Pedro de la Rosa expects to make improvements on Saturday after a solid start to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend today. The Spaniard was 23rd despite struggling for grip and believes there is more grip to extract from the soft tyres in time for qualifying.
“The initial objective was to find a good car balance and we achieved it quite early on. Then we focused on testing different configurations to see where we were and to optimize the cooling of the brakes. The grip on the track is quite low and the difference between both tyre compounds is smaller than expected. With the mediums the car performs better but on softs the grip is better, although we can still extract more from these. Our pace is good and the tests we carried out on the brakes didn’t go badly, so we’re optimistic although there is room for improvement”.
HRT teammate Narain Karthikeyan was driving at Yas Marina for the first time and found the going tough, finishing slowest of all, but is hopeful of closing the gap on de la Rosa tomorrow.
“I didn’t know the track beforehand and it’s more demanding and technical than expected, both physically and for the car because there isn’t much grip. Today’s objective was simply to run as much as possible and tomorrow we will focus on adjusting minor details ahead of qualifying. We’ve still got three sets of tyres, two softs and one medium, and if we make the most of them I’m confident that we’ll be much more competitive”.
Karthikeyan vacated his car for Ma Qing Hua in the opening session this afternoon and the Chinese driver was pleased with his own performance.
“It was great getting back in the car for a free practice session and the circuit is stunning. I’d never raced here and the conditions weren’t easy because of the heat and low grip. The car was sliding quite a bit and it was difficult to control as we had oversteer. In the first runs we did some engine tests to develop the performance of the car and we also worked on the overall balance. We weren’t aiming to set a time but towards the end I was able to string together a few laps to improve my driving. Overall it was a positive day to work for the team and we accomplished our target”.