2011, August 26

Belgian GP, Friday

In difficult weather conditions, Bruno kicked off his first race weekend as an LRGP driver alongside Vitaly at the much-loved, yet fearsome Spa-Francorchamps.

Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer - Technical programme notes

    It was a tricky first day with difficult weather conditions for Bruno to make his race debut with us, and he was unfortunate to slide off the track this morning. Fortunately, there was no major damage to the car so we were able to get some good running from him in the afternoon.

    As the conditions improved, we sent both cars out on the soft tyre but unfortunately Vitaly reported problems with his power steering, complaining that it felt very heavy. We investigated this during the session, but were unable to find anything amiss so we decided to keep him out of the car for the rest of the session. As a result, the steering rack and column will be changed before tomorrow’s third practice and qualifying sessions.

    Bruno was unable to take advantage of the dry conditions fully due to traffic. Understandably, he was not pushing too hard after this morning’s spin, especially as the kerbs were still very wet and slippery. He was happy with the car and we should see an improvement tomorrow.

What we learned today:

 - In wet conditions, we looked strong on the intermediate tyres, with both Bruno and Vitaly feeding back positively on the car.

 - Several new aero updates were tried and although conditions were tricky the data and driver feedback were positive.

Vitaly Petrov, R31-03
Free practice 1: P22, 2:13.601, 10 laps
Free practice 2: P24, 2:02.234, 12 laps

Vitaly: “FP1 was a difficult session with too much water on track, which meant it was difficult to understand how the car’s new parts were working. The grip from the intermediate tyres was okay, both when there was a lot of standing water early on in the session and when the track dried. All in all, it was a normal morning at Spa and we had no problems. In the afternoon, we evaluated the setup for intermediate tyres and the car worked well in those conditions. I am happy with the handling of the car and would be quite happy driving it in the same conditions again. When I went out for my first afternoon run on the slick tyres, I felt a problem with the steering in the high speed corners on my first lap. As a result, I returned to the pits so the team could investigate it. The steering did not feel good, so it made sense for me to pit so the team could work on it.”

Bruno Senna, R31-01
Free practice 1: P23, 2:14.340, 7 laps
Free practice 2: P17, 1:53.835, 21 laps

Bruno: “Obviously it was disappointing for my first practice session to be cut short when I slipped off the track, but I was much happier to get a good amount of track time this afternoon. Despite the difficult conditions, it was much more productive in the second session. I managed to get some dry running too, which was crucial for understanding which direction to go with the car. We also managed to fit in a number of procedures such as pit stop practices and pull aways. I’m making up for all these sessions that I’ve missed in the past by getting more miles on the clock. One thing’s for sure - I’m excited about getting back in the car tomorrow.”

Did you know?
Vitaly secured a top 10 finish for the team in his first Belgian Grand Prix last year; the Russian came home in 9th position after failing to set a time in qualifying.