• Japanese Grand Prix - FP2

Alonso encouraged by Friday practice

ESPNF1 Staff
October 7, 2011 « Better first impressions for Massa | Mallya not selling Force India »
Ferrari tested some 2012 parts in the first practice session © Getty Images
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After setting the second fastest time in Friday practice, Fernando Alonso is hoping to be able to fight Red Bull and McLaren at the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend.

The Ferrari driver was just 0.174s slower than Jenson Button's fastest time, while Red Bull's pace was more apparent over long runs. With no major updates to the Ferrari since Alonso finished a distant fourth at the Singapore Grand Prix, he said he was not getting his hopes up but reckons Suzuka should suit the car better.

"We hope to be able to fight with McLaren and Red Bull, but we know it won't be easy," he said. "What we can say is that the feeling from today is a little bit more encouraging than in previous races. Also, we must bear in mind that the races have been much more open than in the past, when the final result did not differ that much from the grid positions: strategy, tyre degradation and DRS create much more uncertainty and spectacle. For example, I think that here we will see a lot more overtaking than in past years.

"This year we have seen all the teams go through so many highs and lows, with the exception of Red Bull, depending on which track we are at, so we should not be too surprised if today it seems that we have done better than in Singapore for example. And then, today is only Friday: it's happened before that the first day has been like this and then we have not managed to do any better than fifth in qualifying. In fact, I don't think that things are so different to what they were two weeks ago, especially as our cars are pretty much unchanged."

Ferrari technical director Pat Fry said the new parts the team was testing in the morning session will help with research and development for next year's car.

"We had various different aerodynamic elements to compare and that was the bulk of what we did in the first session," Fry said. "It's important also when looking to next year, because it means you can go into greater detail when it comes to the correlation between the track and the wind tunnel. This afternoon, tyres were the dominant item during the ninety minutes: this track is very tough on tyres and it will be some challenge to find the right balance on the car, both for qualifying and the race."