Charles Pic admitted he was struggling with the balance of his Caterham CT03 in race trim on Friday afternoon at Monza. The Frenchman was 20th overall and while he suffered from understeer on the low fuel run, his lack of consistency on heavy fuel will have been a greater concern.
“FP1 went ok. The car balance was good right from the installation lap and the rest of the session went to plan. We were mainly working on mechanical setup options and running downforce scans so the times weren’t really important, but it was still good to see that the gap to the teams ahead is around where we’d predicted.”
“In FP2 we started with an eight lap run on the hards but it felt like the changes we made over lunch had a negative impact on the car balance, increasing mid-sector understeer and entry stability in particular. We made a couple of mechanical changes and then went out on the mediums for the first time but the car felt very different from the morning session, the balance wasn’t as good and there was more understeer so we definitely didn’t get the time we could have from that set. On the long runs the car balance was again not consistent – we had both understeer and oversteer in the corners and that’s obviously not what we’re looking for here. However, we have accumulated a decent amount of laps and have a lot of data to work on tonight so we’ll keep working and come back stronger tomorrow.”
Teammate Giedo van der Garde only ran in FP2 as Heikki Kovalainen took the wheel for the morning session and the Dutchman is worried that his qualifying chances could be comprised by a lack of tyre temperature.
“I was back in the car for FP2 and straight out to start work on the hard compound tyres. On the first run my times were ok but the traction wasn’t great and I needed a bit more time to find the best line in sector one. On run two we made a bit of progress and then we went for the first run on the medium tyres which, honestly, was strange. The grip you’d expect from a new set of options just wasn’t there – the car balance was fine, but we didn’t find the time we should have found from the options so we’ll have to look at that in detail tonight. On the long runs the pace was ok, as was the deg levels, but we definitely need to look at how we manage tyre warm-up and make sure we have options to fix the grip issue with the options, especially for qualifying.”
Kovalainen completed 21 laps in FP1 and felt he made satisfactory progress as the session wore on.
“Overall I’m pretty happy with how the session went. The main thing is obviously for me to help the team as much as I can and in such a short session that’s always tricky, particularly as it takes a lap or so to get back up to speed with the low downforce package we’re running here. There was a little understeer in the high speed sections but the main issue for me was braking stability. That’s obviously important around Monza as there’s a couple of heavy braking zones, but we made some progress on that by the end of the session.”