Fernando Alonso had a good first proper day in the Ferrari F150 at Valencia, the team having already shaken the car down at Fiorano last week.
Of the new cars only Sebastian Vettel was faster with the Red Bull, but the Spaniard admitted that there was still a lot to learn about the Pirellis.
“The tyre degrade a lot, and they are not very consistent at the moment, and we are very limited in terms of number of tyres as well,” he said. “You have to keep one set of tyres for the whole morning, and then maybe put one for half of the afternoon and one at the end. It’s difficult to do set-up changes and to really get an answer at the moment on those.”
Alonso says he’s quickly got used to playing around with KERS and wing buttons, although it’s early days yet. He made some interesting observations on the new technology.
“It’s OK, it’s obviously not the easiest thing to do at the exit of the corners, these new buttons on the steering wheel. We start slowly, we did some practice also in the simulator, so it’s not the first time we had the buttons on the steering.
“But in the morning we started step-by-step, some laps we activate the KERS, some other laps we activate the rear wing, and then we start doing everything at the same time and getting used to it. Now in the afternoon everything was coming out automatically, so I think it’s good. Tomorrow plus Jerez will be enough to be completely confident on the new things.”
However he admitted that it was still going to be tricky to keep on top of everything.
“It’s a difficult question. Obviously it’s not very easy, you lose concentration in your driving line or in your driving style, pure performance, but it’s also something that drivers who get used to the systems, and drivers who are trained more or they are more clever on this, they can have an advantage, so it’s also a challenge for all of us to try to do better than our colleagues.
“We all have our self confidence, we all think that we can do it, and that it also something that can be good with the new buttons, with the new F1, you have to try to get used to it better than the others.”
Asked by this blog how he felt compared with a year ago, as a Ferrari new boy, he said: “Yeah obviously it’s better this year. Last year it was really, really the first test. A lot of excitement, a lot of emotions last year also, because it was the first time in a Ferrari car.
“This year we approach the test in a better way, more relaxed. You know Ferrari, you know all the staff, you know also the programme for this test. We have two days, last year I only had one. So it was a lot of things to do in one day. This year we start more in a relaxed way and really focus on the things you have to do. Last year was more like a demo more than work!”