October 25th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Mercedes got off to a "steady start" on Friday in India, according to team principal Ross Brawn, who said, "We didn't encounter any major problems today, so it was a good, steady start to our weekend and we will aim to build on that tomorrow." Lewis Hamilton finished the day fourth fastest, with Nico Rosberg sixth.
Mercedes have not won a race since the Hungarian Grand Prix, and neither driver has stood on the podium since Lewis Hamilton finished third at Spa in August. Nonetheless, Mercedes have gone into the Indian Grand Prix targeting the podium, and it looks like they will be locked in a battle with Lotus and Ferrari to achieve that aim.
In this morning's FP1 session, Nico Rosberg was quickest of the Mercedes drivers, setting the third fastest time of the session, while Lewis Hamilton struggled with the balance of his car and was fifth fastest. In the afternoon session the order was reversed, with a happier Hamilton fourth while Rosberg recorded the sixth fastest time.
As an indication of the strength of the Red Bull team at this point of the season, neither Mercedes driver is expecting to fight for victory on Sunday, despite their strong form throughout the season.
This is what the drivers had to say after Friday practice:
Lewis Hamilton: "We made some good progress over the two practice sessions today. This morning wasn't so good but we completed a lot of laps this afternoon and made some good progress. It's difficult to get the set-up right here and this circuit is pretty tough on the tyres so I think everyone was struggling with the soft compound. Our car feels pretty good at this early stage but there are definitely some areas we can improve overnight. We're working towards a strong qualifying performance tomorrow afternoon, ideally on the second row, and then hopefully a place on the podium, that would be nice."
Nico Rosberg: "That was quite a tough day for us: we learned a lot but still have a lot of work ahead tonight so that I can find the best set-up. Generally, it seems that the main question this weekend is who can get third position behind the two Red Bulls, because they look pretty unstoppable at this circuit. But I'm confident we will have a role to play in that battle tomorrow and on Sunday."