Charles Pic believes are Caterham are better placed heading into Saturday than at any Grand Prix so far this season after Thursday’s running at Monte Carlo. The Frenchman was twentieth, three tenths behind Marussia’s Jules Bianchi, but didn’t feel he got a clean lap in on the option tyres and expects to be ahead in qualifying.
“FP1 for me was ok. The steering felt a little light on the installation lap so we adjusted that, and then worked on dialling out the understeer I had on the first full run, and by run three we’d found a pretty good balance. That continued into the afternoon session and I’m pretty happy with how it ended. I didn’t get a clean run on the supersofts but on the long run we did on the options we found that we had quite good deg, good enough to give us some options for Sunday and the car felt good throughout the whole run.”
“We ran an aero test last week, to help sort out a couple of the issues we found with the new package in Spain and in FP1 we ran further aero evaluation on what we learned at the straight line test. The initial results are good and that will give us even more to work on tonight, and give us more potential performance to extract tomorrow and on Sunday.
“Another really good thing today was that we found a balance that worked on both compounds quickly, so we were able to get everything we could out of both sessions. We didn’t have any issues that held us up, especially compared to the number of small problems we had in FP1 and FP2 in Spain, so that’s put us in a better position for Saturday and Sunday than we’ve been in all season.”
Teammate Giedo van der Garde was 21st and also feels there is more pace in his car than today’s lap times showed after his best run in FP2 was halted by Romain Grosjean’s accident.
“I definitely enjoyed my first day in an F1 car in Monaco and I think we’ve made some good progress today. In FP1 the grip levels on track were as low as you’d expect, but it came in pretty well and by the end of the session it was possible to push round the whole lap. We had some issues with front locking and unfortunately I damaged a front wing on my third run, but other than that it was fine. We improved the traction throughout the session and started to dial out the oversteer I had on the first couple of runs.”
“In FP2 the car immediately felt better after we’d made a couple of setup and parts changes, and the hotter track conditions helped the tyres come in more quickly so my first run was good. We went onto the supersofts and waited for a gap in the traffic but then on my quick lap the red flags came out when Romain’s accident damaged the barriers. That was bad timing as I was definitely on my fastest lap of the day and I think we’d have been looking at a time around the mid-1.17s, more representative of our real pace today. But, FP1 and FP2 aren’t about the quickest laps. They’re about what we did today which was work through the program, start to understand how to manage the tyres and generate as much data as we can for the guys to work on at the track and back at the factory. I’m sure Saturday we’ll show what we can do around here and I think the tyre strategies are going to make it very interesting!”