Just 340 Thousandths Separate First To Fifth On Day 1 In Spain

2024 Spanish Grand Prix, Friday - Lewis Hamilton
2024 Spanish Grand Prix, Friday - Lewis Hamilton

Five drivers from five different teams in the top five places come the end of free practice for the Spanish Grand Prix. So far this season, the field seems very evenly matched, or at least it has been since the Australian Grand Prix and that’s been the case today, the longest day of the year. From the quickest time of 1’13”264 set by Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes to fifth placed Max Verstappen in the Red Bull (1’13”504) the gap is just 340 thousandths and in between these two we have Carlos Sainz (1’13”286) in the Ferrari, Lando Norris in the McLaren (1’13”319) and the Alpine of Pierre Gasly (1’13”443).

The two hours of free practice went off very smoothly, with just one brief interruption in FP1 because of a piece of front wing left on the track. The teams all worked on adapting their cars to the track characteristics and on tyre performance, using various fuel loads and different ways of managing the tyres, especially over long runs. The Hard compound was used a lot in the first session, especially at the beginning. By the end of the 60 minutes, only six drivers (Piastri, Sargeant, Albon, Zhou, Magnussen and Bearman) had not used the C1. In the second hour however, the Soft came to the fore, not only when it came to performance runs, but also over longer stints, which is what the teams worked on towards the end of the session. Even the longest run of the day – 19 laps courtesy of Yuki Tsunoda in the Racing Bulls – was done on the C3.

Lewis Hamilton

‘FP1 wasn’t the best session for us but we still learned quite a lot. FP2 was a lot better though and the car was feeling great. The track was very hot, so it was tough on the tyres, especially on the long run. Overall, though, it didn’t feel like we were too far off being right in the mix at the front.

‘We have taken a step forward with the car in recent races. Everyone has worked so hard to get us to this point and make those incremental gains. We’ve got a clear direction of where we want to go moving forward too. We’re starting to see that feed through to our performance on track. Hopefully we can continue the momentum from today into Saturday and get closer to our competitors ahead.’

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

‘We’ve had a solid first day on track here in Barcelona. We made a step forward with the updates we brought to Monaco and Montreal, but it’s been encouraging to see that the car is working well around a track with plenty of high-speed corners.

‘Our single lap pace looks competitive and quite close with several other teams. It’s always hard to know where you stand on Friday given the range of power modes and fuel loads, but we’ve also had many a good first day followed by a tough qualifying session. We will therefore focus on improving on the feedback that the drivers are reporting and see where we end up tomorrow afternoon in Qualifying.’

Simone Berra – Pirelli Chief Engineer

“Barcelona always provides a stern test for all the parts that go to make up a Formula 1 car and the tyres are no exception to that rule! That was the case today, in high temperatures, with the track getting close to the 50 °C mark, which added further stress to the tyres that are already subjected to some of the highest lateral forces of the whole season. Honestly, we have not seen anything particularly surprising in terms of the performance of the three dry weather compounds, even if obviously we have not yet had a chance to study today’s data in detail. The performance difference over a flying lap seems to match the predictions – six to seven tenths between Hard and Medium and just over a second between Medium and Soft – and the C3 appears to be a possible option for the race, especially in terms of exploiting its performance advantage off the start line and over the opening laps, as indeed we saw last year.”

2024 Spanish Grand Prix: Friday Tyre Analysis

2024 Spanish Grand Prix: Friday Tyre Analysis

Formula 2

Formula 2 qualifying was very closely contested, with the first three covered by just six thousandths of a second! Pole position went to Estonia’s Paul Aron (Hitech Pulse-Eight) in a time of 1’24”766. Behind him came the American DAMS driver Jak Crawford (1’24”768) and MP Motorsport’s Argentine driver Franco Colapinto (1’24”772). The two compounds chosen for the Barcelona round are the Pirelli P Zero White hard and the P Zero Red soft. All the drivers know this track very well, as it’s used for testing and it presents one of the sternest tests of the season for the tyres, especially because of the high lateral forces they have to contend with. Compared to last year, air and track temperatures could be higher, as this year, the race is three weeks later on the calendar. That could be an advantage during the tyre warm-up phase, especially at the start, but it can also be a disadvantage, inducing thermal degradation.

Formula 3

Pole position for the one hundredth round of the FIA Formula 3 Championship went to Christian Mansell. ART Grand Prix’s Australian driver set the quickest time of 1’28”463, 36 thousandths quicker than Englishman Arvid Lindblad (Prema Racing), while Mansell’s team-mate, Bulgaria’s Nikola Tsolov was third, 56 thousandths off the pole time. The P Zero White hard is the tyre chosen for the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, as lateral forces at the Spanish track are among the highest of the season, because of its long high-speed corners. As was the case in 2023, managing the front axle is the main factor when it comes to maintaining performance from the compound. The change of layout to the final sector, with the removal of the chicane introduced back in 2007, further increases front tyre wear, thus exacerbating performance drop off. The higher temperatures that can be expected over the course of the weekend because of the later date on the calendar, will help with tyre warm-up, especially at the start: whoever makes the most of this aspect could make up a few places off the line.

F1 Academy

The F1 Academy is adding to the on-track action in Barcelona at this its third round of the season. Today competitors tackled one free practice session and qualifying. As was the case last time out in Miami, the fight for pole once again ended in favour of Alpine’s English driver Abbi Pulling, who posted a best time of 1’41”396 ahead of the American Chloe Chambers (Haas, 1’41”455) and the Spaniard Nerea Martì (Hilfiger, 1’41”529). Pulling in the Rodin Motorsport car had a second fastest lap that was quick enough to also ensure she starts the second race of the weekend from the number one slot on the grid. There was a special guest on hand to present the Pirelli Pole Position Award: Giulia Conti, one of the helmsmen of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. Giulia joined the team in 2024 to compete in the Women’s America’s Cup in Barcelona and is one of the Italian sailors with the highest number of participations in the Olympic Games and was the first Italian to be awarded National Coach of the Year in the USA. She has also won silver in the 2008 World Championships and gold at the European Championships the following year.

Formula 1 2024: Spanish Gp
CIRCUIT DE BARCELONA-CATALUNYA, SPAIN – JUNE 21: Abbi Pulling (GBR, Rodin Motorsport) with the Pirelli Pole Position award during the Spanish GP at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Friday June 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Simon Galloway / LAT Images)

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