Way of the Rain
With continual rain falling at Suzuka on the first day of running for the Japanese Grand Prix, the team opted for a limited lap strategy for Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado and Jolyon Palmer.
Jolyon ran alongside Pastor in the opening session, which was most affected by the weather, and the pair could only set two installation laps between them on the wet tyres.
“That was a pretty good first installation lap at Suzuka,” said Jolyon. “Seriously, conditions were very slippery and there was no point risking the car which is why myself and Pastor just completed a single lap before parking for the rest of the session.”
“Of course it’s frustrating not to get more laps in, but you can’t change the weather.”
The weather did change slightly ahead of the second running, allowing Romain and Pastor to run for an improved 13 lap total.
While difficult to judge performance in such conditions, Pastor took a best time of 1m 51.557secs that secured tenth.
“We didn’t go out in the morning because of the conditions and we did one run in the afternoon to check the balance of the car in these conditions because you never know what could happen,” he said. “We discovered a little, we know the balance of the car is decent but that we can find more and that we had no issues today.”
Romain would fall slightly below his team-mate in 15th, but the Frenchman was clear on where progress needed to be made.
“You learn to be patient with days like this,” he said. “You always learn something and we learned that the balance of the car needed some more changes so hopefully the car will be better for it.”
Both drivers felt that today did at least provide a good basis for wet running should surprise rain appear in qualifying or the race.
Planning ahead to tomorrow, and both Romain and Pastor expect a hectic final practice session to make up for lost time.
“There will be a lot of work in FP3, we need to work on tyres as well as long and short runs,” said Romain. “We did a similar workload at Silverstone in 2013 so we can do it and we’ll do our best.”
Pastor agreed: “Hopefully tomorrow will be dry and we can start again, it’ll be a very busy final practice session for the team, we’ll have to go high and low fuel runs as well as other tests.”
Despite the weather changing the team’s plans, Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane said the three drivers made the most of limited running.
“It was a day of persistent rain at Suzuka so we only ran installation laps in the morning then a handful of laps in the afternoon,” he said. “We used both the wet and intermediate tyres, but haven’t touched our dry tyre allocation.”
“The current prediction is for it to be dry for the rest of the weekend, but we’re monitoring this closely. Both cars and all three drivers did everything they needed to today.”