Sebastian Vettel may have joked that interference from 'Spanish taxi drivers' during free practice for this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona threw his preparations momentarily off-course, but the young German nonetheless professed himself confident at the end of the day that Red Bull Racing remains in good shape as the European leg of the 2009 Formula 1 campaign revs into life.
Vettel is eager to take the fight to world championship leader Jenson Button around the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend, having been frustrated in his ambitions to duel it out mano-a-mano
in the Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir a fortnight ago by getting repeatedly stuck in traffic.
Though the Heppenheim-born ace lapped some way adrift of his British rival in the morning running down in an unlucky 13th, he was a scant three hundredths shy of the Brawn GP in the afternoon – meaning the rest of the weekend looks to be game on.
“A pretty normal Friday,” the 21-year-old summarised, “except that at one stage we had a problem with the radio and I think I had some Spanish taxi drivers to talking to me! Other than that it was normal Friday business.
“We did a lot of laps and tested some new parts, which I think we got an answer on, but to be sure for tomorrow and Sunday we will compare the data in comparison to our competitors. I'm confident there are areas where I can improve and where we can improve the car, so we have to work hard and come back stronger tomorrow.”
Indeed, Vettel trailed team-mate Mark Webber day-long in the Catalan capital, with the Aussie winding up fifth-fastest in the afternoon session and sixth in the final reckoning, just over half a second shy of the top spot.
“Another cliff hanging Friday, eh?” the New South Wales native quipped afterwards. “Obviously everyone knows this track very well, so it's always going to be pretty tight around here, but we had a pretty good P2. P1 wasn't that great, but P2 was better for us and I got a better feeling for the car.
“We had a little problem on the last run in P2, but we know what that was about. The guys did a good job today and we've got a solid amount of data to go through tonight, so I think we're in pretty good shape.”