An update from Free Practice at the Spanish Grand Prix as the Bulls take to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
The track at Montmeló has long been F1’s test venue of choice and in addition to the 28 grands prix held at the circuit since 1991, the venue has also hosted a whopping 100 test sessions since 1999, when it first opted to use the track as a proving ground.
It means that Barcelona’s 16 corners are among the most familiar of all to F1’s teams and drivers. Indeed, Max has completed 22 days of testing in Barcelona and even a relative newcomer such as Pierre has done 12 F1 test sessions at the 4.655km track.
Pierre was the first Bull out of the garage for Friday practice at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya closely followed by Max with both Bulls completing a single install lap to perform a range of system checks as the track action got underway in Barcelona.
In Free Practice One it wasn't all smooth sailing for Max who had to pit early to investigate an issue cutting short his session. The Dutchman still managed 14 laps with a best time of 1:19.844 for P12.
Meanwhile Pierre completed 30 laps with a top time of 1:19.285 for P8. The session ended under a red flag with Racing Point's Lance Stroll going off track into the barriers with just under one minute remaining.
Some swift work from the crew in-between sessions saw Max get back up and running for Free Practice Two. He was one of the first cars on track when the afternoon session commenced. The Dutchman went on to complete 30 laps with a best time of 1:18.035 for P5.
Meanwhile Pierre got through more vital practice as the team tested a number of set ups ahead of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix. He posted another 34 laps in FP2 taking his Friday tally to 64 laps overall with a best time of 1:18.238 for P7.
Saturday's practice session saw two red flags waved, one at the start of the session for Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and the other bringing an early end to FP3 courtesy of Williams' George Russell.
However, both Bulls managed to put in 12 laps. Max finished the session in P7 with a 1:17.558 and Pierre was P14 posting a 1:18.693.
After Friday's practice sessions, Max said:
“During the two practice sessions we tried to improve the car and understand the new updates, which I think we did. I have a good feeling about the upgrades, which work for sure, and the tyres seem to be working quite well, too. The long runs were okay and we still need to find a little bit of pace, but we have the whole night to find it. During FP1 we had an oil leak so we had to change the engine ahead of FP2, which put us a little on the back foot. I think that’s also a little bit of the reason why, in the second practice session, we were not exactly where we wanted to be set-up wise with the balance of the car, but we have enough data to understand and improve it for tomorrow. I enjoy being at this track, and especially this weekend, as we have our new Energy Station which is a great home for our Team.”
Following Pierre's day he added:
“Overall, today felt good and it was a pretty positive day. I think we’ve taken a step forward and the first feeling with the car is good. Of course, as a driver you always want more grip, but I think in terms of balance it was good and so I’m really happy. It’s only the first day of running so it’s too early to make any conclusions and we need to understand more about this package. It’s clear Mercedes and Ferrari have made a pretty big step, but we ran a lot of tests today, so now we need to analyse everything tonight and try to put everything together for tomorrow.”