Overcast conditions greeted the team this morning, with heavy cloud cover keeping track temperatures low for the first free practice session, but the threat of rain never materialised and the sun came out in time for the afternoon session.
Both Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet completed busy programmes as the team evaluated tyre options and gathered valuable set-up data in preparation for Sunday’s race. By the end of the second session Fernando was at the top of the timesheets, while Nelson finished the day in the top ten. Having completed most of its objectives, the team’s attention now turns to maximising the final free practice session tomorrow morning to be ready for the all-important qualifying session.
Fernando Alonso: “We had a small engine problem at the end of the morning session but my mechanics did a remarkable job to fix the car and we were able to continue our free practice programme this afternoon without any problems. We tried several new elements that we ran in the test last week and everything went well and we completed our programme. Looking ahead to qualifying tomorrow, I think that our level of performance is rather encouraging.”
Nelson Piquet: “The day has gone well. We have been able to do a lot of running and as a result collected lots of data, which I hope will allow us to continue improving after we have been through it this evening. We still need to make some small changes to improve the behaviour of the car, but overall I am satisfied with this first day. It’s certainly a good start to the weekend.”
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering: “We had an engine problem this morning, which was unfortunate, but at least it happened towards the end of the session and so it didn’t have too much of an impact on our programme. We spent most of the day evaluating various different approaches for the race, and while it’s always good to see your car at the top of the timesheets, we know that this is not always a true indication of our ultimate level of performance. Nonetheless, both cars completed their programmes today and we have some useful information, which is a good basis for the rest of the weekend.”
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Track Operations: “We had an engine problem this morning with Fernando, which is never a good thing, but it only happened in the final ten minutes of the session, and so it did not have too much of an impact on our programme today. We completed most of what we wanted to and so we end the day with some interesting data. Our two drivers have made good progress and we have learned a lot of things, which leaves us in good shape to continue our progress tomorrow.”