Weather Hampers Red Bull’s Penultimate Day of Pre-Season Testing

by Paul Hensby

Max Verstappen was disappointed that the weather hampered the penultimate day of pre-season testing on Thursday, with the Dutchman only able to complete thirty-one laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya during his half day in the car.

The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver suffered a spin early on after hitting a damp patch after switching to dry weather tyres after the day started with a damp track in Spain.

The planned programme was adapted to suit the conditions, with Verstappen running a number of laps with aero rakes as Red Bull attempted to get as much data as possible ahead of the upcoming season that begins in Australia next month.

“It was a bit of a shame with the weather, so we couldn’t really run as much as we wanted, but overall it was positive,” said Verstappen.  “We spent time driving with the aero rakes, gathering all the data we could and everything went well.

“Every day we are improving, learning more, and that’s exactly what you want from testing. It was never the target to run as many laps as last week. I think we have done our long runs and now it’s about checking parts and trying different things. It all takes time and the end result is fewer laps, but I think we tried everything we wanted to today.

“Regarding the spin I had this morning, I had a look back at the footage and I just clipped a little damp patch, which I didn’t see, but yeah, I think I just tried to take a little too much road on the entry!”

‘We have got a good base heading into the start of the season’ – Albon

Team-mate Alexander Albon took over the car for the afternoon session and completed sixty-one laps, but the Anglo-Thai driver was forced to deal with the windier part of the day, meaning lap times were almost meaningless.

Albon feels Red Bull have begun the year in a good place, with the twenty-three-year-old having positive thoughts about the RB16 heading into his sophomore Formula 1 season.

“This afternoon was a little bit disrupted, mostly because of the wind, which was tricky, and it was hard to get a good read on balance, but otherwise it wasn’t too bad today,” said Albon.  “Everything’s going well, but of course we need to look at the data as it was not so easy to do direct comparisons today.

“I think tomorrow the weather should be a lot better. There’s still work to do and that’s what tomorrow is about – fine-tuning and chipping away at it. We have done a lot of running and I think the positive thing is that we know the direction we’re happy with.

“We have got a good base heading into the start of the season.”

Weather Forces Red Bull to be ‘Cautious’ on Penultimate Day – Rocquelin

Guillaume Rocquelin, the Head of Race Engineering at Red Bull, said the conditions merited the team being more cautious than they really wanted to be in order to maximise the track time available.

Rocquelin felt it was important for Red Bull to put the mileage onto the RB16, adapting the settings of the car to the track and weather, rather than going for outright pace and performance and losing time thanks to an accident.

“Today we had pretty tricky conditions on track because it was wet, cold and slippery in the morning and windy in the afternoon,” said Rocquelin.  “I think it would have been easy to make mistakes and set ourselves back, either by damaging the car or by trying things we don’t understand because of the wind.

“So, we were quite cautious today and I think this was reflected in the amount of laps we completed. We wanted to make sure whatever we did was sensible, both in terms of not doing anything stupid so close to Melbourne, but also, if you’re testing you want to make sure you know what’s happening.

“So, we did short runs and changes that were suited to the conditions to make sure we got the most from the day. Tomorrow will be more or less a driver day for Max and Alex to get up to speed and comfortable so they know what to expect in Melbourne.”

Alexander Albon completed sixty-one laps on Thursday – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

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