Mercedes duo unsure if FRIC loss has closed gap

Friday 18th July 2014, 16:34 by Ryan Wood 

Daimler

Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton topped the opening practice sessions on Friday, but the gap to rivals Red Bull and Ferrari seems to have closed up.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was just over two-tenths behind the pair in FP1, whilst Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was only a tenth behind come second practice.

The loss of FRIC suspension - which is widely believed to have hit Mercedes hardest - could explain the smaller than normal advantage, according to Rosberg and Hamilton, but they can't be sure until qualifying.

"I hope so," he replied when asked Mercedes still has the edge. "But for sure it will shuffle things around a little bit without this FRIC system and there are some new challenges to rebalance the car and figure my way out to get happy in the car.

"Today we made good progress, I was very unhappy this morning and we tried some different things and it worked out. [Red Bull] looks a bit closer out there but you never know what people are doing and things like that. We'll see tomorrow and Sunday."

Hamilton is certain the car has changed as a result of the loss of the system, but he too is unsure whether their rivals are now closer.

"It was a little difficult to find a balance today. The car is a little bit different now, obviously because we and everyone has made changes to set-up in a different direction to what we've had in the past but it's still fun to drive. Finding the sweet spot of the car is just in a different place now. We have to improve our target and get that right.

"I guess we'll find out tomorrow, I couldn't tell you," he said when pushed on the closer gap and whether it's a result of FRIC.

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