The first of the practice sessions for the European Grand Prix got underway today at the Valencia Street Circuit in Spain.
Driving the track for the first time, Michael Schumacher and team-mate Nico Rosberg, who has taken part in the two races previously held at the Marina circuit, had their first opportunity to evaluate the latest developments on the MGP W01.
Nico topped the timesheets this morning and was fourth quickest in the afternoon with Michael ending the day in 11th place.
“We’ve had a productive day and I am feeling comfortable in the car although the tyres were a challenge again with graining and various issues. The option didn’t seem to work well but it was the same for everyone and we made the most of it. The team has done a good job on our upgrades and I’m sure that they have improved our competitiveness. We have a few bits and pieces to resolve overnight but we are on the right track which is nice to see. We know that our race pace is better than our qualifying performance at the moment so if we can get our qualifying right, we should make good progress this weekend.“
“It was exciting to drive the track for the first time today, probably even to a bigger extent than I had anticipated yesterday after checking it. So this morning for me was mostly about getting a feeling for the track. You need to get used to it but I found it quite comfortable to drive even if some of the corners are blind. However it’s demanding to get the real rhythm which I have not totally found over one lap yet. The long runs went okay and all in all it was not too bad today, depending on the fuel loads obviously which we need to look into more deeply now. Regarding Lewis, I must apologise as I did not see him and was not informed that he was there. As I was planning my lap at that moment and looking ahead, I was unfortunately in his way.”
“We had a great deal of work to achieve today with our new developments and it was essential that the cars ran reliably to give us as much track time as possible. Therefore I’m very pleased that this was the case and we have been able to carry out our planned programme. It’s a good start to the weekend but as always, there is a long way to go and we have a few issues to get to grips with overnight before qualifying. From our experiences in Canada, we know that we have to qualify well to avoid compromising our race performance so that will be the focus of our attention this evening and tomorrow morning.”
“Today was not a bad start to the weekend with our heavily upgraded car which the team has worked very hard on over the last couple of weeks. I would really like to thank them for their relentless efforts. With low fuel, our lap times could have been quicker today however Nico and Michael both had traffic on their fastest laps, as happened to other drivers. Our lap times in race trim with very heavy fuel loads have been quick and consistent today. If everything comes together as planned, Nico and Michael will be able to show in qualifying and on Sunday during the race that we have made a step forward.”