Nico Hulkenberg declared himself happy with his first taste of the new Williams-Toyota FW31 after taking to the track in tricky conditions at Portimao.
After the new car was uncovered in pit lane in its interim testing livery, the F3 Euroseries title-winner was given the job of taking to the track to put the first miles on the new car, although poor weather conditions and an unfamiliar circuit made it difficult for the young German to compare the FW31 to the car it replaces.
“Straight away the new car feels okay,” he said. “I feel comfortable in it and for a new car, we have also had a trouble-free morning technically, which is important.
“Of course everyone will want to know how it compares to the 2008 car and what the impact of the rule changes are from a driver's point of view. In truth, I cannot say too much after a few laps, because the track is 100 per cent new to me, I have never run here and also it is pretty wet, so I have no baseline for comparison – if we were at Jerez or Barcelona in the dry, I could be a little more specific.
“But the important thing for today is simply to make sure we run through all the checks of the basic systems on the car and confirm everything is working as it should. So far that is the case and we can be happy.”
Technical director Sam Michael was also happy with the initial 17 laps for the new car, although he was quick to point out that goal for the day had been simply to perform system checks rather than chase all out performance.
“This morning has been full wet, but the weather hasn't really affected what we wanted to do, because our goal has been to get the car out on track, check all the systems work, be sure parts aren't touching each other, nothing is burning, and that's all proved to be okay,” he said. “It would be good to get some dry running, and the weather should allow this later in the week.
“In terms of first impressions of the car, we of course haven't spent any time on set-up or performance work yet, that'll all come later, but so far the car is running fine.”