Leimer happy with top time on first test day
29 September 2011
Ideal conditions and a full day of almost completely trouble-free running meant that teams and drivers managed to get the most out of the first of the two-day testing opportunity at the 4.428km Circuito de Jerez.
Fabio Leimer was particularly happy with his first day testing for Racing Engineering, which saw him set the fastest time of the day and top both the morning and afternoon sessions.
"Today was very good," he said. "I think we worked together really well and I also know now where I still have to improve my driving - I am looking forward to tomorrow's test day and hope we can repeat today's results."
It wasn't all plain sailing for the Swiss driver, however. "In the morning it was difficult to say as all went out on new tyres, and for me it was important to get to know the track and also get used to a new car. Then we could actually start to work on the car and made some positive steps forward.
"These were translated into results and we were able to set the fastest time. From there we simply continued our work and I am glad we were underlining this by also marking the fastest lap time in the afternoon session."
Running in the second Racing Engineering car, Rodolfo Gonzalez was almost a second back from Leimer but felt he'd made a lot of advances. "I'm quite happy with the team work. They helped me to progress a lot during the day and we made important steps to go forward. Now it's down to keeping up this work. I feel that I did a great step in my driving today."
Leimer will continue to helm the car on Thursday, while Gonzalez will make way for British driver Rupert Svendsen-Cook.
Scuderia Coloni finished in second place in the morning session, thanks to the current GP2 "vice-champion" Luca Filippi recording a time of less than a hundredth of a second slower than Leimer's best of the day.
"As soon as I got on track I felt that I was driving the same perfect car that allowed me to win in Monza, so the laptime came easily and could have been even better," he said afterwards. "Apart from this, we also did a good job on the technical side, trying some solutions that came to our mind during the season. It was really a great session, we are very happy with it."
He ceded the car to Kevin Ceccon for the afternoon session, who explained that speeds weren't his aim on Wednesday. "Driving in the afternoon and with a lot of fuel I wasn't really looking for performance today. My aim was trying a lot of different set-ups with the team, something you never really get the chance to do during the season."
That's not to say that he wouldn't have liked to finish up higher in the afternoon timesheets than 20th. "I was pretty quick and my laptime could have been half a second quicker: unluckily I found Gonzalez proceeding slowly on the racing line," he explained. "Anyway, I will go for a flyer tomorrow morning, I have a very good feeling about that."
Fabio Onidi was able to run on both sessions, and appeared at the top of the timesheets early on before finishing fifth in the morning session.
"It's a great car to drive and I felt immediately at ease," said Onidi about his first experience with the GP2/11 car. "The way the grip evolves lap after lap wasn't an issue, and the feeling with the car on new rubber - usually the hardest part when debuting on a new open wheeler - was easy to find, so the laptime came quite easily."
He was 14th fastest in the later session: "In the afternoon we did a race-oriented job with more fuel and we tried different set-up solutions," he confirmed.
In fact, Dutch driver Yelmer Buurman was almost the only driver to improve his times in the afternoon session as he tested the Caterham Team AirAsia alongside GP3 driver Antonio Felix da Costa. Buurman finished in second place in the second session of the day, in his first outing in the GP2/11 car on Pirelli after appearing in GP2 and GP2 Asia for Arden and Ocean in former years.
"It's been a great day," he enthused. "This is the first time I have been in the new GP2 car and it was a nice introduction. The difficult part for me was to learn the new Pirelli tyres but I think we did a good job.
"This morning we were P6 and then P2 this afternoon so I am really happy with that," he continued. "Most teams seemed to go at least half a second slower this afternoon, but we were able to maintain the same sort of times as this morning which is very positive. We have learnt a lot during the day so I am very happy."
De Costa was also happy with this day at the office. "It was a pleasure to jump into a proper racing car today," he said after it was all over. "It's been a good environment with the team and overall a good day."
Meanwhile, chief race engineer Humphrey Corbett was just happy that he didn't have any major overnight work to oversee. "The cars are in one piece, the drivers didn't put a foot wrong," he said. "Both are very nice guys so it has been a pleasure to work with them."
Ricardo Teixeira and Alexander Rossi take over at Caterham Team AirAsia for the Thursday test day, from 9am local time.
In fact the only stoppage of the day came some 30 minutes before the end of the morning running, with a brief red flag for Johnny Cecotto who beached his Addax car in the gravel at turn 8 but nonetheless set the fourth fastest time of the session.