Formula 1’s return to Europe opened up with tricky conditions after a previous rain shower. Conditions improved throughout the day and teams managed to complete some dry running at the end of the first session before completing a completely dry second practice.
Hulkenberg admitted that the weather caused some cancellations in their Friday programme, saying in a team press release “The day was ok. Unfortunately we could not run our aero programme as planned due to the rain in the first session this morning, but you can’t change the weather and the situation was the same for everyone.”
However the second session was more positive, “We were able to work through the whole programme during the second free practice without any problems.” He continued to say that some of the new upgrades are working well but that it is still unclear how big an impact the new pieces have had. “The new rear wing is an improvement. However, if it’s enough of an improvement to catch up to our competition I can’t say yet.”
Meanwhile across the garage, rookie Esteban Gutierrez felt that he was finding a better balance with the car. “We were able to work through the whole programme today. The stability of the car has improved, which gives me more confidence to push during the long runs.”
The Mexican also admitted that the Swiss team managed to get a good look at how the new parts were performing and praised the team for the “good job” that they have done to close the gap. “We were able to analyse the new parts we brought to Barcelona. The team is doing a good job and we are pushing to be able to close the gap to our competition. It’s hard to judge where we stand at the moment, but I think qualifying tomorrow will show where we are at compared to the rest of the field.”
Sauber’s head of engineering Tom McCullough explained that the main target for the team during the Friday sessions was to gather as much data and knowledge as possible. “We split the programme between the two cars to gather as much data as possible. It’s clear we have some work to do, so we will analyse the data tonight and put together the best possible car for tomorrow.”
They currently sit eighth in the standings with five points on the board, a stark contrast to 12 months earlier where Sergio Perez had already achieved a podium finish. The team brought a number of upgrades to the car including a new rear wing.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic