Kubica is quickest on final day (Words & Pictures)


Lotus Renault GP's Robert Kubica topped the timesheets on the final day of testing at Valencia, the Pole posting the fastest lap of the three day test.

The British team measured the downforce produced by the R31 with some aero runs this morning - this involved running the car at constant speed on the straight - and ties up with the wind tunnel figures.

Initial set-up work was also very productive and the team found some good directions. Almost all of the routine systems checks have now been completed, allowing the team to focus on performance work and tyre evaluation in Jerez next week.

"I think we can split the day into two halves," said Kubica, "because we had some problems in the morning and we only managed to do our first real run about 13:30. But, after we solved the issues with the car, we managed to do a bit of set-up evaluation and some tyre work. However, because of the time we lost this morning we didn't complete the laps we targeted, but it's better to get any reliability issues with the car during testing, rather than when we get to the first race in Bahrain."

"After months of effort from the whole team, it was great to be on the track for the first time with the R31 this week," said James Allison. "Our first three days of testing have not been without incident, but we have managed a good amount of running, proving out the reliability and functionality of all the key systems on the car notwithstanding its rather unusual layout. The first test has shown that management of the tyres this season will be absolutely critical, so it was good to have made some progress in this regard. We move on to the second pre-season test next week looking to make further progress with set-up and tyre management prior to getting the first race package together in the later tests."

"It was a tricky morning with some electrical gremlins on the car," admitted Alan Permane. "We eventually got to the bottom of them, but it took us longer than expected, so we lost some track time. The afternoon was much more productive. We ran a set-up programme, which was the first time we had made any significant changes to the car and steadily improved the balance. In the latter part of the afternoon we concentrated on reliability work with some long runs and it's encouraging to have covered 95 laps."

Adrian Sutil was back on duty for Force India, the German completing more than 100 laps with the VJM03, the first time he has driven the car since the tyre test in Abu Dhabi in November.

As with Paul di Resta and Nico Rosberg over the previous two days, Sutil's programme was focussed principally on collecting further data on the performance of the Pirelli tyres under different set-ups and fuel loads. In a productive session, the German posted the second quickest time of the day behind the Lotus Renault GP car of Robert Kubica.

The team now heads to Jerez for the second test next week (10 - 13 February), where the VJM04 will be run for the first time.

"It felt good to be in the car again after a few months away!" said Sutil. "Everything went pretty smoothly, as we expected with the VJM03, so we could complete the work we wanted to do. Paul and Nico had collected a lot of data on the tyres in the previous two days, so my aim today was to continue this work on alternative set-ups and fuel loads. We got all the information we needed and I feel like we understand the tyre performance pretty well now. Having got back into the car again I now can't wait to get my first taste of the VJM04 next week in Jerez."

"During the final day's testing Adrian got a chance to compare the different tyres," added circuit engineering director, Dominic Harlow, "but also looked at some set-up alternatives, brake material and the range of weight distribution available to us.

"It was another productive day," he continued, "and now we shift our focus to the VJM04 for the roll out next week, which everyone in the team is tremendously looking forward to. The lap times today are interesting when you consider the technical differences between 2011 and 2010 cars like the VJM03, and relative levels of downforce, but of course we must be careful not to read too much into them."

Ahead of tomorrow's launch of its 2011 car in Berlin, Jenson Button was on duty for McLaren giving the MP4-25 its last run. The team focussed mainly on tyre testing, and along with the data provided by Gary Paffett and Lewis Hamilton, today's programme has given it a "broad dataset" with which it can begin to understand and hone the tyres and car set-up for the forthcoming season.

"It was an interesting day and a new experience for me to try the Pirellis," said Button. "They obviously work in a different way to last year's tyres, but most of my runs were reasonably good. I was quite happy with the way the car was working; we did a lot of good work on set-up. We're moving in the right direction.

"There's degradation," he continued, "but you'll find that on any tyre, particularly on the super-soft tyre, but that's to be expected. Now I'm looking forward to seeing the new car tomorrow and starting to test it properly next week."

Mark Webber was back in the RB7 as Red Bull focused on the new tyres, working to gain a greater understanding of how they behave and how to get the best out of them. As the Australian didn't attend the Abu Dhabi tyre test at the end of last season, it was the first chance he had had to experience them for a full day - as well as the new RB7.

"Today was the first good long run in the car for me, so we learnt a lot," said Webber. "There are some quick cars out there, but it was a good finish to the test for us. We had a good day one and day three, day two wasn't quite so productive, but overall the team has done a bloody awesome job - to get the car here for the first test and do the work we've done straight out of the box, it's impressive."

"It's been an encouraging start," added head of race engineering, Ian Morgan. "We've had good reliability and a reasonable performance; it's a solid foundation to start developing towards the first race of the season."

It was a difficult return to action for Felipe Massa. As he was coming to the end of his first run, he spun off on his own oil as a result of an oil leak caused by a broken clamp. Unfortunately the oil leaked on to the exhausts and resulted in a small fire which caused further damage to the car. The mechanics immediately set to work on repairing the damage, but it is was around four hours before the hapless Brazilian was back on track.

Once back on track, Massa, who focussed on development work on the F150, concentrating mainly on acquiring an understanding of the car and the Pirelli tyres, completed 80 laps posting the fifth best time of the day.

For Virgin, Timo Glock was at the wheel of the VR-01 for the last time before driving the new MVR-02 car at Jerez next week, and was able to complete a total of 114 laps, in excess of the combined total of laps achieved over the past two days. The German completed a total of 461.8 km, thereby establishing a new record for the team.

"Today was a very productive day," said Glock. "The team worked very hard to gain more running after yesterday and as a result I was able to complete many laps and we were quite competitive. However, this is still last year's car so we hope for good things with the new car. I think these first three days in Valencia have been very useful for the team though. I really can't wait to drive the MVR-02 next week."

"We have started the 2011 season well," added team principal, John Booth. "There is still a lot of work to do, but these first few days of testing will be very helpful to ensure we are heading in the right direction. The next week is going to be very important for the team, as we are launching the new 2011 MVR-02 car and testing it in Jerez for the first time. For now though it was great to end this week's test, and our last running of the VR-01, on such a positive note by completing such an impressive number of laps."

Pastor Maldonado was on duty for Williams, the Grove outfit running its KERS system for the first time today. "I am feeling much more confident in the car now using both the KERS and the rear wing," said Maldonado. "I am also working even better with the team and developing the car over both long and short runs. I am feeling better every time I get in the car."

"The main target for today was to get the KERS running and for Pastor to familiarise himself with the FW33," said Sam Michael. "He did a good job learning all the control systems. There is a lot for a driver to think about in the cockpit now with the KERS, the rear wing, the brakes as well as keeping the tyres up to temperature. We did more set-up changes today to keep learning about the car and some longer runs for stabilised temperature checks. We ran 100 laps trouble-free so are quite happy with that. Overall it has been a good shakedown test for us."

After a "difficult" day yesterday, when his track time was limited by rear bodywork issues, today Sergio Perez enjoyed a very productive session covering over 100 laps in the ideal track conditions.

"I'm very happy with how things went today," said the Mexican. "It was a busy day and I learnt a lot about the systems and the car, while the team also collected a lot of information. We will keep working hard to improve - me personally from a driver's perspective and all together, of course, with regards to the car. I'm already very much looking forward to the next test in Jerez and can't wait to run the C30 again."

"It was a much better day today and we covered over 100 laps," added technical director, James Key. "It was good for Sergio to spend lot more more time in the car and with the team. He has already learnt a lot and did a good job. Having had more time working with the car, we have been able to start changing the set up to match the tyres better, which is giving us some useful directions for the next test. We have also been using different tyre compounds for the first time and the super soft is very fast on the first lap, but degrades quickly. Meanwhile the medium compound is faster than we thought over the first lap, but certainly more consistent. Now we head to Jerez where we will start to introduce new development parts."

At Mercedes, which had Michael Schumacher back on duty, the focus was on reliability and mileage accumulation, as well as giving the German the opportunity to familiarise himself with the KERS system for the first time.

"We were able to achieve a lot of valuable mileage and it was a positive day," said Schumacher. "I am pleased with that, and with how the car was behaving. Again, of course, this is not our final race car for the season but a lot of elements have already proved to be a significant step forward. I felt totally comfortable in the car immediately and noticed how much I had missed driving since November. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and this week gives us a very good idea of where we should concentrate our work. I look forward to going to Jerez now."

"A good day's work today with Michael," added Ross Brawn, "and we have been able to cover some significant mileage which is important for our reliability checks. We're starting to get an insight into the car's behaviour and its responses to various set-up changes are proving to be very consistent. After a few difficulties at the start of the test, we have finished with a strong day providing plenty of data and options to take forward to the next test in Jerez."

At Toro Rosso, Sebastien Buemi took over yesterday afternoon and ran through all of today. According to the Faenza outfit, three days of testing is not enough to draw any real conclusions about performance and comparison with others is definitely not on the cards, given that some teams were still running 2010 cars.

"Another interesting day," said Buemi, "my first full one in the new car. I was able to have a good look at all three compounds of tyre from Pirelli, from the Medium through to the Super-soft. I used KERS all day and we had no issues with the system. The first three days of running with the new car have been productive, and now we must prepare to make progress in Jerez next week."

At Hispania, Narain Karthikeyan continued, the only driver to run for all three days here. According to the Spanish outfit it has achieved its goals and leaves Valencia with the homework done.

"Today obviously I felt a little more comfortable with the car," said the Indian, "the more running you do the more you get used to the brakes, the engine and the car in general, so I think we planned the program and we could carry it on. We mainly tried different setups on the car. All in all I feel quite satisfied with the day's work.

"Anyway I know I can improve a lot more," he continued, "because after such a long break I am driving back in Formula 1 and I just have to get used to it again, so I am happy that everything just went all right. Besides, we tried different compounds of tyres today, as yesterday, just to get the feeling, to see how they work. So to sum up I just can say that these days have been very positive for me and for the team."

"Today we have completed our program all what we wanted to try with Narain in order to better understand Pirelli tyres," added Toni Cuquerella, the team's chief race and test engineer. "During these three days Narain has well adapted both to the car and the rubbers, posting a considerable high amount of laps".

"Narain gave a very good performance today, and he keeps on improving, which is very positive for us all," said Colin Kolles. "Regarding the Pirelli tyres, it is a fact that this year they will be a very interesting element since there will be a lot of pit stops, which will generate more action to the show".

Lotus ran a limited programme, due to a lack of power steering on the T128, which meant for a long, hard session for Jarno Trulli. The team remains here for an extra day of private testing on Friday, however, much of this will be devoted to start, pit stops and the like as opposed to lap times.

"We had a limited programme today due to the lack of power steering," said Mike Gascoyne. "Under those circumstances 38 laps was the full programme and I want to say well done to Jarno for completing the plan in a car that was clearly hard work to drive.

"On the positive side we have now completed the systems checks on fuel, aerodynamics and cooling and were able to do start simulations, so with the fact we have another full day of testing tomorrow with both race drivers and the power steering we are aiming to step up to focusing on performance on our third day."

"It has been a very positive first day," added Trulli, "despite the fact we deliberately didn't set any meaningful lap times as the car is missing a few parts that will be with us tomorrow. Nevertheless, the car feels great - it has good grip and today we were able to concentrate on carrying out work on the systems which we were going to have to do at some point anyway.

"Now we can concentrate on building up the performance levels tomorrow and in the next tests, so while it's a shame I couldn't have a full taste of the car, it was still a very positive first day in the new car."

To check out our Valencia Thursday gallery, click here.

Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 03/02/2011
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