“We showed in Istanbul that we can be quick in wet as well as dry conditions, so the focus now obviously lies on conserving the tyres and maintaining a good performance level throughout the races. This involves a variety of points, such as set-up choices, driving styles, strategy and tyre management. With only 30 minutes of free practice, there won't be much time to adjust the cars, but we tested in Barcelona one month ago and take the information gained at that stage into consideration as well. We were the only team in Istanbul able to place both drivers in the top ten in qualifying. Therefore, the first goal is to repeat this in Barcelona, preferably as high up the grid as possible!
“Although Dani is from Barcelona and we are a Spanish team, Barcelona is just one more race on the calendar for us from a technical point of view. We prepare things as precisely and diligently as we do it for any race weekend, so nothing special is planned in particular. The circuit is very well known by all the teams and drivers so, from a technical point of view, no-one really has an advantage there. However, it is always a pleasure for us to drive in Barcelona as there is little to be compared to racing in front of the home crowds.”
While not resembling race conditions in any way, the practice session ended positively for the team, with Clos ninth and Parente 14th, both having produced both data and feedback that could be used ahead of the afternoon's solitary qualifying session. That would be run in different conditions again, with the second 90-minute F1 session of the weekend adding to the rubber coating the Catalunya tarmac, but the team was confident it would be in the mix for the first few rows of the grid, if not pole position itself.
The weather, at least, remained constant for both sessions, with clear blues skies and a stiff breeze, but much of the afternoon action happened in the first quarter of an hour. With just 30 minutes in which to set a time, qualifying can often be a fraught affair, and everyone knew the importance of getting at least one competitive time in the books before things got busy later on. This time, however, the early laps proved to be the better ones. Although Clos improved marginally on his second effort, it failed to improve his position, and he remained seventh to the end, with some of those at the front of the grid having managed to save a set of tyres by realising that there was little to gain by venturing out again.
There was a small stroke of luck for Clos that evening, however, with poleman Jules Bianchi being adjudged to have set his time under yellow flags signifying an incident. The Frenchman was docked ten places, promoting those immediately behind him, although he did not fall as far as Parente, who remained a still creditable 15th after his first qualifying session in nearly eight months.
“Considering we have to watch our tyres for tomorrow, we had to pay attention to not ruining them, and I think both drivers did very well considering the circumstances.” de Orleans confirmed, “Dani drove an intelligent qualifying, while Alvaro did very well even though he hasn't driven a GP2 car in eight months. I am quite confident for tomorrow.”