Nico Rosberg put Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS on top for the first time during pre-season testing, but insisted it is still ‘work in progress’ for the team.
Rosberg bolted on a set of the Pirelli Soft tyre for the first time to set the fastest lap time seen so far at the Circuit de Catalunya this testing season, beating second placed Valtteri Bottas of Williams Martini Racing by over 1.2 seconds.
Despite the impressive times, and the significant distance again covered on day two, Rosberg felt the day started out tricky but ended up positive with his session topping time.
“Today was a difficult day to start with but ended on a positive,” insisted Rosberg. “During the early runs, even though the numbers looked like they were in the right place with the set-up, it was actually very far away from where it needed to be, which was unusual and caught us off guard a little bit.
“We didn’t really understand why, so a big part of the day has been chasing the set-up and finding the right direction. It was really difficult to understand where to go. I had a lot of oversteer in the car, so the rear was just all over the place with no traction.”
Rosberg said putting the Soft Pirelli tyre on was always going to mean a faster time regardless of set-up, but the German was happy with how the two qualifying-style runs materialised, with two lap times within one tenth of a second of each other.
“Eventually, towards the end especially, it was feeling more and more decent,” reflected Rosberg. “Then, putting the soft tyres on, that gives you the grip anyway so it doesn’t really matter what the balance is – more or less it will be possible to do a good lap.
“I’m pleased with my two laps at the end – I nailed them pretty well and they were both identical, so a good ending to the day. We’re confident that we have a good car and I’m starting to feel good in it.
“At the same time, of course, we’re well aware that the others have been posting some quick times and we can take nothing for granted. We have a great team who are doing a fantastic job and always want better and better, so we will keep our heads down and keep working. It’s a work in progress…”