Ferrari A difficult Friday to analyse

 Brief but heavy Australian downpours also compromised the second session of free practice of the first grand prix of the season, which finished a few minutes ago at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit.

At the end of the unusual session the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher set the fastest time (1.29.183), ahead of the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg (1.29.292) and Sergio Perez’s Sauber (1.30.199). The F2012 of Fernando Alonso was fourth with 1.30.341, while the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa ended up in seventh place with 1.31.505.

The Ferrari drivers had just one flying run with Medium tyres, having remained in the pits for a long time as they waited for the uncertain track conditions to allow them to complete the day’s programme. Both put in some practice starts before coming back into the pits after a very hectic end to the session.

The third and final session of free practice is scheduled for tomorrow at 1400 local time.

Fernando Alonso, P1 - 1:28.360, 4th; P2 - 1:30.341, 4th“It is always a pleasure to be back at a Grand Prix after the winter break: everyone is out on track together and there’s the crowd, so it is always a nice feeling. It was a bit complicated trying to work through the programme we had planned for this Friday because of the weather. Therefore there is still a bit of work to do tomorrow before qualifying, but I think the others are in a similar position. I am reasonably satisfied with the car: the initial feeling as to its balance is positive. However, we have not done the usual comparison between the two types of tyre, because we ran mainly on the intermediates and the Mediums and these seem to be behaving quite well, as far as degradation is concerned. It was important to have everything working perfectly - from the KERS to the engine, from the power steering to the gearbox and everything else, as is always the case on the opening day of the season - and that’s how it went. There’s no point looking at the time sheet from today with a view to making predictions for qualifying. Tomorrow I expect to see a very mixed up grid because there are so many teams that have done a good job over the winter. We will try and do our best, putting together the best elements we have tried in the past weeks, including a few details we brought here. However, my opinion has not changed: we wait for tomorrow to see where we are compared to the others. But if I was to give some sort of opinion on the day, I would say it’s been positive. We did the important things, the balance is good and the car responds well to changes.”

Felipe Massa, P1 - 1:30.743, 18th; P2 - 1:31.505, 7th“After over three months, finally we are back to what we drivers like best, namely racing. However, today was a rather difficult first day back, because we could not do as many laps as we had planned. The rain complicated matters in both the first and the second session. In the first one, I also went off track, which cost me a bit of time: as I was braking, I got the left rear wheel on the grass and the car took off on its own, only stopping in the gravel on the escape road. In the second session, the rain meant the track was wet for a long time and only towards the end was I able to fit the dry tyres. All things considered, it wasn’t really possible to understand much as to where we are compared to the others. I did too few laps to say if the car has changed since the last day of the Barcelona test. Tomorrow afternoon, in qualifying we will all run in the same conditions so we will finally understand something!”

Pat Fry, Ferrari deputy chassis director“Today was even harder than usual to interpret because of the weather. The track conditions changed very rapidly, making it very difficult to work through the programme we had set ourselves. Furthermore, as this is the first race, we chose to save a handful of kilometres on the engine. The opportunity to use one of the sets of tyres available today in the third session, will allow us to recover at least part of the programme tomorrow. Honestly, it’s impossible to give any sort of assessment of the performance of the F2012 and on the prospects for this weekend. We had said we must wait until tomorrow’s qualifying to know more, so you need to be patient for a further 24 hours! We too are very curious to know where we stand compared to the competition…”

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