Nick and Vitaly got underway at the familiar Circuit de Cataluña today, as free practice began at the Spanish GP.

What we learned today:

• Both drivers tried Pirelli’s new ‘super hard’ hard compound. It is very hard and quite a bit slower than the soft.

• Vitaly’s car was slower without KERS in operation but today’s problem will be rectified by tomorrow.

• Based on what we have seen today, it is increasingly competitive again, but Q3 and good points in the race are realistic targets this weekend.

Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer – Technical programme notes

• It was a reasonably routine Friday for us apart from running a slightly different programme to help us understand the new hard Pirelli tyre.

• We ran both drivers with high and low fuel loads on the hard tyres to get as much information as possible from this new compound.

• The KERS on Vitaly’s car did not work today, but we’re reasonably confident we can get to the bottom of the problem and have it working tomorrow.

• The hard tyre should allow fewer pit stops , but the soft is much quicker over one lap.

• Both drivers were reasonably happy with their cars today but I think there is more improvement to come from the car once we’ve been through the data.

Nick Heidfeld, R31-04
Free practice 1:
P8, 1:27.132, 21 laps
Free practice 2: P10, 1:24.366, 31 laps

Nick: “What was really interesting today were Pirelli’s new super hard tyres. Although we’ve gained some experience of them occasionally on Fridays, we haven’t used them a lot and they didn’t really perform as I expected. They are significantly slower over one lap and during the long run too. That’s the main difference between them and the previous hard tyres. The good thing is that I tried some out of the box things today, and attempted some different aspects to try and improve performance. We also managed to work on the set-up, which was useful. I think we’ve made some progress, but tonight we need to analyse exactly what we’ve learnt and where we can get even better going into P3 and Qualifying tomorrow.”

Vitaly Petrov, R31-03
Free practice 1: P11, 1:27.241, 22 laps
Free practice 2: P12, 1:24.786, 43 laps

Vitaly: “The good thing is we were able to test both sets of tyres for a number of laps, so we could take lots of useful data which is what today is for. On the other hand, I lost a lot of time because of not being able to use KERS to its full potential, so it was a little bit frustrating. This meant there was less power for my car, but the KERS also affects the braking so we had to work on the brake balance to compensate. I’m optimistic and looking forward to seeing what happens tomorrow.”

Did you know?
This will be Nick’s first Grand Prix aged 34, as his birthday took place two days after the Turkish Grand Prix on May 10.

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