The general feeling in the Catalunya paddock is that it’s great to be back in Europe and the race fans seem to think so too, as it’s the first time this year that there have been plenty of spectators in the grandstands on a Friday.
Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne had a productive day, completing a total of 113 laps between them over the three hours of track time today. It’s the first time since the Spanish GP was first held at this venue back in 1991, that the Catalunya track has not been used for any pre-season testing and that might be part of the reason for the surface being dirtier and more slippery than usual today. In the morning, both STR9s only ran on the Hard Pirelli, the Italian tyre company also bringing its Medium compound for a track that is notoriously tough on tyres and can cause degradation. Both drivers were happy with the feel of their cars, Jev particularly impressed by his long run pace. However, the Frenchman was the victim of our only problem today, when he lost the right rear wheel just as he left the pit lane after a pit stop at the very end of his long run this afternoon. Fortunately, no one was hurt, however, this is considered a serious matter and that’s why Jev was handed a 10-place grid penalty.
The winner of the last three races, Lewis Hamilton, appears to be in sparkling form, topping both of today’s time sheets and this afternoon, beating his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by almost half a second. Our old friend Daniel Ricciardo was third for Infiniti Red Bull Racing – Vettel didn’t run in FP2 because of wiring problem – while the Ferrari duo of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen occupied the fourth and fifth places.