Friday, 27 February 2015

Rosberg leads the way for Mercedes on day 2 as McLaren make progress

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of the session on day 2 of the final winter test at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya.

The German completed 106 laps of the Spanish circuit with a fastest time of 1m 22.792s. Speaking following the session Rosberg stated:

Today was a difficult day to start with but ended on a positive. During the early runs, even though the numbers looked like they were in the right place with the setup, it was actually very far away from where it needed to be, which was unusual and caught us off guard a little bit. 

We didn’t really understand why, so a big part of the day has been chasing the setup and finding the right direction. It was really difficult to understand where to go. I had a lot of oversteer in the car, so the rear was just all over the place with no traction. But eventually, towards the end especially, it was feeling more and more decent. Then, putting the soft tyres on, that gives you the grip anyway so it doesn’t really matter what the balance is – more or less it will be possible to do a good lap.

I’m pleased with my two laps at the end – I nailed them pretty well and they were both identical, so a good ending to the day. We’re confident that we have a good car and I’m starting to feel good in it. At the same time, of course, we’re well aware that the others have been posting some quick times and we can take nothing for granted. We have a great team who are doing a fantastic job and always want better and better, so we will keep our heads down and keep working. It’s a work in progress…'

Williams Martini Racing Team’s Valtteri Bottas showed that the FW37 is an extremely competitive car as the Finn ended the day in second place completing 90 laps of the Barcelona circuit with a fastest time of 1m 23.995s. Speaking following the session, Bottas stated:

It was nice to focus on performance today and work to get the lap times lower. We are working hard and still have two days left of the test so there is more still to do. The day was busy and we know there is still more to come, I feel positive and the balance was good. We still need to make sure we look at the longer runs and not just the one lap qualifying pace.

The Grove based outfit’s Chief test and support engineer Rod Nelson stated:

We started the day doing some aero work comparing data and driver feel. We then moved onto a few performance based runs. Later in the day we worked on race procedure including some longer runs and grid simulations. We have had some new components that have performed as expected which has been productive. We have a busy final two days of the test as we optimise the time left until the first race.

The Sauber F1 Team’s Felipe Nasr was third fastest for the Swiss based outfit having completed 141 laps with a fastest time of 1m 24.071s. The Brazilian was extremely happy with his day in the C34 and stated afterwards:

Today was very productive as we went through the whole programme. In the morning I was able to get a feeling for the car during the short-runs on the soft and medium compounds, which was quite positive. After the lunch break, I went through a race simulation on different tyres. It was a good experience, and I now have a better understanding for the car during the long-runs. I am also quite happy with the balance of the car. Again today we made another step forward, and we have to keep pushing in this direction.
Speaking following the day, the Sauber F1 Team’s Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara stated:

‘It was another good day for us. The programme was more or less the same as yesterday, with aero measurements and race starts in the morning. Later on Felipe went through a race simulation, and we were also able to test a different rear wing at the end of the day.
Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fourth fastest for the Italian team. The four time world champion completed 143 laps in the SF15-T working on aerodynamic and long run tests. Kimi Raikkonen will be back in action for the Maranello based outfit. Speaking after today’s running, Sebastian Vettel stated:

I drove more than two Grands Prix today, but I don’t know if I won one, that depends on what the others did! Jokes apart, it’s nice that at the final test we could cover more and more mileage. Today we didn’t have any problem, we know there is still a lot of work we can do as a team, but so far I feel very good. If I had to pinpoint one thing, I’d rather be a bit quicker, but it’s difficult to evaluate how quick we are, because some people tried more of a qualifying trim and others did less so. I never drove the 2014 Ferrari, but I think this one it’s a massive step forward. That doesn’t mean that we are satisfied as it’s clear that if you want to win, you have to beat Mercedes. It’s exciting to see what’s going on behind them, which I think it’s not clear judging from the lap times we’ve seen so far.’

Ferrari technical director James Allison stated:

Today was a much, much better day, with almost flawless reliability, and it’s much more encouraging, as we get close to Melbourne, to have that. We did a lot of setup work as well, were very conservative for outright performance, but were able to get good direction for the start of the season.’

It was a fantastic day for the McLaren-Honda F1 Team as Jenson Button completed 101 laps with a fastest time of 1m 25.590s ending the day just ahead of the Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado. Button who stopped out on track towards the end of the day called it ‘a massive leap in terms of the atmosphere within the team’.
Speaking following his day where he ended in 6th place with a 1m 26.705s having completed 140 laps Pastor Maldonado stated:

We ran the car for a long time today which has been a good endorsement of my winter training programme as I still feel fresh after 140 laps! We did a lot of different assessments so I had plenty to think about and it was good to do the race simulation as we’ll soon be heading to Melbourne. There’s a lot of information to digest from today and I can’t wait to get back in the car on Sunday.

The Lotus F1 Team’s Technical Director Nick Chester stated:

We’ve completed a high tally of laps today and the E23 has run reliably throughout. This is great for us as we’ve been able to try a number of different set-up and aero configurations to enable us to get as much data as possible to make further progress in our understanding of our new car. Pastor did a great job despite driving the equivalent distance of more than two Grands Prix and we’re looking forward to Romain jumping back into the car tomorrow.

Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen was 7th fastest for the Italian team having completed 139 laps with a fastest time of 1m 26.766s.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat was 8th fastest in the RB11 with a 1m 26.965s completing 84 laps and speaking afterwards the Russian stated:

We had a couple of issues today but nothing too serious. So, while it would have been nice to do a few more laps, we did get a lot done today. You always want more and we’re always looking for improvement but overall I’m happy, Today was my last day of testing and I’m happy with the level I reached with my group of guys over the past few weeks. I think we’re heading in the right direction, we have a good understanding between us, we’re not lost anywhere and we know what we need to do for Melbourne.’

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s head of race engineering Guillaume Rocquelin stated:

‘It doesn’t sound very exciting but aside from a couple of minor glitches it was a very normal day of testing – exactly the type of day you’re looking for. We had some parts arrive overnight as a fix for the problem we had yesterday afternoon and while we were waiting for those to be prepped we spent the morning doing aero work, which was part of the plan anyway.

By the time we got through that, we were ready to run the new parts in the afternoon. We were focused on long runs but then we had a problem with a sensor, which stopped us briefly. After that though it was business as usual. It was Daniil’s final day of testing and he has been excellent throughout. His ability in the car was never in doubt but it is a big ask for a driver to start with a new team and to familiarise yourself with everything in just six days of testing. However, he integrated into the set-up very quickly, got to know his guys well and got to grips with all the systems and procedures in double quick time. He’s been very impressive and I think he’s well prepared for the first race.

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team completed a productive day on their first day running the 2015 car, the VJM08 with Nico Hulkenberg completing 77 laps with a fastest time of 1m 28.412s with the German impressed with the initial outing in the car despite suffering a puncture on his out lap. Speaking afterwards he stated:

It was a very good day, at least in terms of the running we managed to do. We were able to run reliably straight out of the box and that is very encouraging. The boys and girls at the factory and here at the track have been pushing really hard in the last couple of weeks and to do 77 laps in little more than one afternoon is a remarkable job by the team.

Obviously we still have a big task ahead of us and we are playing catch-up in certain aspects, but I am quite satisfied so far. The car feels pretty good, although making a direct comparison with our 2014 car is not easy as the conditions in winter testing are always very particular. One of our team's strengths is to learn about the car quickly, so we will need to get as much data as possible to get in a good position for Melbourne. Tomorrow we will be looking at doing more long runs, working with the various tyre compounds and putting more mileage on the car.

The Sahara Force India F1 Team’s Chief Race Engineer Tom McCullough stated:

‘It has been a real big effort from all the staff back at the factory to get the car ready and out here for this test. Managing to run our installation laps before the lunch break was very useful and helped us achieve a solid first day with the VJM08.

These are the very early stages of the VJM08's running and it is encouraging to get 77 laps on the board: we could have got even more mileage hadn't it been for the red flags at the end of the day. Today was all about achieving a first understanding of the new car and to run this long allowed us to collect a sizeable amount of very valuable data. We will go through it tonight and it will help us prepare for what is hopefully going to be another productive day tomorrow.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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