The fifth round of the 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship began with practice Friday at Circuit de Barcelona - Catalunya as teams prepared for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.
Two 90-minute sessions - FP1 and FP2 - were run in sunny to partly cloudy conditions on the 4.655-kilometer (2.892-mile), 16-turn track where Rich Energy Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen conducted the annual two weeks of preseason testing Feb. 18 to March 1 along with their Formula One counterparts. The team's familiarity with the circuit, as well as significant upgrades debuted today on Grosjean's No. 8 Haas VF-19 and scheduled to be introduced on Magnussen's No. 20 Haas VF-19 Saturday, was evident as the duo posted solid lap times throughout the two sessions.
Both Grosjean and Magnussen began FP1 on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow medium tire before transitioning to the Red softs. Grosjean's quick lap of 1:18.943 came on his 12th lap shod on softs. He ran 25 laps and was the fifth-fastest driver. Magnussen's best time was 1:19.180 also set on softs. He ran 27 laps and posted the seventh-quickest time.
Speeds picked up and lap times dropped in FP2. Grosjean began the session on the Pirelli P Zero White hard tire before switching to the softs and concluding the session with another brief run on hards. His fast lap of 1:18.153 came on his 13th lap shod on softs and was .790 of a second better than his fast lap in FP1. He ran 42 laps during the session. Magnussen began FP2 on mediums before transitioning to softs and finishing on mediums. His best lap of 1:18.355 came on his 17th lap, also on softs, and was a .825-of-a-second improvement over his best lap in FP1. Magnussen completed 40 laps.
Rich Energy Haas F1 Team ran a total of 134 laps - 67 each by Grosjean and Magnussen - during the two sessions.
Romain Grosjean: "It was good today, I think both our cars behaved really well. We got the tires working, had some pace, so it was much more fun in the car. We're still evaluating everything with the package, we can probably find a bit more from it. It's always tricky when you get a new one to find the right set-up around it. I think the biggest thing today was getting the tires to work, it just wasn't the same car. I could actually enjoy driving it, I knew what I was going to get. The tires were gripping, they weren't sliding and going away and destroying themselves. It was a big difference. It's a bit of a shame we've got to put in so much effort for a piece of rubber, but clearly it shows where we need to improve. We need to do more, especially for Monaco and Canada, but coming back here and being able to enjoy two good sessions, it shows that the problem has not been our chassis, it's related to tire usage. It's been a positive day, I've enjoyed driving the car. I'm sure there's going to be more to come from it."
Kevin Magnussen: "They were good practice sessions. The car felt good - but it's not like the car hasn't felt good in other practice sessions this year. We're still cautious in our expectations I guess. Our long runs seemed better than in previous races, so I guess there's reason to be slightly more positive. We've just got to keep working. We need to try and understand why it's better today, to see what we can learn and take with us for the future. Romain (Grosjean) ran the upgrades today, and I ran what we've been using all season - so we could have a direct comparison and get the data in the same conditions at the same time. I think that was all positive, there's stuff to fine tune on that. We're seeing what we expected, so that's good."
Guenther Steiner: "Well, obviously it's been a better Friday than in Baku, but we've still got a lot of work to do to understand our new aero package. It looks like we've got some of the speed back into the car from the beginning of the season. The obvious thing I'm going to say now is that it's all in the tires, but that's what it is. If we get the tires to work, if we get them in their temperature range, they work, and it seems we're fine. We'll keep focused for qualifying and the race and try to get the best from this opportunity."
Check out our Friday gallery from Barcelona, here.