Friday, 10 April 2015

Hamilton stays top of the time sheets in Free Practice two for Mercedes but Ferrari and Raikkonen look extremely strong

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton picked up where he left off in Free Practice Two in China this morning as the Mercedes AMG F1 Team driver ended the session at the Shanghai International Circuit with a fastest time of 1m 37.219s to end the session just 0.443s ahead of Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. Speaking following the second session, Hamilton commented saying:

Today was definitely an improvement on Friday in Malaysia. It was good to get both sessions in and that puts me in a stronger position. The team has done an amazing job to find some improvements in the car. Balance-wise it’s way better than the last race and it was generally feeling really good. I don’t know how long I went on each compound but it felt good on the long and short runs. The prime perhaps didn’t feel as good as the option but I’ll have to go and analyse the data to see where we are compared to the others. It was quite close between us and Ferrari. They look just as fast as they were last time out and Nico was quick as well, so we definitely have a race on. But I feel like I’ve got some improvements to make and I think we’ve got the pace to stay ahead.

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff was happy with the performance of his outfit today saying:

It was a good day from a reliability point of view, with both cars running the programme like we planned and doing lots of laps. We also ran a new front wing in the morning and the correlation all looks good, so a great job done by the team back at the factory. Performance wise, we look competitive over one lap – although Nico didn't quite get his lap together today. But Ferrari are close – and closer still on the long runs. We saw in Malaysia that we need to get every detail right to put together a winning weekend, so this will be our focus tonight as we do our analysis and tomorrow in preparation for qualifying. It will be an exciting battle. 

Mercedes Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe stated:

We had a good day today: there were no problems to report and we completed our planned programme successfully, including the evaluation of our new aerodynamic parts. We ran the two different types of tyre at different fuel loads and gathered a lot of useful information. There is a big difference between the prime and option over a single lap, which will certainly influence strategies for the rest of the weekend. Both drivers were pretty happy with the car today but Ferrari look to be similarly competitive here as they were in Malaysia, so we will have our work cut out once again.

Kimi Raikkonen recovered a brake issue early on in the second session to end the day in second place with a fastest time of 1m 37.662s, the Iceman completed 35 laps in the SF15-T.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo finished the day in third place following to a tough start to the weekend. The Australian completed 24 laps with a fastest lap time of 1m 38.311s. Speaking following the session, Ricciardo commented saying:

We had a good Friday, we got all the running we could from the sessions and our pace looks good. We had a few aero updates and drivability is always getting better, we definitely have had an improvement and that’s all we can ask for. We obviously have a few more steps to take but we’re making them in the right direction, so that’s positive.’

Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel ended the session in fourth place completing 30 laps with a fastest time of 1m 38.339s ending the day 1.120s behind Lewis Hamilton’s fastest time. 

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg was fifth fastest for the Brackley based outfit. The German completed 35 laps with a fastest time of 1m 38.399s, 1.180s behind Hamilton. Speaking following the session, Rosberg stated:

It seems that we are very quick on one lap – but I just didn’t get my lap together on the softer tyres. I tried a different line on the grass at the final corner, which was not very quick as it turns out! Obviously, that wasn’t ideal and it cost me a good lap. But Lewis showed the pace we have in the car. On a long run we need to analyse the data to see where we are but the Ferraris seem to be very strong again. In the morning I tried a new front wing and we collected a lot of data, so that was a very useful session for us. It will be a long night with the engineers to find the best setup for the race on Sunday.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat finished the session in sixth place despite a rear brake failure towards the end of the session. The Milton Keynes based outfit have changed their brake material since the Malaysian Grand Prix following problems with an awful lot of brake dust and locking up. The Russian set a fastest time of 1m 38.737s having completed just 10 laps. 

Speaking following the session he stated:

We are investigating what happened with the brakes, it felt like I couldn’t stop the car, so we need to learn more about that. Everything had been fine up until the end of FP2. It’s a shame I couldn’t make a longer run but we still got many useful laps in. We brought some upgrades here and they look quite positive.

Williams Martini Racing Team’s Valtteri Bottas was seventh fastest for the Grove based outfit, completing 27 laps with a fastest time of 1m 38.850s. Speaking following the session, the Finn stated:

It was a normal Friday for us without any mistakes or unknowns. The updates we brought have worked, so we are a little quicker through the corners now, which is always positive. The temperature here suits us better than in Malaysia, so I think we can be strong in qualifying but we need to make sure we focus on the race and especially on the front left tyre graining.

The Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr finished the session in eighth place following an extremely impressive Free Practice One session where he finished fifth place. The Brazilian completed 26 laps with a fastest time of 1m 39.032s. Speaking following the session he commented saying:

It was a good day. I am satisfied as I think we have fixed the issues we had in Malaysia. The updates we brought seem to work well. We need to make sure we do a good job in qualifying and find a suitable set-up for the race. I think we have a good chance of scoring points again.

The Sauber F1 Team’s Head of Trackside Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara stated:

It was another positive Friday. We had no major issues, so we were able to complete our planned programme. We tested a new front wing on Felipe’s car, which was encouraging. Marcus concentrated more on set-up work. In the afternoon we did the usual race preparation with long runs on high fuel and the tyre comparisons. We were pretty lucky with the red flag, which didn’t really spoil the programme for our drivers. Overall, we can have a positive outlook for the remainder of the weekend.

The Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean sat out the opening Free Practice session as the outfit’s test driver Jolyon Palmer drove the E23 Hybrid this morning. Grosjean finished the second session in ninth place with a fastest time of 1m 39.142s completing 32 laps. Speaking following the session the Frenchman stated:

Obviously I’d have preferred to be in the car for both sessions but we had a good afternoon and we’re always happy to see a top ten lap time. We completed a good number of laps and the car feels basically pretty strong. As always, we’ve got some areas we can improve on but we’ve made a good start.

In the opening practice session this morning, Palmer finished in 15th place completing 25 laps in the E23 Hybrid. Speaking following the session, the GP2 champion commented saying:

I've been waiting to get my hands on the E23 during a Grand Prix weekend and the experience didn't disappoint. The track was quite green which provided its own set of slippery challenges and I had to learn the circuit quickly as I hadn't driven in Shanghai before but overall I'm happy with P15. I was able to complete a decent tally of laps and test the limits of grip on a couple of occasions on the fresh track. It was great to be out on track and mixing it on a Grand Prix weekend.

The Lotus F1 Team’s Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane stated:

A solid day for us with no issues to report. Jolyon did a great job for the first time in the car in an official practice session and ended the session just outside the top ten and only six tenths off of Pastor’s lap time so that was a strong first effort. Both Pastor and Romain made good progress with their set-ups and there’s further time to be found. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s possible tomorrow.

It was a fantastic session for the McLaren Honda F1 Team as Jenson Button rounded out the top ten. The 2009 world champion completed 29 laps with a fastest time of 1m 39.275s. The Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado finished the session in eleventh place. The Venezuelan completed 30 laps with a fastest time of 1m 39.444s. Speaking following the session, he stated:

I didn’t feel 100% happy with the car for all of today, but we made good progress on getting the set-up where I want it so it’s been a good day. The weather’s been pretty good here and certainly better than some of the forecasts we saw earlier in the week. It’s a fun circuit to drive with some good challenges and I think we should have a strong car for tomorrow’s qualifying.

Fernando Alonso ended the day in 12th place in the second McLaren Honda MP4-30. The Spaniard completed 27 laps with a fastest time of 1m 39.743s. The Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson ended the day in 13th place completing 33 laps with a fastest time of 1m 39.751s. Speaking following the session, the Swede stated:

It has been a decent day. I did plenty of laps working through the planned programme. I think I had been struggling a bit to get a good feeling for the car on new tyres. However, on used tyres during the race simulation at the end of the day we were quite competitive, and I felt comfortable, which is promising for the race. Now, we need to fine tune the set-up of the car overnight to make sure of having a good qualifying tomorrow.’

The Scuderia Toro Rosso pairing of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz ended the session in 14th and 15th place respectively. Verstappen completed 32 laps with a fastest time of 1n 39.894s while Carlos Sainz completed 28 laps with a fastest time of 1m 39.971s.

Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Nico Hulkenberg was 16th fastest time. The German completed 28 laps with a fastest time of 1m 40.151s. Speaking following the session, the Hulk stated:

It was a straightforward Friday in which we were able to get through our programme as planned. The majority of our work was on the tyres and on car balance, which should offer us a base to work from for the rest of the weekend. We were able to run with some test items in the morning and hopefully this will give the team plenty of data to process and analyse. I definitely think there is some interesting stuff going forward. We obviously have some work to do in order to extract some more performance from the car, especially as we switch between the different tyre compounds, but that should be the main focus for us tonight.

The Williams Martini Racing Team’s Felipe Massa suffered some sort of problem with his FW37. The Brazilian slid off the track and broke his front wing. Speaking following the session the Brazilian stated:

The first session went to plan, but this afternoon we had a few issues with the rear wing. Under braking I lost all grip in the rear tyres and as a result the car spun which put me out for the rest of the session. We lost a lot of time, but the team made the changes to Valtteri’s rear wing so the same wouldn’t happen to him. We need to have a strong day tomorrow to set ourselves up well for the race.

Williams Martini Racing Team’s Head of Performance Engineering stated:

We completed the majority of our plan today, unfortunately we didn’t get all the data we would have liked to due to Felipe’s spin in the second session. The spin was caused by a rear wing stall which was easy to rectify so we were confident when sending Valtteri back out. The data and driver feedback from the new parts we have installed seem positive, but there is still more work to do to see where we are in comparison to our rivals ahead of qualifying and the race.

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team’s Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez ended the day in 18th place, completing 24 laps with a fastest time of 1m 40.868s. Speaking following the session, the Mexican commented saying:

Today was not the easiest of days for me, especially the afternoon session, but at least the conditions out on track were quite consistent. We had to abort my first run on the option tyres and, when we went to resume it, there was a lot of traffic, which made it difficult to learn about our single-lap performance. It is something we will need to focus on tomorrow morning ahead of qualifying. On the other hand, we were able to fit in a longer run on the prime tyres, which gives us useful information for Sunday.

Sahara Force India Deputy Team Principal Robert Fernley stated:

It was a very busy Friday for the team and, despite a few minor technical issues that needed addressing, we were able to complete a solid amount of laps. We had the opportunity to test a few new parts that have been created as part of the VJM08's development process and we will need to analyse their impact on the car's performance tonight. The tyre programmes went largely to plan so on that front we should have the necessary information to help our race preparations. We have a lot of work ahead of us tonight and we will push hard to turn what we learned today into performance.

The Manor F1 Team’s Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi rounded out the time sheets. Stevens had a difficult day as he suffered a power unit issue. Free Practice Three gets underway at the Shanghai International Circuit tomorrow morning from 5AM Irish time.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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