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BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Spanish Grand Prix: Friday Team & Driver practice reports

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Formula 1 drivers and teams report from day one of the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix weekend from Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Free Practice 1 and 2 were held on the day.

The venue is probably the most well-known to teams and drivers, from countless days of testing in Barcelona and the entire grid of drivers familiar with the place since their junior racing days. Therefore it will be a great leveller this weekend, as good a place to determine the pecking order of the grid almost halfway through the season.

This is what teams and drivers had to say on Friday evening, after the first track action on Friday in Barcelona.

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Mercedes: Encouraging to see the car working well

Spanish Grand Prix: Friday Team & Driver Reports from Barcelona

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.”

George Russell: We had a good day on track today. “The car was performing really well around this circuit. It was encouraging to see Lewis top of the timesheets and we were consistently at the front. Our long run pace in FP1 was competitive. In FP2, it seemed that our single lap pace was slightly stronger than our long run speed but overall, the car is feeling strong. It is only Friday, but it has been a while since we’ve been consistently at the upper end of the field. I’m feeling good and excited as this is what we’ve been chasing for a while. We won’t get ahead of ourselves though and will work diligently tonight and tomorrow to prepare as best as we can for Qualifying and Sunday’s Grand Prix.”

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.”

Red Bull: Still a bit of work to do but we are feeling positive

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 21: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 21, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen: “Today we just tried a few set ups out there in FP1 and FP2 and we have been trying to fine tune the car a little bit. I think the day itself has been positive and a bit more normal without any issues. This is what we have been hoping for, so now it’s about tidying things up a little bit more, which is quite normal. There is still a bit of work to do but we are feeling positive going into the weekend.”

Sergio Perez: “I started the day well but then going into FP2 we made quite a few changes on set-up and I think we lost track somewhere, so there are plenty of things to analyse overnight. We have made a lot of changes and explored the car quite a bit today, so hopefully we are able to pick the right bits from that going into tomorrow. We will work tonight to ensure the car is in the correct place for optimal performance for qualifying and the race, it’s about finding the right balance. Qualifying will be super crucial to me this weekend due to the three place grid penalty, the lack of overtaking around here means it will be very important to be high up, in order to get into a good position on Sunday.”

McLaren: A decent Friday

Spanish Grand Prix: Friday Team & Driver Reports from Barcelona

Lando Norris: “A positive day in hot conditions. It was difficult to get the perfect balance, which I think is the same for everyone, but overall, I felt comfortable with the car today. I feel like we’re in good shape with some things to improve overnight, but not a lot and I’m confident we can put ourselves into a good position. It’s super-close, like we’ve seen in the last few weeks, so, it’s about the smaller things and trying to get everything together. Tomorrow will be the key.”

Oscar Piastri: “That’s Friday done, a decent day with a few areas to tidy up but I think the car’s looking competitive, which is good. I found a few things in FP2 with my driving and the set-up, so it’s about dialling everything in a bit more overnight. There’s some work to do ahead of Qualifying and as expected, it looks very tight at the front so getting the most out of our package tomorrow will be important for Sunday’s race.”

Ferrari: Quite a tricky day

ferrari Spanish Grand Prix: Friday Team & Driver Reports from Barcelona

Team Report: “Friday free practice for the Spanish Grand Prix was particularly busy for Scuderia Ferrari HP. Apart from the usual tasks of looking at set-up, Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc worked on evaluating aerodynamic updates which have been introduced ahead of schedule, thanks to a great effort from the team back in Maranello over the past few weeks. Performance over a single lap produced interesting results on both SF-24s, but there is still work to do to get the most out of the car in terms of both qualifying and race pace.”

Carlos Sainz: “Quite a tricky Friday, as always here in Barcelona when the sun is up and the track changes quite quickly. We struggled a bit in both sessions to get the right balance on the car, but I think everyone had similar issues today. So overall, I’m reasonably happy with the car, but we have work to do, especially race pace-wise. What I really enjoyed today was the atmosphere at the track. Thank you to all the fans for their support. I’m looking forward to putting on a good show!”

Charles Leclerc: “Overall, a tricky day on my side. We struggled quite a bit with the balance of the car, so set-up work will be our main focus ahead of tomorrow. We ran a new package in FP2, but we still have lots of work to do as I am not fully comfortable yet.”

Alpine: Both cars in Top-10 is a little bit unexpected

alpine fp2

Esteban Ocon: “To end the day with both cars in the top-10 is a little bit unexpected from where we thought we would be entering the weekend on this particular track. Obviously, we do not know what the others are doing but overall, it is a positive start to the weekend. It was not the best lap on the C3 tyre for me in Free Practice 2 with some traffic and there were a few interruptions in both the long and short runs. There are definitely improvements we can make in order to find lap time, so we will keep digging and try to make steps forward for tomorrow’s Qualifying, which is important around this track.”

Pierre Gasly: “It’s been a positive Friday for us, especially Free Practice 2. The end result, finishing in fourth place, probably flatters us and it was certainly a surprise, but a pleasant surprise, and one that brings a smile to my face! In Free Practice 1, we had some minor aerodynamic issues on the car, which we had to fix. Once we did that, the car felt good right from the start of the second session. We have a strong baseline to work from and my push lap on the C3 was good but I’m not completely comfortable in the car. There are some things we need to fine tune with the aim of feeling even better in the car tomorrow when it counts.”

Aston Martin: A challenging first day of practice in Barcelona

Fernando spain friday header

Team Report: “Fernando and Lance had a challenging start to the weekend and finished Free Practice Two in P14 and P18 respectively. They’ll both be working hard, together with the team, to analyse data and find more performance before tomorrow’s Qualifying.

Lance Stroll: “It was a challenging day on track for us. We don’t have the pace we need, so there’s a lot of work to do ahead of tomorrow. This circuit is always high degradation, especially in the heat, so Sunday’s race will be about managing tyres. There’s some rain on the radar, so that could mix things up.”

Fernando Alonso: “It’s good to be back racing in Spain and seeing the passion of the fans here. It was quite a challenging day with low levels of grip out on track. We haven’t found the right window for our car yet, so we definitely have some work to do overnight to try find some more performance ahead of Qualifying tomorrow.”

Haas: It was a good day

bearman haas practice barcelona

Oliver Bearman: “It was nice to get back into the VF-24 here in Barcelona. I really enjoyed myself, it was nice to get back-up to speed again in a Formula 1 car and see the capabilities on a track like this, especially with a lot of high-speed corners. We completed the program that we wanted to, which is the main goal, and I felt really happy and confident in the car. I’m already looking forward to the next one in Silverstone.”

Nico Hulkenberg: “It was a smooth session with no problems, but only FP2 for me today. I felt relatively good straight away with the car, certainly over one lap. In the long runs, I think we have some work to do as we need to find some harmony and balance somehow. My initial thought is that our one lap pace is definitely stronger for us, but in Barcelona the race is long and if you don’t have a good race car, it’s going to be a long, tough race. We’ll take it from here and see what the weekend has to offer.”

Kevin Magnussen: “I think today has gone okay, but most importantly the long runs looked decent for me, but I haven’t seen any data or lap times. Barcelona used to be the baseline track for the season, but we have more and more street tracks these days, so these circuits are becoming less and less similar to the average track. In the high-speed sections, we didn’t expect to be that good around here, so I’m excited to see whether we can maintain this level of competitiveness or if it was the circumstances at the time.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal: “Overall, I think it was a good day. In FP1 we had some aero testing to collect some data which we completed. Ollie was in the car and as before he did a very good, so we can’t fault him. In FP2, Nico was back in the car alongside Kevin, and I think we made some good changes between FP1 and FP2 with Kevin’s feedback, as we modified his set-up a little bit. Long run pace looked decent as well as low fuel pace. We’ve got more work to do tonight but it’s a good start to the weekend.”

VCARB: The upgrade is working the way we were expecting

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 17: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 stops in the Pitlane during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit on May 17, 2024 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Yuki Tsunoda: “Today was trickier than usual. The pace isn’t where we would’ve liked it to be, so we’ll look into what we’re missing and hopefully, it’ll be better tomorrow. The upgrade is working the way we were expecting but we are not where we want to be and off the pace we usually have, so we’ll review all the data to find what we were missing today.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “We struggled a little bit today and missed a bit of competitiveness, but driving is always fun and before today I hadn’t done this track with this last sector. It was the old one a long time ago, now the new one again, and I have to say that I much prefer it because I think that it definitely brings the track to life a bit more. The main upgrade we brought here is the floor, and with these cars, it’s such a big part of development. There’s still some optimism and once we dive into it tonight, we’ll find how it’s working and better ways to set up the car around it. We still have a bit to do but I hope we can improve for tomorrow.”

Alan Permane, Racing Director: “It wasn’t the most straightforward day for us today. We had a slightly scrappy FP1 in which we had a problem with one of the cooling systems on Yuki’s car which cost him track time to fix. We had an issue with the DRS on our new rear wing and that caused us to run with that closed for the rest of FP1 to be cautious. Of course, that costs a lot of lap time, and you never get the full feeling of the car balance if you don’t run it in the correct conditions. For FP2 we made some changes and reverted to an earlier spec of wing while the factory is carrying out a full analysis of the new one. We adjusted the setup of both cars to try and calm the rear end down a little bit, but it’s fair to say that even in FP2, neither driver was fully happy with the car. We’re lacking a little bit of rear end grip and we have work to do overnight to improve the setup and move back up the timesheets to what we feel we can achieve tomorrow. We’re happy with the numbers coming from the upgrade, all is working well and no issues there. The focus will be on the mechanical side of the car and improving the suspension setup.”

Williams: A good step forward from last year

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Alex Albon: “FP1 was pretty good. We haven’t gone well in Barcelona historically, but we’ve made some good steps forward compared to last year. Going into FP2, we made a couple of changes to combat issues from FP1, but as the track gripped up, the same issues continued. We’ll revisit overnight and see what we can do to address them. It’s tough to be in P19 and P20, so I’m hoping that the track cools and the wind dies down to help us find a bit more pace.”

Logan Sargeant: “It’s been a bit of a tricky day. This track has always been difficult for us and it’s proving to be so this weekend. There’s been positive flashes today like our long run pace which doesn’t look as bad as what it did last year. We had a bit of a compromised run plan on low fuel. There are still things to be optimistic about, but we have some work to do to find some time for tomorrow. We need to get the tyre working better on low fuel. From a balance point of view, we’re not too far away. We’ll do some digging tonight.”

Sven Smeets, Sporting Director: “Last year we struggled at this track, especially when the track temperature went up. Today we learned that the FW46 is better balanced and a good step forward from last year, but that we still have to solve some issues we encountered in both Free Practice sessions to find performance for Qualifying and the race. We will be working hard tonight to go through all the data and try to find some solutions to help the drivers. Sunday seems still to be a cooler day which could help us to find performance.”

Stake F1 Team Sauber: A decent day in the office

Valtteri Bottas, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber C44; 2024 Spanish Grand Prix, Formula One World Championship

Team Report: “KICK Sauber F1 Team had a productive first day of on-track action at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, as the team worked through two practice sessions in consistent conditions. Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, on their C44s, produced solid mileage to allow the team to gather a wide range of data and information – a crucial passage, especially as the team continues to introduce new upgrades. With positive first indications from the track, the team’s engineers will crunch data overnight to extract more performance from the package, ahead of an important qualifying session.”

Valtteri Bottas: “Overall, it’s been a decent day in the office. We had two good, productive sessions, during which we tested different setups – ultimately finding one that allowed us to unlock some extra lap time throughout the day. Performance-wise, it seems like we are in a better place compared to the most recent events, which is without doubt a positive, and gives us confidence for the weekend ahead. The new bits we have on our car ran smoothly after a few small hiccups that we promptly fixed, and actually allowed us to make a step forward already in the second practice session, which is good. Obviously, it will be once again down to fine margins, so it’ll be important to go through the data we’ve gathered today, and extract everything we can from our car ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying.”

Zhou Guanyu: “Today has been quite a promising practice day. We introduced a different spec of rear wing and, while I haven’t tried it yet on my car, Valtteri’s performance looked quite strong, which is giving me a good feeling for tomorrow. My lap felt good, overall: I encountered a lot of traffic in the last corner, but otherwise, I reckon that my time could have been close to the top 10. I’m happy to see that some performance is back – and so is my confidence. Before coming to Spain, we changed a lot of things including the chassis. The team has done a great job and I feel like I am back to where I was earlier this season. While it’s too early to talk about qualifying and the race, we definitely look to be more in the mix, especially compared to previous races. Today was about collecting lots of data and insights and we were successful in doing so – now we shift our focus on getting everything right for qualifying to secure a good position on the grid.”

Pirelli: Barcelona always provides a stern test

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Friday Practice Report: “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 240 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.”

Simone Berra, 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.”