Renault failed to make an impression on the top ten during Friday practice in Abu Dhabi today, but GP2 champion Romain Grosjean impressed during FP1, beating Vitaly Petrov by half a second.
“I'm like a kid at Christmas at the moment,” said the Frenchman. “First of all, it was fantastic to get back into a F1 car and the feeling is just amazing.
“I tried to improve myself lap after lap. We tried some different things with the car and not to disturb the programme of the team, which is the main thing, and I think we picked up some ideas for the afternoon. The balance of the car was as we were expecting. We know that we're not fantastic on slow corners so we tried a few different things.
“The medium tyres were quite difficult to drive with, the prototype softs were better in terms of degradation, but it is always difficult to know what to expect when you go from one tyre to another. Hopefully my feedback can help a little bit for the rest of the weekend.”
Bruno Senna had to give up his car to Grosjean in the morning session, but after the 90-minutes of FP2 the Brazilian still had some damning comments about the performance of the car around this Yas Marina circuit.
“I feel our fears may be confirmed that we don't have great pace at the moment; we need to work hard to get better for tomorrow and to see where we can improve,” he said. “It's going to be a very difficult qualifying for us but we need to make the most of it and be there if the opportunity comes to us. I also used the Pirelli test tyre today, which seems to be a bit more resistant than the current soft tyre so it was interesting to compare them. ”
Petrov had some reliability problems during FP1, including an ignition problem. He also recognised the performance issues with the car. “It was a difficult day for us today; it was difficult in terms of rear traction especially, and we are well off the pace,” said the Russian. “Overnight, we must look at how we can improve and get up to scratch.
“Something that was particularly evident was the drop in temperature between first and second practice. As a driver, every time you emerge from the garage for another run it is very interesting because the sun goes down and then by the final run it is dark. We really want to get better for tomorrow, take it up a gear and try to compete at a more consistent level than we did today.”