Karun Chandhok may not have had an easy opening day in Melbourne, but was nevertheless delighted to have got some valuable mileage under his belt in the build-up to the Australian Grand Prix.
The Indian completed 19 laps on Friday morning, with a best time of 1min 34.251secs putting him ahead of Virgin Racing's Timo Glock, before a transmission problem prevented him from participating in the second session as his car came to halt 100 metres after he left the pit-lane. Chandhok's car featured an improved gearbox after his recurring hydraulic problems in Bahrain, while HRT team-mate Bruno Senna had a new Cosworth engine following his overheating trouble in the opening round.
“I am really happy that the team managed to get some laps under our belt in the morning session," Chandhok commented, "The car felt really nice to drive and I am sure that the more we develop it the faster we will get. It is really bumpy out on this circuit so we are driving carefully. I have already experienced bumps in Bahrain! We have made some minor changes but I could feel the difference during today's practice sessions.
"We need to run some more laps, but it is nice not to have the car in the garage! Compared to Bahrain, which was our first outing, the reliability has improved tremendously. Today's programme was just about doing as many laps as we could and getting comfortable with the car, so we did not look to do any fast laps. It is a shame that we had a transmission problem for the second practice session as track time is always valuable, but we will now concentrate on analysing the data we got today to improve the car for tomorrow.”
The first practice session saw HRT continue its development programme and, despite the afternoon problems, was delighted to see Senna's car cover its first race distance by adding its Melbourne mileage to that accumulated in Bahrain.
"Today was a great job from the team," team principal Colin Kolles claimed, "Everything went to plan this morning and was smoother than it had been when we were 'born' in Bahrain. It showed that we are fully operational. Everything ran as smoothly as possible. Most of the components of the car, chassis and suspension have now been tested effectively over a full race distance. Everyone has produced an amazing effort to make it happen."