The Friday in F1 Spanish GP weekend saw host of teams bringing their first big updates as the top order saw Mercedes having some pace.
The Friday in F1 Spanish GP was relatively sedate with no big crashes but the top order saw Mercedes set some solid laps, even beating Red Bull in FP2. The updates seem to be working for the team who were upbeat about their chances.
But both Ferrari and Red Bull were a bit down even though the former set the pace. They felt the temperatures were playing on them especially in the long run and so they will have to strategise for the grand prix properly.
Hamilton: “Positive. Super happy with the progress, so a big, big, big thank you to everyone back at the factory for not giving up and for continuing to push. We’re not the quickest yet, but we’re on our way. This is the first time that we’ve driven down the straight without bouncing. We still have some bouncing, but it’s way better and [we’re] starting to eke out a bit of the potential in that car. Well, it’s still tough out there with the car but it’s much nicer than it’s been before. So yeah, really grateful for those upgrades – we now need to just fine-tune them into the next session tonight. Lots of data to go over to try and position the car… I think we can get it into a better place for tomorrow so that we can tackle the heels of the guys up ahead.”
Russell: “I don’t know, to be honest. Because in Miami we were quickest on Friday and obviously here we are second, so let’s see. The car is definitely acting differently. We’ve got different limitations this time. We definitely don’t have the porpoising in the straights, which is good, but we are still experiencing a bit here and there in the corners, which ultimately you need to dial out in the corners, and I think the Red Bulls still look very, very strong. They look the team to be reckoned with at the moment and yes, we need to go through the data.”
Leclerc: “Yes, there is a lot of work to do tonight. On the short run we looked strong, the high-fuel run looks very difficult for now. We will have to work very hard and find quite a bit of pace for qualifying. I don’t want to call it a fear but let’s say it’s definitely the priority to work on that and to get better; at the moment we are just not strong on race pace. For the one lap in qualifying, I don’t think it will be an issue, but then we degrade them quite a lot for some reason. I don’t quite have an explanation for now, but we need to try and find a reason and then once we find a reason, we’ll work to make it better.”
Verstappen: “A bit tricky to find the balance, with the heat as well. We clearly still have a bit of work to do over one lap but long runs – at least they look quite decent, so I’m happy with that, just to try and find the middle way. It’s tough on the tyres of course around here. Clearly, we are not on top of that yet in terms of balance. At least we know that the weather is going to be consistent, so we can just work from here.”
Behind the leaders, the mid-pack saw Alpine having a solid run with the likes of AlphaTauri, Aston Martin and Haas showing some pace to be in the Top 10. Among them, the Frencg F1 outfit is the only one which looks to be in the ‘best of the rest’ position.
Also, Aston Martin showed some pace in FP2 with its ‘spec 2’ car which resembles a lot like Red Bull. For Alfa Romeo and McLaren, both had some issues with Valtteri Bottas forced to miss much of the session due to engine trouble, while Lando Norris damaged his floor which kept him in the pits for most part of the session.
Alonso: “It was a reasonable day for us today. After winter testing in February, we had some tests to do because the car has changed so much between then and now. We tried to evaluate a few things and carry out our normal job assessing the tyres. We have collected some useful data, but it’s clear we need to further improve the car for tomorrow. The balance isn’t perfect, so there is more of a job to do tonight to make sure that we are best prepared for qualifying tomorrow. I enjoyed seeing the grandstands full and hopefully we can put up a good show.”
Gasly: “It feels good to be back in Barcelona. Today hasn’t been our best Friday though, it’s been extremely difficult. We can’t seem to get the car where we want it, the conditions aren’t helping and it’s hard to cope with, but that’s the same for everyone. It’s not going to be an easy race for anyone, the car has never liked these super-hot temperatures, so we’ll need to analyse everything tonight and work out what’s best for us to get the most from it. There’s a lot of things we need to improve tonight and then after FP3 tomorrow we can look to see what’s achievable for us in Qualifying. We’re not too far from the top 10 so we just need to go away, focus on ourselves and hopefully we’ll be in Q3.
Norris: “It was a tricky day for me. I think there are positives with the new bits on the car, some things were working well, and I think the team are happy with some of the improvements. I made a mistake in FP2, which unfortunately cost me the rest of the session as there was a bit of damage to the floor. So, not perfect but nonetheless, I’m still hopeful for tomorrow because the car seems in a decent place.”
Vettel: “It feels like we are moving in the right direction, but we must remember that this is the first day of our running this car. You cannot make many comparisons to pre-season testing because the weather and track conditions are so different, so there is still a lot to learn and understand. Still, it is positive to end today inside the top 10, but let’s see how we go across the weekend. We do not expect immediate results, but we want to continue to make progress.”
Bottas: “Having tricky Fridays seems like it’s a bit of a trend for us at the moment, we don’t get much running but we managed to bounce back every time before and we can aim to do the same this time around. The positive from the day is that the one lap I had on medium tyres was really good, the car felt well-balanced so we have a good starting point to work on. Compared to February, when we had a lot of issues here, we have made a big step forward: we took a cautious approach with our upgrades but we pushed more and more towards the optimal set-up. For sure, we will be able to find out even more about the car tomorrow.”
The day also saw two young drivers taking part in FP1 with Nyck de Vries filling in for Alexander Albon at Williams, while Juri Vips did so for Sergio Perez at Red Bull. Alfa Romeo, meanwhile, used the services of Robert Kubica replacing Zhou Guanyu.
Kubica: “All in all, it was a good session for me. I was pleased to see I could get on the pace quickly and that the feeling I had with the car was back to what I had in 2020. Of course, the session wasn’t the easiest compared to when I drove the car in Imola: the conditions here are different and the track is green as opposed to fully rubbered in. Still, the car I drove in Imola was probably the best car I drove in my career in terms of feeling and simplicity of driving. I am looking forward to driving it again.”
De Vries: “I will admit I was very nervous ahead of FP1! I’m racing and fighting for championships away from F1, but making your Formula One debut is very unique and special, so I am very grateful for the opportunity. But when you get into the car and start the engine you forget everything around you and you’re alone with the car; all those nerves go away and you focus on your job. It wasn’t easy to jump in not knowing the car or the tyres and everything was new, but I gave myself the time to adapt and I’m pretty satisfied with my performance. I’m always critical of myself so I think there was more on the table, but I’m happy and positive about my first experience with Williams.”
Vips: “My experience today was amazing. Just to drive on the Grand Prix weekend is an incredible moment. When it first got announced I just kept thinking about when I first started karting and it was just a hobby and now I am going to get in the car. It was a busy session, we did lots of aero mapping so we never planned to do any push laps. I can see why F1 is so hard because these sessions are very hectic! You learn a lot driving, as a junior driver travelling to races with the Team you get to hear the drivers’ feedback but to feel first hand how the car feels is useful for me but also useful for the work I do on the simulator.”
Here’s how F1 Spanish GP FP1 panned out
Here’s how F1 Spanish GP FP2 panned out