Unconcerned by the mid-August heat during Friday’s free practice for the Spanish Grand Prix, the sixth round of the season, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, who had a chassis change, completed 125 laps of the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit, covering the equivalent of almost a race distance each. The planned programme for both SF1000s was completed, which means that, as usual, the team has plenty of data to prepare for the race and for tomorrow’s qualifying.
Morning. In the morning, both drivers began work with a few laps on the Hard tyre before switching to the softest compound Pirelli has brought to Catalunya and it was on this tyre that they both set their best laps: for Charles a 1’17”970 and for Sebastian a 1’17”981. In the final minutes of the session, as usual the two SF1000s ran with a higher fuel load and also did some practice starts. Both drivers did 27 laps each.
Afternoon. Track temperature for the second free practice session almost hit the 50 degree mark and so, despite it being more rubbered-in, neither of the drivers managed to improve on their previous best time. Charles and Sebastian concentrated mainly on fine tuning the car for the race, covering 71 laps in total: 35 for the former and 36 for the latter.
Medium and then Soft. Both drivers began on the Medium tyres that they had not tried in the morning. Their best times were 1’19”050 for Leclerc and 1’19”322 for Vettel. Then in the middle of the session they switched to the Softs for qualifying simulation runs, Leclerc posting a 1’18”147 and Vettel was fractionally slower in 1’18”404. Shortly after the mid-point of the session they switched to evaluating the car’s handling on different fuel loads, splitting the programme to get as much data as possible. Charles started on Softs before switching to Mediums, while Sebastian did the opposite.
Programme. The final 60 minutes of free practice starts at 12 CET tomorrow, in preparation for qualifying at 15. The Spanish Grand Prix starts on Sunday 16 August at 15.10. The next two days are also expected to be very hot.
Charles Leclerc #16
"It has been quite a good day, once again better than expected, which is positive. Our quali pace was good, even though there’s still some work to do here and there to improve, so I am confident we can extract the maximum out of the car in quali and if I manage to get the balance where I want it to be we can have a pretty good result.
Also, the race simulation we did went fairly well. We have a lot of data on this track from winter testing, but it’s very difficult to compare it with the data we gathered today in such different conditions. With regards to the heat, out on track is not that hard because at least there’s some air, but when you are in the garage it’s like being in a sauna!"
Sebastian Vettel #5
"It was a mixed day: I was reasonably happy in terms of our one lap pace, even if in the afternoon I struggled a bit more to put the laps together. However generally I have a better feeling with the car. Today we tried a few things and we have learned some things we can use tomorrow. Let’s see where we are after quali.
In terms of race pace we should be quite okay, but obviously there is still some work to do. In particular, managing the tyres will be key and with the high temperatures expected to continue, this will be far from easy."