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22 February 2011

Lotus Renault GP - Barcelona test 18 - 21 February 2011

Day 1 - pit stop practice

Nick and Vitaly got behind the wheel of the R31 today in Barcelona. Despite a problem with the KERS, which took most of the day to solve and prevented the team from completing its scheduled programme, both drivers managed some useful pit stops practice.

What we learned today:

  • The team got up to speed with a new traffic light system for use in pit stops. This has been developed over the last year and the plan is to use it at the first race.

Nick: “I was in the car for just an hour this morning to do some pit stop practice. It was a bit damp to begin with, so we started on the wet tyres and I got my first feel for them. I didn’t do a proper run, just one timed lap and then came in and out for pit stops. It was the first time I have used the new traffic light system and it worked okay, but we found some small things to improve for next time.”

Vitaly: “A difficult day for us because we lost a lot of time finding the problem with the KERS, but at least I got out for the final 40 minutes so that we could do the practice pit stops with our new lighting system. Because we didn’t manage to do much running today, the team will give me some more time in the car tomorrow morning before Nick takes over.”

Alan Permane’s technical programme notes

  • Our day was blighted by a KERS problem, which was quite difficult to understand. However, we eventually solved the issue and, as a result, we have learned quite a lot. We’re confident we won’t face these problems again.
  • On the positive side, we did complete our pit stop practice with Nick, Vitaly and all the mechanics from the race team.

Day 2 - clocking up the miles

It was a more productive day at the track as Vitaly drove the R31 this morning, before Nick took over driving duties in the afternoon.

What we learned today:

  • The R31 was fitted with some new parts to the water system, which successfully resolved the problems the team experienced in Jerez.
  • The team logged some useful data from its suspension set-up programme in the afternoon, evaluating changes to the front and rear systems.

Vitaly: “After losing the track time yesterday, it was nice to be back in the car this morning and we completed quite a lot of laps. We found a lot of new things and worked on the general set-up, as well as understanding how the tyres are performing. It’s quite cold here, especially compared to Jerez, so it was difficult to warm up the tyres to begin with, but we’ve learned quite a lot from the short runs we did.”

Nick: “The balance of the car was not as good as it was in Jerez, but we did improve things by the end of the day. We lost a bit of time at the start of the afternoon, but when I did get out we did some useful work including new tyre runs, data collection and some work on the car’s systems. But we still need lots more mileage because there are a lot of things on our job list to try, especially for the set-up of the car.”

Alan Permane’s technical programme notes

  • The main task of the day was to put some miles on the car to make up for the track time we lost yesterday.
  • We focussed on medium-length runs of eight to ten laps, and worked on the set-up and understanding the tyres on this track. We ran on three out of the four dry tyre compounds, evaluating both new and scrubbed sets.


Day 3, wet and dry running for Vitaly

What we learned today:

  • We gathered some useful data on the intermediates Pirelli tyres as Vitaly and the team completed its first significant mileage on them
  • The R31 was fitted with a different spec of exhaust tail pipe. Aero data was collected to assess its effect on car performance.

Vitaly: “We used the intermediates to begin with and it was one of our first opportunities to do a lot of laps with them. The only issue we had was warming them up because it was very cold early on. The plan was to do a race distance in the morning and we managed quite a lot of long runs while the track was wet. Then, we put the slicks on just before lunch and started improving the set-up. We learned a lot of new things and I’m starting to understand the tyres more and how to get the most from this car.”

Alan Permane’s technical programme notes

  • It was a slow start to the day with the wet conditions, but we did some long runs on the intermediates. However we were interrupted by several red flags.
  • For the afternoon, Vitaly started a set-up programme, and we made some good progress with the suspension changes at the front and rear. We also did some work with tyre pressures and found some more improvements. Overall the car has responded well to the changes today and Vitaly has been much happier.”


Day 4, a race distance for Nick

What we learned today:

  • A new front wing was fitted on the car and the team carried out some aero mapping to assess its effectiveness. First impressions were positive.
  • The team completed its first race distance simulation and was pleased with the feel of the car on high fuel.

Nick: “In the morning we were not able to do most of our programme because we had an issue with the KERS. It’s a shame because track time is so limited, but it’s obviously better to have problems during testing before the season starts. In the afternoon we started the race simulation, which went reasonably well. We were using different tyre compounds and tried both scrubbed and new sets. We learned a lot by running the car on high fuel and have lots of useful data about the degradation rates. Then, at the end of the day, we returned to the set-up work.”

Alan Permane’s technical programme notes

  • It was a difficult morning because we lost time with a KERS problem. We managed to resolve the issue before lunch and started with our set-up programme.
  • For the afternoon our target was a race distance. We pretty much completed the mileage we needed to, apart from a couple of laps due to a red flag. We ended the day with further set-up work and found some good directions.