time once more. We got unlucky. We need to work harder to get lucky, to be honest. Whenever he was out on the track, Esteban did a good job. He showed again that he can do the job, but it’s now time that we come up with the goods so that he can prove it to the world.”

Ferrari

It wasn’t until Mercedes joined Ferrari in FP2 in running the soft Pirellis, which only the Scuderia had used in FP1, that the respective speeds of the two teams began to emerge.

Raikkonen set the soft-tyre pace in FP2, but then ran into a minor fuel system problem. But he was only 0.254s behind Rosberg when the session ended. Vettel had a more subdued day, but the team remain optimistic of challenging Mercedes tomorrow and on Sunday.

Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:24.089, P2; FP2: 1:24.176, P2

“It was a normal Friday, we were focused on our program. At one point I came back into the garage to check something in the car: we wanted to be sure that everything was ok. It was only a small issue and by the end of the session we managed to do all that we wanted to. It's hard to say now where we are compared to our rivals, it was not a bad day, but for sure we can still improve. This is a very hard circuit for the tires and there is a twisty last part, but it is the same for everybody. Compared to Russia it's easier to make the tires work, but obviously there's still work to be done to be 100 percent happy with the balance of the car. In the evening we'll work to improve and hopefully we'll be stronger.”

Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:23.951, P1; FP2: 1:25.017, P4

“Even if today was not the perfect day, it should be better tomorrow. I think this afternoon was a bit more tricky for us and not as good as it was in the morning, but we can still work on the car and improve it overnight. Usually we are quite strong in this. In the end it is only Friday, so I think we need to be careful with our judgements. I think the first impression of our pace today was good. Whether we can confirm it tomorrow depends also on what the others were doing today. I believe we can make the step and be stronger tomorrow.”

McLaren

Button lost a lot of time on FP2 when his engine shut down as he came into the pits early on, but was able to improve to 12th place in the final 20 minutes. Alonso, meanwhile, was comfortably within the top 10 in both sessions in the upgraded MP4-31, which bodes well for the team’s chances of making Q3 tomorrow.

Fernando Alonso - FP1: 1:26.243, P10; FP2: 1:25.342, P7

"The feeling with the car today has been pretty good. We need to improve a few things for tomorrow – especially with the grip at the rear. I'm not totally comfortable with the car yet, so we'll try a few more things. This evening, we'll go through the data from Jenson and myself and pull together a better solution for tomorrow. 

"Looking ahead to qualifying, I think we're in the same situation as we were in Russia: the practice times suggest that we can get into the top 10, but you tend to need an extra push to get into Q3, and we don't have that step quite yet. Still, power unit performance is not as critical here as it was in Russia, so maybe we'll be able to crack it. Let's see..."

Jenson Button - FP1: 1:27.610, P19; FP2: 1:25.893, P12

"I had a pretty average day: FP1 was tough, then we couldn't get the car out of the garage for the opening part of FP2. Eventually, however, I got some running under my belt – and our long-run pace didn't look too bad. The balance came together when we ran the Soft tyre at the end of the day, which was encouraging because I had a big issue with the rear-end feeling like it was ‘floating'. We're getting there. 

"We have upgrades arriving for each race, which is fantastic – but we have to spend a lot of time on Fridays working out whether they work or not. Today was a busy day, but we'll really be able to focus on performance and qualifying tomorrow. This won't be the easiest race at which to score points, but we'll do our best."

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda racing director 

"Given the amount of testing we've already done at this circuit, people often assume that it's simply a case of turning up and running here at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. In reality, that's often far from the case: the temperatures in which we test during the winter months, and the amount of chassis and power unit development undertaken between February and May, means that it often can be difficult to find an ideal balance around here. 

"We struggled a little bit to find the cars' sweet-spot today, but ended up feeling positive about our progress. In addition, we've introduce a fairly comprehensive upgrade package at this race, and we need to go away and measure its effectiveness in order to understand which elements of that suite of parts we take forward into the remainder of the weekend. 

“I must also pay tribute to the hard work of our mechanics – both last night and today. They had plenty on their plate in terms of fixing repairs, fitting upgrades and managing the cars throughout both sessions, but they did a brilliant job. There's a lot of work left to do, but we've already made plenty of progress."

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co Ltd head of F1 project & executive chief engineer

"Today's FP1 and FP2 running was focused on understanding the new chassis components that were brought to Spain. I believe that both the drivers and the team understood the characteristics of the new parts as they accumulated laps, but we know that there is more work to be done tomorrow. Therefore, it was encouraging to see that the result today placed us solidly in mid-field, amidst the uncertainty. 

"Both power units have been carried over from Sochi, so we will gather and analyse today's running data, whilst supporting the team with more running and set-up of the car tomorrow. I think it will be a busy night, but I am looking forward to what our engineers can do for tomorrow's qualifying."

Force India

Perez had a problem with a smoky engine in FP1, but the team managed to resolve the issue before the session's end, and then settled in to take the final top 10 positions with their heavily revised car in FP2.

Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:27.064, P14; FP2: 1:25.437, P9

"It was frustrating to lose some track time this morning, especially when you have some upgrades to test, but we managed to recover well in FP2. I'm not yet totally comfortable with the balance, but I believe we have made a big step forward compared to the car we had at the beginning of the season. Track position is very important in Barcelona so hopefully we can turn this performance into a good qualifying result tomorrow."

Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:26.983, P13; FP2: 1:25.453, P10

"It was a good Friday and we managed to get through most of our programme. We had a big upgrade package to test so all the data we managed to get will help us understand it and make the most of it. The first impressions are positive: I think it's a good step forward in performance and I am quite pleased with how things went today. The job now is to analyse all the information from the sessions and see what else we can extract from the car. There are a few more tweaks we can make to get the balance right for the weekend, but it's a good starting point."

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal

"It was not the most straightforward morning with an oil leak costing Sergio quite a bit of time, but all in all it was a positive day. We were still able to cover a lot of ground with Nico and we completed good mileage with both cars in the afternoon, giving us plenty of data and information. We ran on all three tyre compounds and got a good understanding of the effects of our upgrade package. The preliminary indications appear to be very positive and we believe there is more to come from the car. There is still some work to do ahead of tomorrow, but I think we're moving in a good direction."

Manor

Manor’s changes seemed to work quite well as Wehrlein, in particular, was respectably close to the lower midfield.

Pascal Wehrlein - FP1: 1:28.084, P20; FP2: 1:26.960, P18

"I think we've seen some good initial signs from our new developments today but we won't have a full picture until tomorrow when everyone has run the softer tyres. For us, we saw a reasonable step from the Medium to the Soft tyres but we still have some balance issues that we need to contend with. So far, we don't seem to have had the same challenges with degradation that we've experienced so far this year, so that's a positive sign."

Rio Haryanto - FP1: 1:29.052, P21; FP2: 1:27.252, P19

"In FP1 we ran with the old specification before switching to the new package for FP2. It was working quite well, although it's just the start and we need to fine-tune it a little more, but so far I'm happy. This afternoon we completed short and long runs to try to understand the balance and tyre wear, so it was a pretty busy day. A good start and I hope we can improve some more ahead of qualifying."

Dave Ryan, Racing Director

"Gauging the benefit of new developments is really the work of a couple of days, so although we've enjoyed plenty of track time to work our way through the programme, there's still a little way to go before we can draw any firm conclusions. At this stage though, we're cautiously optimistic that we've made some progress."

Pirelli

Paul Hembery, motorsport director

“The European part of the season starts with one of the toughest tests of all at Barcelona, which the teams know well from pre-season testing. With higher temperatures now, graining has been reduced. While the soft tyre shows a lot of pace here, the medium tyre has performed strongly as well, and looks set to be a very good race tyre judging from what we have seen on the long runs so far.”