Giedo van der Garde says that his mid-session crash during first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix didn’t compromise the Caterham F1 Team too much, although he admitted that it was a frustrating day at the office overall.
The Dutchman lost control at the high-speed Degner Curve, going straight on and through the gravel trap before gently tapping the tyre barriers. His car didn’t sustain too much damage and after completing a decent amount of running prior to the off-track excursion, he didn’t feel that it heavily compromised the teams running.
He said: “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.”
However his FP2 session was more positive and he can see the potential in the car: “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. 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.”
Test driver Heikki Kovalainen drove Charles Pic’s car in first practice and reported small improvements in comparison to the last time he drove the car: “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 okay 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. ”
Pic was back in the car for the afternoon session and believes that there is more to come from the car tomorrow: “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.”
He added: “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.”
Image courtesy of Caterham F1 Team