Force India had a pretty forgettable opening day in Spain, while McLaren’s ongoing problems gave Fernando Alonso time for a spot of tennis.
Esteban Ocon: “It’s been a fairly routine Friday, going through our programme without any dramas. We were able to cover a lot of ground and test some development items. Now our focus goes back to the task of preparing for tomorrow’s qualifying. The conditions out there weren’t ideal today: it was very windy and the tyres are very hard, meaning it was difficult to find grip. The soft compound is the one that works best on this track and it’s going to be a challenge to work with the others. We have some work to do tonight, but I am confident we’ll be well prepared for the rest of the weekend.”
Sergio Perez: “The grip levels were low and it was very difficult to get the hard tyre compound to work. I suspect we will not see much of it on track for the rest of the weekend as the medium and soft compounds are much more representative of what we need for qualifying and the race. We have a lot to do to understand the data we collected today. Of course, when you are testing a lot of different things, it’s tricky to set the car up, but I think we now have a good base on which to build.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “I’ve definitely had one of my best Fridays so far. It’s the first time that I’ve had a Friday this season without any big problems – we ran through our programme without any big issues, so that was good. Everything ran smoothly on my side, however, we saw that on Fernando’s side it was a bit more complex. Unfortunately, he missed FP1 and didn’t do so many laps in FP2, so it still shows that reliability is one of the key issues we have to work on for the next few races. We’ve brought quite a few upgrades to this race, but at the moment it’s different to judge any of them individually. At the moment, everything is working pretty much as expected, and tonight there’s a lot to analyse to see exactly how the day ran. Hopefully tomorrow we can fine-tune everything a bit, and extract a little bit more.”
Fernando Alonso: “Obviously, it’s not an ideal start to the weekend as we completely missed the first practice session because of an engine problem. At least I managed to get some training done – when I heard I had two hours before the next commitment I decided to do just that. I’ve had very little time in the last few weeks to train, and my dedication is still 100 per cent on my fitness and my preparation. The poor show in the afternoon session was due to the fact that first of all, you need to calibrate the engine when you put in a new power unit, so in the first couple of runs the power was a little bit inconsistent. We ran out of time, so we put on a new set of tyres even though not everything was calibrated. Towards the end of the session, when we put in more fuel and we were running in similar conditions to everyone else, we were doing more or less the lap time we were expecting, close to our main competitors for the race. I feel confident that tomorrow, when we’ll put everything together, we’ll be in a more or less competitive position and hopefully we can be close to the others.”
Marcus Ericsson: “It has been a positive day. We have introduced some new parts today which have worked as expected. Furthermore, we have tested different set-ups that helped us to make the car a bit more competitive. The runs on the medium and hard tyres felt rather difficult, but on the soft tyres we could improve, especially in FP2, which is positive for tomorrow. We need to keep pushing in order to make more steps.”
Pascal Wehrlein: “A typical Friday practice session, on which we were able to collect some valuable data from the car, especially with regard to the new parts. It is difficult to make predictions yet as we also had some issues with the car today. We still need to fully understand why this was the case. However, I am optimistic that we can improve the car for tomorrow.”