Fernando Alonso made a good start to the F1 2013 Chinese Grand Prix today but conceded a long evening lay ahead in order to study the data and pick the 'right strategy' for the rest of the weekend.
Alonso was fifth quickest in first practice and then set the third best time in the second session, ending the day 0.415 seconds off his Ferrari team-mate, Felipe Massa, who was quickest.
In total he managed 47 laps and while pleased, he knows tyres will again be crucial in deciding the outcome of Sunday's race, the third round in this year's championship.
“By the end of the day, the overall feeling is positive. We worked well and on top of that, it's always great fun driving the Shanghai track which has some really unique features, such as the first corner,” Alonso said.
“From one session to the next the track conditions improved significantly, because the other categories that ran after our morning session cleaned the surface. The increase in temperature means the conditions were very similar to those predicted for tomorrow.
“Once again, tyres will play a key role in this Grand Prix though, because of the high level of degradation over a long run. We will have to ensure we pick the right strategy for Sunday, as well as deciding on which of the new parts we tried this morning to fit to the car. As usual, we can expect a long evening studying the data.”
Ferrari technical director, Pat Fry meanwhile was also happy and while he said the new parts performed in line with expectations, no decision has yet been taken about which ones will remain on the F318 for the rest of the Shanghai weekend.
“Today we managed to complete our programme without any problems, which is extremely positive. In the morning, we concentrated on analysing various aerodynamic updates we brought here to Shanghai, the result of a lot of hard work back in the factory on the car development front. The first signs are that the updates appear to match our expectations, but we need to analyse the data carefully to make a more accurate evaluation, in terms of which ones we can use for this race and the upcoming ones,” he confirmed.
“In the second session, we continued to work on various specifications with both drivers, doing some set-up work aimed at finding the right balance on both cars. Obviously, we did the normal comparison between the two types of tyre that Pirelli has brought here to Shanghai, with the soft compound making its debut. The race pace from both F138s is interesting, but once again there is the unknown factor of tyre performance: the softs seem to degrade quite quickly, while the mediums offer better stability and last longer.
“Now we can expect a long night ahead of us to decide on the best combinations for qualifying and the race, with a lot of data to go through”.