Teams got to grips with the resurfaced Barcelona circuit during a race weekend for the first time during free practice, with track temperatures of 32 degrees in FP1 and 36 degrees in FP2. Mercedes was in front after both sessions, using the soft tyres on each occasion.
While today's times were much faster than last year's equivalent, nobody has yet beaten the best time of 1m17.182s set in pre-season testing on the hypersoft.
The performance gap between supersoft to soft is currently around 0.4 seconds while it's roughly double that between soft and medium: approximately 0.7 seconds. This offers quite a wide variety of strategic combinations.
Mario Isola: "There were no real surprises from our point of view in free practice, as we made a number of track measurements before the start of the weekend that gave us some indications of what to expect. The tyres all have a tread that is 0.4 millimetres thinner than before to avoid overheating and blistering here, and so far, we have seen that this has worked, without compromising tyre life either as degradation here on the new surface is quite low anyway. The track has been used a lot since the new asphalt was laid and it's lost a bit of the sticky surface bitumen, which means that grip levels have been more variable than before. Today, drivers have also been affected by the wind altering the aerodynamic balance, as is often the case here, which made it difficult to find the right braking point; but in the end the gaps at the top are quite close."