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8 March 2011

Lotus Renault GP Barcelona Test, Circuit de Catalunya, 8 - 12 March 2011

Day 1

The final pre-season test got underway in Barcelona today. Nick drove this morning, but was suffering with a cold, so Vitaly took over for the afternoon.

Lotus Renault R31, Vitaly Petrov, Barcelona 8 March 2011

What we learned today:

  • The team validated the performance of several key elements of the race one aero package to make sure the track data matched with the wind tunnel figures.
  • Both drivers tried the new rear wing and new floor, and the initial data confirms that the updated package is a step forward.

Nick: “I have a cold at the moment so the team said I could try the car this morning and stop in the afternoon. The priority of the day was to assess some new aero parts. That’s why we did a lot of in and out laps for the aero mapping. We are still analysing the data, but the feeling was positive. Then, we used the rest of the morning to do a few starts, system checks and looked at some development items.”

Vitaly: “We didn’t do a massive number of laps this afternoon, but we managed to check the balance and did some set-up work ready for tomorrow. The new aero parts are another step forward and have given us some more downforce.”

Alan Permane’s technical programme notes:

  • Nick wasn’t feeling too well today so we didn’t do anything too strenuous in the morning. We wanted him to get a feel for the new aero parts and his initial feedback was very useful.
  • Vitaly took over in the afternoon and ran the same parts. Again the focus was on gathering data for the aero package, so he did some constant speed runs. He also began a set-up programme and ran on both the hard and soft tyres.

Driver: Nick / Vitaly
Chassis: R31-01
Fastest Lap: Nick: 1:24.735 / Vitaly: 1:22.937
Position: Nick P5 / Vitaly P3
Total laps: Nick: 20 / Vitaly: 27

Day 2, race distance for Vitaly

Vitaly remained in the R31 for day two of the Barcelona test as he clocked up 115 laps to demonstrate a clear step forward in terms of the car’s overall reliability.

What we learned today:

  • The team improved its understanding of the forces acting on the tyres by running instrumented wheels this morning.
  • Vitaly got a feel for the car over long runs by simulating a race distance this afternoon, using both the hard and soft compounds of dry tyres.

Vitaly: “I’m pleased with what we achieved today and I was able to learn a lot about the car and the tyres. We spent the morning doing shorter runs and working on the set-up, and I was pretty happy with the car by the end of the morning. But the most important thing was to complete the race distance, which we managed this afternoon. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do consistent long runs and really start understanding the tyres.”

Alan Permane’s technical programme notes

  • A good day for us. We did some data gathering in the morning, followed by set-up work and then a race distance in the afternoon.
  • The focus of the set-up work today was looking at the rear suspension. We made various changes during the morning and found some good directions.

Driver: Vitaly
Chassis: R31-01
Fastest Lap: 1:22.670
Position: P3
Total laps: 115

Day 3, brake and set-up work

Vitaly and Nick shared driving duties again today as the team tested in sunny conditions in Barcelona.

What we learned today:

  • Data collected on the braking system suggests the new components tried this morning are working as expected. Vitaly’s feedback was also positive.
  • Set-up work with a heavy fuel load proved valuable with the team discovering several useful directions.

Vitaly: “Unfortunately we lost some time this morning because we had a problem with the KERS so we couldn’t do the longs runs we had planned. For the rest of the morning we did some brake work and continued getting more data on the tyres.”

Nick:“We spent the afternoon trying some different ideas with the set-up and we made quite a few improvements and learned some useful things. I ran on the medium and the soft tyres, and the car felt much better by the end of the day, but there is still a lot more work to complete before the last day of testing tomorrow.”

Alan Permane’s technical programme notes

  • We ran both drivers again with Vitaly driving this morning and Nick in the afternoon. The plan was for Vitaly to do another race distance, but unfortunately our running was cut short with a KERS problem.
  • For the afternoon with Nick, we concentrated on set-up work and ran the medium and soft tyres.

Driver: Vitaly / Nick
Chassis: R31-01
Fastest Lap: Vitaly: 1:24.233 / Nick: 1:23.541
Position: Vitaly: P8 / Nick P6
Total laps: Vitaly: 24 / Nick: 32

Day 4: Final day of work for LRGP

Ideal weather conditions prevailed in Barcelona as Nick wrapped up the team’s pre-season preparations ahead of the Australian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

What we learned today:

  • High fuel running allowed Nick to improve his understanding of the Pirelli tyres – maximising lap time while looking after the tyres. The data also confirms the R31 is nicely balanced in terms of tyre wear, with both the front and rears wearing at a similar rate.

Nick: “For our final day in Barcelona we started by working on car balance to be ready for Melbourne. The set-up work was useful and taught us quite a few things. We would have liked to do more laps and I was hoping to do a race distance later in the day, but the problems with the gearbox after lunch meant we spent a bit too much time in the garage. However, we managed to get out for the final hour and did some running on heavy fuel.”

Alan Permane’s technical programme notes

  • We had a good morning. The car was working well and showed good pace. The programme involved the continuation of our set-up work from earlier in the week.
  • For the afternoon we had planned a race distance, but unfortunately we had to change the gearbox at lunchtime. In the end we opted to do a very long run on high fuel.

Driver: Nick
Chassis: R31-01
Fastest Lap: 1:22.073
Position: P4
Total laps: 67