The Honda Racing F1 Team was back in action today at the Shanghai International Circuit, just five days after its home Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway in Japan.
Both cars ran reliably throughout the three-hours of practice ahead of Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix and completed a total of 126 laps of the 5.451km (3.387-mile) circuit. Such is the demanding nature of the track, with its mix of slow, medium and high-speed corners that the drivers and engineers had to work methodically through a programme of set-up changes and tyre comparisons.
Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello were the first in the field to complete flying laps during the morning session. Most of their runs were in batches of five laps and Jenson emerged the quicker of the two drivers with a best lap of 1:37.619s, which placed him 12th overall. Rubens was just 0.2s behind his team-mate.
During the break between today's sessions, the drivers and engineers made changes to the set-up of the cars, before taking to the track in windier conditions this afternoon. Jenson was again slightly quicker, with a best lap of 1:37.800s. He ended the day in 19th position, with Rubens just 0.1s adrift.
What particular issues did you face in practice?
Jenson Button: "We were struggling to find a good balance today and unfortunately nothing that we tried improved the car. The problem seems to be that we find the limit of this car fairly quickly and that can be seen on Friday mornings when we are reasonably competitive. After that, we are unable to make further improvements. It's frustrating but as always we will make the best of what we have."
A tough first day of practice in Shanghai for you?
Rubens Barrichello: "Much as we expected to find at this circuit, the car is lacking performance here. It has been difficult to find a balance and the car is not particularly nice to drive with problems with both understeer and oversteer. The traction is also poor and we have a lot of work to achieve overnight to try and make improvements before qualifying tomorrow."
A better start to the day this morning, but you were unable to carry this through to the afternoon. Why was this?
Steve Clark, Head of Race & Test Engineering: "This morning we conducted our usual tyre and set-up evaluations and did some good work with downforce levels. This afternoon it has been difficult to find a balance with the car and we were graining the tyres early on, so we weren't getting the first lap performance. We don't believe our performance is quite as bad as the timesheet suggests, as we were doing sensible race preparation as opposed to qualifying runs. Nonetheless, we are still expecting this to be a tough weekend for us."