F. Massa: 1st 1.15.306 22 laps chassis 267 K. Raikkonen: 4th 1.16.073 21 laps chassis 270 Weather: air 22/21C, track 23/27C, cloudy. Free Practice - Second session F. Massa: 2nd 1.15.854 24 laps chassis 267 K. Raikkonen: 3rd 1.15.999 42 laps...
F. Massa: 1st 1.15.306 22 laps chassis 267
K. Raikkonen: 4th 1.16.073 21 laps chassis 270
Weather: air 22/21C, track 23/27C, cloudy.
Free Practice - Second session
F. Massa: 2nd 1.15.854 24 laps chassis 267
K. Raikkonen: 3rd 1.15.999 42 laps chassis 270
Weather: air temperature 24C, track temperature 36/37C, partially cloudy.
A lot of work completed by Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro in these three hours of free practice on the first day of the French Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa covered around 500 kilometres (64 laps for the Finn and 45 for the Brazilian.) It means the team now has plenty of data to work on with a view to qualifying and especially the race. "Overall, it was a good start to this race weekend," commented the Team Principal of the Gestione Sportiva, Stefano Domenicali. "Both drivers declared themselves pleased with the handling of the F2008 on this track. In evaluating the results, the usual unknowns come into consideration, these being the fuel taken on by the other teams and their work schedule, but we can say we are confident for the rest of the weekend. Coming off the back of two negative results, having not fulfilled our potential, it's time to get back to our usual standards."
Felipe Massa: "It was a good day, apart from a slightly tight neck which I began to feel this morning: so as not to take any risks, I chose to avoid doing too many runs of several laps. I therefore concentrated on the car's set-up, working with both types of tyre. On the softer ones, it seems to be a little bit harder to find the right balance, but we must take into account that today, as usual on a Friday, the track is still dirty. Everyone suffered a bit with graining on the front tyres, but tomorrow the situation should improve. We must study all the data we have gathered to prepare as well as possible for qualifying and the race."
Kimi Raikkonen: "I am happy with the way things went during these two free practice sessions. We got through all our usual Friday job list, working mainly towards the race. Of course we don't know how much fuel our main rivals were running, but I get the impression we are very competitive. Maybe I did not get the most out of the first lap, but I am happy with the balance of the car. We tried out this new system for a Safety Car period and I think it could be a good solution because it puts everyone in the same situation and that way,you can't be penalized just by unfortunate circumstances."
Luca Baldisserri: "Because Felipe was suffering with a stiff neck this morning, we slightly modified the two drivers' programmes from the usual ones. The Brazilian concentrated on defining the best set-up on the car, while Kimi also had to tackle the task of evaluating the behaviour of both types of Bridgestone tyre available to us. We are happy with the work we did today: the F2008 seemed to be going well on this track and that means we can be cautiously confident for the rest of the weekend."
Stiff competition, stiff neck
For once, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa had a slightly different Friday programme to usual, although unfortunately, it was not done simply for the sake of giving them some variety, but because the Brazilian driver had a slightly stiff neck which developed in the morning. This part of the driver's body always comes under a lot of strain because of the G-forces they experience going through corners and through braking and accelerating. Therefore Felipe's day was divided into short bursts of track activity, thus leaving the long runs, necessary to analyse tyre behaviour, cooling and other factors, to his team-mate. Massa will now receive treatment from the team physio.
There was stiff competition on the track, with Fernando Alonso posting the fastest time at the end of the day, at his team Renault's home race. Felipe and Kimi took their F2008s to second and third places respectively in the afternoon, after the former had been fastest in the morning and the latter fourth. The Spaniard and the two Scuderia men were the only drivers to break the 1m 16" barrier and the top thirteen all ended up within the same second. Fourth fastest was Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren-Mercedes, ahead of the Ferrari powered Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel, while Canada winner Robert Kubica was sixth for BMW-Sauber. Apart from a few drops of rain several hours before the start of the first session, the day has been dry, hot and sunny and this is forecast to continue for Saturday's grid-deciding qualifying session.
At the end of the afternoon session, the FIA had organised for all drivers to try a new running regime for when the Safety Car has to be deployed during races. The plan is to avoid the situation where, through no fault of his own, a driver has to come into pit lane to refuel in order not to run out of fuel on the circuit, which so far this year could lead to a penalty if the pit lane was officially deemed to be "closed."