The Scuderia Ferrari team had a productive day as the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix weekend got underway at the Red Bull Ring. Fernando Alonso was the best of the rest behind the dominant Mercedes cars in third in both seasons, while Kimi Raikkonen, working a different programme to that of his Spanish team-mate, was just outside the top ten.
Alonso finished a promising third in both free practice sessions as he worked through a programme to get the best out of the upgrades brought to the Austrian track. The Spaniard is unsure what will happen when the hotter weather that is predicted for the rest of the weekend arrives, especially when it comes to tyre management and strategy.
“It’s nice to be back racing here, the track has many changes of gradient and that always makes for enjoyable driving,” said Alonso. “In both sessions, Kimi and I were on different programmes and now we must put all the data together to choose which of the elements we tested have worked best.
“There were no surprises on the tyre front, the Supersoft seems quicker and will definitely be the tyre for qualifying, but for the race, it’s impossible to establish now what the strategy will be. It was always cloudy today and there were even a few drops of rain, but the next days are meant to be sunny and so tyre behaviour could change. The good forecast means that anything is possible and hopefully that means the chance to put on a good show for the fans who were already here in large numbers today”
Team-mate Raikkonen was also busy on track, completing his side of the set-up programme. He finished eleventh in both sessions, and like Alonso was analysing new aerodynamic parts on his Ferrari. He admitted that he had a better understanding of the car in the afternoon, but still struggled to set a good lap time, something he will look at overnight to rectify when practice resumes on Saturday morning.
“Today was particularly busy, which is normal when you go back to a track for the first time in many years,” said Raikkonen. “Despite the changeable weather reducing the amount of track time in the first session, we still managed to complete our programme, which today centred on analysing new aerodynamic parts brought for this race.
“Along with Fernando, we concentrated on different set-up tests, me on the front end and him on the rear, so as to compare the data from the second session. In the afternoon, I had a better feeling from the car, but for various reasons, including a lack of grip, traffic and the wind, I didn’t manage to put together a good lap, or to improve in the final sector.”