Caterham saw a largely encouraging day come to a worrying conclusion when Vitaly Petrov suffered a rear wing failure on his final lap of the afternoon. The Russian driver encountered the problem on the way into turn one and spun harmlessly into the gravel but is keen to get the bottom of the issue. In terms of the car’s pace though, Vitaly was pleased with the progress made during the day.
“I came into Japan with a cold that meant I had to miss some of yesterday’s work on track. I’ve felt better today but it’s still good to have got through so much work today in the car. We’ve run a lot of laps, doing aero work and testing a couple of new parts in the morning session and focusing on the tyres in FP2. On the final lap in the afternoon session I went off in turn one after a problem with the rear wing. We’ll have a very close look at what caused that so we can make sure it doesn’t happen again but apart from that I’ve had an OK Friday here in Japan. As the day’s gone on the car has felt better on each run and it was pretty consistent on both tyre compounds. Having completed the runplans we set for FP1 and FP2 we’ve generated a lot of information for the guys to work on tonight and I think we’re setting ourselves up OK for the weekend ahead.”
Teammate Heikki Kovalainen was the quicker of the two this afternoon, six tenths behind the Toro Rossos, and was particularly happy with the feeling on soft tyres, something which he hopes will pay dividends in qualifying.
“A pretty good session for me today in FP2. Having sat out FP1 we had a lot to get through in the afternoon session and we got through everything we’d planned. On the early runs on the hard tyres we had to work pretty hard to find a decent balance but we made a few changes and started heading in the right direction. On the soft tyres the car felt much better – it immediately felt balanced on the performance run and the degradation levels and balance on the long run were pretty manageable. We also finished with a time that puts some clear air between us and the cars behind, so overall a pretty positive day.”
Kovalainen stepped aside for Giedo van der Garde in first practice and the Dutch youngster felt he settled in reasonably well.
“I enjoyed myself today. It was my first run in the F1 car since China back in April so it took a little while to get used to how hard I could push the car, particularly compared to what I’ve been used to in GP2, but by the end of the session it was starting to feel good. We had a very clear runplan for today’s session and I’m pleased we got through the program. The main thing is that today’s FP1, and the other sessions I’ll do this year, aren’t about showing how fast I can go, they’re about doing a solid job for the team, not making mistakes and learning as much as I can. Today was a good way to start that, getting accustomed to the tyres, KERS and learning a new track, and now I’m already looking forward to next week in Korea when I’ll be in Vitaly’s car.”