Fernando Alonso has said Ferrari will need to look at the data from practice 'carefully' tonight in order to make the 'right choices' for the rest of the weekend ahead.
The Spaniard was on the pace in both sessions on Friday, finishing in third in FP1 and FP2. In first practice, his best lap was a 1 minute 28.044 seconds, which left him four tenths off championship rival and pace setter, Sebastian Vettel. Although Alonso improved in FP2, like all the drivers', he remained unable to match the Red Bulls, ending proceedings almost six tenths slower.
“Today the track was still very dirty, which is usually the case at new tracks that aren't used very often. Tomorrow, when it will deliver more grip, it will be even more fun,” Alonso said. “The track conditions, which change rapidly lap after lap, make it even more complicated to understand the situation relating to the hierarchy down the pit lane.
“We must study the data carefully now to make the right choices for the rest of the weekend. [There is] nothing much to say about tyre performance: from what we've seen today, we can hope there's one less problem to take into consideration.”
Team-mate Felipe Massa meanwhile had a more troublesome day, and having been seventh quickest in FP1, he was only 15th in the second session, suffering two spins, as a result of 'issues' with the set-up on his F2012.
“It was a rather difficult day, especially in the afternoon,” Massa noted. “The first session went well and we were able to do everything we had planned. But in the second one, when we switched from the Hard to the Soft, the balance of the car was no longer the best and it was becoming very difficult to drive, to such an extent that I ended up spinning.
“Unfortunately, that damaged a tyre and so I was unable to do the work over a long run which had been one of our priorities. In the final half hour, I therefore concentrated on pit stop practice, the only thing possible with the tyres in that condition.”
“As usual on a Friday, we had a busy programme to get through,” summarised technical director, Pat Fry. “In the morning we concentrated on evaluating some aerodynamic updates we had for this race, while the afternoon was given over mainly to the comparison of the two types of tyre, over short and long runs. Unfortunately, while Fernando had no problems and was able to carry out his programme normally, the same could not be said for Felipe: one of the settings on his car was incorrect and that compromised the balance of the car and prevented him from getting the most out of the set of Softs and also led to him spinning, which damaged one of the tyres, pretty much ending his session.
“We have to evaluate the data carefully now to understand which of the updates we brought here will be used, but first impressions seem to be positive,” Fry concluded.