The ING Renault F1 Team made a solid and reliable start to the Spanish Grand Prix weekend today at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. Both drivers completed their planned programmes without any problems, working on set-up evaluation and comparing the two compounds of Bridgestone Potenza tyre (Medium and Hard) available to them this weekend. Each driver completed nearly 300 km and made good progress improving the set-up of the car, in conditions that are significantly different to those encountered during last week's test. Today's successful programme will provide a good baseline for the drivers to work from during tomorrow morning's final practice session, before heading into qualifying.
Giancarlo Fisichella: It was a normal day for us: we planned a busy programme, and completed everything without any problems at all. As we made changes to the car, we managed to improve the set-up a little bit, but the handling is still slightly inconsistent. But to be honest, that is what we expect at the moment. My feeling is that we are possibly a little bit closer to the cars in front of us, even if we are clearly not fast enough to be second in the times on speed alone. As always, we have to remember this is only Friday, so we need to wait and see what happens tomorrow. The fight between the midfield teams is extremely close, and we will need to push to the limit tomorrow to get a good grid position.
Heikki Kovalainen: I think it was a positive start to our weekend to be honest. We did our programme, everything ran smoothly, and we improved the car balance a bit from where we started. So we have a good starting point for tomorrow in the final practice session. I had a spin at the end of the session, but it was nothing serious – I was pushing hard on a timed lap and ran wide behind a Red Bull, and lost control. But that's the way I drive, attacking all the time, and we will keep on pushing tomorrow. The target has to be to qualify in the top ten but, just like at the last three races, it is going to be tough.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: In spite of the fact that we tested at this circuit only last week, the track temperatures we have encountered today, and forecast for the rest of the weekend, are around 20°C higher than they were at the end of the test. Barcelona is well-known as a sensitive circuit where small rises in temperature can have a big impact on a car's behaviour. A change as big as 20°C means we have to run quite a different set-up to what we used last week and, as a result, we ran a completely normal Friday programme today. It is obvious that our final laps were done with a lower fuel load as part of our planned technical checks, and that our positions are therefore unrepresentatively high in the timesheets. However, our pace on the long runs seems to show that the status quo has not changed much since Bahrain.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Track Operations: From the engine team's point of view, it was a normal, trouble-free day. Both cars came close to their nominal target mileage of 300 km, and our focus was very much on tuning the engine performance in this weekend's hotter conditions. A quick look at the timesheets shows that less than a second separated P3 from P15 in today's second session. When the competition is so close, every hundredth of a second counts – and that means the fine-tuning we conducted today is of capital importance for the rest of the weekend. We have a solid platform to work from now, and will look to build on this tomorrow.
To check out our Barcelona practice gallery, click here