Fernando Alonso said he was pleased with changes made to the Ferrari F2012 following Friday practice for home event on the F1 calendar in Barcelona.
After a tough start to the season, the team introduced a number of upgrades for the recent test session in Mugello, with further new parts being run on the car for the first time at Catalunya for the opening event of the European season.
Things started well for Alonso as he set the quickest time in FP1 and although his quickest time from that session was only the 13th fastest over the day as a whole, the Spaniard said early impressions were positive even if there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We had a very busy programme, with a lot of new things to try and it was important to evaluate them very carefully,” he said. “First impressions are positive: some parts worked as we expected, others less so, but broadly speaking, it confirms the tendency we had already seen in Mugello last week, which is that the data emerging form the wind tunnel has been been confirmed on track.
“Today, conditions were obviously very different to when we were here for the winter tests: it's much hotter and the track surface conditions have therefore changed, with temperatures approaching 45º C. We tried to adapt the car set-up to the track conditions, but we are not yet completely satisfied: there is still work to do. Actually, it was a rather different Friday to usual, with the times even more mixed up than we have seen at the first four races this year.”
Technical chief Pat Fry said he felt the improvements made to the car had been a step forwards, although he insisted that the improvements could only be measured once qualifying is complete on Saturday.
“I am not in the habit of giving instant verdicts on new parts: some elements have fully matched our expectations, others less so,” he said. “Now we must analyse everything calmly, to get the most out of what we have and put it on the car. Definitely, car balance seems to be better on the hards than the softs and that partly explains the fact that we did not manage to significantly improve our times moving from one compound to another, without however forgetting that Fernando was always in traffic when he was on a set of new softs.
“However, we still have a lot to do to set up the car in a way that will allow us to make the most of these tyres. All in all, I think we can say we have made a step forward, but how big it is compared to our competitors is something we will only find out tomorrow.”
Felipe Massa in the sister car was eleventh quickest, a fraction of a second quicker than Alonso's best time.