Ferrari number one driver Fernando Alonso made a 'reasonably good' start today to the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.
The Spaniard, who currently has a 29 point lead over Sebastian Vettel in the race for the F1 2012 drivers' title, was only eleventh in first practice. However he improved this afternoon and ended the day fifth overall on a 1 minute 33.093 seconds, which left him six tenths off the top time set by Mark Webber.
“This was a reasonably good day,” Alonso confirmed. “I like driving at Suzuka because it's a very nice track which I love coming to race at and which, with its characteristics and its fast Esses, reminds me a lot of Spa.
“Overall, the feeling is good and I don't think the high temperatures can constitute a problem for the tyres. We have done a lot of races in hot conditions, and not that long ago either, given that Singapore was only a fortnight ago and just like we did there, we will have to learn to manage them, which indeed will be the case for everyone.
“It's hard to say if we can be as competitive here as in Silverstone: that was three months ago and we don't know exactly how our rivals' cars have evolved compared to how much progress we have made. We will have to wait until tomorrow, because usually on Saturday the pack gets jumbled up.”
Felipe Massa meanwhile was similarly cagey on how the Scuderia had got on. The Brazilian was seventh in FP1 and ninth in FP2. His best lap was a 1m 33.614s.
“Generally a positive day, during which we managed to get through everything on the programme. As usual on Friday, we tried both Pirelli compounds. It's hard to say precisely where we are: what is certain is that many of our rivals seem to be competitive, but as usual, we must wait until tomorrow to get a clearer picture of the situation,” he added.
“In the afternoon, we did a fairly long run at the end of which we saw quite high tyre degradation. It won't be easy to decide what will be the best strategy. I'd describe the balance of the car as average: even if we didn't match the pace of the others, there is still a lot we can do to improve and we must also take into account the fact that the track changes a lot from one day to the next. I hope that tomorrow the results will come, because we have the potential to do well.”
“I'd say this was a Friday like so many others, in which we worked a lot on the comparison between the two types of tyre Pirelli has brought here, as well as validating some updates and various aerodynamic configurations aimed at this track. We acquired a lot of data from both drivers, who fortunately were able to complete the planned programme without any problems whatsoever,” summarised technical director, Pat Fry.
“Now it's down to we engineers to analyse it and make the best decisions for the rest of the weekend. Honestly, it's hard to say where we are compared to our main competitors, both in terms of where we might be in qualifying and as far as our race pace is concerned.”