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Friday Analysis: Ferrari not there just yet

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The The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a testing bed for Formula 1 because of its mix of variety of corners thus teams bring in raft of update packages to gain any upper hand or redeem their fortunes in the title race.

After the four flyaway races and the three-week hiatus, the two Friday practice sessions in Spain have been crucial to determine who has done a better job at the break and naturally, all eyes were peeled on Ferrari.

Rosberg and Hamilton took one apiece topping the timings with Vettel and Raikkonen having to settle as best of the rest. This has been keenly indicated as “work in progress” by the Scuderia but the hope that Barcelona would bring them a step closer to Mercedes in performance has been achieved through their updates according to them.

Unconvincingly, Vettel finished the second session four-tenths off Hamilton’s pace and reckoned the gap could only be higher on long runs. He might be right as the reigning champion moaned of gusty winds in various parts of the track for not getting a right setup to work with.

On the slippery track, the conditions did not improve for Rosberg who ended his session three quarters of a second behind team-mate Hamilton. The other Ferrari of Raikkonen was almost a second down on the pacesetter and struggled to put a good lap together.

The fastest lap of the day came courtesy of Rosberg; his 1:26.828 left an early benchmark for the Ferraris to catch up with but surprisingly this time stood still until the end. The closest Vettel had got to Hamilton from the four races was 0.063 seconds in China and if he can be there or thereabouts surely a big surge was achieved in the development arms race.

After a poor start to the campaign, Kvyat had shown encouraging signs for Red Bull as he finished fifth in the afternoon while his team-mate Ricciardo suffered car issues and completed only 4 laps at the closure.

Both Toro Rosso drivers experienced trouble-free outings and looked to be on course for top ten.

Perhaps McLarens were the biggest surprise, despite being handful in the morning, Button and Alonso worked their way through the scheduled programme of many updates to finish the day 7th and 11th.

Along with trailing new parts, Williams worked on the long run pace that could pay dividends on Sunday.

Sauber and Force India endured a below par performance and remain skeptic of whether they could fight for a Q3 berth.

Boosted by a very decent turn of pace, the chances of at least one McLaren making into the final stage of qualifying is highly likely. (Suren M)

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