Heikki Kovalainen is looking towards qualifying as the time to find out just how effective Caterham’s upgrade package is in Abu Dhabi. The Finn was happy with the mileage covered, giving the team plenty of data to look through, but knows that a good set-up is key to maximise the car’s potential.
“For me today was pretty good. In the first session we ran a number of the new parts we brought here and then did comparison runs in FP2, as well as trying the soft tyres on a performance run, and a longer stint at the end of the session. The key to unlocking the potential of the upgrades is finding the right setup and with the amount of laps we ran over both FP1 and FP2 today we’ve generated enough data to give us a good chance to find something we can work with tomorrow. There’s a long night ahead but everyone’s working harder than ever to keep making progress and hopefully we’ll see some of the results of that tomorrow.”
Giedo van der Garde was due to drive the second Caterham during FP1 but was halted after three laps with an electrical problem. The Dutchman will now turn his attentions to some more sustained running in the young driver test in the coming week.
“Obviously that was a pretty frustrating session, but these things sometimes happen. As soon as I went out on the installation lap I could hear that the engine sounded different to my previous FP1 runs and from what I understand the problem looks like it’s to do with the electronic boxes or the looms. It’s a shame as this is a track I know well and it would have helped to run more comparisons with the updates on Heikki’s car, but I still have the first two days of the young driver test in the car next week so that’s what I’m focusing on now.”
Despite van der Garde’s problem, Vitaly Petrov was able to take a full part in FP2 and outpaced Kovalainen, finishing nineteenth overall. The Russian’s performance fills him with optimism heading into the weekend.
“I sat out FP1 and saw how hard the team worked to sort out the electrical issue that cut Giedo’s session short. It was all sorted out by the start of FP2 so we could get on with the program immediately. On my first run we had a few handling issues to sort out so we made some mechanical changes and saw an immediate improvement on the second run. By the time we put on the soft tyres the times were getting quicker with every lap and I think we found a balance that’s working for us around here. We’ve generated a lot of data from all the runs we’ve done today on both tyre compounds so even with the problem we had this morning we’ve got through nearly the whole program and are set up ok for the rest of the weekend.”