Friday, 8 May 2015

Hamilton leads the way on the opening day of action in Barcelona for Mercedes but McLaren Honda shine

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Lewis Hamilton led the way on the opening day of track action at the Barcelona Circuit De Catalunya ahead of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

The double world champion ended the day with a fastest time of 1m 26.652s just ahead of Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg. Speaking following the day’s action, Hamilton stated:

It’s been a fairly decent day – mainly working on setup, tweaking the balance bit by bit. It’s often hard to get a good comparison between the sessions with the track and wind conditions changing. The wind was quite strong at times today and really inconsistent around the lap. The car is quite affected by that and it was pretty hot out there in the afternoon too, so I think maybe the temperatures also had an effect on lap times. The priority was understanding the tyres and how they wear because, ultimately, the race is the most important part of the weekend. We’ve not analysed the times yet but our pace felt pretty strong.

Rosberg was happy with his long run pace and is also happy that F1 is back in Europe. The German stated:

It’s great to be back in Europe and back to this track, where we did so many laps in the winter tests. I worked a lot on race pace in the afternoon and was happy with my long run, where we seemed to be quicker than the Ferraris. On one lap I still have a bit of work to do to find some more speed, so I’ll be working hard with the team tonight to find out where I can improve. On track it was quite a difficult day for everyone, I think. The conditions were really strange and the track was very poor. I don’t know really why but hopefully it will be more predictable for qualifying and the race.

It is now full steam ahead with preparations for qualifying tomorrow as the team will work on the cars over night before they go into Parc Ferme tomorrow evening. Speaking about today’s action, Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff stated:

It was an unusual day out on track and a good one for us, with one of our drivers topping each session. You could see that it was tricky out there for all the drivers in the field - some of the onboard shots were all over the place and pretty exciting to watch. Both our boys were complaining about a lack of grip and I'm sure that was similar for every team. The second session was quite a strange one, with some unusual gaps between the teams, and we found the car was better on the prime tyre than the option in the hot conditions. Like last year, we looked particularly strong in the third sector, for which you need to keep the tyres in good condition around the rest of the lap - and that's an encouraging sign. There's now plenty of work ahead of us to analyse the data tonight and make the right choices for tomorrow and Sunday.

Mercedes Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe concluded by saying:

It’s been a reasonably trouble-free day and a positive start to the weekend. It was quite windy out on track but generally the conditions have been good. The morning session focused on experimenting with setup, while the afternoon followed the usual programme of learning how best to use the tyres for qualifying and the race. Our pace looked encouraging on both compounds but we’re expecting another close battle. On the long runs there were some difficult aspects to managing the tyres, so we’ll be working hard overnight to put ourselves in the best position possible for the race. Finally, we’ve brought quite a few aerodynamic updates to this race, so a big thank you to everybody back at the factory for putting in the hard work to get those on the car for this weekend.

Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest for the Italian team despite suffering from excessive heat in the cockpit of his SF15-T this morning. The Finn set a fastest time in the afternoon session of 1m 27.780s, the Iceman completed a total of 36 laps ending the day just ahead of Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat. Speaking following the session, Kvyat stated:

We had a good run in FP2 and there is a lot of data for the team to analyse to find improvements. We have some upgrades here and we’ve been looking closely at how they work. We’ll try to extract the maximum out of the car so we can make the most out of qualifying tomorrow.

Kvyat ended the day just ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen who seems to go from strength to strength.

It was an extremely positive day for McLaren Honda and Jenson Button as the 2009 world champion ended the day in seventh place with a fastest time of 1m 28.494s completing 31 laps and ending the day ahead of Williams Martini Racing’s Valtteri Bottas. The Finn was only in the car in the second session as the team’s test driver Susie Wolff was in the car this morning. The Scot completed 22 laps and had a fastest time of 1m 229.708s which saw her end the session in 14th place.
Speaking following her run the car, Wolff stated:
Overall it was a good session because we managed to complete all of the work we had planned. For me it was slightly frustrating that I made a mistake in Turn 3 on my quickest lap, but apart from that it’s so good to get back in the car because you learn so much every time you take to the wheel. There is always that middle ground of pushing but ensuring that the car comes back in once piece, so it was important for me to not cause any difficulties for Valtteri and set him up well for the sessions ahead. This has been a good basis and I can analyse what I did right, what I need to improve next time, and use that for my next FP1 session which is coming up soon.
Bottas stated:
Missing the first session meant the second practice became more important so I’m happy we had a good run plan and could do everything we targeted with the tyres, car set-up and testing the updates. Now we need to look through the data and I’m sure there is still some more we can unlock from the package in time for qualifying. It’s too early to say anything about performance and where we stand, so we will have to wait until tomorrow to see where we are compared to our rivals. Having said that we are very much looking forward rather than backwards and looking to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari.
Williams Martini Racing’s Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley stated:
We had a programme of experiments we wanted to get through this morning that focused on tyre management and understanding the updates we have brought to this race. Susie was excellent and acquitted herself really well, especially as she hasn’t driven the car since winter testing. The parts we tested in FP1 were carried forward to FP2 and they have been working well which is very positive. Felipe picked up some damage during his short run so his lap time was not particularly representative. We are looking good in terms of long run pace, but can make improvements to our performance in qualifying mode.
Carlos Sainz was 9th fastest in the second Toro Rosso while Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten for Williams Martini Racing. Speaking following the session, the Brazilian stated:
Today was a normal Friday and we worked through our programme well. The focus was on understanding the tyres and maximising the performance of the package ready for qualifying and the race. We know this track well from testing, but the conditions were very different with a lot of wind and hotter temperatures so the lap times were slower. Mercedes and Ferrari are still looking very strong so we will need to wait and see where we are compared to them.
Fernando Alonso finished the day in eleventh place in the second McLaren MP4-30 ending the day just ahead of the Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean who sat out the opening session to make way for Jolyon Palmer and speaking following his afternoon in the car, the Frenchman said:

It wasn’t the best day for me as I sat out FP1 then we had a dramatic looking bodywork issue during the course of FP2. This means I’ll have quite a lot of work to do in FP3 ahead of qualifying tomorrow. Of course, we all know this circuit very well, but you always want as much track time as possible. On the plus side, we know there’s good potential in the car so if we can have a clean day tomorrow we’re capable of good things this weekend.

Jolyon Palmer commented by saying:

It was probably my best FP1 so far from a driving perspective. It was helpful knowing the track well and I could push early on but there wasn’t a lot of grip with it being the first session of the weekend. It was quite windy as well but I got down to a good pace and I was in a nice rhythm. I’m certainly comfortable in the car and improving every time I get out on track so another valuable session for me and the team”

Despite only getting out on track towards the end of the session, Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo overcame a technical issue with the RB11 to end the day in 13th place and speaking following the session the Australian stated:

We expected we would be limited with mileage today, and we also knew that we would have to use the fourth engine for FP2. It would’ve been nice to get some more laps in but we did enough to give us plenty of data to look at. Dany had a cleaner session and we’ll also look at his data and try to learn a few things for tomorrow. There’s a lot of potential with the upgrades and tomorrow's qualifying is what counts.

The Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado ended the session in 14th place just ahead of the Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr and speaking following the session the Venezuelan stated:

This morning was frustrating as I watched most of the session on the TV screens, but this afternoon was much more productive and we completed a good long run. We know this circuit can work well for our car and the weather is looking good so I think there’s potential for a strong day tomorrow then an even better day come Sunday.

The Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr commented on his day saying:

In the morning the grip conditions on the track were quite low. However, I had a good feeling in the car straight away. We had a suitable balance under these conditions. As the track temperatures were much higher than in the morning, I had oversteer on the medium and hard tyres. Thus, it was a bit difficult to extract the maximum out of the car. Overall it was a good day. For tomorrow we need to analyse the collected data especially those from the warmer conditions.

The Brazilian’s team mate, Marcus Ericsson ended the day in 16th place and he stated:

It was a good session. Obviously I had to catch up as I did not drive in FP1. Overall we did short and long-runs on which we could gather information on the tyre behaviour. This is especially important for the race. At the end of FP2 we focused on pit stop practice. Overall it was a positive day.

The Hinwil based outfit’s test and reserve driver Raffaele Marciello had a busy day as not only was driving for the team in FP1 but he was also competing in the GP2. Speaking following his latest outing in the car, Marciello stated:

It was good to be back in the car. Overall I am satisfied with my second FP1 session. I think I did a good all-round job as I could go through the planned programme consisting of aero measurements and some set-up work. The driveability of the car was good, and I could give some valuable feedback.

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, the Sauber F1 Team’s Head of Track Engineering commented by saying:

It was a normal Friday for us. In the morning we focused on set-up and balance checks, and had also Raffaele back in the car. In the afternoon we mainly focused on race preparation with Marcus and Felipe. They did long-runs on the medium and hard tyres and we finished the second free practice session with pit stop practice.

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team pairing of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg had a disappointing day as they ended the afternoon in 17th and 18th place respectively with the just the Manor Marussia duo of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi behind them. Speaking following the session, Hulkenberg stated:

It was one of those days where we ticked off all the jobs without too many issues. I think the long run pace is looking a bit better than our one lap pace, but we still need to find a better balance overnight. There’s a lot of homework to do, but we did a lot of laps today so we have the data we need to make our decisions for tomorrow.

Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez stated:

Today was not the easiest of days, although we had anticipated we would struggle here more than on previous circuits. It is clear that we need to find something more tonight if we want to really fight the teams ahead of us. We couldn't find the right balance and throughout the first two sessions I didn’t feel particularly comfortable, either on the short or the long runs. Tonight's debrief and the engineers’ work will hopefully give us some solutions so that we can be a bit more competitive tomorrow and, most importantly, in the race.

Sahara Force India F1’s Deputy Team Principal Robert Fernley stated:

We split the programme between the two drivers in FP1 – evaluating some small aero variations to the front and rear of the car, and gathered all the information we needed. It’s fair to say the drivers have struggled with the general balance of the car, especially with the high track temperatures this afternoon, but we worked hard to try and make improvements during the sessions. We take some encouragement from the long run performance, which at this stage appears to be more consistent and more competitive than our pace over a single lap. We also recognise that the margins to the teams ahead of us are quite small so if we can find a good direction tonight we can bring ourselves forward in the midfield fight. That’s especially important for qualifying because we know how difficult it is to overtake here and track position is crucial.

© Ben Johnston 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment