Thursday, 19 February 2015

Maldonado leads the the way for the Lotus F1 Team on an eventful opening day of testing at the Barcelona Circuit De Catalunya

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado set the pace on a dramatic opening day of the second winter test at the Barcelona Circuit De Catalunya in Spain despite bringing out the red flags at the start of the day’s action. Speaking following the session he stated:

'It is always good to see your name at the top of the timing monitors and my fastest lap was just in the course of our normal programme for the day. It feels good to drive the E23 in Barcelona. The car responded well to the changes we made and we were able to complete a good number of laps. The team has made strong progress since Jerez and we have a great starting point for the rest of the week. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a perfect track to assess a new car so we’re happy with progress today.'

Speaking following the session Lotus F1 Team Technical Director Nick Chester stated:

It’s been a positive day. We had a couple of software niggles in the morning then we were able to work through a solid programme of setup work during which we racked up a good number of laps. The car did have an extended lunch break whilst we changed the clutch, then we were able to complete further work in the afternoon. We’re happy that we’ve made good steps forward since Jerez and we’re working steadily through our evaluations whilst confirming directions for improvement.

The Venezuelan set a time of 1m25.011s in the E23 and ended the day just ahead of Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who set a fastest time of 1m 25.167s completing 74 laps and ending the day just ahead of Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo who emerged from his garage just before 10AM after the barriers had been put across his garage.

Following the session the Australian stated:

'The car felt good today, we got a bit of running done on a few different [tyre] compounds, which was interesting and we got a lot of data, which is always good,” said Daniel. “I think we’re chipping away. We’re definitely making progress but it takes time. However, I think come Melbourne we’ll be there.'

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Infiniti Red Bull Racing's Head of Race Engineering Guillaume stated:

'A slightly difficult morning for the team but not wholly unexpected given that we had some new parts here which needed to be dialled in. There were some software issues in the morning, which held us back a bit, but while those were being sorted out we were able to get through some aero mapping work, which was useful. Then the car got better and better through the day and in the end Daniel was able to run on the pace. We did mostly short runs today as that suited the game plan for the updates we have but by the afternoon I think we could have sent him out for as long as we wanted as the car was running well at that stage. Ultimately, what we got today is pretty much what you’d expect from the first day of a test at which there are quite a few new things to factor in.'

Ricciardo set a fastest time of 1m 25.547s, the Australian completed 59 laps of the Barcelona circuit. The Australian finished the day just ahead of  Sahara Force India’s Sergio Perez who was not meant to be testing today but was drafted in as the Silverstone based team’s test driver, Pascal Wehrlein who was on loan from Mercedes spent the afternoon with the reigning world champions as Lewis Hamilton cut short his morning after just eleven laps due to suffering from a fever.

Speaking following the session Wehrlein stated:

'It was great to spend the morning with Force India and to have the opportunity to drive their car for the first time. It’s a good team and everyone was really welcoming. After a few laps I felt very comfortable and confident in the car. Then, of course, I had to move across one garage and drive the Mercedes for the afternoon which was a bit of a surprise. But I will have another day with Force India this week. Driving two Formula One cars in one day was amazing and I am really looking forward to getting back out there again.'

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Sergio Perez stated:

It's a very nice feeling to be back on track after the break and to start getting back into a racing rhythm. When I got the call to come to the track, I was really excited about having an earlier start than planned. There is so much to do: I have to get to know my new race engineer, Tim, we have new tyres and new parts to try. I think it was a positive afternoon and a good head-start on the work we are planning to do tomorrow. We can be happy about our day's work, it was a promising beginning and we can build on it in the remaining three days. 34 laps was a good number for half a day and tomorrow we will be aiming to add many more to the tally.'

Sahara Force India's Chief Race Engineer Tom McCullough commented saying:

'It was a very positive start to our on-track season with no technical issues and lots of mileage. Even though we had to deal with an unplanned driver change, we managed to achieve all our main goals for the day. Pascal settled into the team straight away and was able to give good feedback on the test items he covered this morning; for Sergio, it was a matter of getting back to action and having his first experience with the 2015 tyres as he completed all the outstanding items on our test programme. In addition to the work on the new Pirellis, we completed a series of tests on development mechanical components on the VJM07. The aim is to have a similarly productive day tomorrow.'

Felipe Nasr completed 79 laps for the Sauber F1 Team ending his day early after a collision with the Williams Martini Racing Team’s Susie Wolff which ended her session early too. The Scot can be happy with her outing for the team however as the Scot managed to complete the second highest number of laps of the day with 86 under belt ending the day in 10th place just ahead of Lewis Hamilton who rounded out the time sheets.

Wolff ended the day just over three seconds behind Maldonado. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen completed 96 laps for the Italian team and ended the day in 6th place with a time of 1m 27.900s.

Jenson Button was seventh fastest for McLaren Honda who will not run until Saturday after Honda discovered a broken seal on the MGU-K which will require a re-design. The 2009 world champion completed 21 laps with a fastest time of 1m 28.182s ending the session just ahead of Sahara Force India’s Pascal Wehrlein. Testing continues tomorrow.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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