Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella both finished in the top ten after three busy hours of practice, and completed almost two full race distances in total as they learned the circuit and the team fine-tuned the car set-up. As is usual on...
Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella both finished in the top ten after three busy hours of practice, and completed almost two full race distances in total as they learned the circuit and the team fine-tuned the car set-up.
As is usual on Friday, the drivers compared the two types of Bridgestone Potenza tyre available this weekend (the soft and medium compounds) over both short and long runs, as well as tuning the car set-up for race conditions.
The R27 performed well and for much of the day, and both drivers achieved a relatively neutral handling balance. They will continue working overnight with their engineers to consolidate their positive start to the weekend in tomorrow morning's final practice session.
"I am pretty happy after today's sessions. This was our first day at a new track, and I think we did a good job: we completed a lot of laps, there were no problems and the mechanics worked very well to get through the set-up changes in our programme. We made progress with the car all through the day, and I think that once we have gone through the data this evening, we will see that there is still a little bit more performance still to come."
"In terms of the track itself, I found it quite fun to drive. As we expected, it is very smooth so there are no big problems in terms of our comfort, but I think the key section is definitely the last five turns. They are very slow, and you are always tempted to over-drive this part of the lap."
"However, the car is very light on downforce because the speeds are low, so you have to be patient and really work hard on the mechanical grip and on being very smooth with the driving style. I think I got to grips with the circuit quickly, and I am looking forward to another competitive day tomorrow."
"The balance of the car wasn't fantastic this morning, but we made some good changes at lunchtime, and then carried on moving forward during the afternoon session. We did a lot of laps, explored some different directions with the set-up, and we know where we can improve for tomorrow."
"The track itself is quite nice to drive. We knew it was not going to be a match for Suzuka, but there are still some challenging sections: the final part where you can gain a lot of time, and even the quicker corners through turns 3/4/5, where you need to carry a lot of speed and get the perfect line to be quick. Overall, I think this was a good first day, and now we have to work hard to make more progress overnight."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer:
"This was a positive first day for the team. As soon as we began running, we could see that our simulations had served us well, as the car was immediately well-balanced -- and that meant we hit the ground running with our programme. We steadily improved the set-ups on both cars, and completed our normal tyre evaluation work."
"Both tyre types are working well, and we don't anticipate they will pose any problems in the race. Looking at our competitiveness, I think we are in our normal position, at the head of the midfield group. Our long run pace seemed encouraging, and we will work on fine-tuning our single lap performance tomorrow morning."
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Track Operations:
"Our main priority today was to run a trouble-free programme and to complete as many laps as possible. The track and weather conditions were ideally suited to this, and we managed to collect all the relevant information."
"In spite of the long straight, this is not a particularly demanding circuit for the V8, but it demands plenty of fine-tuning as we have never run here before. We have the data we need to complete this work, and there is now a busy evening ahead to ensure we are fully prepared for qualifying tomorrow.
Free Practice 1: 1:20.851, 23 laps
Free Practice 2: 1:19.926, 39 laps
Free Practice 1: 1:20.718, 27 laps
Free Practice 2: 1:19.789, 40 laps