Scuderia Toro Rosso are hoping to break into the top ten in Hockenheim and their performance on Friday certainly put them in with a good chance should their form continue.
Consistency was the key for the team with Daniil Kyvat finishing fourteenth in FP1 and improving to finish twelfth in Free Practice 2. His teammate Alexander Albon was also in the midfield pack, finishing fifteenth in FP1 and ending his day in fourteenth.
Rains are forecast for the weekend but Friday saw Kvyat get all hot and bothered, “It was warm today! The conditions were quite extreme in terms of the heat, so we will see what we can learn and, hopefully, make a step forward tomorrow.
“It will be interesting to see what the weather conditions are going to be like tomorrow because the forecast looks very different compared to today, so we will have to adapt quite quickly to it. It was tricky for everyone because these kinds of conditions are rare.
“We have a lot to understand and analyse tonight, there’s definitely room for improvement so we’ll do our best to come back with a stronger car ahead of Qualifying. We have always been close to the top 10 this year, sometimes outside sometimes inside, so it’s the same this weekend, we just need to understand what we need to go quicker.”
Rookie driver Albon has had a steady season so far and put in another consistent performance on Friday.
The Hockenheim heat seemed to get to everyone throughout the course of the day but Albon remains focused on breaking into the top ten come Sunday’s race.
“I think it wasn’t a bad day today, but there is still a bit of work to do. We’ve brought some upgrades here, so we just need to understand them a bit better. There are things which we can improve on to help get us into the top ten, such as the balance, so we will see how to best optimise the car for Qualifying.
“However, it seems the weather will be different tomorrow. It was very hot today, probably one of the hottest I’ve had driving a car, it felt like there was a hairdryer in my face!”
Chief Race Engineer for Scuderia Toro Rosso, Jonathan Eddolls, reflected on a searingly hot day on track and explained how the heat made it extremely difficult to run the tyres properly.
“The temperatures so far this week have been extreme, even by Hockenheim standards. The temperature, combined with the low working range C4 tyre compound, made for a tricky Friday as it was almost impossible to keep the tyres within their working range.
We had the joint most aggressive number of them, so three of our four new tyres for Friday were on this compound, mainly to give us as many opportunities as possible to practice for Qualifying.
“The performance of the car today has not been where we expected it to be. In the hot conditions on the C4 compound, we felt we had learnt how to get the most from it, but there is clearly still work to do to optimise the overall grip and balance, particularly over a short Qualifying style run.
“The track changed quite a lot between Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 with even higher track temperatures and increased wind, which meant we were lacking overall grip and found it hard to get a consistent balance.”
In addition to the tyre troubles the team faced, they also ran aero tests and low fuel runs to gather as much data as possible and Eddolls seemed confident they’d got enough from Friday, “We came here with quite an extensive test plan on both the aero and the mechanical side. The aero tests were predominantly carried out on Alex’s car in Free Practice 1 leaving Daniil to learn about the balance of the car and how to maximise the performance from the tyres.
“Heading into Free Practice 2, both cars had similar programmes with two low fuel runs followed by high fuel long runs.Although the ambient temperatures were high, unlike in Austria which has lower ambient pressure, there was less of an impact on the cooling performance here, so from the PU side we were well within limits.
“We have gathered a lot of data from today and it will be a busy evening for the engineers to piece together all of the findings and improve the performance for the rest of the weekend.”
With the forecast set to change overnight, bringing in a chance of rain and cooler temperatures, Eddolls knows his team will have to adapt to give their drivers the best chance of a top ten finish come Sunday.
“We need to bear in mind that the weather forecast for tomorrow and Sunday is looking very different, with much lower ambient and track temperatures and even a chance of thunderstorms, so we will need to adapt our learning from today and feed that into our setup choice for Free Practice 3 onwards.”