© FOTO ERCOLE COLOMBO

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Practice – Ferrari

Abu Dhabi GP – More tyres = more laps
Yas Marina, 11 November – Fifth and sixth in Free Practice 1 and third and fourth in Free Practice 2 was the outcome of the first day of action at the Yas Marina circuit for Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. At the wheel of their 150º Italias, they completed a total of 96 laps, 45 for the Spaniard, six more for the Brazilian. As has been the case for several races now, although the Scuderia is still trying its best to bring home some decent results in what remains of the season – just two races now – much of the Friday work is aimed squarely at 2012, so plenty of experimental parts and methodologies are being applied. The front wing is a big part of this, but despite its somewhat interesting behaviour on track, with a fair amount of movement, Felipe maintains that from the cockpit, all seems normal. With a big work load, the main priority is always to do as many laps as possible and that task was simplified this weekend, because Pirelli has supplied two extra sets of experimental tyres for each driver for Friday morning, as part of the Italian supplier’s 2012 development programme, which meant saving rubber was less of a concern than usual. In the morning session, Felipe survived a big slide, but apart from that ran trouble free, while Fernando lost some time at the end of the second session, as he went off the track at the first corner, hitting the barriers, after which his first concern was for his mechanics who now face the task of rebuilding the car for tomorrow’s free practice, which starts at 2pm, while qualifying follows on three hours later.

Ahead of the Prancing Horse duo, Lewis Hamilton was fastest at the end of the day with McLaren team-mate Jenson Button in second place. Behind Felipe came the Red Bull duo, with Mark Webber in fifth place ahead of the winner of the only two Abu Dhabi Grands Prix held to date, Sebastian Vettel.

Abu Dhabi GP – Several irons in the fire for the Scuderia
In the unusual and intriguing atmosphere of the Yas Marina circuit, where track action starts under the blinding light of the sun before going on to run under the floodlights, there was a busy first day of testing for the penultimate round of the 2011 season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The increased work load can be ascribed partly to the two additional sets of tyres made available to each driver as part of Pirelli’s development programme for the 2012 season and also because of the work programme the Scuderia had planned for its two drivers. Fernando Alonso completed 45 laps of this circuit, missing out on the final part of the second session after he went off the track at Turn 1. Felipe Massa did 51 laps, in what were essentially two trouble free sessions.

Fernando Alonso: “Just as was the case in India a fortnight ago, again here in Abu Dhabi, I lost a bit of time: there it was the engine that left me standing at the side of the track and here it was an off-track excursion. It’s not that there’s a particular problem with grip at Turn 1, but if you touch the kerb when braking then you do lose some grip. As for me and Vettel both going off the track at the same point, I saw a lot of similarities: maybe tomorrow, we will try and stay a bit more towards the middle of the track without going so near the limit at this corner! I am annoyed about losing some time, but above all, I am sorry for the mechanics who now have extra work to do to put the car together again. I will try and repay them with a nice lap tomorrow evening in qualifying. I did not have anything new to try today so we concentrated mainly on a comparison of two different levels of aerodynamic downforce and on assessing the new Pirelli tyres for 2012. As usual, it’s difficult to say where we are compared to everyone else, because there are always plenty of unknowns on Friday. I don’t think I’ll be fighting for pole or the win, but the first impressions are that we are in ever so slightly better shape than we had expected to be going into this weekend. The track had improved by the second session, which was partly down to the lower temperature: at lunchtime it was really hot on the track! With the Soft tyre we definitely feel comfortable, but also with the harder compound, we did not look so bad, as indeed we have seen in the last few races.”

Felipe Massa: “They were two good sessions for me, but that does not mean much in terms of qualifying. Two weeks ago in India, I was fastest on Friday afternoon and then things went the way they did. Having said that, I am reasonably happy with how the last two races panned out in terms of speed and pace. Obviously, I can’t say the same about the final results, because something always happened to me in the races: let’s hope it will be different this time. I am sure it will: the important thing is to continue doing a good job, always being quick and then things will sort themselves out. The helmet livery? The design celebrates the twentieth anniversary of Ayrton Senna taking his third title and the helmet will be auctioned to raise money for the Foundation that bears his name: I am honoured to be able to do something to support all the initiatives they work on. The vibrating front wing? Honestly, while I’m driving I am not aware of anything, the car always behaves the same way without any problems.”

Pat Fry: “As is now routine in this final part of the championship, the two free practice sessions on Friday are a great opportunity to work on the two fronts that are our main objectives at the moment on track: along with the usual task of finding the best set-up on the car for this race, we are bringing forward a series of experiments on several fronts as part of the design work on the 2012 car. At the moment, we are paying particular attention to the new front wing and its influence on the handling of the car. Clearly, this is no easy task, requiring continuous work in every area, from research into its performance to improving the quality of the components. Furthermore, we ran a comparison of various aerodynamic configurations to try and find the one best suited to this circuit, without ignoring the work of evaluating the tyres. It’s obvious that there’s a lot cooking and we have to ensure we are doing it properly, working speedily on all the ingredients, both at the track and at Maranello! In terms of competitiveness, I don’t think there are any surprises here, which is actually what you would expect at this late stage of the season. We know where we stand and we know what we can aspire to.”

First session Second session
Driver Pos. Time Laps Pos. Time Laps Chassis
F. Alonso 5th 1.40.801 25 3rd 1.39.971 20 291
F. Massa 6th 1.41.260 17 4th 1.39.980 34 290

Weather
First session: air 30 °C, track 41 °C. Sunny. Second session: air 28/26 °C, track 35/29 °C. Clear skies.
Abu Dhabi GP – Alonso third and Massa fourth in the second practice session
Abu Dhabi, 11 November – The second session of free practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has just finished under the artificial lights of the Yas Marina Circuit in preparation for Sunday’s penultimate round of the Formula 1 world championship. There were small gaps at the head of the timesheets, where the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton (1.39.586) and Jenson Button (1.39.785) ended up ahead of the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso (1.39.971) and Felipe Massa (1.39.980).

The usual Friday programme of work was completed with the exception of the long run on full tanks for Alonso, who was forced to finish his session early after going off the track. The drivers tested both compounds – Medium and Soft – and different examples of the front wing on the UAE track, where the grip seems to improve as the temperature goes down. That is important data for the team heading into qualifying and the race, which start at the same hour of the day.

The third and final session of free practice is scheduled for tomorrow at 1400 local time.