A day of mixed fortunes for the ING Renault F1 Team during the opening practice sessions for the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Giancarlo Fisichella completed a trouble-free day as he ran through a technical programme including brake wear evaluation, tyre behaviour analysis and set-up changes to fine-tune the handling balance of the R27. He ran in the top ten throughout both sessions, and on both types of tyre, and was encouraged by the car's performance and balance. Heikki Kovalainen's work was cut short by a brush with the wall during the second session, which left him unable to return to the pits, and meant he was unable to complete his work. He was nevertheless encouraged by the car's handling, and remains optimistic of an improved performance tomorrow.
Giancarlo Fisichella: I think this was a good first day for us, and the performance seems quite good. Everybody could see that the track was very dirty and low grip today, so it wasn't easy to work on the balance as the conditions were changing all the time. But we made some good improvements, and the car felt good by the end of the second session. My feeling with the car is similar to the low downforce test we did at Paul Ricard, and the handling is much more consistent, which confirms the step forward we made in Monaco. In terms of the tyres, we had a lot of graining on the soft tyre, and even some on the hard compound. That will lessen as the grip improves, but it will still be quite tough to find the right race strategy, I think. Thank you once again to the guys at the factory for all their hard work, because I can feel that the car is improving each weekend. We have made a good start, and I hope we will be able to race with BMW, who are our main rivals this weekend.
Heikki Kovalainen: It was disappointing to hit the wall this afternoon and lose running time in the second session, but this is a demanding circuit where one small mistake can cost you a lot. Apart from that small error, though, I think it was quite a good start to the weekend. The car balance felt pretty good this morning: the handling was neutral, and I could attack the braking zones well. My timed lap wasn't perfect, but the package felt quite competitive. In terms of the second session, there isn't much to say: I had one run on old tyres, then went out on the softer tyre but I made a mistake in turn 7, ran wide on the exit and hit the wall quite hard. It damaged the suspension, but also punctured the rear tyre, which meant I couldn't make it back to the pits. I did enough laps today to learn the circuit, and the challenge now will be to find the right set-up in the final session, and get comfortable using both types of tyre.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: Montreal is an arduous circuit in many respects, and particularly for the brakes and tyres. Our work today therefore concentrated on running with high fuel loads to see the real potential of the two tyre compounds, and how our brakes are standing up to the challenges of this circuit. Giancarlo enjoyed a very satisfying day on circuit that we know he enjoys, and our first analysis of the times suggests that the progress we saw in Monaco seems to be continuing here. Unfortunately, Heikki's afternoon was spoiled when he understeered into the wall at turn 7, which brought his work to an early end.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Track Operations: As we are unable to test at this circuit before the race, our Friday programmes for both cars were full and busy, focusing on tuning engine mapping, analysing top speeds and selecting gear ratios. That was reflected by the fact that Giancarlo completed a significant number of laps, almost completing a full race distance during the day. The low grip conditions also meant we saw a number of cars hit the wall, and unfortunately, Heikki's was among them. That left us with a little less data than we had hoped for, but it won't penalise us. In terms of relative performance, it is always hard to judge on Friday, especially given the unusual programmes that teams sometimes run at this circuit. But I think Giancarlo's times in particular were encouraging, with good top speeds for both drivers, and we will hope to see this confirmed tomorrow.
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