The Nurburgring saw Charles Pic once again out-qualify teammate Giedo van der Garde for the sixth time this year, as the French driver ended up P19 at the top of the battle between the Leafield-based outfit and Marussia for tomorrow’s race, even with a starter motor issue after being on the weighbridge not causing him any setback in Qualifying.
Pic said that the focus of FP3 was to make sure that there was clarity in how the track was evolving throughout the morning in the run up to his eventual result for tomorrow, after two runs on the soft compound tyres. He firstly said that there was a lot more front grip than in the overcast but dry conditions that Friday’s practice sessions had provided, with the overall balance of the car being to his liking: “We had to make a small adjustment for the stronger wind on track today, but the car felt good for the whole session and the degradation levels we saw were positive. On the performance run the balance felt good, so we were feeling pretty positive about qualifying.”
Pic described his last run in a bit of detail, but ultimately, thanked the people who make it happen every race weekend: ““On the final lap my pace was good but we were held up with traffic in the second sector which maybe cost us a couple of tenths, but we still finished ahead of our nearest rivals in 19th and that was the target. I do want to say thanks to the pit crew for doing a great job to get me back to the garage and out for the final lap – a few of them have been running the tracks this year and that work paid off!”
His Dutch teammate also made some changes with his car for FP3 and qualifying after yesterday’s running, but found that the set-up was not helping the CT-03 gain enough temperature in the front tyres quickly enough: “On the first run, I still had some of the understeer that had been the main balance issue yesterday, but it was now only really in the high-speed section in S3, so we made a couple more mechanical changes for the next run and the balance improved.”
He still had some remaining understeer at the front end during performance simulations with the soft tyres, which was still present in Sector 3 due to a lack of tyre temperature, but with more changes still taking place, the balance got better for the F1 rookie: “But despite that it still felt like we’d made some progress from Friday.
His confidence grew as the sunshine enveloped the Eifel countryside, as the increasing track temperature helped his performance during both runs in Q1: “The first run was ok and the tyres were coming in better than they had in FP3 so we went for one quick lap on the second run. We went out with a couple of minutes left in the session but the tyres weren’t working for most of the first half of the lap and, even though the second half was much better, I’d still lost enough time in S1 that I couldn’t really get any more out of it.
He was also confident and realistic of things to come on race day, especially as clear strides forward have been made overall by both drivers: “However, I think we have a decent car for tomorrow and our long run pace has been pretty good, so we’ll aim for a clean start and see how it unfolds on Sunday.”
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic (c)