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Drivers eager to capitalise on frustrating Friday

07 Apr 2017

With poor weather conditions limiting Friday’s practice running in Shanghai to just a handful of laps, the F1 teams and drivers will have their work cut out tomorrow as they bid to make up for lost time ahead of the 2017 Formula 1 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix.

But as you would expect in F1 racing, most are looking on it as an opportunity to seize a competitive advantage over their rivals - and to give those fans who missed out on Friday a far more entertaining spectacle for the rest of the weekend.

“I think the forecast is looking better tomorrow, so at least we will get some dry laps to try a few new things heading into qualifying,” said Max Verstappen, Friday’s pacesetter for Red Bull.

“For now the most important thing is laps, the more the better. For the fans it could be good tomorrow as everyone will be making up for lost time, so a lot of track action.”

Force India’s Sergio Perez was one of six drivers who did not even set a lap time on Friday, but nevertheless the Mexican insisted he could yet stand to gain from others’ minimal mileage.

“I think today’s lack of running can turn into an opportunity for us and I hope we can benefit from it and come away with a strong result,” he stated.

There were even those who were downright grateful for the grey skies, among them the Williams team, whose rookie driver Lance Stroll had not previously turned a wheel in an F1 car in the rain.

“We didn’t run in the wet in Barcelona during the pre-season tests, so we had never driven the car in the wet,” said Chief Technical Officer, Paddy Lowe.

“The small amount of running we did on the full wets in FP1, and the sets of laps on the intermediates were actually invaluable as we learnt how the car behaves in wet conditions and on wet tyres.

“The pace was encouraging for the car but also for Lance, who was able to drive with confidence in those conditions.”

Toro Rosso were another team pleased with the chance to experience a damp track, with Head of Vehicle Performance, Jody Egginton, stating: “In FP1 we managed a couple of timed laps with both cars and, given we did not manage any running on the intermediate tyre in winter testing, these laps have been very useful.

“They’ve provided a first view of not only the intermediate tyre but also the requirements regarding aero balance, brake, differential and engine settings, and this data is very important.”

Though the forecast is for improved weather on Saturday for qualifying, there is still a strong possibility that Sunday’s race will be wet - but there are even those who would relish that prospect.

“If it does rain on Sunday then the exciting part is that none of us have really done any wet driving yet,” said Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, “which will create a more open playing field and potentially a very interesting race. I’m definitely ready to stop talking and start driving.”