Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have both admitted that strategy could be the deciding factor in the Spanish Grand Prix, with the pair expecting drivers to be forced into a number of stops at Catalunya.
Vettel was the quicker of the Red Bull pair during Friday practice in Barcelona as teams worked to understand upgrades introduced for the first European race of the year and also tried to get to grips with the tyres chosen by Pirelli for the weekend.
Speaking afterwards, the defending champion said he was pleased with his day having been second quickest, although he predicted plenty of pit-stops on on Sunday.
“It wasn't too bad today – there's a lot of stuff for us to go through,” he said. “We had a few new parts to try, which is not that unusual for Barcelona. I'm pretty happy; we did a lot of laps and got through the programme well.
“The wind played a role today, you could see some cars going off the track and the asphalt temperatures can go high here which makes the car slide. It's similar here to last year and it's likely we will see a few stops on Sunday during the race.”
Team-mate Webber was fourth fastest and also predicted that strategy would be vital on race day.
“It takes a while to get in to the groove here with the balance,” he said. “We saw at the end of P2 that you have to get everything together to get the lap time here. We'll have more chances tomorrow to work on the short runs.
“We were trying a few things in those practice sessions and we'll see what Adrian and the guys come up with for us tomorrow. I'm not sure how many pitstops there will be on Sunday, but it will be quite a few. The soft tyre is a nicer tyre to run on – but tyre strategy will be very important here.”