Fernando Alonso was fastest in Friday practice at Valencia today, as the significant updates Ferrari have brought to Spain this weekend appeared to be working well.
Felipe Massa lost some time during the afternoon session when his engine cut out after a spin. Once his car had been brought back to the pits on a truck, the Brazilian went out again and eventually set the seventh fastest time of the day.
The Ferrari mechanics, who had all been disappointed yesterday after Italy’s exit from the world cup, switched their attention today to evaluating the technical updates while defining car set-up and comparing tyre compounds.
“I would say that our weekend has got off to a positive start, but it's too early to draw any real conclusion,” commented Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari team principal. “From what we saw today, we are on the pace on a track that has some similarities to the one in Montreal. Now we have to analyse all the data gathered over these three hours, to be as well prepared as possible for qualifying and especially for the race. As usual, a good grid position will be vital, especially so here on a track where overtaking is very difficult.”
Alonso was understandably very happy that his F10 looked competitive, especially as Valencia is one of his two home races this season. “Here, as in Montreal, our car seems to work well, even if it's difficult to make a direct comparison, given that the track surface is very different and that one needs a bit more aerodynamic downforce,” said the Spaniard. “Together with Felipe, we worked on the development of new technical solutions, but it is hard to say how much we have improved compared to the others.
“The F10 has turned out to be easy to drive and competitive in every situation, both with low and high fuel loads, but it is too early to say where we are: this morning, the McLarens were very quick, the Red Bulls are always on front running pace and even Mercedes and Renault are very close. However, our only aim is to be ahead of everyone, otherwise we wouldn't be Ferrari.”
Felipe Massa won this race in his only previous visit before, and this grand prix in Valencia has only previously won by Brazilians. Today though, Massa seemed unable to get a clear lap in to show the true pace of his Ferrari. “The track was very dirty, which makes it difficult to understand exactly how much the new parts which we used for the first time today have improved the performance of the car,” he said.
“I never managed to get a clean lap when I was on new tyres with low fuel and this explains my position on the time sheet. Nevertheless, I am pleased with the handling of my car. I think we have made a step forward in performance terms and that we should be competitive this weekend: I hope I can fight for a place on the top rows.
The spin? I hit a kerb, spun and then I chose to brake to avoid hitting the wall: unfortunately the engine cut out and we now have to look into why the anti-stall did not work.”