June 7th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Wet weather in practice always throws all of the teams a curve-ball, as they cannot adequately test updates and setup changes on their cars without running in the dry. First practice for this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix was wet, which meant the teams effectively had to squash their Friday programmes into the dry afternoon session. As a result, most of the teams, including Ferrari, are not sure what to expect from the remainder of the weekend. Ferrari do, however, have the advantage of being quickest in Friday practice, after Fernando Alonso topped the times in FP2.
Alonso featured well in both sessions, finishing fourth in the morning before just edging out Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton for the afternoon honours. Felipe Massa's lap times do not look quite as impressive - the Brazilian was 11th fastest in FP1 before ending the day 6th fastest, four tenths slower than team-leader Alonso. But the times are not necessarily representative of pace, as Alonso and Massa ran different programmes during the dry afternoon session in order to make up as much time as possible after the wet FP1 session.
Ferrari were unexpectedly off the pace at the last race in Monaco, particularly after Alonso won the previous round in Spain. Massa crashed out of the Monaco Grand Prix with suspension failure, and Alonso struggled to seventh place from sixth on the grid. This weekend, Ferrari and Alonso in particular will be looking to get their season back on track. Alonso is 29 points behind championship leader Sebastian Vettel and will be looking to close that gap as quickly as possible before it becomes insurmountable.
Setting the fastest time in Friday practice is a good start to this bounce-back weekend for Ferrari, but Alonso and Massa now need to translate their Friday pace into a strong qualifying performance and then a competitive race. Whether or not they can do that will depend on how well they capitalise on the information gathered during the two Friday practice sessions.
This is what the drivers had to say after Friday practice:
Fernando Alonso: “It was an untypical Friday, affected by the extremely changeable weather. We didn’t manage to complete our programme because the track was wet in the morning and so only tomorrow will we find out if the updates we tested here produce a real performance evolution. It was very important that we try them just as it was also important to try the new Pirelli tyres. Felipe and I made different choices for the long runs and this is another reason why we will have to wait for the outcome of qualifying to understand more. The only certainty is that we must ensure we make the right decisions, because today we saw how getting a clean lap depends a lot on the time you make the decision and what track conditions are like at that moment. We can expect a very complicated weekend, because the weather is due to remain changeable right up to Sunday and judging the grip level will be difficult, both in qualifying and in the race”.
Felipe Massa: “Today, it was a case of working for just half a day, because in the morning, the rain meant we could only do a small number of laps. Therefore, the bulk of the work, given over to evaluating the tyres and new parts brought for this race, had all to be squeezed into the afternoon session. Now we will have a busy time analysing all the data we gathered to try and understand which of the updates could be used in the next couple of days. If it does not rain tomorrow, then the track conditions will be completely different and that means we must be ready to tackle whatever situation could arise”.