Caterham drivers report from day one at Suzuka

11 October, 2013

Caterham drivers report from the first day of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, Round 15 of the 2013 Formula 1 World Championship, at Suzuka.

Heikki Kovalainen: “It was good to be back in the car, especially at Suzuka which, for me, is the best circuit in the world. We ran through a pretty standard FP1 session and from the first laps the car felt OK with the overall balance slightly improved from the last time I drove it in Monza. In particular the steering felt very responsive, even better than the last time I drove and that gives good confidence to attack and keep control through the corners.

“Early in the session the braking stability was OK, only in the last corner was there a slight issue as the tyres got hotter towards the end of the lap. It felt a bit nervous in T6 / 7 but the opposite was true in T13 / 14 where it was pretty stable. We did have an issue with low-speed traction so we worked on that for run two.

“On the second run the rear didn’t feel as good in the highspeed section, especially in the first sector on the first quick lap. However, we’d improved braking stability and the rear tyre deg was ok – it actually improved during the run and it’ll be interesting to see if that continues on the long runs.

“On the final run the tyres had started to give up so true comparisons with the first two runs were always going to be difficult. We tried a different rear wing setting and the balance had shifted to more oversteer, but overall it felt positive, especially as the track grip levels keep improving, so I finished the session happy with the job I’d done and with the progress we’d made on Friday morning. “

Charles Pic: “I was back in the car for FP2 and we went straight to work on a set of Hard tyres at the start of the session. At first the car felt a bit too sharp on turn-in and in the high speed section there was a bit too much understeer, so we added a bit of front wing for the next run. That improved the balance a little but it still wasn’t great. It was the same on the options but for the long run we changed the rear anti-roll bar and it felt better, we were definitely going in the right direction but it still wasn’t quite enough. On entry it felt more calm and we’d reduced some of the mid-corner understeer but over the course of the final run it was pretty clear we also needed to look at the ratios for Saturday. Overall not too bad but I think there’s quite a bit more to come for tomorrow.”

Giedo van der Garde: “FP1 started off OK. The car balance wasn’t too bad but as the tyres started going off it was oversteering more than I’d like and it felt like we needed to add more wing to control that, mainly in the low-speed sections, especially with the lower downforce setup we started with. It was pretty good in the high-speeds but we added a bit more wing for run two and initially it was a bit better. We’d switched to the second of the aero configurations we were trying in the session and unfortunately it didn’t go to plan as I went off in turn nine towards the end of the run – that was FP1 over, but we had 15 laps on the board by then so it didn’t compromise us too much.

“At the start of FP2 the car balance was better after we’d made the changes over lunch but I was still struggling with understeer in sector one and oversteer at the end of sector two, and less traction than I’d like in turns 11 and 17. For the run on options we added more front wing but I couldn’t put a really quick lap together. We finished with the usual long run, starting on hards and they held up well over the 20 lap run we did before boxing just before the end of the session. To be honest, it didn’t feel like there was a lot of difference between the hards and the mediums but we’ll look at the data from both cars tonight and see where we can make progress tomorrow. Overall it was a bit of a frustrating day, but I know there’s more potential in the car so I’m as positive as ever and we’ll come back fighting tomorrow.”

Subbed by AJN.


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