Red Bull Racing might have led the way once again in both free practice sessions today (Friday) ahead of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, but neither Mark Webber nor Sebastian Vettel expect the race to be anything like a walk in the park.
Webber was untouchable throughout FP1 and FP2 around the Circuit de Catalunya – a timely confidence boost for the Aussie as he endeavours to haul himself back onto terms with runaway early-season F1 2011 World Championship leader Vettel in the chase for the coveted crown – but McLaren-Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton got close in the afternoon session, meaning that heading into Saturday, neither of Red Bull's pairing are willing to take anything for granted.
“The car ran well today,” confirmed Webber. “We've still got some work to do, but it was one of our better Fridays. It's the first time we've run the RB7 in Barcelona in these temperatures, so the team's learned quite a lot. Tyres are a big factor here, we know that, so we will be looking to manage them as best we can. It's always been a reasonable track for me, with a good result last year, so I hope to keep that trend going this weekend.”
“It was a very productive day,” echoed Vettel, who uncharacteristically lapped a full second slower than Webber in FP1 before closing to within four tenths in FP2. “It was the first real chance we had with the new spec of hard tyres – and I can confirm they are pretty hard! All-in-all, it was good; this morning maybe wasn't ideal, but this afternoon I was happy. I think it will be tight this weekend – we look in good shape, but the others seem quick as well.”
Meanwhile, the defending F1 World Champion has offered his own thoughts on fellow title-winner Fernando Alonso's re-pledged long-term commitment to Ferrari [see separate story – click here
] – adding that just because the Spaniard will be at Maranello now until at least 2016, doesn't necessarily mean that he cannot go there too.
“When he feels comfortable there and he has the opportunity to do so, why not?” the German mused, according to SPEED.com
. “All the drivers are feeling a little bit the same, if you feel in an environment where you feel welcome, you feel nice with the team, with all the guys.
“Maybe in five years we [will] sit here and say it was the right thing, maybe it was not. I don't know. I'm not really thinking about these things too much. I'm not thinking about where I will be in 2016 – it's quite far away. Really, I only go step-by-step and race-by-race. Next year is still far away, 2013, [we] don't even [know] with all the new rules. So many things can happen.
“If that's what he wanted, it's nice that he achieved that. In the end, we're all in [the same] boat. Ultimately, we're looking for a package that makes us happy, whether that's because of the results, because of the environment, because of the feeling inside the team...
“I never said anywhere that the fact that Fernando drives for Ferrari, or Felipe [Massa] or any driver, would mean that it is impossible [for me] to go there. As far as I know, F1 teams have two cars. Probably that kicks off some headlines now! I'm very happy where I am. As I said, at this stage really I don't care.”