Bridgestone’s soft tyre took Red Bull Racing driver Sebastian Vettel to the fastest time of the day at a cool and cloudy Circuit de Catalunya on the opening day of the Spanish Grand Prix. Vettel set a time of 1min 19.965secs in the afternoon session, leaving him quickest from team-mate Mark Webber.
Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team driver Michael Schumacher was third fastest. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the morning practice session, using the hard compound Bridgestone Potenza.
Q&A with Hirohide Hamashima - Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tyre Development
What was significant about today’s running? “Today was rather cold for Barcelona in May, and it did take slightly longer for our tyres to warm-up than we would see in hotter conditions. In fact, today’s weather was quite similar in some respects to that seen at the test here in February, so there were not many surprises. The track temperature was warmer in the afternoon and we did see a good improvement in grip from the track surface. Lap times were quick, with Vettel’s time faster than the overall lap record for pole, so we can expect some fast times if it remains dry this weekend.”
How do you expect this allocation to work over the weekend? “We evaluated the hard compound after the first practice session and there was graining on this tyre, and in particular on the front left. This was the same for the soft tyre in the afternoon session, especially when it was used with heavy fuel loads. The graining on the hard tyre was far less in the afternoon, thanks to the improved track surface. Controlling the graining on the soft tyre will be the challenge for all competitors this weekend. Of course, as we have seen many times so far this season, the weather and potential for rain is also a factor.”