The Renault F1 Team's Fernando Alonso experienced a day of mixed fortunes: while he didn't run into as many problems as team-mate Jarno Trulli, he nevertheless experienced his fair share, escaping unscathed from a puncture under braking from 300...
The Renault F1 Team's Fernando Alonso experienced a day of mixed fortunes: while he didn't run into as many problems as team-mate Jarno Trulli, he nevertheless experienced his fair share, escaping unscathed from a puncture under braking from 300 kph and also contending with a hydraulic problem that limited his running. But in spite of this, he was in positive mood after the first two practice sessions.
"I enjoyed myself today," he enthused. "For me, it is always fun to discover a new circuit and, during the first few laps, you have to find the right lines, and learn the track. It is a brand new layout, and interesting for us. There are a number of corners that are quite similar, all very slow hairpins, but the rest of the circuit requires very different things from the car: it must perform well at high speed, have good traction and be good on the brakes. It is a big challenge."
And what about for the drivers? What are the challenges there? "Well, to be honest, I think it is quite an easy track: you have lots of time on the straights to breathe, and take a bit of a rest. But having said that, you must stay completely concentrated throughout: if you go off line just a small way, the tyres get very dirty and you need half a lap, maybe a whole lap, to get the same feeling with the car."
So how did the first day go? Fernando makes it clear that the programme was part of a clear strategy: "We had a small problem which meant things were not quite perfect, but we tried not to change the car set-up too much," he concluded. "The track was improving all the time, so it was hard to know whether it was the track changing or the car improving. That meant it was important for us not to get confused or make any wrong decisions which could hamper us tomorrow. We will work hard this evening and overnight with the engineers to get things right, and then go to work tomorrow morning."
On the other side of the garage, the same optimism reigned - in spite of a tough day. "Sure, it was bad luck," shrugged Jarno. "but it is better to have a small problem like that today, than on Sunday. I think we are competitive so even if we didn't do many laps, we can be confident for tomorrow."