Despite being the back markers once more at Spa-Francorchamps, the Caterham F1 Team drivers Marcus Ericsson and Andre Lotterer, plus Team Principal Christijan Albers were in positive frames of mind. They arrived in Belgium with a heavily revised and upgraded car for the first time this season, and used the sessions on Friday to get some valuable data.
Lotterer did not take long to get onto the pace of his team-mate, and despite suffering a mechanical gremlin on his car in the second session, was able to put in competitive lap times. He was a tenth of a second faster than Ericsson in the first practice, but less than four hundredths of a second slower than the Swede in the second session.
“I’m very pleased with today,” insisted Lotterer. “This morning’s first practice was a good session for me; I got used to the car quite quickly and now I just need to optimise everything in terms of driving style. Considering it was my first time out, it all went according to plan and I was able to get a good feel of what it’s like to drive the car. Now we need to keep working like this and continue improving the car.
“FP2 was another good session and everything went smoothly even though we had to stop a little bit early due to a technical problem. It’s definitely been another learning process for me on the option tyre – I went out and I didn’t know what to expect, but I think it went very well. We’ve been able to follow the programme as planned, improving while learning and trying to play with the car slowly. We did some long runs and I’m certainly starting to feel comfortable with everything, even though I’m still in the learning curve.”
Team-mate Ericsson was happy to be back behind the wheel of an F1 car after the mid-season break, and felt he gathered some useful information of his upgraded car despite some technical issues.
“It’s good to be back racing – I’ve been training hard during the summer break and I feel in very good shape,” said Ericsson. “We didn’t have the best of starts, as this morning I had issues with the brakes and a few other technical problems, which is not what we needed. Nevertheless, we were able to complete quite a few laps and gather useful information for the weekend.
“FP2 was a better session for us. We solved the issues we had this morning with the brakes, so that was an improvement, even though we will need to solve a few other things overnight, but it’s been a productive day. We’ve completed plenty of laps running on both compounds, so we have a lot of information that will be vital for the rest of the weekend.”
Team Principal Albers believes the signs are there that the team are progressing, and was happy with the job Lotterer did in the car on his first day on track. He hopes the Spa upgrade is the first to help the team move up in the championship standings, where they currently sit eleventh and last.
“We’ve certainly seen some visible signs that we’re starting to move forward after the summer shutdown,” said Albers. “Today we’ve made progress and this is what we intend to do during the rest of the season. Having André in the car is definitely helping us; he has done an extraordinary job on his first day driving for us.
“We focused on long runs today and tomorrow we will dedicate more time to qualifying performances. It’s been a positive day and we look forward to the rest of the weekend – we will also have an eye on the weather, as here in Spa it can rain at any moment, so anything could happen and we need to be ready.”