Both cars encountered problems with their front suspension uprights in the first free practice session. After careful analysis, the team identified a material defect linked to a specific batch of components. For the afternoon session, the team reverted to a different batch and ran without any issues.
Nick Heidfeld: "Because of the issues this morning, we didn't run very much at all today. We therefore had to prioritise what we did in the afternoon and we felt it was best to do a long run on the soft tyres. Although we didn't do many laps, we got some data and we learned a few things, especially about the high degradation rate of the softs. Considering that we did no real set-up work today, it's quite encouraging that I was in the top ten in both sessions. We now have to concentrate on making good progress in the final practice session tomorrow morning."
Vitaly Petrov: "It wasn't the best day. The problem in the morning was quite a surprise and we decided not to run until late in the afternoon when we had understood things properly. When I did finally get out, the car felt fine, but the time we had was very limited and we didn't really manage to do any set-up work. As we expected, the degradation rates are very high here, especially for the soft tyres, but they definitely had more grip and were a couple of seconds quicker than the hard. However, tomorrow is a new day and I think we can still have a good weekend."
Alan Permane, Chief Engineer: "It was difficult to learn anything today. The issues this morning limited our mileage in both sessions and it's difficult to draw too many conclusions. Due to the lack of running, neither driver was able to make much progress with their set-up programmes and we have a lot of work to do to improve the handling."
James Allison, Technical Director: "Both Vitaly and Nick suffered failures under braking in the front uprights early in the first session. As a precaution we stopped running the cars until we had understood the problem. We quickly established that the two failed items had come from the same material batch and that nothing from this batch had run prior to today. It took a little longer to rule out other potential causes but once we were confident that the failures were related to a material problem we released the cars for the second half of afternoon practice where they ran without problem."