A busy first day at the Losail International Circuit for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, building up experience on this new track
- Valtteri was third fastest in the opening session, with Lewis finishing fourth.
- The focus during FP1 was on learning the new track and getting up to speed with the layout, including some initial high fuel running to get a feel for the balance.
- Valtteri topped the timesheets in the second session, with Lewis in fourth place once again.
- For FP2, focused on the balance and set-up on both low and high-fuel, in conditions that better reflect qualifying and the race.
- Track evolution was high throughout the day as more rubber was laid down, with a large difference between the initial FP1 times and the fastest laps in FP2.
We’ve started the weekend pretty well with the set-up. The balance felt good, so I only made a few minor tweaks for FP2. That’s an encouraging way to start the weekend at a new track, the team did a really good job with their pre-weekend preparations. It’s not far off the sweet spot, obviously there’s always work to do and improvements to find and even with driving, you can’t find all the speed available in just two sessions. We’ll keep on working. It’s hard to draw conclusions from today, practice is practice, but the feeling is okay and that’s promising for the rest of the weekend.
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It was a tricky day for me, I don’t know exactly how big the gap is, but I’m definitely a bit off the benchmark. This is a new track, it felt okay to drive, quite nice and no real issues, but it’s all high-speed corners so it’s quite physical. We have some speed to find but we completed plenty of laps, so that’s encouraging, and it gives us plenty of data to look into tonight. We’ll see what progress we can make tomorrow.
New circuits are always an interesting challenge as you never quite know what you are dealing with until you start running, but today has gone well and the car seems suited to the track. Valtteri had a smooth day, the pace has been good on low and high fuel and the balance seems to be in the right place. We decided to start both cars with different set-ups as we weren’t sure how the track was going to be and it looks like Valtteri’s set-up was better suited, so Lewis had to unpick some of those changes going into FP2 and therefore we haven’t yet got his car where we want. However, we’ve got a good direction to follow, and the tyres seem to be in a good window, we’ve just got to tune the balance a little. Overall a good start but the track is evolving rapidly, and grip is coming up with every session, so we need to make sure that we keep everything in the right place.
Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team