F1 2013: Alonso takes early advantage in Canada

Formula One News » F1 2013: Alonso takes early advantage in Canada

Fernando Alonso emerged from a day of mixed conditions to set the early pace at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Having had to give best to Paul di Resta and others in a morning session that saw the track turn from wet to damp and, in the final minutes, to barely dry, Alonso came to the fore in the afternoon, pushing his Ferrari to top spot after a session-high 48 laps.

The Spaniard’s 1min 14.818secs effort was some six seconds faster than di Resta had managed earlier in the day, underlining the difference in track conditions, but was only 0.012secs better than Lewis Hamilton in FP2, a session that saw the top twelve runners covered by a second.

“It was an untypical Friday, affected by the extremely changeable weather,” Alonso confirmed, “We didn’t manage to complete our programme because the track was wet in the morning and so only
tomorrow will we find out if the updates we tested here produce a real performance evolution.

“The only certainty is that we must ensure we make the right decisions, because today we saw how getting a clean lap depends a lot on the time you make the decision and what track conditions are like at that moment. We can expect a very complicated

Hamilton had languished down in 16th spot after the morning session, the result of not having moved onto slicks as the conditions improved, but was happier with his afternoon performance on a track he clearly has an affinity with.

“Today has gone pretty well for us, and I’m pleased that it dried out this afternoon so we could get some decent running in,” the Briton noted, “The track is definitely not at its full potential yet, but we were able to start analysing the tyres over longer runs and work on getting them up to speed for the first lap. The car felt pretty good today and I tried a couple of different things over the two sessions which made me feel a little more comfortable.”

Despite the change in conditions, Romain Grosjean annexed third spot in both sessions, the Frenchman showing a degree of consistency despite a couple of off-track excursions.

“It’s quite hard to get the tyres switched on in these conditions, as the surface here is very smooth,” the Lotus driver explained, “So, with low temperatures, it’s a bit more tricky to build up the energy in the rubber – more so with the mediums but even with the supersofts.”

Mark Webber took fourth spot on a solid day for Red Bull, which appeared well-matched with Ferrari over their longer runs, even if both drivers admitted that there was still work to do ahead of qualifying.

“It’s a tricky circuit, especially when it’s a bit green and there’s not much rubber on track,” Webber echoed, “The first session was wet, but we got some information on all of the tyres at the end there in FP2, and we seemed pretty strong in both conditions today.”

Nico Rosberg finished fifth in the second Mercedes entry, but was closely followed by Felipe Massa, with world champion Sebastian Vettel only a matter of tenths further back

“The first session was interesting and we learned a lot when the track was drying out,” Rosberg reported, “This afternoon, we wanted to learn how the new development tyre worked, but I had some problems warning up the fronts and also flat-spotted them on my run. All in all, though, it was a decent day.”

Behind Vettel, Adrian Sutil, Jenson Button and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top ten, even though the Briton did so from a vantage point on the wrong side of the pitwall, his McLaren having run into technical difficulties.

“We needed everything to be reliable today, but I only managed three laps on my high-fuel run before I had a problem with the gearbox,” Button explained with a sense of deja vu, “That was a pity because it meant we didn’t get the long-run information we were after. In fact, we had a similar issue last year, when I also had a gearbox problem on the Friday.”

di Resta, too, had a troubled afternoon, having headed Button on the morning timesheets. The Scot finished the day down in 13th spot, the first driver outside a second of Alonso’s pace, but had had to cut short his session.

“The afternoon was a case of getting through the dry tyre programme and trying to find the right car balance [but], unfortunately, things were cut short with the electrical issue, so I didn’t do the long runs we had planned for the final part of the session,” he said.

Jules Bianchi and Pastor Maldonado, the two drivers to run into the biggest problems during the morning – when Nico Hulkenberg continued despite losing KERS on his Sauber – bounced back in the afternoon, taking 19th and 14th positions respectively.

“The conditions were tough this morning,” Maldonado concluded, “There was a dry line towards the end but, on cold tyres, I put a wheel off-line and I crashed. This afternoon was better as we completed our full programme, but we still need to work to get a better feeling in the car and need to focus on getting the tyres working quicker.”

Preparations for one of the more unpredictable races of the season continues with final practice on Saturday morning.

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  • 2015 F1 Drivers’ Championship

    1Lewis Hamilton169
    2Nico Rosberg159
    3Sebastian Vettel120
    4Kimi Raikkonen72
    5Valtteri Bottas67
    6Felipe Massa62
    7Daniel Ricciardo36
    8Daniil Kvyat19
  • 2015 F1 Constructors’ Championship

    4Red Bull55
    5Force India31