The Finn struggled with car set-up at the 2014 season opener in Australia two weeks ago, qualifying in 12th place and finishing the race in seventh place. He had originally been quoted saying there was a brake-by-wire problem, but he denied that on Thursday.
The 2007 F1 world champion finished both 90-minute practice sessions in second place, completing 50 laps overall. “This was definitely a positive day and I had a better feeling compared to Friday in Melbourne,” he said. “I was more comfortable with the F14 T today and even if we had no problems whatsoever, we know there’s still a long way to go and a lot to do.”
He added: “Our programme concentrated on car set-up and on testing the compounds that Pirelli has brought h ere. The handling seemed to be good even if, as we found on the race simulation, we will have to pay very close attention to degradation, which is particularly high here. Now we will spend the evening carefully analysing all the data we gathered over the day, to try and work out how to improve.”
His team-mate Fernando Alonso set the 11th fastest time in first practice and ended the second session in fifth, managing 43 laps in total. “We are on a learning curve, which is not unusual for the start of a championship and, to find out how competitive we are, as usual we will have to wait until Saturday and Sunday,” said the Spaniard.
“Usually, Friday is a very confusing day, because everyone is working on their own programmes, but this year it’s even more the case because of all the new elements. Everything went well, with no reliability problems and we managed to do a fair number of laps, enough to get a good understanding of the tyres, which will be a very important factor here because of the high temperatures.
“The Hard compound seems to stand up better over a long run, but it’s still too early to talk about qualifying and race strategy. For now, the only thing one can be sure of is the need to do everything to perfection.”
Image courtesy of Ferrari