“Ferrari are surprisingly fast”

Ferrari’s pace on Day One of the Indian Grand Prix has left McLaren driver Jenson Button amazed.
By Mridubha Kumar

Ferrari sent out a warning to their rivals on an action-packed Friday after the first two practice sessions of the inaugural Indian GP. Felipe Massa was surprisingly the fastest man of the day with a time of 1:25.706s in the second practice, much to the astonishment of McLaren's Button.

The day did not start so well for the Maranello-based outfit with Massa managing only the seventh fastest time in the first practice, while an engine problem ended Fernando Alonso’s session after just four laps.
Just 0.088s separated Massa and second-placed Sebastian Vettel in Red Bull in the afternoon session, while Alonso was third, 0.224s off his teammate.

Button, who was only sixth in his McLaren, feels Ferrari could be a real threat this weekend. “Red Bulls are always quick. Even if not on Friday, they’re always quick during the weekend. But Ferraris were surprisingly quick today and they could be very competitive this weekend,” he said.

However, Massa chose not to read too much into the early success just yet. “It’s always nice to be in first place at the end of a day’s work. The car seems competitive but we must wait and see what Red Bull and McLaren can do tomorrow, as they are still very strong,” the Brazilian said.

A lot of teams seemed to be trying straight-line testing in the first session and switched to running on heavy fuel in the second. There were a number of yellow flags with drivers spinning off the track in both sessions due to high speed and low grip on the new circuit. There were also red flags in each session. While it was a stray dog on the track in the first session, Virgin Racing’s Jerome D’Ambrosio went wide into Turn 10 and crashed his challenger, halting the second session.

Lewis Hamilton had the media buzzing again. First, his helmet that had a picture of Bob Marley caught everyone’s attention. Then the Briton topped the session but was handed a three-spot penalty for the Sunday race for ignoring yellow flags while crews were retrieving another car from the track. In the second, he could only manage fourth fastest time, ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber.

Meanwhile, seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher called it a difficult afternoon and his team boss Ross Brawn didn’t look too pleased either. Schumi slipped from fifth in the first session to 21st in the second, while his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg 19th.

“This afternoon we weren’t able to follow our program due to red flags and some other issues. I’d call it a difficult afternoon. In P2, we didn’t have a very good start to set the car up. We then went into fuel programme and the balance wasn’t really correct,” Schumacher said.