Fernando Alonso made a 'positive' start to the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend on Friday and is confident the Scuderia will be up with the 'leading group' again.
Alonso was second quickest in the first practice session this morning, 0.077 seconds off his team-mate, Felipe Massa, who set the pace.
While both dropped back a bit this afternoon, Alonso remained towards the top of the pile, concluding the day fourth overall on a 1 minute 34.310 seconds – just 0.156 seconds off the benchmark time established by Kimi Raikkonen.
“It was a positive day and we are reasonably pleased with how the car behaved,” Alonso remarked. “We had no major problems and more importantly, we didn't have to make any radical changes to the F138 to adapt it to this track and its long straights and slow corners, characteristics which I like a lot and usually produce a great show in the race.
“Unfortunately, the wind and sand make everything a bit more complicated here, because the track surface never gets completely clean. However, the initial feelings are good and I think we can be up in the leading group tomorrow, a group that is all within the same two, maximum three tenths.
“We have not yet decided if we will use the aero updates we tried in the morning. It is not yet completely clear how they worked and in the afternoon, we concentrated on comparing the two tyre compounds we have for this race. Ahead of us is another long evening of studying data to choose the best strategy and set-up for qualifying and the race”.
Massa meanwhile was also pretty pleased, even if he did slip back from being the pace setter in FP1, to 'only' being sixth quickest in FP2.
“Everything went well today, even if it's not easy to say at the moment where we will be on Sunday,” added the Brazilian. “Car balance was good and it behaved well in all conditions, even if we suffered a bit with tyre wear, especially at the rear.
“It's pretty normal to have significant degradation in such high temperatures and on this front, we have a lot of work to do to prepare for the race.
“On the Medium tyres, the F138 worked really well, even over a long run, but the key on Sunday will be managing the degradation of both compounds, as well as deciding on whether or not to use the updates we tried here this morning”.