The Silver Arrows hit the ground running in Sochi on Friday, ending the day third and fourth quickest on the leaderboard, behind the two Ferraris.
Silver Arrows hit the ground running in Sochi
Valtteri was P2 in the morning, narrowly missing out on the top spot by 0.045s to a fired-up Kimi Raikkonen in a Finnish one-two.
Valtteri went even quicker in the afternoon, but a 1:34.790 was only good enough for third quickest, over half a second shy of the rapid red cars, which were flying on the UltraSoft Pirelli rubber.
Valtteri: It’s been an interesting day
“It’s been an interesting day,” said Valtteri. “It’s a very different situation here with the asphalt and the temperatures compared to what we experienced in Bahrain.
“We were learning about the tyres on long runs and short runs and it seems like over one lap we still have work to do to get the maximum out of the UltraSoft tyre - that’s our focus tonight.
“But we can’t forget how important the race is. We have started the weekend in the right way. The car feels good and the balance is there. A good start but we definitely need to work hard to find some lap time for qualifying.”
Lewis: Bit of a difficult day for us
Lewis set the initial pace in FP1 on the Softs, but slipped to third by the flag as first Valtteri and then Raikkonen found a chunk of time on the SuperSoft compound.
Like Valtteri, Lewis went quicker in the afternoon session, clocking a 1:34.829. But the Silver Arrows couldn’t match the pace of the scarlet Ferraris on the UltraSoft and the triple World Champion had to settle for P4, 0.7s adrift.
“Bit of a difficult day for us,” admitted Lewis. “We managed to complete everything that we needed to do on our runs, but in terms of the balance of the car, the Ferrari seemed very, very fast on the long runs, so we need to work out how we can improve our pace.
“But there’s still everything to play for. The tyres feel very peaky, so it’s easy to drop out of the window of performance. But when they’re working they seem to be good.”
James: There are clear avenues that we need to work on
Watching from the pit wall, Technical Director James Allison conceded that the Silver Arrows need to step up overnight if they are to match the pace of the Ferraris in Qualifying.
“We enjoyed plenty of useful running with both drivers having untroubled sessions – completing our planned programme,” said James. “But it’s pretty clear from both the long run pace and the set-up runs that we have got a bit of work to do to be on equal terms with Ferrari.
“As normal we will set about cutting that gap overnight and hopefully we will have a car that is able to get the job done on Saturday and Sunday.
“There are clear avenues that we need to work on to make sure we are properly competitive tomorrow. If we get that right it’ll be close just as it has been all year.”