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This was the first day of practice for the Spanish Grand Prix, but, for Scuderia Ferrari at least, it felt more like the sixteenth day of testing of 2012. There were a lot of items on the menu today, in terms of technical updates on the F2012, reconfirming the effectiveness of some that had been used during three days running in Mugello last week, or evaluating new ones brought to the track here for the first time. This work was carried out over more than five hundred kilometres completed during today's three hours of free practice - 246 courtesy of Fernando and 260 from Felipe.
Fernando Alonso: "It's nice to be back racing in front of my home crowd: from the moment I got here on Wednesday evening, I could already feel the warmth of the fans who are also now all Ferrari fans. We had a very busy programme, with a lot of new things to try and it was important to evaluate them very carefully. First impressions are positive: some parts worked as we expected, others less so, but broadly speaking, it confirms the tendency we had already seen in Mugello last week, which is that the data emerging form the wind tunnel has been confirmed on track. Today, conditions were obviously very different to when we were here for the winter tests: it's much hotter and the track surface conditions have therefore changed, with temperatures approaching 45º C. We tried to adapt the car set-up to the track conditions, but we are not yet completely satisfied: there is still work to do. Actually, it was a rather different Friday to usual, with the times even more mixed up than we have seen at the first four races this year. The tyres? No surprises, we know them sufficiently well now after all the kilometres we have done this winter and in the first part of the championship. The Softs seem quicker, the Hards more consistent, so nothing new there."
Felipe Massa: "It was very hot today, which put the tyres under a lot of strain. We worked a lot on the updates we have available as from this weekend and, at first sight, the results seem to be positive. This morning especially, we concentrated on comparing different configurations, while in the afternoon, we worked mainly on set-up and tyre behaviour. It's impossible to make a comparison with the results of winter testing, because the track surface conditions have completely changed as the temperature is so different to what we had in the winter. Now we must put together all the best elements to produce our maximum potential and prepare well for qualifying and the race. On Sunday, if it turns out as hot as this, it will be an even tougher race than usual, especially because of tyre degradation."
Pat Fry: "An even busier Friday than usual for the whole team, coming off the back of a run of equally busy days, both at the track, with three days testing in Mugello and at the factory, where everyone put in an extraordinary amount of effort to bring as many new parts as possible here. In the two sessions, we privileged the job of evaluating and comparing all the new elements available, rather than the more usual preparation for a race weekend. I am not in the habit of giving instant verdicts on new parts: some elements have fully matched our expectations, others less so. Now we must analyse everything calmly, to get the most out of what we have and put it on the car. Definitely, car balance seems to be better on the Hards than the Softs and that partly explains the fact that we did not manage to significantly improve our times moving from one compound to another, without however forgetting that Fernando was always in traffic when he was on a set of new Softs. However, we still have a lot to do to set up the car in a way that will allow us to make the most of these tyres. All in all, I think we can say we have made a step forward, but how big it is compared to our competitors is something we will only find out tomorrow."
Check out our Friday gallery, here.
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