Circuit de Catalunya: Free Practice 1 & 2

It was a dominant day for Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel cruised into the lead and continued his dominant…ah…this is embarrassing. Seems I’ve been swept along with this ‘anyone but Vettel’ movement and assumed the Red Bull in front belonged to the German driver. Mark Webber is infact the one in front on Friday, he cruised with relative ease to clinch the top spot in both sessions, in the morning getting over a second between him and Vettel. Friday wasn’t exactly the most exciting practice session we’ve had this year, as teams were getting their collective heads down and gathering valuable data on their upgrades.

Free Practice 1

  • Ferrari: Fernando Alonso is not going anywhere now he’s signed with the team until 2016, but it seems the car is. The two drivers were on distictively different strategy, Alonso grabs P4 and Massa P16, let’s hope they get Massa on the right one before the race.
  • Force India: Nico Hulkenberg is in for Paul di Resta in this session. Adrian Sutil is testing their new aerodynamic concept and new parts where Hulkenberg runs the Turkey spec.
  • Hispania: The guys in the garage worked past their curfew overnight to get the car track ready, teams only get 4 exceptions per season and so far they’ve used 2. The lack of winter testing clearly affecting them.
  • Lotus: Jarno Trulli got familiar with the back end of his car as it had its steering worked on. A new diffuser and exhausts are on their cars and it seems to be working.
  • McLaren: Lewis Hamilton spent more time out of the car than in it due to a right rear brakes problem, after some more time on the track he returns to his garage. Jenson Button had a few issues with his tyres, and both drivers failed to make much of an impact.
  • Mercedes: Dramatic radio calls to use the boost aside, Mercedes have shown an improvement. Those upgrades must be working.
  • Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel seemed to be having his share of technical problems this morning, a ‘3.0 failure’ and a warning to not use KERS. Mark Webber however spent the majority of the session in P1, using 1 set of the harder compound. And despite Webber saying that they were only bringing new spark plugs, they brought new wheel rims and rear brake ducts.
  • Renault: Vitaly Petrov had some issues with getting to grips with the new harder compound, saying that they were like ‘ice’. Nick Heidfeld also had some grip problems at low speeds, fighting the car like a good ‘un.
  • Sauber: Fairly quiet session for the Sauber boys, but Sergio Perez blows them away as he slips into P5 ahead of the McLarens.
  • Toro-Rosso: Daniel Ricciardo is in for Sebastien Buemi this morning, as he got his head down and produced a P12.
  • Williams: Pastor Maldonado ended up in the gravel in an embarrassingly slow slide off the track at turn 13, apparently due to his rear getting away from him. The team are splitting the upgrades to compare performance of the front wing.
  • Virgin: Virgin are doing a Williams and have their drivers out on different upgrade packages, Timo Glock is running a new diffuser and exhaust, Jerome d’Ambrosio in on the Turkey Spec.

Top FP1 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:25.142
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:26.149
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:26.379

Read: Full Results

Free Practice 2:

  • Ferrari: Massa had a taste of the gravel when his rear end stepped out under braking, close to the tyre wall he just managed to avoid causing loads of damage. He also struggled with understeer on T3 and 9. Alonso had traffic problems in the shape of his nemisis team Renault, but this time Heidfeld does the duty.
  • Force India: Di Resta is back in the car for this session testing his first chance to try out the new upgrades, but he and Sutil spent an extended time in the garage.
  • Hispania: Narain Karthikeyan fined 1200 euros for speeding in the pitlane, not the first time. And he almost causes a collision between himself and Hamilton as he fails to let the McLaren get a clean line past. By the end of the session they were outside the 107% rule, so pace will be a high priority come qualifying.
  • Lotus: Kovalainen makes a big step on the options, but the team is struggling for balance with their new configuration.
  • McLaren: Hamilton came achingly close to ousting Webber from the top spot, but lost some time in the final sector and instead split the RBR pair. However both showed improvement during this second session and were far more competitive. Although Hamilton called the new hard compound a ‘disaster’.
  • Mercedes: Quiet session, but showed consistant pace across the session, although Rosberg dropped, Schumacher didn’t move from P
  • Red Bull: Took their time in this second session, both went out on a race test of about 15/16 laps. Didn’t take long for them to regain their more familiar position of top of the table as they did a single timed lap on the options.
  • Renault: Petrov was first on the options and set some impressive times, but only managed a P12 in the end. Heidfeld pulled a Petrov and was blamed for holding Alonso up on a hot lap.
  • Sauber: Kobayashi was fined 600 euro for speeding in the pitlane during FP1.
  • Toro-Rosso: Sebastien Buemi is back in the car this afternoon and not to break with tradition, he finished higher than his team mate.
  • Williams: The team had a pleasently understated afternoon session, Maldonado even crept into P3 early on but was overtaken by Barrichello later.
  • Virgin: Despite upgrades they dropped a little in the second session and were only ahead of the Hispanias.

Top FP2 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:22.470
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:22.509
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:22.826

 Read: Full Results


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