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13 February 2011

Jerez Test 10-14 February 2011, Lotus Renault GP comments

Day 1, Vitaly Petrov gets things on their way

Vitaly was back in the R31 (chassis R31-01) as the team got its second winter test underway in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

What we learned today:
  • The team ran two of the four Pirelli tyre compounds, gathering further important data for evaluation
  • Some aero runs this morning allowed the team to continue evaluating the car’s aero performance on a track that has several high-speed corners.
  • Vitaly was able to begin his first set-up programme in the R31.

Vitaly: “Things were much better for me today compared to Valencia and at least we managed to do quite a lot of laps. We still lost some time because the car had an oil leak in the middle of the day, but we made the most of the time on track and I managed to do some set-up work in the afternoon. At the moment it’s important to understand how the tyres are working and we found there was quite a lot of degradation with the rears, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s difficult to find the right set-up. I also continued using the KERS and moveable wing today and that went well with no issues.”

Eric Boullier: “After a difficult few days, it’s good for the team to be back at the track and to have our minds focussed on developing the car. Things went pretty well, but it’s early days and there is still so much for us to learn about the new car, especially at a track like Jerez with some high-speed corners. We had a small oil leak on the car in the morning, which kept us in the garage for a while, but the aero programme went well today and has taught us some useful things.”

Alan Permane’s technical programme notes

  • We started the morning doing some aero work with a fully instrumented floor, front and rear wing.
  • Vitaly lost some track time in the middle of the day with an oil leak, but we managed to get back out after lunch and completed some reasonable mileage.
  • We ran with two of the four dry compounds that are available and will continue evaluating the remaining compounds over the coming days.

Day 2, KERS and brake work for Vitaly

Vitaly Petrov remained in the R31 (chassis R31-01) today as the team completed 65 laps in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

What we learned today:

  • There don’t appear to be any problems with warm-up of the hard tyre compound, which the team ran for the first time today. Degradation levels looked reasonable.
  • Optimisation of the KERS in conjunction with the braking system by completing some useful mapping work.

Vitaly: “We were not worried about the lap times and instead we focussed on the tyres to try and understand how they work. We also did some aero mapping in the morning and then spent a lot of time working on the brakes and the KERS. Unfortunately we lost some time with a water leak, which meant we could not do the race distance in the afternoon as we planned. After three days in the R31, I’m only just starting to feel really comfortable with the car and it was in the last two hours of the session that we found some good things with the set-up.”

Eric Boullier: “Our second day in Jerez was not the easiest because we suffered with some minor technical problems. However, we still managed reasonable mileage and we have ticked off some more items on the job list. In particular, the work we did on the brakes and the KERS has been very beneficial and we are learning how to get the most from the system. For tomorrow, Nick [Heidfeld] will get his opportunity in the car and this will give us the chance for a detailed evaluation before we make any decisions.”

Alan Permane’s technical programme notes

  • We started the day with a continuation of our aero work in the morning and carried out some constant speed runs down the straight. The focus then switched to our tyre programme and working on the brakes and KERS.
  • Unfortunately we were plagued by a water leak for much of the day, which limited our running and meant we did not have the chance to complete a race distance. The issue has now been resolved.

For tomorrow, Nick Heidfeld will be in the car, while Bruno Senna will be given some mileage on Sunday.

Day 3, Nick Heidfeld goes quickest

Nick Heidfeld got his first taste of the R31 (chassis R31-01) today in Jerez and ended session at the top of the timesheets.

What we learned today:

  • The team evaluated a new floor upgrade. Pressure tapping and flow viz paint allowed the engineers to verify its aero characteristics.
  • The team ran back-to-back tests on all four Pirelli tyre compounds for the first time. This confirmed the different degradation rates and variations in new tyre performance.

Nick: “I really enjoyed the day. It was fun driving the car, although it obviously takes time to get used to things when it’s your first time in a car and working with a new team. We had a good day, without too many problems, and luckily all the changes we made to the car went in the right direction and improved things, so I was able to push harder and harder. In terms of the lap times, it’s very difficult for me to compare with the other teams because we don’t know the fuel levels or what the others were doing. My first impressions of the car were positive, although there are always areas where you can improve.”

Eric Boullier: “Today we had the chance to give Nick time in the car and we carried out a big evaluation. Our first feelings are very positive: he worked well with the team, gave good feedback and improved the car during the day. We managed to cover 86 laps and the times are encouraging, which is also thanks to Robert and Vitaly’s early feedback and the hard work of everybody in the team.”

Alan Permane’s technical programme notes

  • The day was based around getting Nick comfortable in the car and giving him as much mileage as possible. He adapted to the car and the systems quickly.
  • We played around with the set-up early on and changed a few things during the day – this included the weight distribution and the toes and cambers for the Pirelli tyres.
  • Unfortunately the afternoon was disrupted by several red flags, so we were not able to complete the long runs we had planned.

Day 4, mileage for Bruno

Bruno Senna enjoyed his first experience of the R31 (Chassis R31-01) today as the team gave the Brazilian mileage on the final day of testing in Jerez.

What we learned today:

  • The R31 featured a new specification of gearbox cooler, which the team evaluated with no major concerns.
  • It was a day of firsts for Bruno, who tried Pirelli tyres, KERS and the adjustable rear wing for the first time. Incidentally, it was only his second ever F1 test session.

Bruno: “It was an awesome day - my first chance to drive the R31 and I’m pleased with how things went. It was very much a learning day for me. I had never used the adjustable wing or the KERS before, so I had to adapt to these. It’s not easy at first, because there is a big workload and you are operating two factors that change the balance of the car, but by the end of the day it became more like second nature. I started the day pretty relaxed; gradually built up my confidence, and then by lunchtime I was feeling pretty comfortable with things. I was looking forward to doing some hard laps at the end of the day, but with the red flags and the weather, there wasn’t enough time.”

Alan Permane’s technical programme notes

  • Bruno took a sensible approach to the day, slowly building up his pace and giving good feedback to the team, and showing good speed on new tyres at the end of the morning.
  • The planned programme was similar to Nick’s yesterday – some set-up work, new tyre runs and long runs in the afternoon. Unfortunately the afternoon was disrupted with red flags so we didn’t complete the long runs.
  • We also continued with aero mapping, which has been one of the main priorities of the week, along with the tyre evaluation.