(© Ben Johnston 2015)
Williams Martini Racing’s Felipe Massa was the pace setter on Day 1 of the final winter test at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday.
The Brazilian completed 103 laps with a fastest time of 1m 23.500s finishing the day just ahead of the Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson.
Speaking following the session, Massa stated:
‘It was a good day for us and the car behaved well. When we tried to use the new soft tyre we managed to get some quicker laps in. The FW37 never showed a sign of an issue and this has been the case since we arrived at the first test in Jerez. We are doing a lot of work and seem to be moving forward. I have just one more day in the car before the first race, so Saturday will be important.’
Williams Chief test and support engineer Rod Nelson stated:
‘The programme was slightly upset by the rain in the morning, but that just meant we had more work to do in the afternoon. We managed to complete the planned schedule though and we have made some positive changes to the chassis, as well as some aero adjustments. We are now looking at what we will take to Australia to make sure we are prepared for the first race. It has been a good day, with no reliability issues.’
Valtteri Bottas will be in action for the Grove based outfit on Friday. Speaking about his day of running in the C34 the Sauber F1 Team’s Marcus Ericsson stated:
‘It was a productive day, and for me the best one of the pre-season so far. The morning went well until the rain came, which forced us to slightly change our plans. In the afternoon we planned a full race simulation, which was a very good exercice for the team to get valuable data. Also for me it was important to get a feeling for the 2015 tyres over a race distance with different fuel loads. We finished the day with short-runs on soft and super soft tyres. Overall, a positive day during which we have learned a lot. I hope we can continue for the rest of the week in the same way.’
Sauber’s Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara commented saying:
‘It was a good day for us. We completed a race distance and also did short-runs with a bit of a shuffled programme due to the unexpected shower before lunch. In the end it all went well, as we were able to complete the programme.’
Sauber’s Felipe Nasr will be in action for the Swiss based outfit on Friday. Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was third fastest for the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team despite the fact that the team were forced to end their day early due to a problem with their MGU-K. Speaking following the day of running Hamilton stated:
‘I feel so much better this week. I have a lot more energy. I’m actually going to head back and go for a run now as I haven’t had much to do this afternoon! Of course, we would have liked to have a few more laps today – especially as the sun came out later on. But sometimes you have those days.
I don’t see it as too much of a negative. It’s good that you find these things, whatever issues you might have, and iron them out now. It means hopefully you won’t find them at the first race. Testing is always difficult. If you get the whole day in the car, the sun is out and the tyres are working you can make more changes to learn where you want to put the car.
Naturally, the more you drive the more you feel comfortable – but to be honest in the 50 laps I had today I felt ready to go. I had a positive feeling in the car and it was good to get the tyres working. I’ve got one more day to now hopefully have a clean run and really pinpoint where I want to put the car for the first race.’
The double world champion managed just 48 laps before the issue with the car and his fastest time was a 1m 24.881s.
Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat was fourth fastest with a time of 1m 25.947s. The Russian completed 75 laps in the RB11 and speaking following the session stated:
‘We more or less had a decent day. We were able to get quite a lot done and hopefully we’ll get more done tomorrow. These last couple of days are really important in terms of understanding where we are, understanding the engine and chassis, so it’s good to get as much running as possible. It felt fine today. There’s always room for improvement though so we’ll be pushing to find that.’
Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin commented saying:
‘Not a perfect start to this final test. After we sorted a small problem Dany had on the install lap, we ran well in the morning and got through some shorter runs, turning the car round quickly in the garage after set-up changes and trying to build up some performance. However, then the rain came and that set everything back a bit. In the afternoon we were planning on a long run but about 10 laps into his stint, we noticed a problem on the car and Dany came back to the garage. We felt it would be better to wait for some new parts overnight so we went back to shorter runs in the late afternoon and we’ll probably do the same first thing tomorrow morning until the parts are onboard.’
The Lotus F1 Team’s Romain Grosjean was fifth fastest in the E23 Hybrid completing 75 laps with a fastest time of 1m 26.177s. Speaking following his day in the car, the Frenchman said:
‘We tried a lot of different set-ups today so there was a lot of returning to the garage for different things to be changed, which is all part of testing. The car’s been reliable again and we’ve gone through quite a bit of work even if the lap count isn’t as high as some other days – it’s all part of the learning process at a test. I’m looking forward to watching further progress with the car tomorrow then getting back out on track myself on Saturday.’
The Enstone outfit’s Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane commented:
‘We had a productive morning evaluating a new front suspension geometry, then we spent more time trying different set-ups in the afternoon. The E23 was once more reliable and we’ve collected plenty of data and good feedback from Romain. The track was damp for a while, so we avoided too much time on the circuit in those conditions as it’s not productive to be on circuit at those times for test purposes. We’re all set for another full day tomorrow with Pastor in the car.’
Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was 6th fastest in the SF15-T. The Finn completed set up analysis, practice starts along with pit-stop tests completing 80 laps with a fastest time of 1m 26.327s. Speaking following the day of running Raikkonen stated:
‘We learned something today, even with a few issues which I am sure we can fix. The car is not too bad overall, but there are some areas where we want to improve, especially when it get tricky with the conditions that we are experiencing and cause the tyres not to work the same way from one lap to another. Now we have another day of testing to put together what we have learned. In a few days in Melbourne we will find out where we really are.’
Raikkonen will end his winter test programme tomorrow before team mate Sebastian Vettel takes over the SF15-T for the final weekend of on track action before the Australian Grand Prix. Speaking following Thursday’s running, Ferrari Technical Director James Allison stated:
‘This wasn’t an easy day for us as we spent time chasing our tails on an annoying reliability problems which by the end of the day we managed to put to bed, but that interrupted our programmes for the day quite considerably. Now we can put what we learn today in place for tomorrow so to have a day much more like we want to have.’
Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jnr was seventh fastest for the Italian team completing 86 laps with a time of 1m 26.962s.
It was another extremely tough day for the McLaren Honda Formula One Team as Jenson Button was forced to cut short his day of running in the MP4-30 following a hydraulic leak which required the team to change the Honda power unit.
Testing continues tomorrow.
© Ben Johnston 2015