Alexander Albon felt Scuderia Toro Rosso made a good step with the set-up in between the two free practice sessions at the Circuit Paul Ricard on Friday, but it was far from the easiest day in the car for the Thai driver.
Albon was tenth quickest in the morning session, 2.066 seconds off the pace of Lewis Hamilton but fell to thirteenth in the afternoon, again around two seconds away from the best time of the session, this time set by the other Mercedes AMG Motorsport driver, Valtteri Bottas.
The Thai driver said it was hard to understand the tyres due to the high temperatures across the day, and he acknowledges the need to improve ahead of Qualifying on Saturday afternoon, especially with how tight the midfield battle appears to be once more.
“Today wasn’t the easiest day for us,” said Albon. “We made a very good step from FP1 to FP2, although it was hard to get a full understanding of where the tyres were because the track was so hot today.
“We’ll have a look into the data we gathered and see where we can improve for Qualifying. As always, it’s very close in the midfield, so we need work hard to find those extra tenths of a second to get us into Q3 tomorrow.”
Team-mate Daniil Kvyat trailed Albon in both sessions, ending fourteenth in the morning and fifteenth in the afternoon, but despite this he felt it was a productive day that saw him and the team learn a lot about the STR14 and what they need to do to find speed ahead of the rest of the weekend.
“All in all, today wasn’t too bad as we had a productive day,” said Kvyat. “Even though it wasn’t easy to understand everything about the tyres, we still managed to learn quite a lot.
“FP2 was pretty clean and we were able to get a few things done to see where the car is. For me, the focus was mainly race preparation, but we completed a few short runs as well to see how the car performs in those conditions.
“I think today we covered everything we needed to, now we need to understand what we can do to improve the car further.”