The opening day of running at the Sepang International Circuit was a frustrating affair up and down the pitlane, with tyre wear issues besetting the teams in Free Practice 1 and the predicted afternoon shower, which it is possible to set the clock by, impacting upon progress in Free Practice 2.
This morning the programme was aero focused, as is the norm, with some time given over to circuit familiarisation, particularly for Jules Bianchi, who has never raced at Sepang. Max Chilton, by contrast, has had some experience here in the GP2 Asia Series. The programme was hampered by rear tyre wear issues but some good aero data was collected and fed back into the afternoon's plan.
For FP2 the team made some mechanical changes to try to offset the tyre management issues with both cars but the dry window was short-lived and the afternoon shower began an hour into the session. From then on the programme shifted to the Intermediate tyre - work which may well come in handy on Sunday if the current weather pattern prevails during the rest of the weekend.
Jules and Max ended the day in P18 and P22 respectively, with Max having been unable to complete his option tyre run on the PZero Medium.
Jules Bianchi: "I'm happy with the work we have been able to complete today, but it's always difficult to end Friday without a clear picture of where we stand and where there are still so many variables to consider. I am pleased with my performance today though and we seem to be making progress on the set-up we need here. This is just one of those races and circuits and it's the same for every team. It's my first time racing here and I am happy with the way I have acclimatised to the track. Now we have to see what the rest of the weekend holds. It could be frustrating, it could be exciting. We will see."
Max Chilton: "Today hasn't been the most straightforward of days but I know from experience that this circuit presents a variety of challenges, so not entirely unexpected. We have had our frustrations in a few areas but we've made some progress and completed some good runs - unfortunately not my new option run. I'm looking forward to seeing how the rest of the weekend will shape up now. The rain looks sets to play its part - that much looks clear. The rest is a little open right now so I think we will see an interesting qualifying and race."
John Booth, Team Principal: "It has been an interesting day up and down the pitlane, with tyre wear and weather playing a part in both sessions. In FP1 we had a good session looking at some aerodynamic measurements and exhaust parts, which went well, and we were able to run in FP2 with new developments on both cars. It was clear after the first session that rear tyre wear was pretty significant, however we effected some set-up changes over the break to deal with this and in FP2 the situation seems to have eased. Max experienced a delamination on one of his rear tyres during his running, which hindered his session significantly, unfortunately meaning he didn't make it out again in the dry period with the option tyre. We made the best use of the wet conditions at the end in order to give both drivers more experience of race running from the wet to the dry and the tyre crossover which this necessitates. In short, a day where the timesheets don't really speak a great deal about where we stand, but a lot of very useful information in hand for what lies ahead this weekend."
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