Fernando Alonso: “There was a risk we wouldn’t finish the second session”

Kimi Raikkonen had the best of the running in Brazil on Friday despite spinning off the track three times, while Fernando Alonso ended his second practice session in Interlagos with flames bellowing out of the back of his Scuderia Ferrari after his engine reached the end of its life cycle.

Raikkonen felt he had a good Friday in Brazil, especially compared to a number of other days this season where he has struggled. He finished eighth in the first session despite spinning twice, and made one more off-track visit in second practice but ended up third fastest.

“This was a better Friday than past ones and thanks to the work we did on the car, we got a good response from the changes we made in both sessions,” said Raikkonen. “In the first session we concentrated on set-up work and aerodynamic measurements. Because of my usual problems with the front end, we tried to eliminate anything that might have been causing them.

“In the afternoon, on the Soft tyres, the lap times were good and I’m sure that, without traffic, I could have done even better. Because of the red flags, we were unable to do a race simulation, but everything can change over the next days, because the weather forecast is very uncertain. In the dry, the car is going quite well, but we know that, if it rains, the track conditions could change things around.”

Alonso’s afternoon session ended spectacularly when his car caught alight on the back straight, but the Spaniard was unfazed as he knew that engine was at the end of its cycle and another one of his five allotted engines for the season will be fitted for Saturday’s running. Alonso had finished fourth in FP1 earlier in the day before ending FP2 seventh.

“Today we knew that the power unit had reached the end of its cycle,” said Alonso. “So there was a risk we wouldn’t finish the second session, but this was part of the programme we have been on for a few races now. It’s always a shame not being able to use all the time available, even though I don’t think it affected our work too much.

“The new track surface produced a lot of grip and it was extremely difficult to put together a good lap, because tyre behaviour changed from corner to corner. With a new surface, what effect the rain will have is always an unknown factor, so it’s impossible to make predictions. That would have been the case at Sochi too, but it didn’t rain there, so it means we have to be ready for every eventuality.”

Technical Director Pat Fry was disappointed to see Alonso stop on track with his fiery engine issue, but insisted the engine was being used for the final time during the session in any case.

“Fernando’s power unit had done a very high mileage and we were well aware that this would have been its last Friday on track, although it’s a shame to have lost the final 20 minutes of track time,” said Fry. “It looks more spectacular and it’s hard work for us to clean it all up but it’s not that big a deal.”