So far so good in Suzuka
A Friday like so many others this season in Suzuka, which today saw the first two free practice sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix. The 150º Italia cars completed a total of 118 laps (57 with Fernando Alonso and four more for Felipe Massa,) equivalent to 685 kilometres. Work centred mainly on evaluating different aerodynamic configurations and on the performance of the two types of tyre – Soft and Medium – brought to this fascinating circuit by Pirelli.
“This year we have seen all the teams go through so many highs and lows, with the exception of Red Bull, depending on which track we are at, so we should not be too surprised if today it seems that we have done better than in Singapore for example. And then, today is only Friday: it’s happened before that the first day has been like this and then we have not managed to do any better than fifth in qualifying. In fact, I don’t think that things are so different to what they were two weeks ago, especially as our cars are pretty much unchanged.
We hope to be able to fight with McLaren and Red Bull, but we know it won’t be easy. What we can say is that the feeling from today is a little bit more encouraging than in previous races. Also, we must bear in mind that the races have been much more open than in the past, when the final result did not differ that much from the grid positions: strategy, tyre degradation and DRS create much more uncertainty and spectacle. For example, I think that here we will see a lot more overtaking than in past years.”
“Overall, it was a good day: compared to so many other Fridays this year, the first impressions are better. The car behaved reasonably well, but it’s also true we will not know where we are compared to the others until tomorrow afternoon. We worked a lot on defining the best set-up, learning important things for the rest of the weekend.
Tyre degradation seems to be rather significant, which will make the race even more open in terms of strategy: finding the right set-up on the car won’t be the easiest of jobs. Maybe we can fight for a podium finish and it’s a realistic goal. Sure, I always want to be able to fight for the win: it’s true that Red Bull has a significant advantage, but we must continue to believe in ourselves, because in the races, anything can happen.”
We had various different aerodynamic elements to compare
“It is always difficult to evacuate precisely the relative strengths through the field on Friday evening, because we do not know exactly what our main opponents were doing, especially when it comes to the fuel loads they ran during the three hours of free practice. Therefore, it’s better to concentrate on our own efforts and try and prepare as well as possible for the rest of the weekend. We had various different aerodynamic elements to compare and that was the bulk of what we did in the first session.
It’s important also when looking to next year, because it means you can go into greater detail when it comes to the correlation between the track and the wind tunnel. This afternoon, tyres were the dominant item during the ninety minutes: this track is very tough on tyres and it will be some challenge to find the right balance on the car, both for qualifying and the race.”
Ferrari fans, check out our new sister site FerrariCircuit.com