Indian Grand Prix Practice – Ferrari

Indian GP – Right first time for Ferrari in India

Noida, 28 October – The expression used in the theatre that “it will be alright on the night” can be applied to this first day of Formula 1 running at the brand new Buddh International Circuit. When the teams first arrived here, it’s fair to say that work was not quite complete and there were concerns about such issues as power outages. However, apart from the morning session having to be briefly red flagged while a dog was retrieved from the track, everything ran smoothly for the first day of free practice for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix.

The track itself was given a resounding thumbs-up by all the drivers who enjoyed the challenge it offers, while hoping that the usual difficulty with a new venue, the dirty track surface, will gradually improve during the course of the weekend. Apart from some smog hanging over the track, the weather has also been fine, with very low humidity and temperatures only in the high twenties. If it was a good day for the first official running of Formula 1 cars in India, it was also – eventually – a good day for Scuderia Ferrari. Four laps into a very busy programme in the morning session it did not look that promising however, as Fernando Alonso was heard on the radio informing his engineer that he was trying to bring his 150º Italia back to the pits. He didn’t make it, parking the car at the side of the track with an engine problem, before sitting underneath a giant screen that showed a replay of the incident. Not an ideal start when there is so much to do at a new circuit, as well as all the usual jobs of preparing for the weekend, combined with tests aimed at next year’s car.

However, Felipe Massa’s morning went well and in the afternoon, both drivers ran trouble free and got through the bulk of the programme.

In terms of performance, one can at least say the Scuderia has got off on the right foot, as Felipe ended the day fastest of all, with Fernando Alonso third, while Vettel provided the Red Bull sandwich in between the two Ferraris. Of course, Friday times, especially on a new track, never mean very much, but our Brazilian driver did admit that it least if felt good to be in that position, even if it would be tough to stay there right through to Sunday night! Lewis Hamilton was fourth for McLaren, ahead of Mark Webber in the other Red Bull and Jenson Button in the second McLaren. In this era of simulation, the basic details of the track were known to everyone, however today spectators and viewers were able to see how spectacular and quick it looks and clearly there is every chance of witnessing a thrilling and very fast qualifying session tomorrow afternoon.

Indian GP – Good first take for Massa. Felipe fastest as Buddh makes its debut
The day got better as it went along for Scuderia Ferrari on Formula 1’s debut in India. The morning was spoilt when the engine failed on Fernando Alonso’s car which prevented the Spaniard from making the most of the first free practice session. There were no problems in the afternoon and the two 150º Italias ended the second session in first and third places with Felipe Massa ahead of his team-mate. The Brazilian completed 55 laps, while his Spanish team-mate has 38 to his name. Both men, and this was also done in the name of the Scuderia, joined many of their colleagues in carrying stickers on their helmets in memory of Marco Simoncelli and Dan Wheldon, who died recently in the two tragic accidents in Sepang and Las Vegas.

Fernando Alonso: “I lost almost the entire morning session because of an engine problem on my car, but fortunately I managed to make up for it in the afternoon, when I was able to run without any problems. Today’s priority was getting to know the circuit. Furthermore, given the condition of the track surface, I don’t think I lost out that much compared to the others. First impressions are positive: the car seems to behave well and we hope to continue down this route. I like the track, even if it is very dirty and if you go just the slightest bit off line it’s like driving on ice: this could create problems during overtaking moves on Sunday, but maybe by then the situation will have changed. It’s very nice that the track is wide in some corners and I think it will add to the spectacle, because it means you can take different lines and I think even qualifying should be very exciting, given the rather high average speed, especially through the final sector.”

Felipe Massa: “It’s always nice to be in first place at the end of a day’s work, however we know that Friday’s results are all relative. Sure, it would be nice to move through the weekend in the same position, but that will be very difficult to achieve. Today, we concentrated on finding the best set-up on the car and on tyre behaviour on this new circuit. I like the track, it is very interesting and there are corners where driving skill can make the difference. In some places the actual track surface is very wide and so it will therefore be possible to take various different lines in the race, which could make overtaking easier. The car seems competitive, but we must wait and see what McLaren and Red Bull can do tomorrow, as they are still very strong. The tyres? Probably the Hards are too hard for this track and it would have been possible to run the same compounds we had in Korea in two weeks ago, because the track surface is very smooth.”

Pat Fry: “It was a very busy Friday, partly because of the work we had planned to carry out and also because of the difficulties we encountered in the first session of the day. In fact, an engine problem meant Fernando missed pretty much all of the morning practice so his work schedule had to be compressed into the afternoon to try and make up for the time lost this morning. That aside, we continued with the now usual parallel programmes: on the one hand looking for the best set-up for the car at this circuit and on the other, working to get a greater understanding of the latest aerodynamic updates, with the new car project in mind. Obviously, we tried to understand as much as possible about the tyre behaviour, but, because of the lack of time it was not possible to do many laps with a high fuel load. Two drivers in the top three? Friday’s result has virtually no significance and maybe that’s even more the case when there are even more unknown factors than usual, which was the case today. Never before, given we find ourselves at a brand new track, have we had so much data to analyse and so much work to do this afternoon and tonight to be as well prepared as possible for the rest of the weekend.”

First session Second session
Driver Pos. Time Laps Pos. Time Laps Chassis
F. Alonso 24th 1.35.899 4 3rd 1.25.930 34 291
F. Massa 7th 1.28.644 22 1st 1.25.706 33 290

First session: air 24/29 °C, track 28/35 °C. Sunny.
Second session: air 31 °C, track 40/37 °C. Sunny.

Indian GP – Massa first and Alonso third on Friday in India
Noida, 28 October – The Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso set the fastest (1.25.706) and third fastest (1.25.930) times of the second session of free practice for the Indian Grand Prix. The third last round of the Formula 1 world championship is scheduled for Sunday at Noida’s all-new Buddh International Circuit. Sandwiched by the two Ferraris was the Red Bull of world champion Sebastian Vettel, with the second fastest time (1.25.794). In this afternoon session, which both Ferrari drivers ended with some practice starts, the team concentrated on a comparison between the two wings and tested the Hard and Soft compounds of tyre brought by Pirelli on different fuel loads. On the helmets of both Felipe and Fernando there are two stickers dedicated to the memory of Marco Simoncelli and Dan Wheldon, the MotoGP rider and the IndyCar driver who passed away in the last two weeks.

Indian GP – Not much grip for circuit debut
Noida, 28 October – McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton topped the first ever F1 time sheet at the Buddh International circuit with a lap in 1.26.836. The first practice session prior to Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix, the seventeenth round of the World Championship, was particularly hectic as teams and drivers got to try the track for the first time, finding it as expected to be rather dirty. Second and third quickest was the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel (1.27.416) and Mark Webber (1.27.428.) The best placed Ferrari driver was Felipe Massa, seventh in 1.28.644. Fernando Alonso was last on the time sheet, as he had to park his 150º Italia at the side of the track after completing just four laps, because of an engine problem. As usual on Friday morning, the team was not working on performance, but concentrated on testing various aerodynamic configurations, with each driver using just one set of Soft tyres.

The second session starts at 14h00.