Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado completed a trouble free first day of running and feel confident the team can score further points, while Jolyon Palmer also drove in Free Practice 1.
Jolyon and Pastor were first to hit the track in the morning and worked their way through a busy programme of aero, set-up and tyre evaluations while running on a high fuel load.
The fuel and schedule meant that the pair ran in and around the top ten for most of the first practice session, and were still able to be some of the quickest cars through the speed traps.
That pace, even with the fuel and programme work, meant Pastor took 12th with a lap of 1min12.004secs while Jolyon finished in 14th with a best time of 1min12.050secs.
In the first of his five consecutive outings, Jolyon put in consistent lap times and was impressed by the Austrian Grand Prix circuit.
“It was a good session,” he said. “There were no real dramas but I had to stop slightly early as I had a flat spot on the front tyres, which was a shame.”
“It’s a great track to drive an F1 car; it’s just a short lap but there’s plenty to do and I was able to push. Overall I am happy with my session and I’m looking forward to seeing how the team performs over the rest of the weekend."
With 61 laps logged in the morning, Romain joined Pastor in the afternoon session and the duo instantly found themselves lapping close to the top five.
All teams were quick to join the circuit in fear of rain that never appeared but Pastor was able to overcome a busy circuit to go fourth early on.
As teams began to switch to longer runs to end the first day of running, Pastor was able to consolidate his fourth place to round off a strong day for the Venezuelan.
With his first points scored in Canada and a solid first day’s work, Pastor is confident he can score again in Austria.
“I’m always very confident and points haven’t changed that, I’ve been running in the top ten consistently so I know what I can do,” he said. “We can be in the top five this weekend but it’ll be tough as it’s going to be close in qualifying. The race is long and hard to predict. I hope we can beat Williams but their pace will make it difficult.”
Romain also made a blistering start to the second session, running inside the top five from the get go.
He continued to be at the top end of the times, and eventually secured seventh but he targeted further progress on the E23 ahead of tomorrow.
“We thought we’d be quick here and that’s turned out to be the case, we can be a bit quicker on the supersofts and we need to work that out but generally we’ve done some good work here,” he said. “Williams have been quick on the long runs but we think we can fight high up.”
“Balance is really important here, aero and mechanical are an important combination here. The car has made improvements on that but we’re getting there.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow and Romain believed the team should be aiming for a minimum of both cars in the top ten.
“It’s a smooth track like Canada so we need a few laps to get the tyres up to speed,” he said. “We can get points and that’s the target, it can hopefully be a straight forward weekend and get more points. Qualifying should at least be top ten and hopefully high up there.”
Romain’s confident predictions came after a solid day’s running according to Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane.
“A good, productive day for us,” he said. “All three drivers gave positive feedback about the car and Romain has a little more pace to come on the super soft tyre with a tweak to the balance, so we have a strong basis looking to the rest of the weekend.”