Three hours of free practice packed with work for Scuderia Ferrari at this first day of the European Grand Prix, which takes place on the street circuit of Valencia in Spain. There were a lot of items to tick off the technical job sheet on the day and there was not a moment’s rest in the garage and the surrounding areas that are home to the engineers, with the entire team working to get through the plan. Neither did the drivers skimp in their efforts, with Fernando Alonso completing 60 laps, five more than his team-mate Felipe Massa: this means the two F2012s racked up a total of over six hundred kilometres on the Valencian track.
“Overall, it’s been a positive day, during which we tried various updates on the car: some worked well, others need some modifying and then they might be used at Silverstone. Naturally, we also worked a lot on the tyres, which seem to degrade quite significantly here. On this topic, we have to take into account that conditions can change rapidly according to the cloud cover. With the sky completely clear, the track temperature can easily go up by four or five degrees and change the behaviour of the tyres. Now we need to analyse carefully all the data that Felipe and I have gathered and then put together the best combination of set-up and technical solutions for qualifying and the race. This year, pole position seems to be less important than in the past and I think that is the case even on a track like this: it is always important to be first away, obviously, but it doesn’t mean that if you start further back you have no chance of winning. The championship? I’m not here to do the score sheet, I’m only thinking of race by race. Today, Hamilton is ahead of me, so the objective is to leave Valencia ahead of him and then, maybe in Silverstone, Vettel will be first, so he will be the target.”
“We did a huge amount of work on development of the updates we brought here and now, with the data in our hands, we will try and choose those things that can give us an improvement in performance terms already right from this weekend. This morning I worked mainly on a series of aerodynamic comparisons, so I definitely did not use the tyres or the car in the best way possible. The afternoon went much better, when I was pleased with the balance and the car’s handling out on track. It’s a shame I made a mistake on my first timed lap on the Soft tyres, right at the start of the lap: my time, also taking into account I was one of the first to switch to the Option, could definitely have been better and I could have ended up significantly higher on the final time sheet, for what that’s worth on a Friday afternoon. There is still much work to be done, because I expect we will see some cars going very quickly tomorrow, but also over a distance, the situation is not too bad: there’s a bit of a performance drop from the tyres, but all in all, the times were good. The wind? It was a nuisance, especially at some points of the track where it made it very easy to lock the fronts.”
“Once again this Friday, we had various new components to test, some with the aim of using them in this race and others for the rest of the season. It shows above all that the effort we are putting into improving the performance of the F2012 is still very intensive and the fact the first indications are matching our expectations is a positive sign that confirms the trend we have seen reasonably constantly so far this season. We managed to get through our planned programme without any real problems, which is always a good thing and of course, we also worked on a comparison between the two types of tyre that Pirelli has brought here to Valencia. Now, it’s down to our engineers to decide on the best choices for qualifying and the race. Usually, the first day here, the track is very dirty and that means the lap times evolve very quickly. It’s also true that this will still be a consideration in tomorrow’s qualifying, when it will be important to pick the right moment to do the timed laps in order to get the most out of the tyres.”