McLaren found themselves in the top 10 through Fernando Alonso while Max Verstappen gets the better of team-mate Carlos Sainz in FP2.
Sergio Perez: “It was a solid day of practice and I’m happy with the work we’ve done today. There are still some things we need to change and analyse to improve for tomorrow, but I’m already feeling confident with the car. Track conditions were very good and the temperatures were quite cool compared with previous years. We managed to do long runs on both tyre compounds so we’ve got a lot of information to prepare for the race.”
Nico Hulkenberg: “It has been a pretty straightforward day of practice – getting through the programme with no dramas and collecting a lot of data. The performance looks good, but it’s only Friday and I would expect everybody to step up their game tomorrow ahead of qualifying. The car has shown good potential, but there is still work to be done to improve the balance, especially during the long runs where I didn’t feel totally happy. On the whole though, we’ve done a lot of our homework and things are going to plan.”
Fernando Alonso: “I think eighth is pretty representative of our true position today. This circuit suits the characteristics of our car – it’s very different from Monza and Spa. So, since this track is favourable to us, we must try our best to take this opportunity and really deliver. I’m also happy with the changes to the layout of the circuit since last year. The track should be safer now, and probably will offer a better opportunity for overtaking, as in turn 13 now there’s a very wide entry, so we’ll see different racing lines there on Sunday, and hopefully some action too.”
Jenson Button: “My day was okay, but it’s always tricky to get a balance at this place. There were a few issues that we had on the lower-fuel runs; we just didn’t have the right balance at all. I think Fernando had a reasonable balance – we were on a different spec of engine today. I was running on an older spec of engine at the end of its life. We should be able to find more performance tomorrow – hopefully we’ll be up where Fernando was today, and then you have a good fight on our hands to try to get into Q3. On our long-run pace, the first three teams are so fast, a couple of seconds quicker than the rest. So we’ll do the best we can tomorrow and Sunday and see where we stand. I’m looking forward to it though. It’s going to be much more exciting than the last two races were, because at least we’re in the fight here. I think we’ll be in the middle of the pack, hopefully.”
Max Verstappen: “It’s my first time driving here, so in FP1 this morning I had to learn the track and we took it easy. I improved quite a lot and I’m happy with today’s progress. I didn’t touch the wall, managed to stay out of trouble and was able to get a lot of track time, which is always important. This morning we were also validating all the new updates on the car and it was a good first session. FP2 also started well and the performance was good, especially on the Soft tyre. We still need to work a bit on the car balance regarding the Supersoft, so we will make sure we do it tonight. I have to say that physically, this is the toughest track so far this year, but I’m coping well as we trained very hard before getting here.”
Carlos Sainz: “FP1 was a good session for us. We managed to complete our programme and learn the circuit, which was my main objective here today. FP2 wasn’t that straight-forward unfortunately – I kissed the wall at Turn 5 and I suddenly had a puncture which ended up damaging the floor a bit… So we needed to change it and lost some track time, which made it quite a difficult session, but it’s better that it happened today and not tomorrow or Sunday! It felt very warm out there, you really sweat a lot, but we’ve trained very well for this race and I’m happy to confirm that all that hard work is now paying off.”