Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg completed the first day of the Indian Grand Prix in fourth and sixth positions respectively after three hours of free practice today. Both men are by now convinced it will be difficult to beat Red Bull and are therefore aiming to qualify on row 2.
Just like most other teams, the morning session was mainly about setting up the car while in the afternoon both Mercedes drivers conducted a tyre comparison and race simulationwork. In total, the drivers completed 120 laps - equivalent to exactly two race distances - during today's practice sessions.
Lewis Hamilton is confident of the progress made during the day, even though there's some work left to be done overnight.
"We made some good progress over the two practice sessions today", Hamilton said. "This morning wasn't so good but we completed a lot of laps this afternoon and made some good progress. It's difficult to get the set-up right here and this circuit is pretty tough on the tyres so I think everyone was struggling with the soft compound. Our car feels pretty good at this early stage but there are definitely some areas we can improve overnight. We're working towards a strong qualifying performance tomorrow afternoon, ideally on the second row, and then hopefully a place on the podium, that would be nice."
Team mate Nico Rosberg was even more clear about the possibilities for the remainder of the weekend, saying out loud that he believes the Reb Rulls will be nearly unbeatable at India.
That was quite a tough day for us: we learned a lot but still have a lot of work ahead tonight so that I can find the best set-up", Rosberg said. "Generally, it seems that the main question this weekend is who can get third position behind the two Red Bulls, because they look pretty unstoppable at this circuit. But I'm confident we will have a role to play in that battle tomorrow and on Sunday.
Just like the racing drivers, Brawn and Wolff said they expect a close fight, but unlikely for the first rows. Lotus and Ferrari indeed look equally strong on the longer runs as well and and may even have the edge due to the softer rubber that Pirelli brought.
"Friday times are always hard to read because of the different fuel loads that teams run, so trying to predict the exact competitive order is more like gazing into a crystal ball than anything else", Wolff said. "We didn't have a perfect day when you compare our pace to that of Red Bull but we put in 120 laps so there's lots of information the engineers will be working through tonight. I am sure it will be a close fight with our direct rivals Lotus and Ferrari, as it has been at recent race weekends. We all know how important it is to extract the full potential of our package tomorrow and most importantly on Sunday."