Valtteri set the pace for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team on Friday at the Autodromo International do Algarve
- Valtteri was quickest in FP1, with Lewis finishing the session in P2
- In FP2, Valtteri set the fastest lap time again, with Lewis ending the session in P8
- The team focused on understanding the different tyre compounds at this new track, while also participating in a 30-minute Pirelli test programme alongside the other teams in FP2
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It’s been a good day today. The sun was shining, this is a great track for driving; it could definitely be worse! It was quite slippery out on track, it reminded me a lot of when we went to Sochi or Austin for the first time, and we drove on the new tarmac there. This type of tarmac is tricky in terms of getting grip. Once you lose the grip, you can drop the car quite quickly, and I think that’s the reason why we have seen so many spins today. The track was evolving lap by lap, and it got better throughout the day, but maybe it was reset slightly in between the two sessions, and with red flags in second practice there wasn’t that much useful running. So, I’m still expecting an increase in grip over the rest of the weekend. The balance of the car was also pretty good. I was mainly struggling in the slow speed corners with the rear end of the car but it is not too far away from where I want it, as the lap times would also suggest. But as always, there will be more work to do tomorrow.
The elevation changes on this track are incredible. There’s a lot of places where you just can’t see where you are going, so that’s very challenging and the surface is also very smooth. I think track conditions didn’t change that much throughout the day. The wind picked up, and I don’t know if it changed direction, but it made it tricky out there. Unfortunately we ended up sitting in the garage for much longer than we’d hoped for with the two red flags in FP2. I think FP1 was the better session for me, even though the car didn’t feel that great. We then made some changes, and it felt quite bad in FP2, so we need to take a few steps back and figure out where we went wrong with the set-up and see if we can improve tomorrow. Looking ahead, it is not going to get any easier to get a clear gap out there on the track, because it is really tough to get the tyres in the right window for the first lap here, even with the soft, which is actually pretty hard for a soft compound. Q1 will be exciting, with a lot of cars out there, it’s going to be a dog fight to get a clear position and get a time in. But that’s what we do and everyone is in the same boat!
We had a reasonable morning but a messy afternoon with the red flags, although that’s probably the same story up and down the grid. The circuit is really good with some challenging corners and the car seems reasonably quick but the balance isn’t great. The tyres are quite hard here so getting the single lap isn’t easy and the warm-up all day has been a real challenge but hopefully that will improve as the track grips improves. We did a lot of laps in the afternoon but a good chunk of the mileage was the Pirelli tyre test, which doesn’t generate useful information for us and then the timing of the red flags meant we couldn’t complete the long run work on the race tyres. Valtteri got a pretty good low fuel lap in before the red flags but Lewis couldn’t extract the same grip so there’s something for us to understand there. In terms of the long runs it looks like the midfield cars are a bit closer than normal which also suggests we’re not quite in the right window yet. Normally we have a car that is easy to balance and we’re not in that position right now, but we’ll work hard to try and get on top of a few of those issues before tomorrow.
Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team