On the opening day of the Formula 1 World Championship, Ferrari chose to show solidarity with the Japanese people, who have been so seriously affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit a fortnight ago. Therefore the two 150° Italia cars carried a phrase in Japanese and the country’s national flag. During today’s three hours of free practice, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro drivers completed a total of 102 laps, split between 48 for Fernando Alonso and 54 for Felipe Massa.
Fernando Alonso: “Nothing new yet and what else would you expect? These two free practice sessions have not actually revealed the real relative strengths of the teams: this morning Red Bull went well and in the afternoon it was McLaren’s turn, with us and Mercedes always in the mix, while Williams and Renault also seem competitive. There are so many teams who could be in with a chance of going for the win and therefore it’s obvious that it will be necessary to have a good Saturday, without any mistakes if you want to start from the front row. Today, we concentrated mainly on analysing the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres, which seems a bit different here to what we saw in testing, partly because the track surface has very different characteristics. As far as strategy is concerned, we will need to be very flexible during the race, because at the moment, we know too little about the tyres to be able to say with certainty on which lap it will be best to stop. From what we have seen today, maybe we can do ten laps on one set of tyres, or maybe thirty! I am happy with the way the car is going: at the start there was a bit of understeer and we still are a way off from having perfect grip at the front, but it went better than I was expecting. We wanted to show that Japan was in the thoughts of all of us at Ferrari, which is why we ran with a sticker dedicated to the people of a country that has brought a lot to Formula 1 and where our sport has a great following.”
Felipe Massa: “We tested a lot of things in these two free practice sessions, splitting the work with my team-mate so as to explore different ways to go in terms of preparing for the rest of the weekend. I expected to set a quicker time, especially as the softs were not at their best until the fourth lap. On the hards, on the longest runs, it did not achieve much, as there were also a few drops of rain to complicate the situation. From what we have seen, the soft tyre shows less degradation than we might have expected, but we have to work out if that will still be the case in the race. This track is definitely less hard on tyres than Barcelona for example, where we did so much testing. This year it will be vital to study their behaviour carefully, circuit by circuit. The difference in outright performance between the two types of tyre is very marked. McLaren and Red Bull seem very strong, but there are other cars that can also be on the pace.” Pat Fry: “This morning we worked mainly on evaluating a few aerodynamic updates on the front wing, while the afternoon was spent mostly comparing the two types of tyre that Pirelli has brought here, running with various fuel loads. Unfortunately, the second session took place in very variable weather conditions, with rain putting in an appearance, which made it even more difficult to assess the situation.During the first ninety minutes it seemed that the tyres showed less obvious degradation compared to what we had seen during the fifteen days of testing in Spain. As for the afternoon, I think we need to analyse the data very carefully, especially that part relating to the longer runs. Now we can get down to work: we can expect a long evening to prepare ourselves as well as possible for tomorrow’s qualifying.”