Kimi Raikkonen leads the way at the Circuit de Catalunya after being fastest in both practice sessions. McLaren look to be in trouble and Renault were the surprise of the day.
Here are my notes on the Spanish Grand Prix practice.
Ferrari – Kimi Raikkonen was on top in both sessions, and was 1.3s quicker in the morning than the afternoon. Felipe Massa was only 0.05s behind him in the first session, but they had a healthy advantage of half a second over Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren.
BMW – This year BMW have tended to have a quiet Friday before letting rip on Saturday. Robert Kubica was fourth fastest in the first session, 0.9s off the Ferraris.
Renault – The surprise of practice so far, with both their drivers within a second of Raikkonen in the second (slower) session, Nelson Piquet Jnr ahead of Fernando Alonso. Alonso has been keen to play down th estep forward the team appear to have taken since last week’s test, and said afterwards:
Five minutes before those times we were position 15 so we cannot be confused about the position at the end of the day and we need to look more to the previous position – and P15 is not as we want it.
We found some big difficulties in terms of traction, and some oversteer in the car, that we didn’t sort out through the sessions. So we still need to work tonight because we were not extremely happy with the car today.
Williams – The common assumption is that in the afternoon session most teams were running race fuel settings. In which case, Williams have respectable pace – the cars were fourth and seventh and Nico Rosberg said: “The car performed well at Catalunya throughout winter testing, so it should run well in the race.”
Red Bull – Sixth and eighth in the afternoon, Mark Webber expects to start the race from the top ten again.
Toyota – At a track which cam flummox teams with conditions that change at the least notice, Toyota looked lost. A downcast Jarno Trulli was 14th in both sessions, Timo Glock 11th in the first and only ahead of the Super Aguris in the second.
Toro Rosso – Neither driver broke out of the bottom five.
Honda - Running the ‘Dumbo’ wings and new front wheel fairings the team nonetheless struggled to achieve balance in the set up. Jenson Button was tenth in first practice.
Super Aguri - Rumours claimed that only the arrival of a new backer yesterday could guarantee the team would participate this weekend. In the end, that didn’t happen, but Honda stepped in with a reputed 200,000 dollars to last them until Monday. With no sponsor decals on the car bar Honda or Bridgestone, the team looks as though it is on borrowed time. Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato propped up the time sheets in both sessions.
Force India – Seemed to cope with the changes in conditions well, with both drivers in the top ten in the afternoon.
McLaren – Lewis Hamilton was third in the morning behind the Ferraris but both cars stopped with technical problems in the second session, Heikki Kovalainen only doing eight laps. Could this be a repeat of the gearbox problems that caused panic in Melbourne?