Istanbul Park was the scene of Formula One’s return to the racetrack today after a three-week break in the calendar. The first Free Practice session began in wet conditions as Marussia Virgin Racing rolled out its new upgrade package, with Timo’s MVR-02 featuring the full specification and Jérôme’s car having around 50% of the new elements.
This morning the drivers were only able to complete a total of 26 laps between them due to the wet track conditions. After the first couple of laps Jérôme was already communicating to his engineer that the track was very slippery, while Timo reported massive aquaplaning in some areas of the track. Because of this, both cars were confined to the garage as they waited for the track to improve. They were out again at the end of the session, but a red flag and more rain hampered their progress still further.
The sun finally came out after lunch and with a track temperature of 17°C and an ambient high of 14°C, the conditions improved, allowing Timo to start to evaluate the upgraded MVR-02. He completed 22 laps. At the beginning of the second session Jérôme had a small issue, but he was soon out on track to complete 28 laps.
“The weather has made for a difficult start to the weekend. This morning it was very tricky for everyone as there was a lot of standing water everywhere. In the second session we got a better chance to start evaluating the new package, which was really the priority for today because we knew there would be a lot of work to do. There have been some issues we have had to deal with, especially with the exhausts, and once we work through those we will be better off. Overall we need to look at the data we have gathered now to see what we can learn about the new package because, as we predicted, it’s not easy getting something so new to work straight out of the box.”
“It was a good day. This morning’s session was obviously disturbed by the rain, which even if it wasn’t great for this weekend’s programme, l can still see it positively as it was the first time I’ve driven the car in the wet; so it was great for me to get an idea of how it feels in those conditions. The afternoon went pretty smoothly. We had a small issue with the power steering and we lost a bit of time and so we couldn’t do everything we wanted, but in the end I think the car feels fine and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
John Booth, Team Principal
“The elements of the upgrade package that we fitted to Jérôme’s car have performed well today, so we’re pleased with the progress there. Timo’s car, with the full package, was always going to be a bigger ‘ask’ because of the complexity of the car at the rear with the new blown exhaust system. It is always difficult coming straight into a race weekend with such a new and complicated package and with no testing to optimise it. As we predicted there have been a few issues to contend with, particularly with the management of the heat from the exhausts. Generally we’ve made a good start on Jérôme’s side but we have yet to realise the full performance potential of the wider package with Timo. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of data to look through to see how we can extract more from the package.”