F1: Toyota’s test round-up
The final day of Panasonic Toyota Racing’s four-day test at the Circuit de Catalunya dawned wet and the elements continued to disrupt the team’s programme. With no sign of an improvement the team abandoned the test after lunch and will now concentrate on next week’s programme at Jerez.
Ralf Schumacher “It was simply too wet to do anything meaningful today. Sometimes the conditions allow you to test wet tyres but there was too much surface water today. There was a real danger of aquaplaning and so we had to do the sensible thing and end the programme early.”
“I was hoping to have two full days with the new car and the Bridgestone tyres but the weather meant that it wasn’t possible. Even so, I was able to get a positive impression from driving the car on Thursday. It is good to be out early with the package we will develop for the first race in Bahrain and I am impressed with both the team’s organisation and the potential of the TF106. We have an intensive winter schedule and we will learn more at Jerez next week.”
Ricardo Zonta “There is not much to say today, I’m afraid! We did some electrical checks and then another exploratory lap to see if the conditions were improving enough to allow us to test anything better, but it wasn’t possible. We would have liked to do wet tyre testing but there was so much rain today that it was impossible to run at full throttle, even on the straight.”
“You can’t rely on the weather at this time of year but we learned enough from the first three days to go away feeling very positive. We not only managed to confirm some of our simulation work on the Bridgestone tyres but also to try some different compounds.”
With the final day’s testing at Barcelona washed out, some might wonder why F1 teams – particularly Panasonic Toyota Racing, in its first test on Bridgestone tyres – stay in the pits when it rains, and then artifically dampen race tracks, as will happen at Jerez next week. But, as Chief Race Engineer, Dieter Gass pointed out, not all water is the same…
“There was simply too much rain today and when you can’t even use full throttle in a straight line, you are taking risks and could easily have an accident. The reason that we artificially wet tracks is so that we can conduct tests in controlled conditions that are the same on every run. When you have natural rain you never get consistent conditions, which makes it very difficult to do a tyre comparison. At a race you have to cope with the conditions that confront you, but at a test you want consistency.”
“Overall this was a very good test. We did some work with the Bridgestone tyres but we still have to get used to them and there is a big programme to work through. There were a lot of other positives. We had no major issues with the new car, which was very important, and the performance looked promising.”
As well as assessing the new TF106, with its latest specification front suspension and new rear end, key aspects of this week’s Barcelona test for Panasonic Toyota Racing have been the first running on Bridgestone tyres and evaluating the latest specification of the 2.4-litre RVX-06 V8 engine.
Head of Research and Development, Pascal Vasselon, outlined some of the main considerations behind the team’s first run on Bridgestone’s Potenza tyres:
“We had to make sure that in terms of weight distribution and downforce, we stay balanced. One of the key things is to be able to anticipate the ride height, taking into account the inevitable differences in stiffness and deflection. We can anticipate that and model it, so that when we put the tyres on the car they see working conditions that are acceptable. That is what we found but it is a little early to make assessments because so far we have only seen the Bridgestone tyres in very specific, cold conditions.”
Technical Director Engine, Luca Marmorini “We learned a lot and confirmed some of the things we tested at the factory but the weather on the last day prevented us from doing more mileage, which was a shame. The next test is just a few days away but this is an important time because we have just three weeks before the Christmas break. This is when we have to define the engine parts with long manufacturing times that we will take to the first race in Bahrain. At the January and February tests it will be too late to react in time for Bahrain, and so that is the reason you don’t want to lose any test days at this time.”
“We are still analysing the issue Ralf had with the engine on Thursday but it’s not serious because the engine had already done 900kms. In terms of performance and durability we have had a very positive response by all three drivers. We already have a package that we could race. We are still working on more engine improvements and whatever we can apply without taking too many risks, we will do so.”