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New and old mix works for Racing Engineering

1 March 2013

Slipping into the cockpit of the Racing Engineering car must be as welcome as pulling on a pair of cosy shoes for Fabio Leimer, who returns to the team for his second consecutive season with the Spanish squad in 2013.

It's a different matter for his new team mate Julian Leal, however, who is still getting used to his new surroundings having spent 2012 racing with Trident. As a result, Racing Engineering spent much of the first morning of this week's pre-season test at the Circuit de Jerez focusing on Leal and ensuring he was feeling properly at home in his new office.

"It was interesting to test the new Pirelli tyres and to get to know Julian on track as it was the first time he has driven our car," said Thomas Couyotopoulo, Racing Engineering's sporting director. "Generally, everything went really well, we had no issues on the cars and were able to work through our intense test plan."

Both drivers are confirmed with the team for the whole of the 22-race 2013 GP2 Series season, which gets underway in a little over three weeks time at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia on March 22-23.

"At the very beginning we worked on different set ups of the car," concurred Leal. "Together with my engineer, we adapted the car more and more to my driving style. In the end we found a very good solution."

However, the freezing cold mornings throughout the three-day test together with a wet track on Thursday from overnight rain meant that none of the teams had the optimum conditions that they were really after for their first test opportunity of the year.

"The temperatures during these three days were low, especially compared to what we normally encounter during the season, but it was interesting to test the new Pirelli tyres," said Couyotopoulo. "Generally, everything went really well, we had no issues on the cars and were able to work through our intense test plan. There is a lot of work now to analyse the information obtained.

"Looking at the season, things look quite promising, even though the package of car and tyres will be challenging for everyone," he added.

Fabio Leimer said that he'd been "quite happy" with the way that the three days had gone overall.

"Today it was a little bit chilly in the morning as it rained during the night, so we only went out on the track in the afternoon," he said as the team packed up after the final day at Jerez. "Nevertheless we tried many different things today, but also in general during the three days, we gained a lot of interesting information about the car and tyres."

Leimer and the team will be hoping to build on what they've learned this week in the second three-day test, this time across country at the Circuit de Catalunya on March 5-7.

"I think we are in a very good place for next week's test in Barcelona, where we can test even more things as we also have a race on that track," Leimer said. "Overall, I am very happy with these test days - it went better than I expected and I think this is promising for the future."

While Leimer's new team mate wasn't able to make a proper year-on-year comparison in the status of the Racing Engineering car, Leal too said that the testing so far had been really positive.

"I am happy, as the race simulation went very well as well and we were good at managing the tyres," said the 22-year-old from Colombia. "In the end we found a very good solution. During the three days we improved the car and prepared it more and more to make me feel comfortable."

With the team based in nearby SanlĂșcar de Barrameda, Racing Engineering are enjoying a small advantage over their rivals with the testing being held in their backyard in Spain.

"I like the track and I am happy as we had good results in Jerez and know there are still areas where we can improve," said Leal. "In Barcelona we will continue working from this base and the test there will be very important as it's a track we race on later this year."

The Spanish race weekend is scheduled for May 10-12 with GP2 supporting the F1 Grand Prix event. Spain is the third weekend in this year's race calendar following events in Malaysia and Bahrain, and will be held a fortnight before the jewel in the crown for both the F1 and GP2 seasons - in Monaco.

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See full Wednesday test times.
See full Thursday test times.


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